Sometimes, you need a professional to crack the case.
Interview with Writer/Director Maeve McKenna
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I was in my final year at Griffith Film School and Alleta and I pitched the film for the 2015 graduate slate. I had been working on the script over the summer and really felt there was something special about the character of Ethel. I hadn’t felt so attached to a character that I’d written before and I really wanted to bring her to life so I put the script forward.
After a few rounds of pitching to my cohort and a university panel, it was finally chosen…and I went for a beer straight after!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It is a fun film with an incredibly entertaining and engaging lead character who speaks directly to the camera…and to the child in all of us. On the surface it may seem like a kid's film but don’t be fooled! It may get you thinking more than you bargained for…
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The Top Secret Findings of Ethel P. Clearwater largely deals with the themes of love, motherhood and belonging. These are universal themes that everyone has some experience with. I think people have had such a strong reaction to the character of Ethel because their inner child can relate to her. At the end of the day, even as adults, we all just want to be loved and to belong. Watching an innocent child search for this acceptance is particularly heartbreaking and what makes these themes work.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The central themes and major plot points remained the same over the entire course of the film’s development. We were, however, constantly reworking and tweaking the script to convey these themes more effectively and creatively. Our film’s style did change quite a lot in post production though. We added in title cards throughout the film, as well as a whole other scene that was done entirely in post using photographs. This added so much to the film’s style and tied the whole film stylistically together.
Oh, and I changed the title two days before the film’s deadline. That was a big last minute change!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Overall, we have received incredibly positive feedback, particularly about the characters and story. Young and old, people have come up after and said how they related to Ethel in some way and enjoyed watching her adventures and learnings along the way. As the writer and director, I worked on her character development a lot in the scripting stage and with our brilliant young actress Milly Walton. Even though Ethel is a child, I wanted to make her a character that evoked something in people of all ages.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I like to go along to every screening possible so that I can listen to people’s reactions to different points in the film. Will they laugh here? Be deadly silent there? I want to know what makes different people react in certain ways. Sometimes it surprises me when people laugh, gasp or are dead silent at certain points...but I love it. But there’s no right way to experience the film and I love the varying audiences – to me it means that it’s tapping into different things in more people.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We want to pique interest and encourage people to attend screenings at film festivals as it’s doing the festival circuit.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We would love film festival directors and distributors in particular to come on board.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would really like to start a discussion on motherhood. We are told from a young age that women have a maternal instinct and a natural bond with their children (potentially more than the father)...but is this true?
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Is a mother’s love unconditional?
Would you like to add anything else?
They say never work with children or animals…but don’t listen!
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Having finished film school now, we are all just trying to navigate our way into this tough industry. Personally, I am looking towards doing some international work and am heading over to Thailand and India in the next three months to focus on documentary!
Interview: December 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The Top Secret Findings of Ethel P. Clearwater
Sometimes, you need a professional to crack the case
Length: 14 min 59 sec
Director: Maeve McKenna
Producer: Alleta Perrett
Writer: Maeve McKenna
About the writer, director and producer:
Maeve McKenna, writer/director
Maeve McKenna is a writer/director/editor based in Brisbane, Australia. In between making her own films, Maeve also enjoys the technical and creative challenge of creating film content for clients. Her hope is to move into international client based work in the future.
Alleta Perrett, producer
Alleta is a 22-year-old film Producer in Brisbane, Australia. Having completed her degree in Film and Screen Media Production as well as a certificate III in Television Broadcasting, she focuses mainly on producing short films, corporate packages and assisting the in operation of film festivals.
Milly Walton - Ethel Clearwater
Amelia Ayris - Mary Baxter
Daniel Stockwell - Geoff Clearwater
Ann Ricketts - Edie Merideth
David Normand - Detective Bridges
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Distributors, Film Festival directors, journalists
Self funded by crew
Made in association with:
Griffith Film School, Brisbane, Australia
Where can I see it in the next month?
We have played at several film festivals in the past month, with a break next month. Hope a few more lined up for 2017!