“On the surface, many things are the same, the gear, the crew, the porta-loos.”
Caroline Morgan (Robyn Butler) is the glue that keeps her family together, but when her movie star niece, Honey Halloway (Lucy Fry), is forced to stay with her in suburbia after her mother (Portia de Rossi) is sent to rehab, it’s Caroline that comes unstuck. Now Add Honey is an uplifting, laugh out loud, family comedy about women and girls triumphantly being who they are.
This is the first feature film you’ve directed. How does the experience compare to directing television?
The differences became apparent once I was making it. On the surface, many things are the same, the gear, the crew, the porta-loos, but it’s the storytelling that changes. Feature length changes the rhythms entirely. The television comedies we make, like Upper Middle Bogan, operate at a cracking pace and I knew I couldn’t replicate this over 95 minutes as it would be exhausting for an audience. Understanding the ebb and flow of long form whilst keeping the story always moving forward was the biggest challenge. I loved it.
Your credited as the film’s director and Robyn is credited as the film’s writer. How much of your respected roles were a collaborative effort?
Robyn conceived of the idea and wrote it entirely. Her script was fantastic, a great over arching idea filled with dynamic scenes throughout. I worked with her on every draft, my role was to primarily ask questions, continually. Conversely, whilst I directed the film Robyn was always collaborating with me every step of the way. We arrive at everything together, most importantly, the tone of anything we make. We always ensure we are both telling the story the same way. So whilst our jobs on Now Add Honey are separate, we collaborate on everything, the cast, the aesthetic, the costumes, the design, the cut and because we are the producers, the porta-loos.
Can you tell us a bit about casting Portia de Rossi in the film?
Our casting director, Nathan Lloyd from Mullinars put Portia forward as an idea from an early draft and we loved it. Robyn and I are big Arrested Development fans and think that Portia is extremely funny in that show. The role she plays in Now Add Honey is a ‘momanger’, that is, an overbearing mother who manages the life of her famous teenage daughter. Her character, Beth, is Australian who now resides in L.A. – just like Portia. It was a great fit and we were able to connect as we shared the same US agency, WME.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the more interesting experiences on set?
One of central characters, Honey, is making the awkward transition from child movie start to sexy pop starlet. This is reflected in the film via a rather raunchy video clip called ‘Pop Down South’. It’s very over the top and has a southern theme, shot in a barn with ripped male dancers and lots of corn cobs rolling over them. The only barn we could find that worked was at the Collingwood children’s farm and we had to create a 50 metre barrier around it as it was massively inappropriate.
When did you first become aware of CinéfestOZ and the $100,000 film prize?
Putting wine and film together meant I was always going to find out about it. I had read about it over the course of last years festival. Also, Joel Pearlman at Roadshow, who are our distributors, spoke very highly of the festival and encouraged us to enter.
Will you be attending the event in August and have you ever visited the South West of WA?
Robyn and I are definitely attending and also bringing Lucy Durack, one of the stars of the film with us. (Lucy is from W.A. so the festival was keen to have her there and so were we as she is quite possibly the nicest person in Australian entertainment! industry). I have visited W.A. several times, most recently, Robyn and I took our daughters on a cracking road trip up north. As far as the South West goes, I once tried to go there with a bunch of mates when I was 20. We hired the cheapest rental car we could find, a Russian built ‘Niki 650’ and it was so underpowered that the motor kept cutting out every-time we hit a headwind. After about 6 hours we’d only got about 100 kilometres so we chucked it in and returned to Perth, so this is a first.
What would it mean to you personally to win the $100,000 film prize?
It would mean I could hire a car a hell of lot nicer than a Niki 650, tour the wine region in style and buy some really, really good reds.