Second Best is a dark comedy about the power of identical twin sisters and the unbreakable bond that binds them, no matter what might try and come between them.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Alyssa McClelland
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
This short film is a stepping-stone to the longer film narratives I am developing. I have been heavily immersed in the world of commercials, web series and music videos over the last couple of years, and my foundations have always been in performance, writing and long-form storytelling, so making this film is going back to that. And my mother is a fraternal twin, my best friend throughout high school was an identical twin and I dated an identical twin for 6 years. Needless to say I have a thing with twins and I have long wanted to make a darkly comedic film that delves into their shared stories and explores the complex and unmatchable twin connection.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
‘Second Best’ is a darkly funny film that stays with you. I am passionate about the darker comedy that thrives amongst the everyday and strays just an inch from reality. Familial love is the perfect thematic foundation for this type of comedy to thrive. The film stirs emotions, smiles, cringes and laughter at the awkward tensions that are born out of family relationships.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film takes place at a crossroads in the relationship of identical twins, Nouchka and Velika Bortsov. Pressure on the twins from their mother, Dina, has been growing for the past eighteen years and her overbearing expectations are about to come to a head. The question for the twins at this point in their lives is, will they grow together or grow apart? And what does this mean for them and their family? Ultimately this film is about the love between twin sisters and the bond that unites them. It’s a story about finding identity, as part of a family and as an individual. Developing these characters and their dynamic, and exploring the very heart of what makes twins and families tick has not only been a wonderful lesson in empathy but one also of self-discovery.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Simone and I were very closely aligned on the tone and structure of the film as we wrote. We remained truthful to our vision and had a marvellous time concocting these characters. I delved deep into researching the worlds of twins and rhythmic gymnastics, interviewing many people in the development stage of writing and that definitely gave us insights that helped shaped the script.
As we got closer to shooting, I had a lot of rehearsal and workshop time with the actors that led to significant developments in the script. The Banno twins were on board with the project very early in the process and we had lots of chats and workshops, me with each lady individually and then also all three of us, tapping into the delicate intricacies of their relationship. Once Lucy Bell came on board as their mother Dina, the dynamic of the three women just blossomed as we explored all the subtle and no-so-subtle relationship insights we wanted to bring to the film. This meant the script constantly evolved up until the shoot.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So many people have said they want to see a feature version of the film, which is a truly lovely thing to hear. People say they want to stay in the world and find out what happens to these characters. I love hearing people laugh when they watch the film. They laugh at the awkwardness, at the reactions of our characters, at the familiar familial emotions it raises. And most people who’ve seen the film don’t believe it’s 20 minutes long, they think it’s shorter. That’s great.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Well, hearing that people want more of these characters and want to stay in the world of the film is a very heart-warming thing. I spent a long time crafting the universe of this family, their background, their relationships and the details of their everyday existence, so it’s wonderful to know this comes through the film.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Right now I’m focused on the festival journey of the film as it begins doing the festival circuit. At the end of the day, filmmakers want their films to be seen, and I am no different. I hope for it to get out there and find its audience.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
As the film is at the very beginning of its festival circuit, film festival directors and selectors definitely! And journalists who are interested in women in film, or women in comedy or who want to help the film on its journey.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I want people to laugh and enjoy the journey of the film. There are so many negative things happening in our world today, politics and violence and displacement... I didn’t want to go there with this film. To me it’s important to come together as an audience for the shared experience of a good laugh, something that we will never get from watching the news.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Are twins connected on a different human level? Just how strong is a twin bond?
Would you like to add anything else?
I’m really excited to screen the film this week at opening night of Flickerfest International Short Film Festival in Sydney. I hope audiences get a lot of enjoyment from the story.
What other projects are the key creative developing or working on now?
Alyssa McClelland is writing a feature script and developing a television series with Australian writer and actor, Richard Davies. Alyssa and Simone Moessinger (writers of ‘Second Best’) are in early development on a feature script. They are also exploring ideas for a feature film version of ‘Second Best’.
Interview: January 2018
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
Second Best is a dark comedy about the power of identical twin sisters and the unbreakable bond that binds them, no matter what might try and come between.
Length: 20 minutes
Director: Alyssa McClelland
Producer: Alyssa McClelland and Daisy Bray
Writer: Alyssa McClelland and Simone Moessinger
About the writer, director and producer:
Alyssa McClelland is an Australian director and writer known for the cult-hit web series ‘One Step Closer To Home', short films ‘Second Best’, Tropfest finalist ‘Nic and Shauna’, several music videos and a plethora of local and international television commercials for the likes of Apple, Samsung, Netflix, McDonalds, Leggos, Telstra and Realestate.com. Her advertising work has won the coveted Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards and Best Direction Award at the London International Awards. Alyssa also won the prestigious Instyle Magazine Woman Of Style Award for her work as a filmmaker.
Looking for: film festival directors and selectors, journalists, buyers
Social media handles: @secondbestfilm #secondbest
Twitter: Director/ writer/ producer - @LyssMcClelland
Instagram: Director/ writer/ producer - @alyssa_mcclelland
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Opening night of Flickerfest International Short Film Festival in Sydney, Australia on the 12th January 2018 followed by another screening at Flickerfest on the 13th January!