Your new movie In
Corpore - in a few words, what is it about?
In Corpore can be summed up as a contemporary relationship anthology
drama that explores four different unions around the world, what happens
when one person's expectations change and deviate from that of their
partner's, and basically that communication is key to any successful and
What were your sources of inspiration when writing In
Corpore, and is any of it based on personal experiences?
A few different
aspects were the inspiration, and yes personal experience was also part of
it as we are both from traditional European upbringings, hence in Malta
Anna’s feelings of spiritual confinement was the easiest to write
storywise. Also we were inspired by personal stories of our peers, and we
observed what was happening around us, plus other mumblecore/ improvised
filmmakers from the 2000s have always been inspiring to us in the
The mumblecore movement encapsulates the stories we
like to tell as they were usually about couples working stuff out,
breaking up and finding their way in the world. Filmmakers and directors
who experiment with unconventional processes – be it in pre-production
while working closely with actors to build character through an improvised
‘rehearsal’ process or on set when improvising dialogue for
naturalistic performances – play a huge part in our inspiration and we
keep seeking out work from these directors to watch as we love what
Particularly Joe Swanberg's Netflix show Easy [Joe
Swanberg interview - click here] – we are fans
of his work and also other relationship drama films and shows about
coupldom and characters exploring sexual and spiritual connection, first
love, and alternative stories of people following unconventional paths in
life. Plus films and shows like The Girlfriend
Experience, Blue is the
Warmest Color and Drinking Buddies all inspired us when looking at
character motivation and personal desire for In Corpore.
you've been known for working with improvisation in the past, how much of In
Corpore was actually scripted, how much improvised?
We never work with scripts for
our feature films these days – we write lengthy story outlines which
break down the plot scene by scene so we have some control initially over
the direction and how we want the drama to unfold. From this written
concept we break down each scene into dot point form or story beats so we
know, and the actors know, what is happening in that scene. Since filming
Friends, Foes & Fireworks (our one-night New Years Eve feature film
back in 2016/2017) we have been working this way for features and our
micro-shorts, and we are always learning something about ourselves and the
four segments of In Corpore
take place in four different corners of the world - so why is that, and
what kind of a strain did that put on the production?
The main reasons for this are that firstly we
wanted to make an internationally flavoured film and set it in four varied
countries to have a mix of culture and perspectives in terms of our
characters' views on the world.
Secondly, we wanted to make a film with
Clara Francesca while she was visiting Melbourne from New York and we were
also living in Melbourne at the time. We tossed around ideas and
eventually settled on the idea of splitting the stories featuring
Clara’s character Julia into two parts, set in Melbourne and New York.
We were also planning to move to Malta ourselves after the Melbourne
shoot, so filming a chapter in Malta made sense. From there, we only
needed one more country to complete the film and we chose Berlin. Overall,
we wanted to cover a wide range of contemporary relationships to make it a
broad view of what kinds of relationships are out there, yet we only
touched the surface in honesty.
Of course, it was financially straining as
Ivan and I self-funded the film as we went along, and of course it was
very challenging to organise shoots in different countries, particularly
if we didn’t already have a network of contacts in place, as was the
case in Malta (we filmed the Malta chapter as soon as we arrived in the
country) and Berlin (which we organised while not even being in the
country). Luckily, we had Clara based in New York to produce that chapter,
and we had years of experience and relationships built up in Melbourne to
draw upon for that section.
you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Our directorial approach to our story at
hand for our latest feature films, including In Corpore, is very much vérité,
so identified by fluid and free flowing camera movements following the
action, thanks to the fact that we use improvisation and natural lighting.
As we use this directorial approach our films make the audience feel
like they are a fly on the wall, somewhat documentary in feel. We want to
make the audience feel like an eyewitness to the lives of our characters
unfolding. Some would say this can be confronting, or use that fact as a
negative, especially in the intimate or even heartbreaking scenes when
lovers quarrel, due to the fact that there is so much rawness, human
vulnerability, and emotion coming from the actors’ performance thanks to
improv as the actor has no other choice but to be in the moment. Our
directorial approach with any film is also to be adaptable to the ebbs and
flows brought on by the improv style and what unfolds. We, like the actors
in our films, discover the truth together.
talk about In Corpore's
key cast, and why exactly these people?
