“Getting money to make your film is wonderful, but having people say ‘we believe in you, go do your thing’ is absolutely invaluable.” – Miley Tunnecliffe
Written by Miley Tunnecliffe (Writer, Producer):
Love in a Disabled Toilet was intended to be a fun, quick film to shoot with a few friends during some down time. It quickly turned into an epic production… as far as shorts go.
My background is acting. I trained in New York at the Stella Adler studio. I started writing a few years ago and I’ve been lucky in that my screenplays have found success in US writing contests and fellowships. But a screenplay is only the first stage in the filmmaking process. Which is why I got into producing. So I could move my writing on to the next stages.
I remember I’d just come back from a Los Angeles trip and I wanted to jump straight into making another film. I thought a contained, two-hander shouldn’t be too difficult! I came up with the idea of a woman trapped in a toilet with her ex, only a couple days before I caught up with friend and colleague, Ruben Pracas. He had worked on my previous film Barnesy’s Numbers and his film Revive had just become a finalist at Tropfest. Ruben was looking for a new project to direct so I pitched him Love in a Disabled Toilet. He loved it. I sent him a script and it was on.
As I was going to be acting as well as producing, I knew I wanted a co-producer. Ruben suggested his Revive producer, Jess Black. We clicked straight away. Jess is incredibly driven, hardworking and very good at what she does. A year and a half later, we are about to go into production on our fourth film under our independent company, Red Milestone Productions. We always joke that Ruben was our match-maker!
Jess, Ruben and I set about to develop the script and apply for funding. Even though we’d planned to produce it “no-budget” if we had to, always go for funding if it’s available! We were lucky enough to have US screenwriter and producer Aaron Ginsberg (The 100, Intelligence) come on board as script editor during those early stages and Tania Chambers (Kill Me Three Times) became a producing mentor for myself and Jess.
We found out later that 14 other filmmaking teams had applied for the same $10K OOMPF funding that we did. It was an incredible feeling when our project was chosen. FTI (The Film and Television Institute) have been such champions for our careers and we feel so grateful to them. Because getting money to make your film is wonderful, but having people say “we believe in you, go do your thing” is absolutely invaluable. Particularly in this industry where more often then not, the only opportunities you get are the ones you make for yourself.
Money in hand, we knew we had a huge opportunity to make something special. FTI connected us with Oscar nominated director/writer Pete Templeman (Not Suitable for Children) who guided us through the last stages of the script development.
The main allocation of the budget was put towards building the set that would be our disabled toilet. We brought on production designer Alana Starcevich who did an impeccable job creating a realistic bathroom.
Choosing a set over an actual location allowed us a much more controlled shoot. Sound-wise it was more preferable and we were now free to shoot on a bigger camera. We chose the RED Dragon. The movable walls allowed us to execute the elaborate shots and camera movement Ruben and cinematographer George Davis designed.
The walls were designed to literally close in on our characters throughout the film, creating a deepening claustrophobia and awkwardness. Then during the climax of the film, the walls and camera were coordinated to pull back at the same time as my character’s moment of change. That moment, combined with Blake Savage’s awesome score, is one of my favourite scenes of the film.
The shoot was two days on set at Filmbites Studio (much thanks to Hallie, Peta and Ben for welcoming us there) and one day on location at Mint Nightclub in Northbridge. We were so lucky it was a smooth shoot, with lots of laughs and great vibes. We had a phenomenal cast and crew who gave their all, many of whom come back and work with us over and over again. We must be doing something right!
We screened Love in a Disabled Toilet at the FTI cinema last month to a sold out crowd. The reaction was fantastic. Next month we’ve been invited to screen at the Perth Revelation Film Festival, much thanks to ScreenWest. Revelation will be the start of our exciting international festival journey. Updates to be announced!
Jess and Ruben are both nominated for the 2015 WASA (West Australian Screen Award) Young Filmmaker of the Year. In fact, this is Jess’ second consecutive nomination. I’m so proud of them both. Can it be a tie?
Since Love in a Disabled Toilet, I’ve pulled back from acting so I can concentrate on writing and directing and Jess has the producing/editing covered. We’ve just completed Lola & Luis, a romantic drama set in Fremantle. Our next project is the road-trip drama Mother Daughter Time. Principle photography is set to commence end of 2015.
Love in a Disabled Toilet will be screening at the Revelation Film Festival as a part of ScreenWest’s Get Your Shorts On Thursday 9th July at 6:30pm at Luna Leederville. Details here.