Walt Disney Australia Release Schedule As Of September 2021…The Countdown Begins NOW

2021 has been a tough year for the movie industry. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to drastically affect the world, the year’s biggest films were caught in the crossfire which resulted in a number of setbacks and cancellations brought upon by the pandemic. However, Walt Disney Australia has decided to put some of these skepticisms to rest, with the company revealing their Australian release schedule for all their films until 2023. Without further ado, check out Paramount Pictures Australia’s release schedule as of September 2021.

The Trailer for The Magical ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ Starring Henry Lawfull Has Just Dropped

Christmas comes early as STUDIOCANAL and Blueprint pictures launch the main trailer and artwork for Gil Kenan’s (Monster House, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) live-action magical adventure, A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS.

The film boasts an incredible ensemble cast including newcomer Henry Lawfull as the protagonist, Nikolas, Toby Jones (InfamousTinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Paddington 1 & 2), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Wonder Woman 1984), Michiel Huisman (The Haunting of Hill House, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), Zoe Colletti (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), Stephen Merchant (Jojo Rabbit, Fighting With My Family, Logan) Jim Broadbent (Paddington 1 & 2, The Iron Lady) and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, Harry Potter) and Indica Watson (Gold Digger, Radioactive).

Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Gil Kenan adapted the screenplay from the bestselling book by Matt Haig, the first of 5 books in the acclaimed series, all of which are published by Canongate Books.

STUDIOCANAL produced with Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin of BAFTA and Academy Award® winning Blueprint Pictures. 

Synopsis

An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an extraordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves, Elfhelm. Taking with him a headstrong reindeer called Blitzen and a loyal pet mouse, Nikolas soon meets his destiny in this magical, comic and endearing story that proves nothing is impossible…

Check out the official trailer below:

Paramount Pictures Australia Release Schedule As Of August 2021…The Countdown Begins NOW

2021 has been a tough year for the movie industry. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to drastically affect the world, the year’s biggest films were caught in the crossfire which resulted in a number of setbacks and cancellations brought upon by the pandemic. However, Paramount Pictures Australia has decided to put some of these skepticisms to rest, with the company revealing their Australian release schedule for all their films until June 2022. Without further ado, check out Paramount Pictures Australia’s release schedule as of August 2021.

Here’s A First Look At Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’

STUDIOCANAL, Film4, Shoebox, SunnyMarch, and Amazon Studios today debut the first clip from Will Sharpe’s THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN, ahead of the film’s World Premiere at Telluride Film Festival later today.

The clip debut offers audiences a first glimpse of Academy Award® Nominee and BAFTA-winning Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Patrick Melrose, The Imitation Game) as forgotten British artist Louis Wain in the extraordinary true story of a brilliant but troubled soul, whose fascination with the mysteries of the world is both complicated and deepened when he meets the love of his life Emily, played by Emmy® Winner and BAFTA Nominee Claire Foy (The Crown, First Man).

The film boasts an impressive ensemble supporting cast including Andrea Riseborough (Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Death of Stalin), Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Hunger Games), Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary, Dumbo), Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education), Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake, Southcliffe), Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac, Vox Lux), Phoebe Nicholls (The Elephant Man), Adeel Akhtar (The Big Sick, Pan, Four Lions, Utopia), Asim Chaudhry (People Just Do Nothing, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Richard Ayoade (Soul, The Souvenir) and Julian Barratt (Mindhorn, Flowers, The Mighty Boosh) and Sophia di Martino (Loki, Flowers).  It was recently announced that Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Free Guy), Nick Cave (20,000 Days on Earth), and Olivia Colman (The Crown, The Favourite) appear in the film, with Colman narrating. 

The film will receive its World Premiere at Telluride on September 2, with its Canadian Premiere following at Toronto International Film Festival on September 11.  Amazon Studios will release the film theatrically and on Prime Video later this year, with STUDIOCANAL releasing the film in cinemas across their territories – UK, France, Germany, Australia & New Zealand early in 2022.

THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN is directed by BAFTA winner Will Sharpe (Flowers).  Story by Simon Stephenson (Luca, Paddington 2), and screenplay by Simon Stephenson and Will Sharpe.  The film is produced by Shoebox Films and SunnyMarch, and financed by STUDIOCANAL & Film4.   STUDIOCANAL has sold the film worldwide.

SYNOPSIS:

The extraordinary true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose playful, sometimes even psychedelic pictures helped to transform the public’s perception of cats forever. Moving from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, we follow the incredible adventures of this inspiring, unsung hero, as he seeks to unlock the “electrical” mysteries of the world and, in so doing, to better understand his own life and the profound love he shared with his wife Emily Richardson (Claire Foy). 

The New Trailer For The Movie “Ron’s Gone Wrong” Starring Zach Galifianakis & Jack Dylan Grazer Has Just Dropped

Today 20th Century Studios and Locksmith Animation debuted a hilarious new trailer for the animated comedy adventure Rons Gone Wrong. Liam Paynes new single Sunshine can be heard in the trailer and is featured in the film. Rons Gone Wrong is coming soon to Australian cinemas.

Rons Gone Wrong” is the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler, and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally connected device, which is supposed to be his Best Friend out of the Box. Rons hilarious malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age, launch them into an action-packed journey in which boy and robot come to terms with the wonderful messiness of true friendship. Rons Gone Wrong” features the voices of Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Marcus Scribner, Thomas Barbusca. 

