You could say Lisa Bishop has had her fair share of experience – whether it's in music, tourism, health, the arts, or film and television.
She's applied this experience in roles working for Music SA and Adelaide Fringe to name just a few, but now she's being recognised in a different way – as a Producer for a short film.
At the age of 50, Lisa set up Never Too Late Productions: a company aiming to deliver strong, character-driven films with a social message. 'Aftershock', written and directed by Lisa's colleague Gareth Wilkes, kicks off this vision.
'Aftershock' sees a waitress fighting to overcome her rapist while stuck inside a diner with him after an earthquake. The film took home Best Foreign Short Film at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival – and that's just the beginning of its success.
Lisa had a chat to us about how it feels to have Never Too Late's fantasy not only come to life, but be seen by an international audience. First of all, congratulations! What does it mean to you to be recognised in this way by Atlanta Underground Film Fest?
Thanks! It's enormously gratifying and affirming. Making a film, even a short film, is a labour of love and an investment personally. It's also a big leap of faith that some viewer somewhere will actually like it! As filmmakers we open ourselves up to criticism, which is nerve-wracking, so to be rewarded with positive recognition and acknowledgement is the best possible outcome. To be recognised in a country outside of Australia and by total strangers, means we got it right. Also, festival programmers speak to other film festivals in their territory so we hope this award will set off a bit of a chain reaction in the USA. For example we know that already the folks at Atlanta Underground Film Festival have recommended us to their sister film festivals and in fact we are a semi-finalist in the Dumbo Film Festival in New York. So hopefully things take off in the USA. Why did you initially want to set up Never Too Late Productions?
Never Too Late Productions is a vehicle for Gareth Wilkes and myself to make our own original stories that have a strong female lead and tell tales about the human condition. This is our first film and we really enjoy working together, and we've found a talented group of Adelaide-based key creatives who we want to work with again in the future. Never Too Late Productions allows us to tell the world about their talent and hopefully work with them in the future on longer form content across a variety of genres. We are also keen to look at virtual production. And what is your long-term goal for it?
'Aftershock' is a stepping stone. If it wins awards and gets recognised then we are in a good position to apply for funding for our future film projects. Because it is short form and has a content warning, 'Aftershock' is unlikely to bring commercial rewards, so really the long-term purpose of the film is to act as a calling card for the careers of Gareth, myself and our key creatives – Dave Gregan DOP, our Editor Danielle Tinker, Bree Tranter who composed the music and Carlos Manrique Clajivo who did an awesome job on sound. 'Aftershock' was filmed in Adelaide! How does it feel to know a film festival in Atlanta got to see a slice of SA?!
Well we shot the film on a set we built ourselves so there's not really much in the film that can be recognised as Adelaidean! But it is so wonderful to be able to proudly support the SA film community with this award and to increase awareness about SA as a filmmaking destination.
Aftershock Trailer from Lisa Bishop on Vimeo.
The story covers a touchy topic. How did the team go about putting it together in the right way?
Yes there is a rape in the film and we were extremely mindful of our responsibilities as filmmakers in how to portray that in a truthful way. Our challenge was to bring a balanced realism to a story that has the potential to be over-dramatised. We do not like gratuitous violence but the world is a nasty place and we did not shy away from that fact. So, it was very important for us to spend time with the folks at Yarrow Place Rape Crisis Centre. We went through the script page by page with the Education Manager and a counsellor. It helped us with the characterisation in particular. It also brought to our minds the fact that 95 per cent of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, so we made sure there was an existing connection with the characters of Kate and Paul. The truth is that rape is rarely committed by a mythical monster-stranger-rapist portrayed in the media. The trivialisation of male violence against women is a staple and invidious subject in our culture that has allowed men to comfort themselves and tell themselves that they are not that mythical monster-stranger-rapist. Our research revealed that rape is commonly perpetrated by a known person. What was the highlight, for you, of putting 'Aftershock' together?
Working with an incredibly talented and respectful cast and crew. No doubt about it, the people were the highlight. Where did the idea from this story come from?
Gareth is the Writer as well as the Director and I still remember the idea as he pitched it to me in a text message. 'Aftershock' came about as a question: What would happen if an oppressor and his victim were trapped together? This question struck a chord with Gareth as he comes from an underprivileged home, having witnessed violence growing up. I immediately fell in love with his story and so we began a long development process of research and fine-tuning. What's the desired reaction for this film?
Three things really. We want industry to see the quality of the filmmaking and the excellent performances by Emma Bargery and Vince Poletto. I believe our official selection in the Adelaide Film Festival is helping us achieve that outcome. We are so thrilled to be a part of an internationally-recognised home town festival! Secondly, we are hopeful that people will engage emotionally and go down that journey of 'what would I do in that situation'. And lastly we want people to learn what our research revealed about rape and walk out of the cinema having those discussions. What advice would you give up-and-coming creatives (in Adelaide, or just in Australia in general) who are striving for international recognition but aren't sure where to begin?
Save some of your budget so that you can enter as many film festivals as possible. Submissions can be easily entered online via the filmfreeway website. You've got to be in it to win it and don't give up hope!
'Aftershock' will screen at the Adelaide Film Festival as part of the Made in SA Program Strand on 19 October at the Palace Nova East End Cinema and 24 October at the Odeon Semaphore Cinema.