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Behind The Scenes On Rose Byrne’s Production Company’s First Film

Dollhouse’s Eaglehawk has a female-led crew, and is about to premiere at the Sydney Film Festival

An aspiring actress spends her days imitating the mythical yowie in a caravan park for cash. Over time – and as her relationship with both her enigmatic boss, and the sweet manager of the holiday park develop in different directions – her perception of the creature slowly changes.

This is the premise of Eaglehawk, the whimsical, whitty, completely charming debut short film from Dollhouse, the all-female production company founded by actors Rose Byrne and Krew Boylan, publicist Jessica Carrera and filmmakers Gracie Otto and Shannon Murphy in 2015.

The idea was to found a group that prioritised the telling, producing and making of female stories, and with Eaglehawk Dollhouse has made an admirable debut: one that is seen through the eyes of a vibrant, dynamic female character Eve (rising star Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and produced by an almost all-female production crew.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey in Eaglehawk

“Those women that run [Dollhouse] are so amazing,” Cobham-Hervey says. “Their energy, their passion, the things they believe in… It was just so nice to be a part of that.”

Ahead of the film’s premiere at the Sydney Film Festival this weekend, we caught up with Eaglehawk’s producer Jessica Carrera.

MARIE CLAIRE: What attracted you to the story?
Eaglehawk was adapted from a short story by American writer Laura Van Den Berg.  It’s a project [director] Shannon Murphy has been ruminating with for some time. Eve’s struggle as a creative artist is at the core of her story. It felt like a fitting piece of work for Dollhouse, one that aligned so well with our ethos to create work about women, for women.

Ryan Corr and Tilda Cobham-Hervey

MC: The creative team is almost all-female. How important is this to Dollhouse?
 It’s paramount.  There are so many creative female forces in our industry, we’d like to bring as many of them together in the work we create.  For Eaglehawk we had Shannon Murphy (Director)  Marisa Nather (screenwriter)  Nicole Coventry (co- producer) Megan Washington (composer)  Amelia Ford (editor) Alice Babidge and Sophie Fletcher (production designer and costume) , Krew Boylan (actress, Executive Producer)  to name a few. That being said, we also had a brilliant mix of males in our production team. John Brawley our DOP is incredibly talented and mentors many women behind the camera. Robin Hearfield, is a multi disciplinary artist and we were lucky to have his eye capture our stills and behind the scenes images. 

MC: The assembled crew is fantastic: what was the atmosphere like on set?
JC: Considering the impractically of our shoot dates- right up to Christmas Eve, in bushfire season, in high forty degree heat, our crew were not only brilliant, but dedicated! We all stayed on location in Sutton, right near Canberra. It was the perfect place. It felt timeless. We wanted everyone immersed in the film’s world. Shooting on location always creates such a lovely collegiate environment. We all ate in the mess hall for breakfast and dinner, which felt very school camp.

MC: Last year was a big year for discussions about the treatment of women in Hollywood.  Do you think 2016 is proving to be a year of big change? What more needs to be done?
I think the discussion reached a crescendo last year, the message was loud and clear: the industry needs to actively support and encourage gender parity in front of and behind the camera.  At a local level, so many great initiatives have been implemented through funding bodies like Screen Australia and Screen NSW in the past twelve months. In addition, groups like Femme Fatales and Screen Vixens are creating a strong alliance and support networks for women in film. Men are an equally important part of the equation for shifting perceptions and facilitating opportunity. We formed Dollhouse so we had a platform to actively collaborate with our peers and find stories that have complex female protagonists.

MC: Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Ryan Corr star in the short, and they’re two of the most exciting young actors in Australia right now. What did you love about them in the casting process? What do they bring to the table?
JC: We were so excited to work with such talented actors.  Wayne, Tilda and Ryan were all attached to the project from the beginning. Each brought a nuanced performance to the piece.  It was great to watch the trust they instilled in Shannon and her vision. Tilda is luminous onscreen, she is such an interesting young actress who we loved from her breakout role in 52 Tuesdays. She is the perfect ‘ Eve’.

MC: What’s next for Dollhouse? What are you working on at the moment?
JC: Two feature films, one we are planning to shoot early 2017 written by Krew Boylan and a number of concepts in development. Everything in the film/ TV world takes time and patience.

Eaglehawk screens on June 18 and 19 at the Sydney Film Festival. To purchase tickets click here.

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