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Podcast – Mirrah Foulkes: Making Judy & Punch

Judy & Punch writer/director Mirrah Foulkes on working with VICE Studios to bring her first feature film to life.

Mirrah Foulkes on the set of Judy & Punch

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Mirrah Foulkes never originally thought Judy & Punch would be her debut feature.

VICE Studios had bought or invested in some of her short films, such as Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke and Florence Has Left the Building, when they asked if she would be in developing an in-house idea they had about a live action reimagining of the classic Punch and Judy puppet show.

“They wanted it… to flip what has essentially always been a violent misogynistic puppet play on its head and look at it from a female perspective,” she says.

Foulkes set about writing a script, and over the course of several years had delivered a few drafts when Vice approached her to direct it as well.

“That was interesting actually because I think I wrote in a very different way thinking it wasn’t going to be for me… and Vice really encouraged me to be really bold and loose and [to] go as big and weird as I wanted to go.”

The result is a film starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman that was described by Variety following its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January 2019 as “a determinedly offbeat, often delightful mix of satire, whimsy and social critique.” It’s also since gone on to be selected for film festivals in Australia, England and Spain.

In this podcast episode – recorded during Sydney Film Festival in June 2019 – Foulkes talks about making the leap from short films to features; her advice for anyone doing the same; how her background as an actor influences her directing style; and about being a member of the Blue-Tongue Films collective alongside filmmakers like David Michod, Joel Edgerton, and Nash Edgerton (who was also a producer on Judy & Punch with Michele Bennett).

“I really believe preparation is everything,” is one of her pieces of advice for directors moving into feature film.  “The physical stamina is really hard, the emotional stamina is harder to prep for I think and that’s when you just want to have done your homework.

“Nothing is ever going to solve itself on set… in my experience you have to solve everything before you get there. And if you are there and something doesn’t feel right, I now don’t really believe in going, ‘it’s ok we can figure that out in the edit’

“I actually believe in fighting tooth and nail to make it work on the day, if you can.”

Judy & Punch has principal production investment from VICE Media (USA) and Screen Australia, in association with Film Victoria and releases in Australian cinemas on 21 November through Madman Films.

Also see Mirrah Foulkes In Conversation following select screenings of Judy & Punch during November. Get tickets or find out more here: https://www.madmanfilms.com.au/judy-and-punch/

PRAISE FOR JUDY & PUNCH

  • “It’s an eye catching first feature from actress Mirrah Foulkes.” – Screen Daily
  • “A tonally complex comedy-drama.” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • “A witty critique of showbiz for the #MeToo generation” – 4 stars, TimeOut Sydney
  • “Impish, anarchic and distinctive” – 4 stars, Screen Hub

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