The film is directed by Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine with Octavio E. Rodriguez co-directing. The script is written by Peter Baynham & Smith. Julie Lockhart and Lara Breay produce, with Locksmith chairman Elisabeth Murdoch, Smith and Baynham serving as executive producers. Check out the trailer below:

Rising Star Spotlight: Introducing George Pullar

Accepted at the age of 17 years old, George Pullar attended the prestigious, Western Australian Academy Performing Arts, where he trained extensively in theatre and screen in its coveted three-year acting degree. Since graduating in 2017, he has forged an impressive stamp on the Australian screen and more recently, established himself in the United States and abroad.

Fresh out of drama school, George played Larry Gray on Foxtel’s A Place to Call Home for which he was recognised by the Australian Academy of Film and Television and nominated as best new talent. In the same year, he also played a supporting lead on Foxtel’s acclaimed miniseries Fighting Season about returned soldiers from Afghanistan. In 2018, he was listed by the Casting Guild of Australia as one of the nation’s rising stars. He is recognised for his work as Daniel Fletcher on Chanel 10’s hit show, Playing for Keeps, and was involved in all episodes of its two seasons.

He also voiced the role of Bradley Burrows in the Universal Animated Film, Combat Wombat. Shortly after, George played the lead role of Tyler in the Australian Feature Film, Moonrock for Monday. He was awarded by the Australian Screen Network Industry, best lead actor in a feature film. In late 2019, George scored his international break, working alongside golden-globe winner Michael Chiklis, on Paramount Plus’ Coyote. He was directed by Michelle Mclaren who is known for work on Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Since returning back to Australia in 2020, George wrote, acted, and produced his own dark comedy short film, Stonefish, set for a festival run in 2021. George has recently wrapped on the feature film It Only Takes A Night, where he plays the romantic lead. The film is also set for release in late 2021. Currently, George is filming the ABC Series, Barrons, in which he plays American Businessman and co-leading role of Bernie Hunter Junior.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with George to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I grew up in Queensland and base myself out of Currumbin on the Gold Coast when I’m not filming. I’m a twin (with a girl) and one of four kids in a very adventurous, chaotic, big family. Proud owner of a Senior Labrador, Lord Archibald (14), and an over energised British Bulldog, Theodore (4). I love to travel particularly anywhere near the ocean or the snow and am a diehard Brisbane Lions fan.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

Honestly, I chose drama as a bludge subject in Year 11 to balance out a heavy workload. Then I broke my leg quite badly on a holiday and Drama had turned out to be my best subject. My drama teacher encouraged me to audition for the school play, seeing as I was injured and had the time, and so I did, and that was that. Pretty quickly discovered it was the only thing I’d studied that came quite naturally to me and my teacher really planted the idea that I could pursue this and make something of it. So, I auditioned for WAAPA at 17, not really expecting to get in, and then I did and that really set me up. I think teachers are pretty amazing in the way they can impact an entire life.

What do you like most about acting?

I’ve always been very curious. I ask too many questions, too quickly, I’m told. Acting gives me a chance to really satisfy that curiosity about people and life in general. I love stories of any kind, children’s books, sporting legends, at the pub, in the cinema, or over a family dinner, I feel like I’m always looking to appreciate the joy and confusion and shortcomings in humanity. I suppose because I’ve always felt that way myself and acting in a strange way, helps me understand who I am and perhaps why I’m here. It also just beats sitting at a desk or shovelling concrete.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?

I think they’re becoming more similar. Typically, TV can feel a lot more formulaic and the shooting pace is a lot faster. In my experience, film feels a bit more collaborative. There’s something comforting in knowing where it ends, the director has a vision that starts and finishes and so you can really arch out where your character travels. Whereas TV there’s a lot more guessing and working the fly. But ultimately it doesn’t affect how I approach it. It’s all the same for me.

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

I think I still suffer a bit from wanting to be ‘likeable’. That’s only natural. You want the audience to like you. But that’s not actually my job and that’s not really how it works. Audiences invest in authenticity. When they see something on the screen that they know exists or could exist in their world, they’ll invest. It’s my job to just be true to the character. Even if that means doing things or behaving in a gross way. It takes courage to do that because it’s very revealing of your own demons and flaws. But that’s what great acting is. Exposing yourself. I’m trying a lot harder to create characters you pity rather than are jealous of or impressed by. And all I have to do is watch any of Phillip Seymour Hoffman to remind myself of what this is all about.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I just genuinely care. I always care about the person I’m playing and don’t think about them as a ‘character’. I think when you truly care, you bring your own heart to it and perhaps some real vulnerability. And that’s what I like to watch on screen. I also would like to think I’m fun to work with and am always open to whatever another actor has to throw at me. I love surprises!

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

Telling the Story is the single most important thing. I know that sounds kind of obvious, but on a set, it can be very easy to be distracted by superficial details or your own self-interest. Screenplays are written as emotional machines. They’re engineered with a specific structure with peaks and troughs and escalating story beats and tension that we should all adhere to. Simplicity is key. Great directors are good at reminding you we’re just here to tell this story. That’s what it’s about. Not your abs or your need to be constantly smoking in every scene.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

In a word, uncertainty. Uncertainty about your next job. Uncertainty if what your doing is any good. Uncertainty about what your filming schedule looks like for the next 5 days because of the weather. Uncertainty whether that film you shot will ever see the day of light. Uncertainty whether your nose looks very strange on that big screen! (It’s brutal watching yourself.)

