When Australian filmmaker Alexandra Schepisi decided to shoot a film in Greece, Neos Kosmos was there to ask her where she got her inspiration from.
Maja Vucevic (MV): You are an actress, producer and director. This is your second short film. In which of these fields are you most comfortable? Are you going to continue the career in front or behind the camera?
Alexandra Schepisi (AS): I hope to continue both and love them both. I am a pretty reluctant producer so will drop that role asap but I am passionate about acting and adore film making. I have lots of stories to tell, which are unlike any told before, so that excites me and keeps me creating. I am currently acting in a two part ABC telemovie called Devil’s Dust. We are shooting in Sydney. After that I am off to NY for the premiere of The Eye of the Storm and then I come home to rehearse Queen Lear at the Melbourne Theatre Company. Somewhere in there I will start developing my next short.
MV: In choosing your profession, how important was the fact that you are director’s daughter?
AS: I have always wanted to be an actor and it’s hard to tell how much my family effected that as they have all worked in the industry. I have a family of actors, directors, producers, wardrobe designers, various crew members… you name it. I came to directing only a few years ago, it wasn’t a long term ambition. I wrote my first film because I was frustrated with the lack of interesting roles for women, so I was compelled to write a film for five women. They were complicated, sticky roles. I have many more of them in my head which are yet to make it to the screen. But they will.
MV: What was your father’s reaction to your last movie? How strict and critical is he with you, as a young director?
AS: My dad is so supportive. I didn’t involve him at all in the process. I had he and my step mum attend a test screening before I did my final cut, to see how different audience members would react and if they understood the film etc. I didn’t think my dad would like it at all but he loved it! He has been incredibly encouraging and supportive, always telling people about my films.
MV: How did you come up with the idea to make a short film about Greece? Why Greece, what made you place the screen action in a Greek landscape and environment?
AS: I saw a woman on a beach reading a letter with her feet in a rock pool and was transfixed by her. My imagination started running wild, wondering what was in the letter and what were the circumstances surrounding this moment. I wrote a number of different story lines until I came up with this one and it just worked. Why Greece came to me, I don’t know but it couldn’t be anywhere else. It must have been a subconscious choice but it fit perfectly. The story begins in Australia.
MV: What is your short film Lois about?
AS: The short version is it is about a woman with unfinished business. A woman who has been wronged. Slightly longer: When a long awaited letter tips Lois over the edge, she is driven to wild lengths to address some unfinished business.
MV: How difficult was it, to bring the crew with you, from Australia to Greece? What parts of Greece did you visit?
AS: The film is set in Australia and Greece. We shot on beautiful Garie Beach in NSW and then the very stunning island of Sifnos in Greece. We only took our cinematographer Jeremy Rouse over with us (the producer, Rachel Higgins, myself and Jacki Weaver.) We used a local line producer Angelos Tasousis from Filmografik and an entirely Greek crew. We did all of our pre-production in Athens and then we all got on a ferry and went over to Sifnos to shoot. I also cast a Greek actor Yannis Totsikas in the male lead and we cast locals from Sifnos as extras. My fist assistant director translated for me when I was directing the actors but the crew spoke English.
MV: Do you have any plans of going to international festivals with this short film, like the famous International Thessaloniki Film Festival?
AS: Absolutely. We will definitely be entering Thessaloniki and Athens as well. We will enter the Anipodes Greek Film Festival here and all other big film festivals around the world and in Australia. We want this film to be seen far and wide.
MV: Did you have any support from Greek community in Australia, while raising funds to complete this movie?
AS: Despite finishing the film, we actually have a further $10,000 to raise to complete the budget (to pay our debts). We had to start shooting before we’d raised all of the money. We certainly have had some support from the Australian Greek community, which we are very grateful for. And a little more would be perfect. Anyone is interested in making a tax free donation to the film, they can do so by either contacting the producer Rachel Higgins at email@example.com or directly through the website www.abaf.org.au/donors/artist-projects/rachel-higgins.html We have a further $10,000 to raise.
MV: Is it going to be screened in cinemas in Australia?
AS: Absolutely but we don’t know when or where yet. It depends which festivals we get into and we won’t know that for a while.
For more information on the film Lois, you can visit the film’s website at facebook.com/LoisTheFilm