The hardest thing about being magical is pretending to be ordinary.
Interview with Writer/Director Emma Magenta
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Remembering Agatha is the result of a series of writings I wrote over four years about the domestication of the wild human spirit under the confines of traditional relationships. I basically wrote it trying to find answers to how you can love others so much that you forget yourself and essentially it brought me back to childhood conditioning. It is autobiographical interspersed with metaphorical elements to convey Agatha’s internal world. I realised that this story was not just a book i wanted to create, but a film and I shelved it until that opportunity presented itself with See Pictures who successfully helped me get it up and running before I was even ready. I wanted to convey the idea that one person’s remembering of their divine heritage is the butterfly effect for others remembering too. This film is about that one person’s journey into remembering.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Like all my favourite films, Remembering Agatha is a film you will want to and need to see a few times to fully understand everything that is happening in it. Time is non-linear and yet at times linear. There is time travel, there is the convergence of multiple timelines as well as past, present and future. There is the 3D world that also morphs and changes in relation to Agatha’s feelings and perspective. There is intermittent animation sequences that I have created as another extension of Agatha’s child self perception. There are ghostly apparitions of The Divine Feminine. There are amazing performances conveying ideas that maybe haven’t been presented this way before in film. There are beautiful forest scenes from The Blue Mountains where I live.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The story is for anyone who has fallen in love and decided to build a house around that love and bear children. It is for anyone still in possession of the sacred time known as childhood. It’s for those trying to find the seed of passion in themselves and in each other afterwards while still being a parent. It is for anyone who believes that our beliefs and attitudes are originally a product of childhood conditioning. It is for anyone who struggles to live in the 3D world when they know they are timeless. It is for anyone who feels they have lost their essential self in the face of parenting. It is for anyone who struggles with being physically trapped in the world of illusions because they know that they are inherently magical. It is for anyone who is drowning and wants to know how to save themselves. Mainly though, this is a story about facing our pain instead of running from it, if we really want to transform ourselves.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I originally wrote it as a feature of the same idea, which due to funding requirements from HIVE fund, had to be reduced to a short. It was super hard to reduce all of the ideas I had in the feature into something meaningful and yet not too incomprehensible for the short. I decided to just flesh out Agatha’s story and focus purely on her story arc and Robert’s only in relation to Agatha. As my producer told me, I would be rewriting the story to the very end, that is how film is and I had this confirmed after filming and realised that I needed more shots to shape the story, which thankfully I was able to. It was truly in the editing suite that I rewrote the story, even up to the sound studio. I have had to learn script writing on the fly, as well as directing and post-production, I’ve also had to learn how to merge my drawings with live footage so it works for the story and not against it. It has all been a massive learning curve and has taught me to adapt to what is and make something as close to gold out of the resources available.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So far I have received quite amazing feedback, although only two audiences have seen it. Adelaide Film Festival and The Cast and Crew Screening. The crew from the C&C screening were very positive how it had turned out, given the limitations we faced at times. Both audiences approached me after the screening to offer their feedback which ranged from “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before” to “What the hell was that which just happened to me?” Whether you end up liking it or not, I’m guessing from people’s response that it makes you think about things you had never thought about.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I have been on such an epic journey of self doubt, feelings of failure to exuberance from having turned parts around that I didn’t think we could, to feelings of personal victory from finishing it, that the overall positive feedback is wonderful and reassuring. However, I have already really relinquished ownership over the film and its impact on others, so I feel a sense of freedom either way. For me, my job was to complete it to the best of my ability with the resources and knowledge I had at the time. I have done that. No one has challenged me so far however.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Well I viewed your page and I immediately was struck by the other films you had chosen to include and they resonated with me as films that are seeking to explore themes outside of the usual genres. I am grateful to be included and hope that people read this and feel inclined to explore Remembering Agatha and the other films you have included. It’s a great place for a first time film maker like myself to connect with others intrigued enough to visit your site. They are my people. Stories are important to share. Essentially I am a story teller through writing, drawing and now film, so it is great to be included in any forum with integrity to honour the craft of storytellers.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
As I am already with See Pictures and have the wonderful help of founder and executive producer, Jamie Hilton and also my fantastic producer, Ester Harding, I am fortunate to have their support already along with executive producer, Mandy Chang who commissioned the story with ABC. The best people to come on board at this stage of Remembering Agatha are International Film Festival Directors/Selectors, Distributors, Sales Agents, Journalists etc… to review, include, promote and connect the larger world with this story.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would love for people to walk away and feel that they have seen something they have never seen before, heard ideas that they have never thought of before or expressed in a way they haven’t heard before, find that they are understood and that the quiet voice in the back of their head is heard by others too, that this film connects them to their desire to ask for something bigger in themselves outside of paying a mortgage, buying milk and being a workaholic. I hope people remember that they are inherently spiritual beings living a human life and to reconnect to this essential self if they have become disconnected. I would like the film to stay in people’s memories for along time after.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can you change your past by making different choices in the present?
Would you like to add anything else?
I would like to mention that Remembering Agatha will be screening on The ABC, Tues 27th Feb at 10pm if you happen to miss it at Flickerfest or need to see it again. Thank you to We Are Moving Stories for inviting me to discuss my film, Remembering Agatha.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m pulling together a young adult/adult series called The Imaginers that is the work I have been developing for a book series as well as a film series since 2012. I’m nearly there.
Interview: January 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTIAQ+, scifi, horror, world cinema. 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 hardest thing about being magical is pretending to be ordinary.
Director: Emma Magenta
Producer: Ester Harding
Writer: Emma Magenta
About the writer, director and producer:
Emma Magenta: Writer and Illustrator of seven books, including award winning The Peril of Magnificent Love. Writer, Director and Illustrator of The ABC TV series The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch, a multi-platform project that showcased at Emma’s TEDx talk in Canberra in 2011, SxSW and other Festivals.
Ester Harding: Co-producer on writer/director Stephan Elliott's FLAMMABLE CHILDREN; producer for REMEMBERING AGATHA; and for See Pictures' first foray into television, HOLY COW.
Key cast: Andrea Demetriades and Alex Dimitriades
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): International Film Festival Directors/Buyers/Journalists.
Social media handles:
Facebook: Emma Magenta@BrainPornNinja
Twitter: emma magenta@BrainPornNinja
Other: Facebook: Remembering Agatha@rememberingagatha
Funders: Adelaide Film Festival, ABC, Australia Council for the Arts, Screen Australia, Create NSW and See Pictures
Made in association with: The Hive Fund, The Gingerbread Man and Spectrum Films
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Flickerfest on January 16th at Bondi and then on The ABC, Tues 27th Feb at 10pm