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

I think the first challenge is making sure everyone, across all the departments, is trying to bring the same script to life. Sure, the words remain the same for everyone, but we all need to be visualising the same film, and the same tone. Once you’ve got that cohesion from the production design to the actors to the DOP and so on, you give yourself a chance of creating a world that is true to that story.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I surf. Play with my dogs. Chill with my girlfriend. And read and write a lot.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Getting to act in the first thing I’d written and being directed by one of my best friends, Megan Smart, in our first short film – Stonefish (set for release later this year). I can’t wait to act on more stuff I write and produce. It’s all-consuming and deeply satisfying.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I recently shot a US Series in Mexico alongside Michael Chiklis. He’s had an amazing career and has become somewhat of a mentor to me. He had some Hollywood stories that blew my mind. But I think everyone that works in the film industry is interesting. It’s a bizarre and bold thing to do with your life and naturally draws a fascinating crowd. I’ve always been impressed by Unit Operators, those guys and girls that set trailers up at insane hours, first to arrive, last to leave, and always seems the happiest and funniest on set. I think some of them should have been actors.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Aside from the physical differences, I reckon my little sister would crush it. She’s always been a great mimic and quick to point out the flaws I struggle to see in myself. Her interpretation would be tough to watch but probably fairly accurate.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Make my own movies. Act in them. Act in other people’s movies too. Surf. Have a family. With lots of dogs and maybe one day write children’s books. At least for my own kids.

Is there is anything else interesting you can tell us about yourself?

I have a crippling addiction to peanut butter and black coffee.

Breaking: Buddy-Comedy “Carmen & Bolude” The Only Australian Project Invited To IFF At TIFF 2021

Australian producers Yolandi Franken and Michela Carattini of Draw Your Own Box Productions were ecstatic when they received the news their feature film “Carmen & Bolude” was selected for the highly competitive Ontario Creates International Financing Forum 2021 (iff 2021) at TIFF (or Toronto International Film Festival). “All of us know this project is magic,” says Franken, “that there is a force greater than us at play.”

The news came on the heels of preparing their Generate Development Funding acquittal for Screen Australia, and Bolude Watson and Carattini, who is also the co-writer of the script, had only just finished the final draft due for the acquittal. The project had already been seven years in the making, but the final shooting script had to be written together across 13,000km, with Watson unable to get home to Sydney from Edmonton, Canada due to the pandemic. 

“Bolude would be writing dialogue into her phone in the middle of the night while breastfeeding and trying to toilet train,” says Carattini, “I was in lockdown with two young kids of my own, and I thought to myself, ‘we can do it like this, we can do it differently – however works! The entire process for us has been profoundly similar to giving birth, and on all counts, we are privileged and blessed to have an enormous amount of support and encouragement.” That support, which included Anthea Williams as script editor, Beatrix Christian as script consultant, Paul, and Akala Newman as Gadigal consultants, a Sydney-based “Quarantine Writer’s Group” and household members generously looking after children whenever possible, saw the final script completed two weeks ahead of schedule, to the celebratory news of being one of only 20 international projects – and the only Australian project – chosen for the premiere financing forum.

Now in its 16th year, the premiere two-day market serves international and Canadian producers developing mostly English-language projects and takes place in association with Toronto International Film Festival. Selected international and Canadian producers are brought together with international sales agents, US distributors, agents, equity financiers, and executive producers for brokered meetings and exclusive networking opportunities. This year the forum, which runs September 12th and 13th, 2021, will be an all-virtual event due to the pandemic. “Of course, there is nothing like those in-person networking events,” says Franken, “but being in lockdown in Sydney, we wouldn’t have been able to attend if it weren’t online this year – so that accessibility is a huge relief.” 

Projects include diverse and LGBTQ-themed narratives, female-driven stories, comedies, romance, and drama from all over the world, including teams from the UK, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, Finland, Greece, India, Israel, Scotland and the U.S. Event producer Larisa Gutmanis stated in the ‘IFF at TIFF 2021 Kickoff Panel,’ available on the Ontario Creates website, that IFF looks for projects in the US $1M-15M budget range of any genre except documentary and animation. “We look for originality – something we’ve never seen before,” she remarked, “All the executives want to see original material, and why a project is important now.” 

“‘Carmen & Bolude is based on Michela and my lives” says Watson, “That was the reason we wrote it: we were desperate to see a story we could relate to on the subject of multiple cultural identities and being constantly asked to choose.” Carattini adds, “For us, Australia has a unique light to shed on the subject, and we’re seeking to engage the conversation from a perspective we haven’t seen before, using laughter as a means of connection and accessibility, while still holding space for the depth of human experiences on this issue.” 

For more information, go to www.carmenandbolude.com

Coming Soon To Rent Or Buy On Digital And DVD: Moon Rock For Monday

Set in Sydney, 1999, after an unlikely encounter at a train station, a young terminally ill girl befriends a fugitive teenage boy and they travel to visit a moon rock that the girl believes will heal her

SYNOPSIS:

MONDAY, a nine-year-old girl home-schooled by her father BOB (Aaron Jeffery) in Sydney. Due to her terminal illness, Monday’s only contact with the outside world is her weekly visit to the hospital. Monday’s imagination is captured by the Moon Rock (Uluru) which she believes will heal her and desires to travel to the middle of Australia to find it. By a twist of fate. She becomes caught up in a police chase involving TYLER (George Pullar), a street kid with a massive heart. Tyler uses Monday to evade the police, but despite the circumstances, they soon form a friendship.

