‘Shan and Kate’ is the most recent film from Sydney-based filmmakers, Zoë Rae and Bronte Jovevski. Set in 1996, the film follows the friendship of the titular pair, young girls navigating through the stresses and joys of high school within the pastel coloured, teen-dream world of suburban Australia. Shan and Kate‘s Australian premiere will be next month at CinefestOZ where it will be screening in the ‘Love Struck’ sidebar events, held from August 24th – 28th in the Margaret River region.
Your film recently premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the largest short film festival in North America. What was that like for you both?
B: It was sweaty and beautiful. ShortFest is an incredible festival, and it’s totally targeted at promoting filmmakers like Zoë and I who are ‘emerging’, i.e. early career. It’s just like summer camp for filmmakers from all over the world and I feel very, very blessed that we had the opportunity to world premiere our film there. If you are making a short film, definitely prioritise entering it next year! It’s a career dream-come-true and they free pour drinks at the parties!
Z: We were so spoiled to have ShortFest be our first festival experience. The programmers and coordinators are all super into film, amazing people, generous with their time – the whole thing was such a special honour. Meeting other filmmakers was one of the best parts, with festivals being such a unique opportunity to spend that much time with your peers – turns out we really are just a bunch of weirdos.
Can you talk about your initial ideas for the film, particularly what drew you to the period setting of 1996?
B: It was Zoë’s idea to adapt the setting of the story into the 90’s and I’m so glad we did – aesthetically it meant we could integrate these lovely pastel colours, and it gave the narrative an interesting element taking away smart phones etc. I went through high school in a sort of transitional time where kids still used landline phones but also used MySpace (remember Top 8’s!?) so I loved seeing the characters in that vortex after school where you couldn’t talk to your mates until the next day.
Z: We loved the idea that they couldn’t get out of sticky situations using technology, as well as not being able to further complicate their awkwardness by having Facebooks to stalk, late night text messages to send. Bronte and I lived together while we made the film, so having the walls of our apartment as pastel mood boards was so fun and I think kept us in that teen-dream world. Any time you can call Fresh Prince marathons ‘research’ is a worthwhile endeavour.
What do you think Shan and Kate are up to right now, in 2016?
B: I just did the maths, realised they would be 36 and had a panic attack…we talked about Shan being a pet detective and I just had a vision of Kate as a high powered environmental lawyer, so I’ll go with that! And obviously they’re still best friends and suffering from stress diarrhoea.
Z: Jenna Owen (Shan) and I talked about her being a bit of a future Veronica Mars, so she’s definitely cracking a case somewhere. She probably moved to a spooky little town, sending Kate handwritten letters. I think Kate spent a lot of time at uni, got more than one degree. Still feeling it out. She hates snail mail.
What are some Aussie films you loved growing up?
B: So many! Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Looking for Alibrandi, Two Hands, Muriel’s Wedding…
Z: Looking for Alibrandi was huge. Moulin Rouge, huge. Are we counting Babe? Huge.
Women get asked an awful deal whether they can be funny. This has always astounded me, as all the women I know have always been hilarious. Can you talk about this, and comedians/comedy writers you look up to?
B: There’s a line in ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’ where Bridget asks Colin Firth if he cheated on her and he responds ‘I will not dignify that question with an answer’, which at this point is my response to the people who still think that’s a valid question to ask of women in comedy. I look up to too many funny ladies to list here, so instead I will plug my current favourite podcast, ‘Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown Show’ with comedy actresses/writers Casey Rose Wilson and Danielle Schneider because it is SO funny and mostly they talk about their bowel issues.
Z: I’m not sure it’s still “can” we be funny, I think we’ve now reached shock and awe that we actually can do this. Women like Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer are making bank, and studios & the industry are still getting used to it. There’s so many studies, statistics, facts on our side now, they just need to get hop to it a bit quicker. It’s so exciting we can use fiscal proof that women are funny and people are paying to see it. There’s not enough time in the world to list my heroes, but I will say Elaine May is the OG queen of comedy writing, and if I had a heart-shaped locket her picture would go inside.
Building on that, can you speak to gender inequality in the film industry on the whole, and whether you feel positive moving forward, particularly with the recent Gender Matters initiative from Screen Australia?
B: I feel hella positive! Advocating for women in film is a big part of my life and in Sydney I feel like I’m part of a very strong (and growing) network of female filmmakers that just want to make great work.
Gender Matters is an amazing initiative. Screen NSW has also just announced their decision to not support any festivals that include all-male panels/don’t foster female participation and diversity, which is SO ballsy and necessary! Love you Screen NSW.
Z: It’s extremely encouraging! We have so many gal-pals in the industry who are immensely talented, and anything that helps them be heard is incredibly important and advantageous to all audiences. Making their voices a priority is so exciting to me, I can’t wait to see the amazing work that will come from this! We have stories and the brains to tell them, I’m stoked the powers that be agree.
What’s ahead for you both this year? Anything in development?
B: Lots! I’m developing a comedy web series at the moment starring one of our leading ladies, Jenna Owen, called ‘Jenna Is Fine’, which is about recovering from a break up. Jenna is is the funniest person I’ve met in my entire life which is a gift. I’m also on the new committee for Women In Film and Television (WIFT) NSW and we are super busy working on some new initiatives to support women in the screen sector (stay tuned!).
Z: My kid sister Ivy Latimer is the most talented actor & comedian in the entire world, so thankfully she’s obligated to work with me. We’re in pre-production on an absurdist comedic film together, and working towards developing a series based on our accumulative heinous stories of sexism in our fields. But like, funny.