Cannes Film Festival 
25th La Cinef Selection 2022 
 
Interview

Ruby Challenger
Mumlife
rubychallenger.com
May 21, 2022

MumLife explores the emotional hardships that can come with early motherhood through five original indie/pop musical numbers. Sarah is a first-time new mum navigating her inner anxieties about her parenting through what seems like an average day of parent's groups and best friend hangs.

Hi Ruby, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?

Thank you for your time also. Well, I had just started my Masters of Directing at Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) just before covid hit. So I had a wild two years of at once following my dreams and living through the surreal world that has been a covid world of lockdowns, face masks and social distancing – difficult circumstances to learn directing under!

 

How have you kept yourself motivated?

The Masters was a strong motivating factor in my life – I never got a covid lockdown hobby because I had no time to be idle even though university went entirely online!

 

Your previous short, Daily Bread, won the Audience Award at St Kilda Film Festival (2018, did you imagine you would get this tie of recognition for your film?

It’s an honour to have your vision and hard work recognised by film festivals and even more so to receive an award.

 

How much has your experience at the Australian Film Television and Radio School help to guide your approach and filmmaking style?

My time at AFTRS allowed me time to focus on the craft of filmmaking. To identify my goals and my current approach. Most of all, it gave me a cohort of creatives who I will collaborate with till I’m old and grey.

 

What would you say have ben the most valuable lessons you have taken from your time at Australian Film Television and Radio School?

As the director I’m not the expert and that’s why we collaborate with all of our departments to bring these worlds and characters and stories to life. Similarly my mentor also taught me to own my part in the story.

 

Congratulations on MumLife being selected for the 25th La Cinef, where you are also nominated for the Cinéfondation Award, what does it mean to you to have your film part of this year's festival?

I just keep saying to people – this film literally couldn’t have hoped for anything bigger – making it to Cannes is the best of the best and myself and the team are still in awe that we are here. As my friend said – you aimed for the stars and you landed in a whole other Galaxy.

 

Can you tell me how MumLife came about, what inspired you to make this musical short?

First and foremost my team and I wanted to make a musical. It isn’t often that you have the resources and backing as when you are at film school, so we really threw ourselves into this. MumLife evolved from a simple pitch of ‘it’s a musical about social media influencers’ to a much deeper story about a new mother having a difficult day.

mumlife.png.webp

"I’m privileged to have so much art in my family as my mother is also a painter, my step dad is a photographer and step my a writer amongst other things."

What as it about Gerard Dewhurst’s screenplay that interested you so much?

We collaborated on this from the very beginning. The film came from my personal experiences as a mother and Gerard was able to take that and create a wonderful script.

 

How close do you like to keep to the screenplay once you start shooting, do you allow yourself/actors much flexibility?

I wanted the actors to own their character, so I would always allow and encourage improv and looseness with the script. But i was always surprised how close we would come back to the script because Gerard really has looked at these words from all angles. But I love the freedom to allow the actors to rediscover the words for themselves through their own exploration.

 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I was born into it, quite literally. My dad was shooting a film when I was born and that was my first visit out of the hospital – to a film set. I’m privileged to have so much art in my family as my mother is also a painter, my step dad is a photographer and step my a writer amongst other things.

 

Is there any one area of filmmaking you’re really keen to explore more?

For me it’s all about story. I will continue to study story till the day I die. But also, all areas of filmmaking are essential to be a good filmmaker, so I will always observe and learn.

 

How much has your style and approach to your films has changed since your debut short?

I have always had a vision to grow in scale, project on project. I love ambitious films that deal in spectacle because I love amazing costumes, sets and large music. Although the two films are quite different, I can see from behind the curtain that I was allowing each project to flex and grow as it asked for it.

Is there any advice or tips you would offer a fellow writer/director?

Work hard. That’s the minimum. Make films for yourself and your audience first and don’t worry about the accolades. They may or may not come, but if you make the best art you can do, you will have a happy life.

 

And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from MumLife?

I hope they feel a connection to Sarah and can see themselves in her as we’ve all had a hard day that we didn’t feel we could get through. And ultimately, I hope that they are still singing the songs long after the credits have rolled.

For its 25th edition, La Cinef has selected 13 live-action and 3 animated shorts directed by 6 male directors and 10 women directors...Four of them are from schools taking part for the first time and these 16 shorts reflect the diversity of filmmaking education in the world.