Interview with Brodie Lancaster of Filmme Fatales
Filmme Fatales has been a staple publication for anyone on the film scene. Sadly, it has reached its final issue and will have a proper send off on Thursday 2 February at Rooftop Cinema. The editor/creator/excellent lady behind it, Brodie Lancaster, sat down with us to talk about the journey, what films she's loving at the moment and bad advice she's gotten in the past.
Filmme Fatales has been going for 4 years now, what was the inspiration that started it?
It started because I basically wanted to read something like it but nothing like it existed. I worked for 2 years as an editor for a website that was focused on video and film. I was reading feminist publications and film publications and I wanted something that combined the two. Mainstream film mags rarely have women’s faces on the cover. Right before I launched Issue 1 I went into Mag Nation to give it another chance, to make sure I wasn’t just imagining it. And I found predominantly men’s faces and one Australian film publication with Rebel Wilson on the cover and I thought: This isn’t good enough. I got really into a publication from the UK called Little White Lies, which was less about reviews but focused more on a specific director or genre or time period. The cover looked completely different. The illustrations were different, they would use different printing techniques and it was more of like a zine-y mag. One issue they did about The Master, which was all about a cult and deception, came with a pair of 3D glasses. Pages were printed in blue and red ink and if you looked through the glasses you could see one page with one eye and the other page with your other eye but not with both. Id never seen anything like it. A smart publication for girls didn’t exist at the time, so I wanted to fill that gap and not just add to the noise.
Tell me about the first publication. Why did you pick those themes, articles, etc. and what have you learned from that first issue?
I’ve grown a lot as an editor and know more about what to ask from people. Working with people and knowing what’s going to be right for the publication and what’s not going to work. That first one I was just so flattered that people wanted to contribute and looking back I know I was thinking ‘that article just isn’t right or that illustration just isn’t right’ but I just didn’t know how to communicate that and I didn’t know how to say no to someone who wanted to give me their work. I’ve become a lot more assertive in that way and knowing what I want from contributors. I think the catalyst for it was the housemate I was living with at the time. He was a total douchebag and I didn’t agree with him or his views on things. We were watching the movie Martha Marcy May Marlene, I think it was 2012 and he flew off the handle about the rape seen in the film. Obviously it’s a horrible thing. He was saying how it’s often used in film as a shorthand to depict traumatisation of women or women who are going to get revenge or the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman. I had a totally different view on it than he did, it had its place in this film as a form of trauma and manipulation. Obviously I’m not advocating for it but it has its place in the film world, it’s real life. I wasn’t an experienced writer at the time, I’ve become more experienced over the years, but I remember wanting to write about that; this horrifying thing that should not exist, but does, the way that it exists in the film world. That was the first thing I wrote for issue one, and I remember being really scared about it.
How has the current political climate impacted your views on Filmme Fatales? Even though this is the last issue, where do you see yourself and your work in the future?
An article by Gemma Flynn in Issue 4, which was about 10months in the making, was written around the time of #oscarssowhite. Which made people realise this needs to change this isn’t indicative of the industry anymore or perhaps never had been. She wanted to write a piece about that climate. Around this time Leslie Jones was coming under fire for the Ghostbusters trailer before we even knew anything about the film. All we did know was that all the white characters were scientists and she was the blue collar worker. There was this racial conversation happening. As the year went on, I stressed that I couldn’t get this article out before the end of the year. Then the election happened and Gemma basically had to completely rewrite the article. She had to confront even bigger ideas about the role of film but also about the role of film consumers. It’s one of the big articles in the issue. And it’s trying to do a lot of things, because it’s one person saying Everything is connected we have to try to make some change whether it’s who we give our money to as consumers or what we write about as journalist or what we make as filmmakers. Who we vote for! There’s just so much to confront.
What films recently have impacted you in that way?
I’ve been to the movies more in the last two months as I have in the las two years. I finished writing my book in August and finished edits, so I have more time. But Moonlight is one of those films. It’s already breaking grounds. It’s an art film about drugs and poverty and about being black and gay in America and how that’s seen through one human. I want to see it again but I also don’t know if I’m emotionally ready.
I saw Arrival in December and then I wanted to see it again. Because you learn a lot of information towards the end of the film that changes the way you view it. A big part of that is the global political community needing to work together because there are aliens that arrive all around the globe and it’s about sharing intelligence or not sharing intelligence and potentially starting wars. I went back to watch it last week, knowing that Trump was being inaugurated and I just thought, God help us all. It’s interesting because it seems like it was written with the assumption of a Hillary presidency, because you hear an authoritative women’s voice in the beginning.
I saw Moana on Boxing day. I’m a big fan of Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the songs for the film. So it doesn’t really sound like a Disney film. Like Moonlight, I cried through the whole thing because it’s about a young girl and the expectations placed on her by her family and negotiating that with wanting to please her family but also wanting to do the things that she feels she needs to do for herself. I was so glad to think that little girls are going to grow up watching this, its so important.
What’s your favourite film at the moment? Or of all time?
