We have been tenderized by the Fantastic Birthday, first indie came to Australia, this is rare in the distribution networks. This fresco tells the story of the passage of a tormented young girl, Greta, to adulthood with a sense of humor and lucid dreaming. We have had the chance to interview the director, Rosemary Myers, and actress, Bethanny Whitmore (playing the role of Greta) to talk about the film and their influences.
Our review of Fantastic Birthday
Can you tell us about the genesis of Fantastic Birthday? What was your way of working to adapt this piece of theatre ?
A. M : having completed the writing of the piece of theatre, Matthew Whitte (n. d. l. r : the writer), and myself, have begun to discuss a possible script would be an adaptation for the big screen. We already had the return of spectators on the history of Fantastic Birthday, this is what has allowed us to see what issues were important and more importantly, what we could improve.
With Jonathon Oxlade (set), Andrew Commis (cinematographer), we have worked tirelessly to develop the sets, the costumes and the photo for the current rendering. It was shelled many of the clichés of the 70’s and have created scenes-a test to see what worked. In the design, I have worked extensively with Andrew on the storyboard, we did a lot of sightings, especially around the suburbs of Adelaide. Once everything was decided, we still had to shoot the film, which took four weeks and post-production, six weeks.
A-t-it was difficult to produce the film ?
R. M : The filming lasted for exactly 22 days, so it was very tight, and even rather ambitious to do in so little time. We said that maybe we wouldn’t because we would have more of a budget. It was for most a first time so we learned on the job, but it is definitely trainer.
Is this film speaks of you, of your childhood ? Where you came to these outrageous characters, as the father of Greta ?
R. M : Matthew manages to creep into the thoughts of teenagers and to create stories, characters, that reflect what you are going through at this time. In fact, we love to tell this rite of passage and adolescence is a time which generates a lot of drama in a life. The father of Greta, Conrad, was written by Matthew, and he plays this role so I think there’s a part of him in this character.
Your staging is already very thoughtful for a first try, including a few creative ideas, camera movements singular, a frame 4/3, what is your process of creation ?
R. M : This is a huge advantage that Fantastic Birthday is the adaptation of a theatre play. I tried to use everything I had learned when I directed a play at the theatre and I simply transposed into a film. And although we have had to make some minor changes, it was important to keep the theatricality in the staging.
There are a lot of references in this film : Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson, how these filmmakers have influenced your work ?
R. M : Many have drawn the parallel of Fantastic Birthday and the influences that you mention in terms of aesthetics and performance. I am an absolute fan of the directors you mention, and I think our approach is based, as these filmmakers, on the principle of filmed theatre to tell stories.
The dream (or the nightmare) takes a singular place in the story, and the atmosphere reminds us somewhat of David Lynch, can you tell us more ? And even when the mood of the film remains warm and kind, the dream is dark and ominous, do you agree on the fact of saying that we lose a part of ourselves-even when we accept to become adults and face life ?
R. M : Matt and I have always been fascinated by the ” Belle aux bois dormant “, we asked ourselves what happens when the belle was still asleep. We also wanted to show that adolescence is an age often dichotomous. It is the awakening of the senses and living in the present moment but also spend hours daydreaming; lost in his thoughts. It really is that feeling which is operated in Fantastic Birthday. Therefore, the forest is a powerful allegory about adolescence, she represents danger, change and transformations. Fantastic Birthday is an integral part of a trilogy that is played at the theatre on the peregrinations adolescents on which we have worked a lot with Matt. We are fascinated by this time of life, it is for the most a radical change, and the stakes are high, I think that we are really interested in the essence of the thematic identity.
Where have you dug up these binoculars ? By the way, they would go very well in a film of Nicolas Winding Refn ?
R. M : there are several scenes of the twins in the film, but the actresses have been involved in the project by an announcement of the casting that we had launched. They are mannequins, it was a real pleasure to have on the shoot.
What film would take away you on a deserted island ?
R. M : It is difficult it ! I think I will choose Donnie Darko, or and Max maximonstres, or the Darjeeling Limited, or lord of the flies ! Impossible to choose, but if I had to pick one, it would be one of them.
With which actor/actress would you like to work ?
R. M : I admire Maggie Gyllenhall, I find it great and very interesting.
What projects in the pipeline ?
R. M : It is a busy year at the Windmill Theatre Co with many representations of current and those to come. One of our pieces for children “Grug and the Rainbow’ has just started in the United States and Canada, it is exciting ! We are also looking to develop a second movie, as long as we are entertained and educated on a Fantastic Birthday.
Interview by Sofiane
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