Interview of Christine and Manon by Freya Bennett
Hey Christine and Manon, how are you both?
Christine: I’m great! Thanks. Staying busy with writing and working on the next project!
Manon: Busy! With two shorts in post and two just starting their festival runs it’s all systems go for me!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves:
M: I’m a slashie at heart. Producer/Extras-Coordinator/Coffee-Run-Connoisseur. I work full time as the Extras Coordinator for Bud Hopes Film & TV Casting which has granted me incredible opportunities working on some of the biggest films in Australia; Thor: Ragnarok, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I moonlight as an Indie Producer which has granted me equally as incredible & fulfilling experiences working with talented up and coming Directors such as Christine.
C: (Laughs). You’re too kind! Well, I’m said director but I’m also an actress. I studied acting at QUT in Brisbane and I love all things film. I can be found hours deep on YouTube watching behind-the-scenes videos from movies and TV shows, blooper reels, how-to-videos, interviews. Anything and everything Film and TV I’m incredibly curious about. I also love coffee, reading and bad dad jokes… But there are no bad dad jokes in überRICH, I promise!
Now, tell us a bit about your short film überRICH:
C: überRICH is my first short film as a writer, producer and director. It’s a comedy about a trio of robbers who pull off a jewellery heist but fail to organise a getaway vehicle, so they call an Uber instead.
Christine, you trained as an actor, how has it been writing and directing this film?
C: It was an incredible experience. Filmmaking has always been something I’ve aspired to do but I didn’t feel confident that I could pull it off. The right things fell into place last year and with some very supportive friends I decided to go for it. I wrote draft after draft and forced myself to let people read it which is a very scary thing to do! It was with their continuous encouragement that I went on to produce and direct the film. It’s been a great learning experience and I’m so glad that I did it. You won’t know what you’re capable of unless you’re prepared to take the risk and learn.
What did you love about being behind the scenes?
C: Literally, calling the shots! “And action!” (laughs) But in all honesty, I loved everything about being on this side of the camera. It was fun, challenging, exciting, eye-opening and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. überRICH gave me a completely new perspective on filmmaking as a director. To oversee an entire project from page to screen is very different to acting, where your focus is purely your character’s journey. Suddenly I was being asked to make decisions that I usually wouldn’t even have an opinion on. I had no other choice but to rise to the occasion and trust that I was making the right calls. But watching a scene back and feeling confident that we got what we needed and we could move on was a thrill I didn’t expect. I also loved working with the film crew! It helps if you have an awesome team who make it a breeze on set. I really loved directing, to helm something the crew and cast were passionate about was a privilege and also incredibly humbling.
What was some challenges you faced?
C: I was under no illusion it was going to be easy but there were times we faced some hurdles I wasn’t sure we’d overcome. But thank goodness for Manon. She kept me confident and more importantly, sane. Some of the challenges ranged from fun creative things like finding the right person for each role, to more logistical things like, ‘Do we shoot in a moving car? How do we do that safely? Do we shoot in a studio set up? Will that be believable?’. And even things like insurance and music licensing were things that popped up that I thought I had addressed but were more complicated than I realised. What worked in our favour was a long and thorough pre-production process. Also, lots and lots of to-do lists.
Do you have any tips for girls wanting to get into writing and directing?
C: If it’s truly something you’re passionate about then get curious and then get creating. Find courses, read about the craft, watch any and all videos, surround yourself with likeminded creatives and collaborate. Get creating asap. Check out QUT, NYFA, and AFTRS for studying and No Film School, Film Riot, and D4Darius on YouTube as some starting points for resources. I would love to see more girls writing and directing. And don’t forget to support each other. We need more of that, not just in the industry but in everyday life.
Manon, can you tell us a bit about what it was like studying at the New York film academy?
M: It was the perfect course for me. I’m a hands on learner, I’d much rather learn from doing than from a textbook. We started shooting our first shorts two weeks into the course. So being able to jump right in and learn from my own mistakes was an incredible process. In addition to this, the small class sizes meant I had incredible access to my lecturers and their wealth of knowledge.
At the time my Directing lecturer was gearing up to direct a feature film and after working so closely with him on my shorts during my time at NYFA I was fortunate enough to be offered a Director’s attachment with him on that feature once I graduated.
Can you tell us a bit about what it takes to be a producer of a film?
M: I think every film is different and requires a different approach. My focus is always making sure I am bringing together the best team for that story and for that Director’s vision. This begins in development everything from casting to financing, always a fun challenge on Indie Films. We really found our key team once we attached our Director of Photography, David Aponas and his team at Short Stack Productions. David and his team have an incredible we’ll make it happen attitude with the skills, equipment and technical expertise to guarantee that.
What did you enjoy about co-producing überRICH?
M: Christine is really a dream Director to work with. She has such a clear vision for every element of her story and yet is flexible in our method to achieving that. As Indie filmmakers flexibility is key so being able to work with someone who is open to coming up with creative methods to achieve high production values was so wonderful.
The film überRICH has an all female ensemble cast, why is this important in this day and age?
M: As female filmmakers we are both very aware of how few females are in key creative positions in Film & TV. I think it is important that wherever we can we are the solution to that problem. We are fortunate enough to have found ourselves in key creative positions so ‘Paying it Forward’ in a way, by creating content with more opportunities for women is the beginning of our efforts.
What would you love to see on the big screen in regards to equality?
M: I think for Christine and myself, as women of colour, it is important to ensure equal representation across all aspects. Australia especially is a truly diverse country and I think it’s important to honestly represent the many faces that make up Australia. So I would love to see more roles for not just women but people of colour, non-binary individuals and LGBT+ people.
Finally, where can we see überRICH??
C: überRICH will be premiering at SIPFest at 7pm 23rd April at Surfers Paradise beach, Gold Coast, for the Gold Coast Film Festival. We’d love to see you there!
Be sure to also follow us on social media to stay in the loop for any screenings near you!