I think Scream. I return to it a lot. Although it’s not my favourite but its something I’ve really enjoyed recently, I saw Certain Women by Kelly Reichardt at MIFF last year and I really love her films. It’s beautiful and the story is about four interconnected women. It was a very quiet movie, covering super small personal stories, like a day or a night or a few nights in these people’s lives. I ran into a friend that night and told him I was seeing it and he said everyone woman I’ve seen who has seen it loved it and the one guy I talked to who saw it hated it. Which I found pretty funny. I think that makes sense. Last year I went to SXSW to the film festival and saw a film called Operator, it kind of deals with relationships and infidelity and technology and the things we ask of our devices and the things we ask of our partners.
What’s your least favourite film? Or something that you saw recently that made you think ‘that was horrible?’
Something I thought that I would love was Lola Versus, it’s got Greta Gerwig, who I love and its kind of like a New York mumblecore-esque movie which I used to be really into when I first got into movies. I love that improvised real life mixed into fiction, kind of rambling 20-something-navel-gazing movies. I think for those films to work you have to be really connected to the characters which I just wasn’t.
I’ve also just watched La La Land which I fucking hated. I don’t think anyone fits in the middle, you either love it or hate it. Again I just didn’t care. Gosling’s character was this douche-jazz bro who complained about no jazz in LA but then takes Stone’s character to an authentic jazz club with African-American musicians and it made me think he was complaining because it wasn’t HIM doing it. I think we were supposed to really root for him and his success, where I thought in any other movie he’d be the annoying dude. But I love Emma Stone and I think she should win every award for her acting. But overall it was way to long and I just wanted it to end but it had so many fake endings.
Have you thought about writing your own screenplay?
I did when I was 19. I had just moved to Melbourne and I was living in a share house that didn’t have internet. I feel like I got so much done that year because I would go to uni and do work and then come home and write and read and watch movies. I wrote a mumblecore film about 20-somethings in Melbourne [laughs] when I was 19! This is me! [laughs] It’s all very embarrassing now. My best friend was a screenwriting major and we used to make web videos together. Then we both moved to NYC because I got a job over there and he was accepted into a screenwriting masters at NYU. But lately we’ve been talking about writing a horror film together because we both love the same kind of teen horror films: teens go away for the weekend and something bad happens kind of thing.
So what’s on the books now? [no pun intended!]
I wrote a book last year. Its an essay collection on pop culture and will be out in July. So I’m trying to not freelance as much, as I’ve been saying yes to so many things. I have a chapter about that in the book. So now I’m trying to take a break now and figure out what I want to do. Ya know, be like Oprah and set intentions and be intentional about the decisions that I make.
And your podcast, Can U Not? tell me about that.
So I just started it last year in October with my friend Kamna. We met and hung out only twice before the first episode. So we like to say people listening are listening to our friendship grow through the episodes. Kamna is a South Asian women and a lawyer working with refugee rights and organisation. We talk a lot about movies, music and everything but we like talking about them through the lens of intersectional feminism and what’s really going on in the world and what we are watching and reading. But we’re starting to do more interviews which will be coming up soon.
So you have your hands full! When you’re not doing all of these things what would be a day in the life for you?
I mean, I haven’t had much of a life in the last few years. It’s only been the last few weeks that I realised a weekend isn’t just a chance to do more work. So I’m trying to have computer free weekends. Which is going nicely. But an ideal day would be get brunch at Magic Mountain in the city, get my nails done...actually this is just my last weekend before I came back to work because I was celebrating finishing the edits on my book, so I went to the movies and saw Elle, which was great. Then I went to Readings, browsed for ages and bought heaps of books. Went home, cooked dinner, did a puzzle watched Daria, went to bed. Literal dream Saturday.
Dream! So one final question, what’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Hmmm I’m not sure! Maybe something from my parents because my job is so foreign to them. I mean now my mom is so proud, she knows how to use Facebook and shares everything about me on FB and does #proudmama which I love because that’s what Kris Jenner uses when she talks about her children. I was talking to a few writer friends recently who said they patents don’t really understand deadlines and when they can’t attend a family gathering their parents usually reply with, “Well just get someone to cover your shift!”
I do remember hearing a lot growing up, never get a tattoo or you’ll never get a job.
Ok, one more final question: what’s your good advice for aspiring writers?
It may seem redundant or maybe silly as you could get paid work out there but I think its really important to set up a blog or Twitter or even a journal that you don’t show anyone, to just develop your voice and work out what you have to say and how. Which is something I wished I had done more of and what I plan to do more of it. It can be really difficult as a writer to be writing for different publications or websites because to some extent you’re always going to be assuming that tone of the publication and I think its really important to work out what you sound like. Otherwise it will be tricky to go from what other people need you to sound like to what you actually sound like. And I think the biggest thing as well is to not stop consuming things. I definitely did that for a while, I didn’t go to the movies or didn’t really have time to watch stuff and I kind of stopped trying to figure out things. I was just trying to keep afloat and stay on top of the work. So whatever you’re trying to write about it’s important to constantly stay involved with that topic and consume as much as you can.
I think at times it feels like a luxury, like reading time. It’s easy to think it isn’t work. I’m constantly battling the idea that any down time is wasted time. And its fucked. You have to take time away.
Ain’t it the truth girl. Thanks for the chat!
The final issue launch of Filmme Fatales is Thursday 2 February at Rooftop Cinema. Get the lowdown here.
--- Interviewed by: Julia Howland Images: Courtesy of the publication