Can you talk us through your writing process?
I wish I knew how my brain works at times. [The screenplays] don’t usually emerge as stories or even concepts, most of the time – it’s sort of like a feeling I get that then feels connected to a personality, and then the world around them kind of fills in gradually. And then, once I have a sense of the person in the world, I try to shape that into a story. And it happens usually at a time just before I go to sleep, when I’m super exhausted.
Did Of an Age come to you out of the blue too?
I wrote it literally in the middle of COVID … I wasn’t feeling very productive, so I forced myself to do this writing exercise, which was to write a small story every day for five days in a row. And on the fifth day … I was reading [Karen Russell’s story ‘Bog Girl: A Romance’, which is] about a boy who never went to a party … I got stuck on that, and it inspired me to write [what became Of an Age]. It was 4 June 2021, which I remember because it was the night before my husband’s birthday. And by 11 June, I had finished the screenplay, and that’s the first draft I shot from within a year.
What was it like to tell this more personal story, filmed around where you grew up in Melbourne?
To be honest, [it and my earlier film You Won’t Be Alone are] both actually weirdly personal, in ways that might not be immediately apparent. I think there’s more of my personality in those witches than there is in those guys [in Of an Age]. A lot of people have come up to me and [gone], “Oh well, so your love for your husband is up there” in Of an Age, [but] to be honest I thought there was more of that in You Won’t Be Alone … We had to put [Of an Age] together really quickly, because COVID screwed us over and cut pre-production in half; we had to shoot it very quickly, and casting was very complicated. Like, it took a while to get to these three perfect humans.
So there were actually some hurdles along the way?
Yes, but it’s so strange. We finished shooting Of an Age two days early, and we had a four-day wrap party … I genuinely don’t want to say “hashtag blessed”, but … you know, whatever the normal human equivalent of that feeling is. I just feel so lucky to have had it. And then, with the finished film, I also feel very happy with it myself: not in terms of “I have no objective opinion of it”, but just in terms of how it makes me feel – every element of it.