The new Australian feature, The Flipside, filmed in locations around Adelaide, had its premiere on Monday night. In town for the event were writer and director Marion Pilowsky, and stars Emily Taheny and Luke McKenzie. Glam was lucky enough to catch up with the three of them, over a cup of tea, to chat about the film, their careers and Emily’s new found skill at driving!
The central character, Ronnie, played by Taheny, is a restaurateur: a very “Adelaide” job. Although Pilowsky’s first thought was slightly different.
Marion: Originally she had a really obscure job that a friend of mine had in America, and with which I was fascinated: she provided restaurants with projected trends of food!
Luke: Well wine and food was such a great way into the film for all of us: half the fun of it was having a drink with everybody and sharing a meal. I love that in the Adelaide culture.
Taheny and McKenzie were both very taken with the script which was fully developed prior to the start of filming. The choice of locations was intrinsic also intrinsic to the film, almost taking on the role of another character
Marion: The way that I write is fairly organic. For me it’s about character and interaction. I co-write with my husband Lee Sellars and he’s a really great structuralist. I’m much better on character and dialogue. So structurally we knew that Ronnie and Jeff were about to go on a trip, and that Henry and Sophie were going to inveigle their way into that trip. So where do people in Adelaide take visitors? Hanhdorf, the Barossa, the outback!
Although the characters were well drawn in the script, Taheny, McKenzie and co-stars Eddie Izzard and Vanessa Guide added their own layers.
Marion: The thing about actors is that they bring so much magic to the moment.
Luke: It is just so true!
Emily: Oh yes, we sprinkle it on!
Luke: In an ensemble piece you’ve got a clearly delineated structure. And this was very tight. There wasn’t a lot of fat in the script. Each arc had a very clear beginning, middle and end.
But McKenzie agrees that there was room for him to add subtleties to the character of Jeff.
Luke: There’s that character trope of the good, affable guy, who doesn’t have a lot going on under the surface. If that was the case, then that would undermine Ronnie relationship, and of course she’s going to go with the other guy. A lot of the stuff I’ve done to date has been criminals and psychopaths. It was such a great gift for me to come and play what is essentially a heightened version of myself.
Emily: Absolutely. And for Ronnie to be vulnerable and think of “the other” it couldn’t be too overt because then Jeff would seem like an idiot.
One of the joys of this film is to see a work written and directed by a woman, with strong, female characters. Sadly, still a rarity in Australian and world cinema.
Emily: Most of the roles I’ve played have been written by men and often the female character is under-written: you’ve got to keep filling in the blanks and not be the whingy whiney nagging wife, for example.
Marion: Yes, we were really aware of that. Especially the scenes with Ronnie and Sophie. We didn’t want them being bitchy to each other. It’s more sort of intellectual combat.
Luke: I love watching the scenes with Emily and Vanessa because there’s these multiple layers of jabs and politeness. And many people have said that they find this film relatable because they feel like organic characters
Emily: Yes…they’re real and authentic and flawed and making mistakes and not getting it right.
Luke: …and we laugh at their fallibility.
Whilst chatting we discovered that, like most actors, Taheny and McKenzie have a swag-bag of other, random talents: McKenzie writes poetry; Taheny writes and performs music.
Marion: And Emily can drive.
Drive? Not an obscure skill, but apparently one which Taheny only acquired in the nick of time!
Emily: In my defence,I was never asked the question “can you drive”. I simply auditioned for a film where it was required. And then when I got the role I thought “Oh shit! Now I’ve got to drive!” And I’d been having lessons for two years with a lovely man who used to talk me through my relationship woes. He even advised me to freeze my eggs! He’d always tell me to “exhelerate”. Once I was dating a guy who was twelve years my junior so he said “pull over…I want to see a photo”. So I did and after looking at it for the longest time he said “And he’s into you?” I said “Yes” and he said “Alright. Exhelerate!”
Marion: But there’s a key point here: you had two years of lesson for an AUTOMATIC!!
Emily: Well a manual would have taken me another two years! So anyway I rang him and I said Paul we’ve to step it up a notch. But then I failed my test. So I had to get into another test and they were booked out so I rang Marion and said “Do I really need my licence?” and she said “Yes you do you maniac! You’re being replaced unless you get your licence.” But thank goodness I finally passed the second test.
Luke: …and then the car that we had in the film, the blue beast, got transferred over to Emily after we finished shooting.
Emily: Yes I bought it for a steal. I drove it from Warooka where my parents live to Melbourne. And the next day I woke up and I literally couldn’t walk on one foot. I ended up going to the doctor and he asked me if I’d done anything unusual. “Well no I said I’ve just driven from Warooka to…oh hang on….” So apparently I had tendonitis from driving!
After the clearly fun experience of making The Flipside, what have the talented trio got lined up?
Emily: I’m doing some more work with Shaun Micallef
Luke: I’m continuing my writing, doing some Australian TV and my feature film.
Marion: I’m going to be eating and drinking!
The Flipside has just opened in Australia and is playing at various cinemas around Adelaide.
Check out Tony Knight’s review for Glam here.