One-on-one with filmmaker Aleisha Winslow on her dramedy 'Gramps Is Drinking Out Of The Toilet Bowl'
Aleisha Winslow is an Indian-Australian film maker based in Naarm/Melbourne. She grew up in Hong Kong and Australia, pursuing film and television in both countries before attending Swinburne University of Technology, to study Film and Television full time. Now a graduate, she has begun Writing and Directing projects outside of university and hopes that people find her work and resonate with it.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
AW: “The most important film I've made so far, has to be my Short Drama/Comedy; 'Gramps Is Drinking Out Of The Toilet Bowl'. It's about an Indian-Australian family who come together to attend their grandfathers 80th Birthday only to find him dead with his head in a toilet. It's based on a true story that my Uncle told me. I wanted to bring it to life through my personal lens of being Indian-Australian.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
AW: “The biggest challenge was that there were 7 people in the cast that were in the film at all times. Writing a short film script, under 8 minutes and making sure that each character is developed and portrayed correctly was something that took many drafts. We originally had 10 cast members and cut out 3. Other challenges were more logistical issues. We were just coming out of Covid lockdowns and there was a limit of 10 people in a household at the time. I think about 2 days before we were set to start shooting that ban got lifted in Victoria so we were incredibly lucky. However on the final day of shooting we had 2 crew members who were close-contacts and they had to immediately leave set which meant we were down a 1st AD and Boom Operator for the last 3 scenes.”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
AW: “There is this one shot in the final fight scene where it was one continuous take with whip-pans to each of the 7 characters as they yell back and forth at each other. It took us about 13 takes to get the timing of the lines and the landing of the camera right but it was one of my favourite shots in the whole film. Everyone worked incredibly hard to make it work, especially our DOP.”
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
AW: “I actually started Media Studies in Year 11 in Hong Kong for my GCSE's thinking that I would be an easy class, watching movies all day. I realised very quickly that's not what we would be doing. I just started to love all the work that we were assigned. I enjoyed analysing films and music videos, writing essays about movies, perfecting a contra-zoom, making short films and staying up til the early hours to get an edit done. Going into that first class I never thought I'd study Film at University and then make it my career. Thank god I applied for Media Studies or I have no idea what I'd be doing right now.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
AW: “I am working on a new short film, which I am aiming to go into production for by late July 2023. I'd really hope to work on some feature film sets. I've mainly been working on short films and music videos, so I'm really aiming to get into longer form this year. :)”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
AW: “I think for me, getting accepted into film festivals regardless of whether I win or not, is about affirming that I have some kind of skill that other people can see. It really is nice to have people recognise work that you've put a lot of effort into. It also is great for promoting yourself to other people in the future. Whether that's getting funding or pitching to a production company, cast or crew to get them on board with the project.”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
AW: “Set aside a budget and do research into the festivals you think suit the vibe and are relevant to the project that you're submitting. Submit to LOCAL festivals, so if you get accepted you can actually attend haha. It's also important to support local festivals :) Make sure you don't ignore the smaller/newer festivals! If you're starting out or if it's one of your first festival runs, submit to the smaller festivals as well as the bigger ones.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
AW: “I feel like the quality of work will increase and there will be a lot more of it. Everyone can film things on their phones now in great quality. And it just means that people who have really great ideas can actually start to make cool projects without having to rent a camera and get a crew involved. People can make things with barely any budget at all now and I think that's going to create some incredible work.
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
AW: “I admire a lot of different film makers but one that I've been loving recently is Luca Guadagnino. The first film of his that I saw was Suspiria and I was completely engrossed by it. I absolutely love his films because he tells stories in such a unique way and they always have at least one scene that sticks in your mind forever.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
AW: “I recently-ish saw 'Bones and All' which was so incredible. Every aspect just worked so well together. I never been so grossed out by characters but also wanted them to win and succeed. I thought about the film for days after because you don't want to support the characters and what they do but you want nothing but love and safety for them. It was such a weird experience. A great film.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Aleisha for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on 23 May 2023.