Preview Gala star Alice Foulcher talks scripts, comedy fodder and low-budget film-making

Alice Foulcher is helping us kick off the festival program on Preview Gala Night on 15 December, with a screening of her debut feature film That’s Not Me. The home-grown comedy tells two parallel stories of twin sisters Polly and Amy, both aspiring actors, but who meet vastly different levels of success. It premiered at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, where it won the Top Ten audience award (a gong it also collected at Melbourne International Film Festival).

Alice is a former Coffs local who did her HSC at Bishop Druitt College, performed at Jetty Memorial Theatre as a teenager, and whose very first job was gutting fish at the Fishermen’s Co-op. Alice co-wrote That’s Not Me and stars as both twins. She will be there on the night with director Greg Erdstein for an audience Q&A following the screening. We catch up with Alice to find out more…

You made That’s On Me on a budget of just $60,000. Is that even possible?!

We had a LOT of help from friends. If we’d paid people the award rate – which we would have loved to have done but we couldn’t afford – it would have cost closer to $900,000 to $1million. But between that $60,000 and $1million is 10 years’ worth of relationships. It was amazing – but you can only ask something like of your mates once! (Find out more details on how Alice and Greg managed it here.)

What attracted you to this particular story?

We thought that the premise was very funny – having two people trying to do the same profession where a lot of your currency hinges on what you look like, and they look exactly the same.

Did the contrast of the success of the twins give you a chance to play out the insecurity that actors go through?

Yes exactly – it is a device gives you a chance to tell a story in a pretty unique way. We were much more interested in following the journey of the unsuccessful twin Polly. The story became much more about asking why we do the things we do and why we sometimes follow our childhood dreams blindly without asking ourselves why we’re doing it.

With something like acting, that’s a really tough industry and there’s a certain point where you have to ask yourself is it worth it, if you’re not getting the success that you need to sustain a career. You then realty need to ask yourself why you’re doing it.

What appealed about that side of the story, about when things don’t go so well?

Last summer we watched La La Land, and we looked at each other and said – wow, our film is completely the anti-La La Land! And we’re quite happy about that, because it’s not often that you see films about people who don’t make it and that’s not a bad thing. We’re constantly fed this idea that you have to hang in there and follow your dreams, but in an industry like acting, where only a few people make it, that means that a lot people are going to be disappointed in life.

But there’s a difference between failure and disappointment. We all tend fuse the two together but it’s actually a normal thing in life to be disappointed have things not go according to plan. It’s how you deal with it and move forward. So, we were interested in making a film that was a bit more realistic.

There are a lot of budding filmmakers especially in regional areas who will be inspired by what you’ve achieved on such a low budget. What encouragement would you give them?

You can make films lo-fi and that’s what I’d say to people who maybe don’t have access to the same resources that we have in the city. There was a standout film at Sundance last year, Tangerine, that was made entirely on an iPhone5.

At the end of the day what makes a film cut through is its content and script and that’s something that doesn’t cost money, and it’s something that you can work on. We worked on our script for the better part of a year, just to make sure we had it right. We had lots of people read it for feedback. It’s the way you bring your personal experience to your writing that will help make your film stand out.

What’s your relationship like with Coffs Harbour now?

I’m very keen to come back and make a film in Coffs – there are a lot of stories to be told in this region. And so many picturesque spots you can film as well. The stories I’d be interested in here would be pretty formative coming-of-age stories – I like points of change, and new beginnings.

See Alice in That’s Not Me and celebrate the launch of the SWIFF 2018 program this Friday 15 December. Buy your tickets here

11:19pm on Saturday 21st July 2018