Betty Winter, award winning screenwriter, has a showdown with Executive Producer, Richard when he tries to hijack the film she has written by making the female characters die a sexy death, instead of her female empowered ending.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Sunny Grace
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I found myself suffering from many triggers during the beginning of the #metoo movement due to so many flashbacks to things I had been through over my career. From Rolf Harris licking my chin on a British Paints TVC when I was a young actor to not being taken seriously as a young writer.
Talking to my friends and hearing the stories in the media brought a rush of rage. I wrote the script in one session night - literally after being “triggered”. The stories of people being abused and bullied on set as well as producers changing the narrative of films literally to serve their own fantasies culminated in this script. I sent it to some actor friends and from their feedback turned the anger into empowerment for my female character - screenwriter Betty Winter.
I chose the Western as the vehicle to present this story as it is easily recognisable and the tropes are so male identifying. Being a short film we needed a genre that would convey the world quickly and then allow us to subvert it easily in order to get the point across.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I hope audiences find Trigger Happy entertaining and thought provoking - it's is a dark comedy where you get the ending you deserve. Also the majority of the crew and cast were female and it was a very collaborative process. The production values are high. We took the tropes of the film world and turned them on their head, or turned them inside out literally by filming the main scene using a circular track.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The inspiration for the story was very personal and inspired by universal themes of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender division and gender empowerment.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I wrote the script end October 2017, developed it with the actors who are always so helpful at finding the nuances and filmed it the week before Christmas.
When a friend of mine, director, writer, actor, performer Samantha Rebillet, died from suicide at the end of November I began to question if I would be able to work on the film. I spoke to my collaborate and cinematographer Velinda Wardell ACS at length about it and we decided we needed to make it to honour her and all her efforts in trying to make in the world as a female filmmaker.
From then it was a very fast development process with the cast and crew quickly coming on board donating their time, talent and equipment to make it happen. I am thrilled with the outcome.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback from audiences so far has been very satisfying. It’s great watching how they react to the ending in particular.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback I received when sending the script to potential actors did surprise me - some told me it was too early to tell this story and that I was too angry.
Others thought it was exactly the right time and that films like this need to be made. I am so grateful that we made it so quickly.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I think this is an important movement and story. I don’t want these issues to just die down again as they have in the past. Being a woman in her 40s I have seen movements come and go but this time I feel a momentum I hope will continue.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Film Festival Directors and journalists.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like it to make people think about how the movie business can control and empower world views through narratives but also how it can affect change in the dominant narrative.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Is this the right time for a film like this?
What impact can movies like this have in changing the conversation and power balance.
Would you like to add anything else?
I’m very excited to see it with a public audience.
This is the first public screening of Trigger Happy apart from our cast and crew screening.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Sunny Grace is working on getting development partners and funding for her feature script “The Bower Girl”. She is also writing a feature film with director Camille Chen.
Velinda Wardell ACS has been working with the NOW campaign as well as a documentary about the production of Sydney Theatre Company’s upcoming play Still Point Turning - the Catherine McGregor story.
Interview: April 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
Get the ending you deserve
About the writer, director and producer:
Sunny Grace is a graduate of the NIDA Master of Arts in Performance Writing 2015. She has produced numerous successful short films. Trigger Happy is her directorial debut. She lives in Sydney and juggles.
Maya Stange, Jessica Falkholt, Dan Krige, Zoe Carides, Christopher Stollery, Ryan Morgan, Nikita Morgan, Monica Sayer, Thomas Anson Mesker.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Film festival directors, journalist.
Social media handles:
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
FFS and Cannes Short Film Corner.