Many are the roads that do not lead to the heart.
Interview with Writer/Director Louise Wadley
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I like to create complex heroines who have a lot going on. With All About E, I wanted to make a film that was really entertaining but with lots of layers. In this movie the main character E has burnt too many bridges and is forced on the run with her GBF and fake husband, Matt. I’ve always loved road movies because characters are forced into difficult situations where they have face themselves. People have called "All About E" the Lesbian "Priscilla" and I am really happy with that. I love movies like "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" and "Muriel's Wedding" because they are a lot of fun while being quite subversive and explore serious issues without being didactic.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch this film because it is not only fun and exciting road movie that takes you from Sydney's gay nightclubs to the drought stricken Outback, it is ultimately a finding yourself/love story and it shows an Australia that we just don’t get to see enough of – either in the city or the country. When I look at Australian films today many of them are still so white bread. The Australia I live in is much more diverse than that.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I wanted to explore identity and family, inter-generational conflict and marginalization, alienation and the desperate need to belong. I wanted to show the complexity of our lives and the way this is exacerbated with each added layer. More importantly, I wanted to show the masks and strategies we develop as lesbians to survive in a dominant culture.
E's character, being an "other" both as a lesbian and Arabic person in a dominant Anglo culture like Australia, her life both past and present, I hope all those things clearly portray the impact of these issues. And I wanted to do something around the experience of the city/country dichotomy that we have in Australia.
We are such an urban people but we hold this rich deeply held romantic notion of being a rural country at heart. I wanted the film to give the audience an insight into the parallel experiences of rural living through the role of Trish. When I say it is about identity it is as much about Australian identity as sexuality. E and Trish are different parts of that Australian Identity
Mothers and daughters and Family - The relationship between E and her parents and in particular her mother is very important to the story. It is not as simple as E is a coward for not being out to her parents. As a child of working-class immigrant parents who have sacrificed everything so that she can go to university, E carries the expectations of her whole extended family. She becomes the sole conduit for her mother's hopes and dreams and the pressure is just too much for her.
When we first meet E she is trying to assert her individuality by rejecting her family identity and her music, but of course this is killing her inside. The irony is that despite everything E does to hide her sexuality in order not to disappoint her parents, her mother still tells her "you're killing me with what you do to us."
E has to learn to face her demons head on so she can integrate her identity properly and live her own authentic life. I think many people, whatever their ethnicity or cultural background, can relate to this. But being Lebanese definitely adds complications for a relationship with someone like Trish who feels hurt and shut out by E's deceptions and her unwillingness to tell her parents about her. Trish's job as a character is to push E and to challenge her. But I think that many people can relate to E and the pressures she feels from her parents. Many, many, different people have come up to me or contacted me and thanked me for that.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The whole thing was a long process because of how long it took to raise the finance but in the end that was good because the script developed into something much better. One of the things that was interesting was trying to find the core of the film – Was it the E and mother story? Or thenot coming out to her family? Or the love story with Trish? Or her learning to be brave enough to be the artist and musician that she needed to be? We worked very hard to weave all those aspects into an entertaining road movie so that people could come along for the ride or appreciate the deeper aspects. I was also lucky enough to work with the amazingly talented script editor Alison Tilson, whose seminal film Japanese Story, I had admired so much. Then it was also a case of really engaging with my characters, doing a lot of research and then the long process of casting.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We have been blown away by the positive feedback worldwide. The film was voted one of the top ten date night Netflix films (USA) which was wonderful. People from around the world have written to express their appreciation of the film from so many different perspectives – lesbians appreciating a lesbian storyline that did not end in suicide or going straight was a particularly strong contingent, women of colour having a cross cultural relationship, the mother daughter story line, the lesbian gay best friend story line, the identity storyline, the finding your own true north storyline, so many reasons why they wrote to us. Any filmmaker wants their film to resonate with an audience so I am very happy.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Yes sometimes! We have mostly been very heartened by the positive reaction to the film but the LBGTQI audience has been starved of quality and quantity for so long I think it can lead to disappointment from the audience if your film does not reflect their life EXACTLY. So sometimes people have had strong opinions about why they disagreed with a character’s decision or the script. What I have learnt as a filmmaker is that the very reason someone will say they love your film can be the same reason someone hates it. Do not try to write to please people.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on/www.wearemovingstories.com?
