SINKING IN WITH CLOUDY RHODES

By Annie Junor

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I arranged an email interview with Australian film-maker Cloudy Rhodes to discuss her recent short film Sink (2018), a story of queer love and intolerance in rural Australia, screening at the Melbourne Women in Film Festival.  

What brought you to film-making and direction?

I have always been a visual person and have been drawn to storytelling. 

Why do you make films? What do your films aim to achieve?

I make films to tell stories I feel are important, stories that speak to me. I hope my films help give people like me characters and stories that they can identify with and see themselves in. Ultimately, I want my films to move people. I want to make beautiful things.

Where did the concept for Sink come from?

 I really wanted to look at queer experiences in rural Australia. Sinkwas shared with me by writer Roger Joyce and it felt like the right fit.

 What were your directorial or production influences for Sink?
I drew from Terrence Malik’s use of sunlight and camera movement in my approach to the cinematography. I looked a lot at Abdellatif Kechiche’s table scene in Blue Is the Warmest Colourfor reference when shooting interiors. 

You use the Australian landscape so beautifully in this piece. Why did you choose to feature it so heavily?

 I am always drawn to beauty in the natural environment. As a queer kid I often found refuge and happiness being in nature. I imagine the only times the queer characters would be free and together, away from prying or judgemental eyes would be in nature. I wanted that space in the film to feel expansive and really Australian - capturing the raw beauty and harsh sunlight of the interior landscape.

You’ve got Susie Porter starring in this piece, who is quite a well acclaimed Australian name. What was the process like getting her on board?

Susie was incredibly generous, she is always so up for supporting young directors and was a real mentor on set. I was lucky to count her as a friend before starting this project and it was a real privilege to work with her.

 How rigorously scripted and choreographed were the performances?

 Honestly it was a very organic and free process. I was shooting all hand held, we just ran the action and I moved pretty intuitively with the actors. I’m sure it was very unconventional. I have never been to film school, but I felt that the process really worked with such an intimate crew.

 What would you change about Sinkif you could shoot it again - if there is anything that you would change?

 I try not to think about what I would like to change. I definitely feel it’s important that my next film about queer love provides a more optimistic outcome.  

 Why was Sink a special piece for you?

 It was an amazing learning experience. I think working with Susie was a real gift for a young director, beginning my journey and learning to work with such an experienced actor on performance and on story telling. 

 Can you tell me about any exciting future projects you have in the works to look out for?

 I have two shorts coming up. One I’ve just finished shooting with Screen NSW produced by Jess Carerra written by Michael Bates and the other is a very personal story I’ve written to be produced by Ella Millard supported by Arcadia films. 

Catch Sink playing in the MWFF Freshly Squeezed Shorts session, 1pm Sunday 24th February at RMIT Cinema. Get your tickets here. 

Whitney Monaghan