They decide to go on the run, road tripping to the Northern Territory to find the Moon Rock. Along the way, they meet a cast of outback characters, some helpful and some not-so. Meanwhile, Bob is desperately trying to track his daughter down before DETECTIVE LIONELL ( David Field) and the police – who are out for blood. It all culminates in a gripping finale set in the heart of Australia, and a heart-warming end to a touching journey of friendship.

CREW

DIRECTOR – Kurt Martin PRODUCER – Jim Robison
WRITER – Kurt Martin PRODUCTION COMPANY – Lunar Pictures

CAST:

Monday – Ashlyn Louden-Gamble The Bobbins – Nicholas Hope Nurse Roz – Jessica Napier
Tyler – George Pullar Johnny – Clarence Ryan Roach – Alan Duke
Bob – Aaron Jeffery Maddie – Bonnie Ferguson Elvis – Suzan Mutesi
Detective Lionell – David Field Moose – Rahel Romahn

Available to rent or buy on digital and DVD 8th September 2021

Digital Retailers:

GooglePlay
Fetch TV
Microsoft Store
Amazon Prime
iTunes
Foxtel Store

DVD Retailers:

JB Hi Fi
EzyDVD
Sanity

Rising Star Spotlight: Introducing Ashlyn Louden-Gamble

At 11 years old, Ashlyn made her screen debut starring as the title lead role of Monday in the feature film MOON ROCK FOR MONDAY, directed by Kurt Martin and also starring George Pullar and Aaron Jeffery. Ashlyn has participated in several NIDA acting workshops and currently attends an esteemed performing arts school as well as the Young People’s Theatre.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Ashlyn to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Ashlyn Louden-Gamble, I am 13 years old and live in Port Stephens, NSW. I attend Hunter School of Performing Arts – HSPA which is a selective high school in Newcastle, NSW. Currently, I am in grade 8 and my electives are all drama-based – I am really enjoying improvisation and physical theatre.

In Port Stephens, we are surrounded by beautiful beaches and national parks. Where I live, we have kangaroos and koalas that regularly hang in our backyard and there is even an emu we see on my way to school. I just love nature!

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

When I was about 8 years old (grade 2 at school), I started drama classes with O’Grady Drama School. My mum thought drama classes which was a great opportunity for me to overcome my shyness and unleash my creative side. My cousin and I were always making iMovie’s, which kept our family entertained, but the first play I ever did was the Pied Piper (with Helen O’Grady). I played a pirate and a rat! I had so much fun and discovered I loved acting.

In January 2019 I completed a NIDA screen acting course and soon after that I had representation and started auditioning for films… not long after my first audition, I was lucky to be cast as Monday in the feature film Moon Rock for Monday! It all happened very quickly.

What do you like most about acting?

I love the freedom to pretend – I enjoy acting as someone else, thinking and feeling what life is like for that character. I like that being a different character gives you the opportunity to look at life and the world in different ways.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

I think many actors would say the auditioning process… there can be a lot of unknowns about the role, things outside of your control, and the “No’s” can be quite disappointing – especially when you have your heart set on a role. I just try to approach each audition as a creative outlet, show my take on the character and just have fun with the whole process! And keep my fingers and toes crossed for that “Yes.”

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Initially, scripts are a lot of words and black print on pages of white paper. In bringing the script and your character to life, you must have a great imagination and be able to believe the story is your reality – the world it presents, the people in it, your experiences, your thoughts, and your feelings. I also think being able to empathise with your character in a way you think and feel like them is important. You cannot let your own feelings take over.

It is what I enjoy most about acting… you get to experience other worlds and life as someone else.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

School! But I am lucky to attend HSPA where I can study drama and join various ensemble groups and productions.

I also like to try new things and gain experience in as many courses as possible like drama, singing, accent training, aerial silks and I enjoy sports too and spending time with family and friends.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Playing ‘Monday’ in MRFM was an amazing experience! I learned so much, met so many creative and talented people and travelled to new places. Coober Pedy is such a surreal place. One of the biggest highlights was attending Adelaide Film Festival where I got to watch MRFM for the first time – seeing it all come together was so exciting and seeing myself on the big screen was a little weird. But cool!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

There are so many talented and creative people in the industry. So much goes into making a film and so many passionate people are involved. Seeing people do what they love is interesting to me and what I hope for in my career.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

It would have to be Me! Only I could be me. Plus, I am quite young still so not sure who else. But I would love the chance to work with Tom Holland, Julia Roberts, Dwayne Johnston, and Hugh Jackman.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I would definitely like to do more feature films and screen acting as well as finish school. I have also been thinking about working in either a pet shop, florist, or crystal store.

If there is anything else or interesting, you can tell us about yourself?

I am a massive foodie! I love watching cooking shows and I even follow a few food critics on Instagram (which I am recently new to).

Pho and bubble tea also happens to be my comfort foods.