I would love for more people to be made aware of this film. There are so many times when we don’t get to see ourselves represented on the big screen. There is such a huge public discussion in Australia about us not having films with enough diversity, from a gender, race, class and sexuality perspective. And yet All About E provides all that and still we cannot get noticed. It’s a shame because I know from the hugely varied audiences that have enthusiastically related to the film and say they find the themes relevant to their lives.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
People have recently been made aware of the crazy hidden requirements for many film festivals. The actions of WIFT in the world wide press at the AACTA awards and Anna Broinowski’s Guardian article talk about our film All About E, and illustrate why it is so frustratingfor filmmakers outside of the Screen Australia model and in particular about the huge gender inequality.
All About E is one of only a few Ozzie features showing on USA Netflix (a huge coup) and therefore being seen by a lot of people which we are very happy with. But despite a successful sold out independent cinema release in Australia we still have yet to get a deal in our own country for DVD etc. I would love for us to get wider recognition from journalists and distributors in our own country. There is a hungry audience out there who are looking for films with strong complex and diverse female protagonists. We need distributors and journalists to first of all watch AAE and to take the film’s message to the Australian public.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
To show people that being true to yourself and real love are all that matter in the end. Love is love. Girls, boys and in-between, it’s all about love. I would like to show young non-anglo women that there are roles for them in our story telling. We need to see that we have a much more diverse population than we see on our screens, big and small, at the moment.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
If you found half a million dollars that wasn’t yours, would you keep it?
Would you like to add anything else?
This film was inspired by many things: people who seem to have it all; the masks we wear to survive; fear of our true self; fear of failure as an artist; and music. Music is hugely important to me and is central to this film. E's journey with her music of course reflects the journey of herself. And music often expresses what we can't say and E is often in that place of not being able say what is going on for her.
E is a classically trained clarinettist and she struggles with her internal identity and the musical journey mirrors her own journey. So we have everything from club music to pop to classical to Middle Eastern music reflecting E's journey. I was blessed with many wonderful musicians who came together for this project especially my fabulous composer Basil Hogios, who said as the child of Immigrant parents he had been waiting for an Australian film like this for years. The personal touch he brought to it is really beautiful.
The other person who brings his musical genius to the production is international oud maestro Joseph Tawadros. Being an Egyptian Australian, his original music was so important to reflect E's internal self. Basil was able to incorporate Joseph's music into his original composition and to have the clarinet played in a way that was not straight classical style but "bending" the note as they do in the Middle East and Greece etc. I hate music films where you can tell the actor is not even close to playing the musical instrument you see on screen. I was lucky that Mandahla is very musical and although she did not play the clarinet, she played the flute and worked extremely hard to make it completely natural.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Myself and producer Jay Rutovitz are raising development finance for my next feature film, She Sells Seashells, about an extraordinary women, Mary Anning, a 19th Century paleontologist who was responsible for some of the world’s most important fossils finds. It’s a period drama based on her life in Great Britain. It’s epic! Mandahla Rose is working in LA. She’s going to be a big star. Brett Rogers and Julia Billington are working in theatre here in Sydney.
Interview: January 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
All About E
Many are the roads that do not lead to the heart.
Length: / 96 mins
Director/ Louise Wadley
Producer: / Jay Rutovitz
Writer: / Louise Wadley
About the writer, director and producer:
Writer and Director
Louise’s films have won awards, played at festivals and been broadcast around the world. She was a semi-finalist in the prestigious 2010 Nicholl Fellowship and was selected for the Outfest Script Lab program in 2011. Louise teaches film at the Sydney Film School and the University of Technology, Sydney.
Jay helmed one of Australia's most successful crowdfunding projects for this film and brings the experience of managing large budgets in the energy sector where she has attracted more than $16 million in private and public funding. Jay is a director of Girls’ Own Pictures.
Key cast: / Mandahla Rose, Brett Rogers, Julia Billington, Simon Bolton
Festival directors, journalists): /
Funders: / Private Investment and Screen NSW
Made in association with: / Audio Lab, Screen NSW
Where can I see it in the next month? USA – on Netflix
Holland : Cinemein – it has had a cinema release and will be coming out on DVD and download soon
Germany: PRO-FUN MEDIA - it has had the cinema release and is available for DVD download from http://www.pro-fun.de
Australia - Download or stream from www.girslown.com
UK: Download or stream from www.girslown.com,