We don't audition – we meet our
potential actors, our key cast, and we go off intuition as well as making a
choice of who we want to work with after speaking to them about the
overall idea for the film, its themes and the character they are going
for. For In Corpore we had a mix of methods when it came to casting and
choosing the people who would bring our characters to life.
wonderful to work with Clara Francesca again as always, as well as Frank
Fazio in Melbourne. Both actors we have worked with before on our short
film Zina, many moons ago back in Melbourne. They are just really
talented, both have a lot of charisma, they draw people in, plus they know
each other off set and they have natural chemistry, which shines on the
In New York again Clara was our main actor and also alongside her
was Timothy McCown Reynolds, who Clara brought in to play her husband
Patrick. We didn't audition Timothy, as his work in theatre and his
presence and natural talent spoke for themselves – plus we didn't have a
long rehearsal process for the New York story, so Clara and Timothy worked
on their story a fair bit alone, and we trusted them as they both had
worked together before in theatre.
In Malta we had the challenge of having
to cast people we did not know as we were new to the country. Naomi
Knight, our lead in the Malta story, came from a theatre background and
had studied at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, plus she had
some training in improvisation, so she was very experienced in the
technique we were using and ready to tackle the complex role of Anna. Also
having studied and worked in London was Christopher Dingli playing Manny,
Anna's husband, and he approached us wanting to discuss the role only a few
weeks before we were set to shoot, which was amazing as he has such a
profile in Malta in theatre, comedy, radio and also international and
In Berlin the lead went to Kelsey Gillis, a Canadian-Irish
actor who we cast from an international call out. We spoke to Kelsey
online about the role and she was chosen out of a handful of hopefuls.
Kelsey was new to Berlin at the time and up for a challenge of working on
a very multifaceted character and with improvisation. On the other hand we already
knew Sarah Timm who plays Rosalie, as we had worked with her before in
Melbourne on another feature called Choir Girl, and we really wanted to
work with her again as she is incredibly talented.
A few words
about the shoots as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Loads of hard work, but loads
of great people on set void of egos and full of professionalism and a love
and passion for what they do. It was very much a grassroots indie set,
every story, every country we filmed in had good vibes as everyone was
working together to get a powerful result. We feel blessed to have met so
many amazing individuals and shared this special experience with them.
Anything you can tell us about audience and critical
reception of In Corpore?
The reviews have been more positive than negative, however I
think a lot of the mainstream audiences and reviewers who are critiquing
the film may be finding it a little intense for their palette and they are
missing the point of the strong sex scenes and instead taking that on face
value, which is a shame as in reality a huge part of human interaction is
sexual and this is a truthful film about contemporary relationships.
Hollywood films shy away from positivity portraying women's sexual
pleasures, adultery on a woman's part, and women in a position of control,
it's not the norm, nor is nudity or realistic looking sex scenes, however
violence is very much accepted.
In one review the reviewer made the point
that In Corpore could be a film that 'ushers in social change', which is
exactly what we as filmmakers think we need more of in cinema, be it
mainstream or micro-budget indies. As Clara was informed in an interview
– it's not a When Harry Met Sally romance. We didn't set out to make
this film for a mainstream audience, and what I have learnt from marketing
it and from speaking to liberal minded people and to Clara in New York,
where there is a big acceptance for films with stories and female
characters like the ones we have put forward in In Corpore
sex-postive, bi-sexual, open-minded, polyamorous and so forth – these
people are enjoying the film.
It is a film that has many layers and main
characters some would find unlikeable because of their choices and how
they communicate their wants and desires to people who don't understand
them and suppress them. Our audience is very much open-minded,
sex-positive, liberal thinking people who like complex films that are
going to leave them thinking about their own motives and actions.
future projects you'd like to share?
Sure, two films actually that we shot
in 2020 during the pandemic. First, Cats of Malta, a documentary about the
stray cats of Malta and how they connect the island. We also have a
psychological drama/horror called Machination which is about a woman who
has an undiagnosed mental illness and how she copes in a pandemic with the
situation and the monsters in her head. The latter is improvised and very
much a character piece. Both films were shot in Malta and they will be
released in 2021.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
website, social media, whatever else?
So many, here goes:
For all our films, news,
newsletter, blog and company info:
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
We also teach improvised, micro-budget filmmaking online and we have a
new course out through Indie Film Hustle Academy called The Art of
Improv Indie Filmmaking. Check it out to go much deeper into our improv
filmmaking methods. Here is the direct link :
for the interview!