All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane, was a smash hit at our festival, can you tell us a bit about how the film came to be and what your first feature experience taught you?
My first feature taught me that passion is your best resource. It's more important than money. The good thing about it is that with the right project, it can be contageous.
How did you go about funding the film/getting started?
Writer Stephen Vagg is also my husband. We started by applying to the usual funding bodies, but in the end we decided how much we were willing to lose and made the film for that. When the momentum built, we got lots of favours and you would never believe how little the budget actually was.
Any advice to give to directors out there, trying to get their films made?
Work out what resources you already have and how much you can afford to loose, then make your film with this. It is the most liberating feeling in the world to green light your own film.
Your cast is a really fantastic mix of young Aussie actors - can you give us some insight into your casting process?
It's great to get to know actors and get a good reputation among actors, especially if you're going to be asking them to take a pay cut for your film. I was very luck to have met a lot of the actors in my film through doing productions in the fringe theatre scene. Getting into live comedy is another way is another way to get to know promising up and comers.
A lot of the cast from All My Friends pop up in your follow up film, Jucy, notably Cindy Nelson, Francesca Gasteen, Ryan Johnson and Charlotte Gregg – was it difficult imagining these performers as new characters but in the same Brisbane universe?
No, Cindy and Francesca are basically playing distorted versions of themselves! We didn't take as long with casting Jucy, because we shaped the characters for the actors. We were disappointed not to work with Matt Zeremes again though, he did such a great job in AMFALB, but it didn't work out this time.
You’ve worked with writer, Stephen Vagg, on both films - can you tell us a bit about your process together? Does the script constantly evolve through filming, or is it pretty much set in stone before cameras roll?
A film is written three times. Once in the script, once on set and once in the edit suite. I've done reshoots on both of my features, this is because making a film is sometimes like a box of chocolates!! (You never know what you're gona get)
Brisbane is the setting for both of your features (for your first film, the clue was in the name!) – what is it about the city that inspires you? And will your next project, Friday Night Drinks, complete a Brisbane Trilogy? (The Brilogy?!)
A Brilogy!! That's fantastic!! Can I steal that? We would love to shoot FND in Brisbane, but we have to be flexible according to where we can raise the resources to shoot. The script is set in Brisbane. Brisbane is a great small city. Its population is one million. That means it's got all the facilities you need but little traffic, big houses, cheap rent and lots of space. There is a tradition of conservatism in Brisbane but the flip side of this is that there has always been an artistic underground culture that is a little bit out-there.
Speaking of Friday Night Drinks, can you give us an idea of what to expect – any casting news? Any plot hints?
Friday Night Drinks is made of of three intersecting plots about young people on the best night of the week. We'd like to make it for $2 million. It's a small budget for a feature but it will be a step up from our usual micro budgets! After two features, we're ready!
You’ve recently been working as a director on Home and Away – how does the time in TV compare with your feature film experience?
Home and Away is a real machine. It really works and there's no stoping it. So many successful international actors have been been through it. I think that's because there is no time to be unprofessional. Home and Away requires actors to reach peaks of genuine emotion without enough time to be indulgent. Every week they shoot a the equivalent of a feature film. Each week of episodes takes 8 days to shoot so two different weeks are shooting at the same time.
Have you ever worked outside of Australia and what are the differences between your home industry and others?
I've never worked outside Australia, but I have taken meetings in Hollywood! I'm not even sure if Americans speak fluent Hollywood.
And finally, we’d love to know a little more about your influences and your favourite Australian films - what titles have inspired you?
I was a teenager when I saw The Piano and Strictly Ballroom in the cinema. These films were very inspiring to me at a key age. I also remember watching Crocodile Dundee at the drive in when I was very little. I remember the effect of that one because I ate a dagwood dog that didn't stay down!
See what Louise is up to at www.louisealston.net