In this final part of my discussion with Australian filmmakers: Lauren and Tish, we discuss being women in the film industry, dressing the part, and a brilliant blog they have created called “Almost Corporate” in which they tell stories about their triumphs and failures as women learning to straddle the film and corporate world. If you have missed the first two parts of this incredible interview, be sure to catch up on Part 1 and Part 2!
Being a female in the entertainment industry is a hot button topic these days. How do you handle that?
Lauren: Being just two females in a company can be daunting. Some of the projects that we have come across have been really shaped by the fact that we are women. For example, we are currently working on a project in which we focus on different medical conditions, and we have been focusing on maternity stories because those are the stories that relate to us. I don’t think we have had any downs or ups because we are women, but it has shaped our vision.
I think we are also very lucky because even though the stats show that women are a minority, we are still treated with respect because of our experiences. If I present myself in a put-together, confident manner people take me seriously and believe that I know what I am doing. I get so much pride out of the confidence we feel when we put on what we call our L&L power outfits. We have this color scheme that we both follow when we go into business meetings and it just shows everyone that we are professionals in this business.
Tish: This actually carries over to our sets. We ask our crew to wear button down shirts and nice pants. This shows our clients that we are serious about their product and it sets us apart from other production companies. Since I came from a TV broadcast background, I was used to every photographer or crew member wearing a tux on the red carpet. It was expected.
When you jump into the film world, our crew wanted to wear Doc Martens and shorts, and Lauren and I decided that no matter where we are or what we are filming, we want to set ourselves apart as professionals.
Lauren: And that has been a really important element of our business. Of course it has been a transition because when we were right out of uni we would wear casual clothes to set, but a client of ours who has been a huge mentor, taught us that it was important to always look our best.
Tish: It does seem a bit superficial and materialistic…
Lauren: Yes, how are we talking about women in film and then wearing skirts…
Tish: But it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female. We require everyone to dress up on our sets.
Lauren: It comes down to the fact that when we come to a client we are saying we think that film is an important medium and can benefit your business, but they live in a different corporate world. And this is a barrier that a lot of filmmakers come across because they have a vision and they just say to their client, “I have an idea and you need to trust me” but they still look sloppy. This is something we had to understand: the importance of understanding the corporate world and still being true to our vision. It has been a really interesting journey melding the corporate and film world, but now we know how to dress nice and function as a team. We have hugely important visitors to our sets from the Australian government and they feel comfortable on our sets because they feel that our space embodies something they understand.
Tell me about this brilliant blog you have started on your site.
Lauren: We have a blog that we started called “Almost Corporate” because we wanted to tell some of the outrageous stories of things that happened to us when we were just starting out. For example, we were at a meeting with some very important people at the Gold Coast hospital and we were pitching them why video was a necessary medium. Not just the vision of the film, but film as a method of speech. We are walking in from the car and my heel breaks on my shoe, because they are cheap and the only pair of heels that I have, so I have to spend the entire meeting on my tip-toe trying to pretend that I still have a heel. It was hilarious.
Tish: And this blog has actually become a way that we can share what we are passionate about. So right now we are posting twice a week about my experience at Cannes and then next we are going to be writing about the Green Friend initiative, which is a government program in Europe that gives money to films focused on eco-friendly filmmaking. We want to write about this initiative and then hopefully introduce it to Screen Australia in order to start an initiative in Australia. We are all about creating opportunities for other creatives in Australia.
Why have you stayed in Brisbane when most of the film industry in Australia is in Sydney?
Lauren: It has never been a real question for us. Our home is Brisbane and we love the city. Yes there is more opportunity in Sydney, but we are creating our own opportunities in Brisbane. We are refusing to go where the work is, but create our own work. We are determined to help create a stronger film industry in Brisbane. We know that this change might happen slowly, but we are determined to change the face of production in Australia and create opportunities for our colleagues in Brisbane.
This concludes my three part interview series with director Lauren Panrucker and producer Leticia Jenkins, Tish for short, who are the founders and driving force behind L & L Film Productions. These women inspired me with their passion, vulnerability, and determination to “capture the real, and beautiful, and tell its story.”