Australian Intimacy Coordinators Michela Carattini (“Nine Perfect Strangers”) & Steph Power (“Five Bedrooms”) Join Forces To Share World-Class Expertise

Michela Carattini is an Intimacy Coordinator and Company Director at Key Intimate Scenes (KIS), Australia. Her IC screen credits include “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Blaze,” “Birdeater,” “Learning The Curvature Of The Earth” and “This River.” She co-created and co-instructed the first Intimacy Coordination Workshop for Directors at AFTRS, was a member of the panel which drafted Australia’s National Intimacy Guidelines, and co-founded the Australasian Intimacy Coordination Network. She developed the only Australian training curriculum for Intimacy Coordinators, and is one of the only people in the world to be fully insured under the title of “Intimacy Coordinator”. Specialising in cultural competency and mental health, she has been an expert speaker/interviewee on Intimacy Coordination for IF Magazine, FilmCentral Magazine, Cinema Femme Magazine, ABC News, SPA, WIFT, SFAA, and Mecury CX Screenmakers.

Steph Power is Australia’s leading Entertainment Industry Welfare specialist. Her ground-breaking production and acting welfare services are internationally recognised. Her informed practices are endorsed by actor Hugh Jackman who refers to Steph ‘as a leader in her field’. As an Intimacy Coordinator, she supports culturally appropriate performance coordination, and has conducted industry welfare training for West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, JMC Academy, National Theatre Drama School, Melbourne Theatre Company, WIFTAustralia, MEAA Equity Wellness, Dame Changers, and has contributed to the Covid Safe Set Guidelines for SPA and Screen Australia. Steph has worked on Covid sets as an Intimacy Coordinator for the film “Prawn,” the feature “Petrol for Arenamedia,” the TV series “5 Bedrooms” for Channel 10/Paramount Plus, and is attached to the film “Secret Dresses.” She also created a new role titled Production Welfare Coordinator on the ABC Series “Itch 2.” This work covers mental health risk assessment and planning, HOD training, and cast and crew support. As part of her advocacy, she is working with key players to further develop this role across the screen and broadcast industries. Steph provides consultation on psychological, cultural, or sexually diverse content and has a private counselling practice at her suites in Malvern. She is a graduate of the renowned WAAPA Acting School, has a degree in Directing Performance from WAAPA, a post-grad in Psychotherapy, and a Masters in Counselling. Her diverse qualifications bring depth and insight to her work.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Michela and Steph to discuss their journey in the entertainment industry and their latest projects and here’s what went down:

Who are you and what do you do in the film industry?

Michela: I’m Michela Carattini, and I’m an actor at AAA Talent, a filmmaker at Charcol Pictures, and an intimacy coordinator and company director at Key Intimate Scenes. I’m also mixed (Celtic Australian, Indigenous Latin American), CALD, multi-local, multi-lingual, multi-national, able, queer, cis-gender female, and a primary carer of young children. You wanted to know all that right?

Steph: I’m Steph Power and I’m an industry welfare specialist and intimacy coordinator at stephpower.com and founder of the original Intimacy Coordinators Australia forum. I’m also known as an acting coach, script advisor, and creative producer. I am an 8th generation Australian and have two children, both equally into films and all things entertainment.

How long have you worked in the industry and what was your journey?

Michela: Let’s see, I’m 41 years old, so…I have worked professionally in the industry for 28 years – with a few breaks trying to make a dent in human rights abuses. I started off as an actor/singer/dancer/choreographer in musical theatre and graduated from AMDA in NYC. I led and supported Off-Broadway and U.S. national tours when suddenly I was watching the second plane fly into the second tower from my window on September 11th, 2001. It made me want to understand human behaviour better, and I ended up with a BA in Psychology from Columbia University and a Masters in Criminology (specialising in ‘Violence Against Women’) from Sydney University. I worked in that area for about seven years, in New York, the Czech Republic, and Australia, until I had my first son. Who knew acting was a fall-back career? It provided an escape from life as a carer with a flexible schedule to boot. The joy, the pain, the life I had experienced, both vicariously and first hand, made me a more interesting storyteller, and I got a lot of work in film and ‘straight’ theatre, as well as producing my own work. I kept trying to put my two career paths together, noticing that my fellow actors were struggling with many issues for which I had the expertise, including consent, coercion, abuse, boundaries, trauma, and mental health. There was suicide, self-harm, exploitation, straight-up sexual assault, and just plain confusion about how to go about things everywhere I looked. I myself struggled with the occupational hazards of being an actor without clear production structures that could minimise those harms. When I started training with those who had established themselves as ‘intimacy coordinators’ in other countries, I was already developing the work on sets here. I am grateful for that overseas training, and it exposed me to international standards and strengthened my work in certain areas to be sure, but having now experienced what is on offer, I am continually impressed with the truly world-class expertise that exists within Australia and New Zealand already. I mean it! There are real gaps in the overseas training, not least of which is mental health, cultural competency, and legal literacy, which is what drove me to prioritize those approaches in the Australian curriculum and seek out those leading the way here.

