This is the eighth in a series of interviews with filmmakers selected for the ReelGood Film Festival, RGFF ’21. The festival will take place Saturday, 20th March at Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn, Victoria.
Filmmaker: Lizzie Cater, writer/director
What first got you interested in filmmaking and how did you get started?
A million years ago I wanted to be an actor, and then I wanted to be an agent for creatives, and then I ended up producing, and now have started to move into writing and directing. I’ve always loved films and I’ve just wanted to be close to the storytelling, so I guess it’s been about inching my way closer to the heart of that.
What are some of your main influences, both in your style and content?
I’m going to be honest – I am not one for the classics! My influences range broadly, but overall I love clarity of vision and a unique way of looking at things. Fave directors include Joanna Hogg, Ana Lily Amirpour, Celine Sciamma, Ena Sendijarevic and Julia Ducournau. They are all inherently feminine, often non-linear stories with a good whack of kook thrown in.
What makes a film great/memorable for you? What are you drawn to in stories?
I love when things are funny and weird but also make you feel something. A strong visual approach is a surefire way to suck me in because I am an aesthete, and I love to look at pretty or interesting things (but who doesn’t?). The stories I love are usually diverse, female-driven, and/or queer.
What element of filmmaking do you enjoy the most?
I find the editing process, when it starts to come together and you can see that it’s a real thing, thrilling. I mean, it’s all thrilling but I love being able to see it and move things around and re-discover it. I also think working with good actors can be pretty phenomenal.
Tell us a bit about your film in RGFF 2021. How did you come to this story and what do you find most interesting/important about it?
The film was made in isolation. I was reading Madeline Miller’s book Circe and became fascinated with this mythical figure. The book is all about the power of femininity, and how powerful women are often scorned by society, or in Circe’s case, completely removed. I started to look at paintings that featured Circe, which reminded me of the iso craze of recreating famous artworks, which led me to think about how all of these people at home alone were spending their time. How precious we think time is, how much pressure this invented measure can have. I grabbed my girlfriend who happens to be an actor and a camcorder and we shot some stuff, and set it to journal-entry style dialogue. It’s a collage of a film – like grabbing bits and pieces from a couple of different places and assembling them together. It’s a bit weird and obtuse, but I am very proud of it because I think it speaks to a feeling that we all felt, in some way, in 2020.
What are some of the bigger hurdles you’ve faced in filmmaking, either in a particular film or in a broader sense?
The majority of the work that I have made has been independently – which is great because I’ve had creative control, but is hard because I’ve not had the structural support that is probably really helpful. Balancing ownership and authorship when you have stakeholders involved is, I can imagine, a bit tricky. But I guess that’s a hurdle to come… in terms of difficulties making films generally, I do feel like sometimes it’s easy to listen to the negative noise and feel like it’s never going to get made or be successful. That’s something that you have to overcome for sure.
What do you see or hope for in the future of Australian film, either on a personal level or the industry at large?
It’s an exciting time I think – there is so much in flux! Some really important and pertinent conversations are being had about representation, inclusion and the way we tell stories. I’m hopeful that the industry in Australia will continue to embrace the changes to come.
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers?
Oh I totally stole this but Desiree Akhavan once said that making things is how you find your voice – so you just have to keep going.
Lizzie’s Film CIRCE will be screening at the ReelGood Film Festival at Lido Cinemas on Saturday 20th March. To see the full programme and buy tickets, visit www.rgff.com.au
To see out more of Lizzie’s work, go to https://www.everyoneweknow.com.au/