Alice Foulcher is an acting and writing double-threat. A VCA graduate, Alice made numerous attention-grabbing short films before making her first feature That’s Not Me with her husband, director/writer Gregory Erdstein. The film was a break-out hit for an independent, largely self-distributed feature, and was the little engine that could in 2017, gaining not only the attention of critics who praised Alice’s assured performance, but a respectable level of commercial success.
Tell us a little about your film, That’s Not Me.
I co-wrote That’s Not Me with my husband Gregory Erdstein (he also directed it), and I acted in it in the twin roles of Polly and Amy. We’d made a bunch of short films together, and this was our first feature film. We self-financed it with a small nest egg of just $60,000. We shot it over about 9 months in several blocks, which enabled us to work around our actors’ availabilities. But it meant we were in a perpetual state of pre-production (and stress). No regrets, because we got the film made with the cast we wanted – but I would never ideally work that way again!
It was released in cinemas in 2017, and for a little indie film, it actually punched well above its weight. I still remember as the reviews started coming in opening up The Guardian website and there we were on the main page – with a 4-star review. It was very surreal and exciting. With a few years’ distance, I feel like I can better quantify what it was for us. I’m enormously proud of this film. It’s funny, it’s sad and it has something to say. It was such a labour of love. Releasing it in 2017 was one of the best years of my life. It was like one long victory lap – we travelled the world with various cast and crew for different festivals and screenings. And particularly given the events that have transpired this year, that experience has become increasingly special to me.
What are you currently working on?
We are currently in development for two projects. We are writing a film called One More Shot with production company Truce, which recently received development funding from Film Victoria. It’s the first time we’ve gotten money to write and we feel so lucky to be doing this thing for a living right now. It’s also pretty fortunate to be in the development stage in 2020, as our work can be done from home. Having said that, we also have a 15-month-old who is doing her best to hamper those efforts. One More Shot is set to be directed by Nicholas Clifford, and I get to act in it again which is very exciting. Selfishly, I love writing for myself!
Greggles and I are also developing a TV series called Oh Happy Day with production company Hoodlum, about married wedding photographers on the brink of divorce. Having spent the past few years shooting weddings ourselves, and being married, it’s a bit of a love project for us (the divorce bit is fictional… for now).
How are you coping with self-isolation?
In the grand scheme of things, we are coping totally fine. But it’s a bit of a hamster wheel, isn’t it? Our days are pretty predictable. Outside the normal baby routines that revolve around naps, feeds and play, we are squirrelling away every spare moment we can on writing. Hobbies are also helpful. Too much time on the internet is not. Getting out of the house for walks and fresh air is a much better use of time – good for the soul, the body and the creative juices.
I’ve found the anxiety of this time similar to the anxieties I felt being a new parent last year. In that way, I try to remind myself to just take this thing day by day and repeat my favourite motherhood mantra: get up, get dressed and get on with it.
What are your 5 favourite films at SBS On Demand?
In no particular order…
1. Frances Ha
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver
I’ll never forget the moment the lights came back on in the cinema at the end of this film. I turned to Greggles and was about to say how much I liked the film… and then I just burst into tears. I’d never seen a film so accurately depict the complexities of female friendships and the way they evolve in your twenties. Those close friendships are relationships. Losing that friendship, for me, was harder than any romantic breakup I’ve ever had. Frances Ha so perfectly captured that feeling.
And even though I’d seen her in Greenberg, Frances Ha was when I fell in love with Greta Gerwig. She’s incredible. The level of detail in her and Baumbach’s writing and the subtleties of the performances are just knockout. It’s easily one of my all-time favourite films, and you can obviously see the influence on our film.
Watch Frances Ha now at SBS On Demand.
2. My Brilliant Career
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Cast: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Max Cullen, Wendy Hughes
A seminal Australian classic and essential viewing. It launched the brilliant careers of Judy Davis, Sam Neill and director Gillian Armstrong. Even today, Sybylla feels like a radical feminist to me: turning down two marriage proposals (one of them perfectly decent) for a stab in the dark at a writing career. Much like Little Women’s heroine Jo March, Sybylla refuses to settle for the limitations of what life has on offer for her as a young woman. And it really is women like them that I have my modest career to thank for. And women like Armstrong for bringing their stories to the screen. For the opportunities I take for granted, I am forever indebted and grateful to them.
And gee whiz – Sam Neill was a tall glass of water back in the day, wasn’t he?
Watch My Brilliant Career now at SBS On Demand.
3. Sweet Country
Director: Warwick Thornton
Cast: Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill
I swear I don’t just have a thing for Sam Neill.
I found Sweet Country deeply haunting. It’s a film that has really stayed with me. Three years after seeing it, the first thing that springs to mind is that scene. I hate rape scenes. I hate watching them and I hate that so often, with a male director at the helm, they can’t help but fall victim to being viewed through the male gaze. But Warwick Thornton doesn’t fall into that trap: panning the camera away from the crime so we don’t see it at all. And yet we still have to listen to the brutality being committed, a crime that sets off a further tragic series of events. Thornton is at the top of his game and, in fact, of the game. He’s already established himself as one of the greats of Australian cinema. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Watch Sweet Country now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein
Great films for me aren’t just ones you watch once and appreciate their artistry. Like, for example, Michael Haneke’s Amour: a soul-shattering, harrowing experience… that I never want to watch again. (But you should definitely watch it once if you haven’t seen it!) But a truly great film to me is one you want to watch over and over again. They are comfort food.
Election is one of those films for me. It’s sharp, entertaining and 20 years after its release – it’s an ever-relevant, scathing microcosm of politics at large. Matthew Broderick is great, as always, but it’s Reese Witherspoon who is electric as the ruthlessly determined Tracy Flick. And with two more decades of feminism under our belts, we might even reconsider the villainous perception of Flick: a young female student whose pushy ambition drives a male teacher to try and cheat her out of her rightful victory.
Watch Election now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi
Country: New Zealand
I love this film, I love this filmmaker.
As a writer, one of the things I love the most about Boy is that it shows how the more specific something is, the more universal it can be. Working outside Hollywood, we can often feel pressure to write stories and characters that we hope American audiences will relate to. But Taika Waititi wears his individual experience of the world so proudly on his sleeves – and his films have found vast audiences across the world because of it. Boy resonates because it feels so authentically truthful. You don’t need to have grown up in rural New Zealand to relate to the difficulties of growing up and broken family relationships. It’s funny, it’s sad, it hits you right in the guts. And boy does he know the power of a memorable last line. *bursts into tears*
Watch Boy now at SBS On Demand.
La Vie en Rose. I had just moved to Melbourne and was working at Palace Cinema Como when this came out. It was a huge hit. It played for weeks and weeks, and the cinema foyer was constantly sound-tracked by the melancholic tones of Edith Piaf. Marion Cotillard is sublime. And then there’s Paris. Oh Paris. Greggles and I lived there for the better part of 2014 whilst writing That’s Not Me, and it looks like watching it on screen is the closest we’re going to get to visiting anytime soon. This movie holds a special place in my heart, and if you need a good cry – it’s the catharsis you’re looking for right now.