Having worked on numerous short films together, what was the impetus to make a feature?
ALICE: Making the feature felt like a natural progression, and something that was always on the cards coming out of film school together. There’s only so many short films you can make before you want to step up. We wanted to create something together that both developed and showcased our work as writers, me as an actor and Greg as a director. Given it was our first feature, the only way we could make that happen was independently – which gave us the freedom to make the film we wanted to make.
GREG: We had gotten to a point where we didn’t know if we could make a feature, but we wanted to see if we could try. Most filmmakers we know are working toward the leap into long-form, and we knew no matter what happened we would each come out of the experience a better actor, director/filmmakers respectively.
How do you collaborate?
ALICE: We write together, Greg directs, and I act. Over the years we’ve come to share the one brain, like the Borg in Star Trek. And resisting that is futile, so we work with it. That Greg is both my husband and my creative collaborator is a huge gift – we motivate each other to get shit done.
GREG: Matt Saville made this short once called Franz and Kafka, about these two writers who share a typewriter through a wall. Each of them types a word then returns the page back to the other, back and forth until one of them turns into an insect. It’s a bit like that for us, but without the wall or the typewriter. And to my knowledge I’ve never turned into an insect. But one of us will write a draft and the other will do a pass, back and forth until we’re happy. From there, Alice acts and I direct, and we’ll keep those roles pretty delineated through production and post. We trust each other, but if Alice feels strongly about a choice I’ve made, she will always have a say.
What films influenced your style and approach?
ALICE: We’re both big fans of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig – and the way they manage to explore quietly subversive ideas, but make you laugh at the same time. Just because something’s funny, doesn’t mean it can’t have something more meaningful happening under the surface.
In terms of my character in film, I very much admire funny, creative women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Schumer – who present relatable, warts-and-all female characters, and also who create their own work. Lisa Kudrow in The Comeback is also one of the best things I’ve ever seen – she’s like a female Larry David. Incidentally, Curb Your Enthusiasm was definitely an influence on our film.
GREG: I’ve always had trouble with sincerity, which is why collaborating with Alice is so important to me. I tend to be more of a cynic (I prefer the term realist but whatever) while Alice radiates positivity, and I think that combination makes our style and approach to filmmaking something that can be quite satirical but at the same time has a lot of heart.
How did you find shooting in the US?
ALICE: That was my first trip to the US! We were over there for eight days, four of which we spent filming and for which I was sick the whole time. The whole trip was a total blur for me. So I’m really looking forward to our World Premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival so I can take it in a bit better this time!
GREG: I was born in the US to Australian parents and we moved back to Melbourne when I was 18 months old. As a kid growing up I identified with US culture more than Australian, despite my entire family being Australian. We visited the US several times over the years, but nothing more than a holiday. So I had no real connection to America other than the passport. In some ways that echoes the lead character Polly’s idea of Hollywood, as this thing she identifies with strongly but only knows about from TV and pop culture. Much like her acting career, her whole life she’s wanted to experience it, but she has no idea what to do with the reality actually involved once she’s there.
Here’s a new clip for the film, set in Australia, which highlights the awkward journey of the lead character.
That’s Not Me is in cinemas September 7, 2017