Life is a difficult script to learn.
Interview with Writer/Director Sophie Mathisen
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I was particularly frustrated by the lack of female characters in Australian films. As an actress, I was always auditioning for the role of someone's daughter or a bloody victim. I wanted to make a film that places a young female at the heart of it but that doesn't demand her to be a romantic lead. I wanted to make something that reflects the women I saw around me - deeply flawed humans trying to understand and move through a very complex world. And I wanted to celebrate the relationships we forge with those in similar states.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Everything about this film was made with heart, passion and drive. As outsiders in the film industry, we had to hustle to get this made so that investment, the sheer will to get it onto screens, emanates through each and every frame. The creatives involved, from the crew, the cast, to the musicians, were all there for the right reasons and that is something that does translate to the final product - it means something.
It's also beautifully shot - number one, it's in Paris and two we used the best cameras and it shows. It's not your run of the mill indie - we were aiming much higher than our budget actually allowed but it makes such a difference.
We worked with a fifty percent gender quota across all departments, it's an ethical film.
Above all else, it's funny, smart, endearing, emotional and real.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
When mined properly, the personal becomes the universal. I've always found that it's through specificity that we connect to narrative on an individual level so I was very conscious to make the characters people I recognise and believe in. And that usually is by asking them to do the things that seem shitty or silly or ridiculous. I love the minutae that we can inject into cinema, those small moments of unconscious gesture that seep out and allow us to know the people beyond the screen they inhabit.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The film was initially much longer in its festival run, as we completed post about two months after wrapping and went immediately on tour with it. When we knew it was going to be released, we sharpened it up, shaved off twelve minutes and we did that because after about two hundred viewings you start to see where you could have been more succinct. I'm glad we did it this way though, the learning for us as filmmakers has continued throughout the process and we are carrying that through to the development of our next works.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Pretty darn positive. I think the difficulty is finding your audience and it's often that independent film, due to a lack of platform or exposure, doesn't reach as widely as it could or should. I'd love to connect to a wide audience in Australia, that's why we are pricing it cheaply and getting it out there ASAP, we want it to be seen and connected with.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I think it's highlighted how hungry audiences are to see alternative points of view. I think the time of cinema as purely escapism is over - film is a public medium and much like we are being more conscious of what we put into our bodies and why, audiences are far more astute as to what they put into their heads and why. We don't mindlessly imbibe content - we opt into it so that choice is really affecting how people want their stories structured and made. And I for one am ecstatic.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible onwww.wearemovingstories.com?
I want people to get interested and make the choice to see the film. It's a 96 minute investment I don't think you'll regret.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists would be helpful. So would bloggers and influencers. We are entering the 'danger zone' as we were told by distributors, coming up to Christmas and all but realistically, there is no overlap between summer blockbusters and Drama. Go see Doctor Strange and then see Drama. I'm not sure if the take home message is the same but granted you'll enjoy them for different reasons.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
That women can and do make great films. We just often have to step outside the system to do it. I might not make the front of the Good Weekend because I don't have the budget to so but all along this trajectory we have been guided by the principle that women need support and a chance to do their thing. I really want this film to be something that inspires other emerging female companies in the industry to take up the mandate and advocate for the careers of other women in the industry. If Screen Oz won't institute quotas, we still can. They do work and the results are undeniable.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why did we decide to step outside of the system to make this film? Could this be indicative of what emerging creatives need to do in order to take control and advance in their careers?
Would you like to add anything else?
We have received no funding whatsoever along the entire life cycle of this film. We want this to be a strong wake up call to funding and distribution agencies that if it's hard for two white, middle class, educated women to make a film with recognisable actors, it's beyond impossible for others with less access. This needs to change. Not tomorrow but now.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We are currently shooting our second feature, this time a documentary. We will wrap by year's end and begin the journey to completion all over again....
Interview: November 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
Life is a difficult script to learn.
Length: 96 mins
Director: Sophie Mathisen
Producer: Dominique Mathisen, Sophie Mathisen
Writer: Sophie Mathisen
About the writer, director and producer:
Key cast: Sophie Mathisen, Jonathan Burteaux, Francois Vincentelli, Tom Wren, Nicole Da Silva
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Audience
Made in association with: Ourselves
Where will it be shown in the next month? Ten cities and the internets
Release date: November 17th