After graduating from Metro Screen in 2009 however, Jo-Anne slipped on her the directorial boots and has not looked back since. She has written and directed various short films, documentaries, music videos and community projects. In 2011 Jo-Anne was awarded the First Breaks grant for her short film This Dog’s Life starring Martin Sacks (Blue Heelers, Underbelly), which is currently touring the national and international film festival circuit. She is also currently in post-production on her next short film, Booth, starring Danielle Cormack (Underbelly Razor) and is also busy penning her first feature film script.
Q: How long have you been making films -and why?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist, but I dropped out of Uni and ran away to film school. Turns out film has taught me more about what it is to be human than a psych degree ever could have.
I have always been into arts, from painting to poetry to music, anything to switch my brain off and just be in a space alone with myself; a space that often comes about when I’m absorbed in writing a script, or creating a film. I guess I just keep on seeking to find that space.
But when did I know I wanted to be a filmmaker? I don’t think my conscious mind was awake to this decision until I was about 17, but my subconscious was on top of things early.
Ever since I balled my eyes out at the finale of Free Willy when I was what? 8 years old, I knew that I wanted to recreate that. I wanted to make something that made other people feel as much as I did that day, and I am still inspired to do so.
Q: What’s your aspirations for the future in film?
The future? Well, I want to make more films. I want to make films that people want to see. The kind that people go and see once and then go again and take a friend to see, and then go back the next week with that same friend as well as a friend of the friend. I want to tell stories on screen that people love to see.
Q: Describe the film and the story?
This Dog’s Life is about a young boxer who is forced to fight – and kill – for his father’s love.
Dean is a young boxer desperate for his Father’s love. His Father, who doubles as his coach, is a tyrant who will not tolerate failure. When Dean is forced to fight an opponent twice his size, his chances of success are slim.
His hopes of impressing his Father are further squashed when Dean’s greyhound fails to win at the track. With his shotgun at hand, Dean’s Father teaches his son why one must not fail and what happens to those who do.
Q: What was the inspiration for the story
This Dog’s Life is originally inspired by my best friend when I was growing up. From before he could walk, he was a star footballer in the making - his Dad’s making – to compensate for the career he never had.
But at age 16 he broke his arm and lost his scholarship to play footy. Shortly after that his dad left the family for another woman. Looking back, I guess the question at the core of This Dog’s Life is the question of who disappointed who in the end? Father or son?
Q: Tell us some details about where you shot it?
The film was shot in Western Sydney (where I grew up), including Richmond RaceCourse, Parramatta PCYC, a heritage property at Prospect and my own family and friend’s homes.
One of the biggest challenges of the film I suppose was working with kids and animals; all the things they warn against, right? This Dog’s Life starred 3 untrained and never-set-foot-on-a-film-set children and one animal shelterrescued grey hound.
For 8 weeks I slogged it out in the gym with Josh (our leading boy). He ran me ragged in the boxing ring (he is a boxer) and I ran him round in circles teaching him how to act (and I’m not an actor).
Coming to set was scary. I had no idea how he’d go with it. But both Josh, Tiahna, his little sister (both in real life and the film) and their co-star Jack, blew us all away with their skills, their courage to tackle the scenes and their super quick learning of our filmmaking jargon. By the second shoot day, Josh was hassling our camera boys about hitting their marks and Jack was calling the roll.
For the official trailer of This Dog’s Life click here
A full recap of the incredible 4 day festival is coming soon from us! Stay tuned!!