Hot Spot: Biddy O’Loughlin

Biddy O’Loughlin won in 2016 a Silver Screen Award with her film Ten Thousand in the FILM SCHOOL – ASIA/PACIFIC category. We catch up with this young and fresh movie maker about her work…

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What were the main challenges of making the film Ten Thousand?

Building a team of volunteers is always difficult on a low budget, but I was lucky. I went to my hometown to shoot it. My DOP lived on my street and the whole community was very helpful. Finding a leading man was another challenge. But when I saw a Spanish backpacker’s handsome face through the crowd at the local pub, I knew I’d found my actor. He looked like a real bandito. When I told him there was no dialogue, he agreed to do it.

What impact do you feel winning at the YDA has had?

It’s a fantastic honour. I had a great time at the ceremony and I learned a lot about filmmaking, myself, and VR! I’m also building up my portfolio so I can get an O1 visa for the States. Winning a YDA is a great step closer to that.

Are you now represented?

I’m not. I’m in America though, if you know anyone over here!
A quick potted history of your background that led you to wanting to direct please…

From an early age I fell in love with the stage and the screen. I realised quickly I wanted to be up there, telling the stories. I thought I wanted to be a child actor. But childhood came and went and stardom thankfully eluded me. My favourite days growing up were the ones where I grabbed the camera and gathered my cousins and siblings and made movies in the backyard. I did not realise until years later, when I was at film school, that I’d been directing these small productions.

I wrote a musical when I was 17 and a 19 year old boy offered to direct it for me, but I refused. It was my show. I knew I needed to direct it. While it was hard directing my peers and producing a show on my own funds, I was rewarded by a fine production. Our satirical comedy was given a second run and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

After that I turned to solo performances – mixing poetry, storytelling and songs into a very personal show for the Edinburgh International Arts Festival. I followed up that show with another monologue – this time a fictional idea for a film – I just didn’t have the means or the methods to make a film – so I took it to the theatre first.

The show is called Funny Rabbit and it’s a satirical look at comedy, humanity and Hollywood, as seen through the eyes of a rabbit called Bill who learns how to speak and almost makes it as a stand up comedian. It’s basically an hour long film treatment, delivered by the protagonist. I did the show in the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2012.

I would have taken it to other festivals but I decided to apply for a good film school, hoping to get some practical experience, free gear, and a compulsory crew. I got into film school, so the rabbit monologue was put aside. Although I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television, I feel like I won’t truly graduate to until I finish my first feature.

What’s the best film making lesson you’ve learnt?

Try not to get attached to a film’s success or lack of. Enjoy the making of it. Enjoy the film, but not because of what it can bring you, but because of it’s own beauty. We have a right to our labor, not the fruits of it. I lost a roll of super 8 film once. It had a short, silent comedy on it. I made it with my sister and some friends and it went missing in the mail on the way to be developed. I was devastated and angry. But I got over it. Now it makes me smile to think about that missing little film and the people who helped me make it. It was a wonderful day. The film was called ‘Contains Nuts’.

What is the wisest quote about film making?

“To play it safe is not to play” – Robert Altman.

Your worst nightmare production story was when…

I shot footage of a fire in my first year at film school  – but I didn’t get a fire safety officer, so my film was banned!    I was very disappointed but on the bright side I was suddenly notorious and the kids thought I was cool.

What would be your dream directing job?

I would very much like to direct my own feature script.

List five inspirations that have connected with you recently – these can be films, music videos, books, architecture, people, anything you like!

The Second City.

Stand up comedy.

Chris Farley.

Judd Apatow.

Little Miss Sunshine.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m busily preparing my feature script for the Sundance Writer’s Lab deadline and other screenplay competitions. It’s a dark comedy set in Australia and America.

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