Steph: I’ve been in the industry for 36 years, but as a professional for 28 years after graduating from the renowned WAAPA Acting school. After two years working in Sydney as an actress, I moved to London where I worked on contracts at companies like Polygram Films (script department) and Channel Four (programming) to pay rent while enrolled in the Actors Centre London. On my return to Australia, I took a job in Perth as an assistant director on Ship to Shore. I then moved to Melbourne, returned to acting, met and married a young filmmaker who became a successful editor, and had my first child. During this time I began a lifelong journey with coaching actors. I completed my degree in performance directing at WAAPA and in 2010 set up Enigma Films. It was losing two actor friends to suicide and seeing other industry friends suffer due to sysemic industry that shifted my focus to an urgent need for actor and crew welfare in professional settings to make the industry a supported workplace. In 2015 I began developing new practice strategies while studying for a postgrad degree in Psychotherapies and Counselling. I researched actors’ emotional vulnerabilities in their work especially in intimate and psychological material, and researched industry systems that impacted creative life. One of my research papers, “Being an Actor”, was a programme of strategies to alleviate mental health impacts in performance settings. On the back of my research in actor welfare and of set practices and crew issues, I set up stephpower.com and moved to Melbourne in 2017 where I completed my Masters in Counselling. Since I was already working with actors in performance welfare as half my business, registering the Intimacy Coordinators Australia as a business name and launching my Intimacy Coordinators Australia Facebook Page in 2019 was a natural move (Not to be confused with another ICA who has a website in this name but is unregistered). In 2020 at the start of the pandemic, I was invited by SPA and Screen Australia to deliver my Covid Safe Set Welfare guidelines to strategise protections for actors and their support crew. With an increasingly ‘welfare friendly’ industry thanks to changes brought about by the #metoo movement and now COVID, I am continuing to advocate for more on-set welfare roles such as the Production Welfare Coordinator which I first implemented on an ABC series in 2020. I love the work I do right across industry welfare and I love developing and improving my role as an Intimacy Coordinator.

What is intimacy coordination?

Michela: The role coordinates and facilitates the industry’s best practices for the portrayal of intimate scenes. This includes expertise in consent, sexual dramaturgy, movement direction and masking, modesty garments and barriers, risk and controls assessments, advocacy and the mitigation of power dynamics, minimizing secondary trauma, and localised mental health support as required.

Steph: It’s essentially supporting the right for protection of a performer’s wellbeing in any physical and emotionally vulnerable scenes. The role of Intimacy Coordinator is often limited in its general interpretation, however, the role itself – as it becomes more explored by people of different cultures, race, gender, sexual diversity, and skill backgrounds, including practitioners like myself with unique qualifications in performance, directing and mental health – will increase the specialisations that are employed in this role. While the specifics of consent, risk management, actor welfare, and shaping performance are required in most settings, I don’t promote the role being limited by overseas gate-keepers and want to see equally knowledgeable Australians culturally define this role themselves. Particularly because the IC role can be used in unscripted and factual formats not just scripted. For example, I was recently approached to IC a project with both real and dramatised women telling personal stories of childbirth and loss. I knew I was perfectly equipped to help, but a straight choreography-focused IC would not have been appropriate, as this project required solid mental health knowledge. This is why Michela and I teamed up because we know there can be complex depths to screen content that for mental health risk aversion require a more qualified practitioner.

What are some of the filming activities that require an IC on set?

Michela: The Australian Intimacy Guidelines (Nov 2020) are very clear that any nudity or simulated sex should have an IC on set. These guidelines have now been incorporated into SPA-MEAA’s National Guidelines for Screen Safety (Jun 2021). However, there are many other reasons you may want to have an IC on set, including any particularly vulnerable circumstances, such as a large power differential, cultural safety, or managing mouth-to-mouth risks in the age of COVID. The Australian industry has really been at the forefront of this (COVID physical and mental risk mitigation), being one of the only countries able to shoot content right through the pandemic.

Steph: Scripted and unscripted or live performances can have intimacy across drama, comedy, documentary, even music videos, and art-based performance. When I read a script and there is a scene where a performer is physically and/or emotionally exposed I assess that scene, do risk mitigation, and work with the actor’s own welfare status to decide if that scene is requiring intimacy coordination on set.

Who does the IC protect and why?

Michela: The IC is an expert consultant that can mitigate the inherent power dynamics on set and advise on industry best practices to better protect actors’ safety and mental health, crew safety, and ultimately production, in being able to show they have met their safety obligations and delivered best practice. No matter how nice a producer or director maybe, their roles have inherent coercive power over cast and crew. I am also a film producer, and today I would never IC my own set because I am aware that my position of power as a producer makes me unable to obtain boundaries and freely-given consent the way an IC, who has no power to hire or fire, is able to do.

Steph: I say to actors, directors, and producers separately. I’m here to protect your best interests. By positioning a third party into the process, the IC protects the actor’s consented safety measures while supporting the director’s vision and implements necessary duty of care and legal protections for the producers. It’s not just the actors who are concerned about physical boundaries of touch, I’ve had directors concerned about actors getting too familiar. I’m forever hearing a new story that makes me reassess and expand my thinking. Bottom line, anyone involved in the telling of intimate performance content should have welfare safety protections so they can get on with the job and not be concerned for their wellbeing. This includes working respectfully with the crew on closed set intimate shoots. A good IC always checks in with the First AD regarding closed set crew care prior to the shooting of intimate scenes.

What are some of the tools and methods used? Why are these important?

Michela: The KIS method incorporates mental health, legal and cultural competence approaches that inform our practice from the inside out. Our risk and control documents are developed specifically for this work, which requires continuing consent, flexible assessments, and creative solutions. This helps to minimise coercion and secondary traumatization, giving creatives space within which to ‘play’ and let go in safety. One actor I worked with described it as ‘a bungee cord’ with which she then felt free to ‘jump off the cliff.’ In particular, we as an industry ask our actors from marginalised communities to re-enact their own and their community’s traumas, and we must be aware and responsible for the occupational work hazards that go along with that.

Steph: I agree with everything Michela says regarding the documentation process, I use an IC-specific script co-joined with actor consent forms to map out the intimacy boundaries during rehearsals. I also consult on actor welfare, waivers, wardrobe intimacy covers, the line producer regarding any risk assessments, the safety or covid officer for updated set protocols or risks, and standby wardrobe for on-set changes. I want to be clear that an IC like myself trained in mental health does not therapise an actor. However, that skill is helpful in recognising when an actor is uncomfortable on a somatic level that is not obvious to the untrained eye. This improves your ability to assess risk so you can respond appropriately as an IC. I’ve picked up vulnerabilities with actors who don’t want to mention it because of wanting to placate everyone and then when they do say, “actually, you know I had a bad experience with another actor or scene which really impacted me so yes I wouldn’t mind you being on set”, the actor instantly feels relieved when I’m able to read their non-verbal cues. Young actors are especially great maskers when they want a job!

Tell us about your new business venture, and what you do, your approach.

Michela: Steph and I decided to join forces because we admired each other’s work. We were a natural fit as we were both mental health professionals, who also had a background in academic research and as trained, working actors. She’s just also a wonderful human being, and I appreciate her compassion as a fellow parent and actor welfare activist to no end! We kept reading about overseas intimacy coordinators in the Australian media, and both of us felt it was important to support our fellow Australians in this work, especially when they are of such high calibre!

Steph: Though different in personality, life stage, and cultural background, I think Michela and I share the belief that Australia should not be looking outward, but self-defining the role of an intimacy coordinator. We should look towards experts in Australia who have researched and developed welfare tools in performance here for years. As Australian ICs we believe we must, as a priority, address the individual cultural needs, systems, and power dynamics within our own country before adopting attitudes to intimacy coordination that do not fit our own industry systems – and also adapt and conduct IC education here accordingly. Australians need to look at their own knowledge base and voice for this role.

Who can become an intimacy coordinator (what qualifications do you need, and where can you get trained)?

Michela: As with any position, I think it’s worth looking at a person’s resume (what is their training, qualifications, and experience?), their work (do you like it?), and who they are as a whole person (are they the right fit for this production?). KIS has created the first Australia-specific training curriculum for intimacy coordinators, as well as the first training program based in Australia, full stop. Our curriculum has been endorsed by overseas leaders in the field, but most importantly, by local leaders across fields and ethnicities, including Australian First Nations elders. Outside of this, there are only overseas training programs.

Steph: Well I can’t comment on overseas training programs because I don’t personally recommend them – mainly due to the lack of research and mental health training of the people running them, their predominant focus on choreography which doesn’t equip anyone for factual unscripted content, and the fact their certs are not recognised by education providers. I’d rather see ICs in Australia train here, use pre-existing qualifications and learn under experienced Australian ICs. For a designated training course in IC, I do however recommend KIS as Michela’s qualifications and course provide comprehensive learning on welfare, and we are in discussion about how we can work together to expand training here in the future. I myself educate on intimacy with workshops to industry providers, educators, and individuals.

Is IC a new thing, what made it relevant?

Michela: To me, it’s kind of like asking if consent is a new thing. No, it’s not, but our understanding of it is continually changing. The industry’s understanding of the need for this role, like our understanding of consent, is tied to our understanding of power dynamics, which we often put in terms of gender and race issues. Post #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, it’s certainly the zeitgeist to consider the nuances of consent in our industry, so I think it does feel to a lot of people that this role has suddenly come out of those movements, but that’s not really the case. To quote Kaja Dunn, a contemporary for whom I hold the utmost respect: “As ICs, we stand on the shoulders of many.” In particular in marginalised communities, there has been recognition of the importance of consent and the importance of safety in our storytelling much earlier. We now have scientific research, from neuroscience and from psychology, which provides evidence for the fact that, when we pretend things, there can be real biological effects, which validates for Western culture the wisdom of our First Nations peoples, who incorporated ritual into storytelling, which we now recognize as an essential tool for minimizing secondary trauma. If you look at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, who was starting to bring in this work in the 1960s in her writings on Black Theatre, and Tonia Sina, one of my mentors in the US, who wrote a thesis in 2006 and used this title that we use now, this ‘Intimacy Director’ or ‘Intimacy Coordinator’ title that has really caught on. At the same time as progress was being made there, Steph was building the concept of ‘on-set welfare’ in Australia, and Jennifer Ward-Leeland was developing ‘intimacy guidelines’ in New Zealand. In England, Ita O’Brien was developing the work through Laban and dance and choreography. So, you know, it hasn’t come out of just one country or one person and it hasn’t really been as recent as it seems. What I think is recent is the understanding and acceptance that the role is necessary, and that, like seatbelts, this will become a normalised feature of our safety repertoire.

Steph: Yes, the recent movements helped make the role essential, the exploration of the role of intimacy coordination was used within academic research and development by those like myself doing studies in performance welfare much earlier. I used to use the words ‘intimate performance welfare’ as I was referring to ‘actor welfare’. As is the case for years there have been many people all over the globe tediously researching performance methodologies and the neurology and psychology of acting and performer welfare, before those who defined themselves in the role. I know of several university fellows who were researching actor welfare, mental health, and performance care strategies when I did my own research. However, when an idea is placed within mainstream settings, that is when it gets exposure. It has also been when this role first was limited by definition.

What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of working in this industry?

Michela: Favourite – That magic that happens when a collaboration of artists creates something truly greater than the sum of their parts…and when that product is able to affect or validate the thinking and being of others because that story was told.

Least Favourite: Artists as a whole are so undervalued in our culture. They give such invaluable gifts, and at great sacrifice. Even within the industry, there is still this sense of hierarchy, fiercely protected by gatekeeper after gatekeeper. I think historically creatives have had to wield power and sacrifice mental health in order to be treated with respect. I sincerely hope intimacy coordination will support changing this aspect of the culture.

Steph: Favourite – Well I love acting with a passion so I feel an instant kinship and protection towards actors. I could work 7 days a week doing what I do to create better support systems for actors than the zero support system on offer at the time I was an actor. You had to look after yourself in performance settings and there were stories we all shared as actors that only made me more determined to pursue this work. Actors to me as storytellers are untapped treasures.

Least Favourite: Industry people who don’t support others. I think that falls into a number of categories including unfriendly competitive behaviours. I think if you have a dream and really believe in something, go for it and only listen to your own voice.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of being an IC?

Michela: At the moment, I think many people are still confused about what we do and don’t do, particularly if they have never worked with an IC. I get a lot of “Michela’s here – does anyone need help with their sex life?” jokes or scoffing, “How exactly did you get this job?”. The other major challenge is self-care; it’s a role that requires an immense amount of bravery, and among powerful players.

Steph: I think for me right now it’s working with Australian directors or producers who have read an article by the UK or US IC gatekeeper who has scared them off using an IC! I’ve been pretty lucky most of the time, but I always make a point of explaining how I work and my understanding of the needs of both actors and directors. We think differently in this country and I understand the concerns of directors enough to navigate my positioning in the process.

What are some of the films, actors, and directors that you worked on as an IC?

Michela: People always want to hear about the names they know – so yes, I was the intimacy coordinator on Nine Perfect Strangers with Nicole Kidman, Tiffany Boone, Samara Weaving, Manny Jacinto, and Melvin Gregg, and on Blaze, with Yael Stone, Josh Lawson and Simon Baker, but I also love the queer stage piece I IC’d called Set Piece, and This River, the little short that could, which ended up winning Naomi Fryer ‘Best Director’ at Flickerfest. Different kinds of productions with differing scopes and budgets really have different intimacy coordination needs, so it keeps me on my toes!

Steph: Ha! I naturally err on naming names but I’m currently attached to 5 Bedrooms TV series for Channel 10/ Paramount + and just finished on the feature Petrol for Robert Connolly’s company Arenamedia, also an independent film Prawn for new director Ella Carey. I’m due to start on Secret Dresses (lockdowns willing!) and I’m also an educator at JMC Academy Film School and The National Theatre Drama School in performance welfare. It’s been a busy year. I think to bring the industry up to speed with overall performance welfare we need to educate from the top down and bottom up right across industry platforms.

Were there any important/memorable moments on set when you felt you made a difference?

Michela: Well, yes, lots. I know just having an IC on set puts people on their best behaviour. For some actors, you can see the relief in their faces and bodies that someone cares about their Consent (with a capital “C”), and they get excited about using intimate scenes to reveal characterisation and story. Actors say things to me like “I’ve never met anyone who talks like you” or “who really listens like you.” And producers are like “this is so great – we avoid tonnes of expensive, time-consuming, awkward negotiations with lawyers and agents, cause you’re there to sort the wording for nudity and simulated sex clauses.” But maybe my proudest moment was in the closing interview for this incredible young woman I worked with on a feature, who said, “Because of you, I will never agree to do something that makes me feel unsafe and I don’t want to do. I look at scripts now sometimes, and just go, ‘no, that’s not for me.’” She’s fourteen! I just thought, wow, how I wish I started my career with that sense of self-knowledge and empowerment.

Steph: Oh yes, on every job. Especially with young actors, you know you have increased their comfort level and their access to joy and play within rehearsals. I think the role really is key in enabling actors to give their best performances in those scenes. I had two young actors aged 16 and 18 doing a simulated sexual act, which is very young. I really am conscious about knowing this cohort’s boundaries and needs at an age when they may not be able to articulate them. When they automatically say yes to anything I continue the conversation past that automatic yes. I also had a middle-aged actor with previous bad experiences with intimate scenes, and we worked on re-framing her narrative away from placing herself to the character, the character’s individual nature, and experience of sexuality…when we did that, it was like a switch went off and she bloomed, it wasn’t about her personal experience of sex, she then had a lot of fun with her character’s performance in the scenes. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful I have that behavioural training as a backstop, because I know a simple question or way of phrasing from counselling experience that can switch things 180 degrees for an actor. I love seeing a nervous actor on Day One become the most confident actor on set after working with me. I often roll up and go, is this the same actor? It’s fantastic! When you show up for someone’s vulnerabilities and provide that support for performers- and the production is there for them by employing you – my gosh, actors bloom!