Talking film making with Johanna and Emily

Back to blogOne month ago by Renee
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Johanna Garvin and Emily Dash on the red carpet for their film the Milky Pop Kid at the Sydney Film Festival. Both have cerebral palsy and are in wheelchairs.
 
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At the recent Sydney Film Festival, Johanna Garvin and Emily Dash were part of the team behind the short film The Milky Pop kid. They Synopsis of the film is simple: With a twinkle in her eye, actor and disability consultant Jules attempts to share with actor Craig what life …

At the recent Sydney Film Festival, Johanna Garvin and Emily Dash were part of the team behind the short film The Milky Pop kid. They Synopsis of the film is simple: With a twinkle in her eye, actor and disability consultant Jules attempts to share with actor Craig what life is like living with a disability. Jules however has the last laugh.

The short film was written by the pair and Tel Benjamin, with Johanna directing. It so successful they received a highly commended award at the Events Cinema Australia Short Screenplay Award. The Milky Pop Kid came to life thanks to a Screenability opportunity and was made through Information and Cultural Exchange’s program for emerging filmmakers called My Life My Art, funded by Family and Community Services. Additional financial support came through a successful grant from Accessible Arts.

We were lucky enough to catch up with post the event to chat about the film and see what this creative duo are up to next.

Congratulations Johanna and Emily on the success so far of your short film! What does this short film mean to you?

Johanna: This film means to me a fantastic opportunity to talk about something that we are both passionate about, which is the hot button issue of able-bodied actors playing characters with disabilities. It also presented me with the opportunity to challenge myself and those around me and to learn, while being mentored by a group of highly skilled professionals.

Emily:  What excites me most about this film is that it strikes at the heart of current debates around diversity in the film industry.  It specifically highlights the importance of representing people with disabilities on screen, using comedy to make it engaging and palatable for mainstream audiences.  Audiences are ready for diverse stories, and this one demands to be told.  I believe it will make an important and lasting contribution to the conversation, and I am excited to be part of it.

How did The Milky Pop Kid come to light?

Emily: Jo Garvin called me with this idea to make a documentary about my life as an artist.  I was flattered.  But after thinking it through a bit further, she decided that we should create more of a story about diversity, something that made a point, which I was really excited about. So the Milky Pop Kid was born. 

How long did the process take from idea to a finished short film?

Johanna: Discussions about the script began in May 2016 and the final edit was completed by the end of October 2016. It was a pretty tight deadline. The project had a deadline of an October completion so we worked to a strict timetable.

What do you love about film making?

Emily: When people are moved or entertained, they are far more receptive to ideas that might be socially challenging or confronting.  Storytelling through film is an effective tool for social change.

Johanna: I love telling stories, collaborating with people I trust, who are supportive and who you can have fun with. I also love the atmosphere on set. It’s really special.

What have you gained from making The Milky Pop Kid?

Johanna: That it is a real skill to write comedy, that using comedy can help you discuss social issues in a powerful way.

Emily: I learnt the value of improvisation and trusting my own creative instincts.

You have both been building your careers – what’s the biggest lesson you have learned to date?

Emily: Try not to let people convince you that you can’t do something. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to go after what you love, and be led by the things that make your heart soar.  You never know where they might take you.

Johanna: Don’t be afraid to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone and it is important to network.

What's next?

Johanna: I would love to make more films in the future and continue to work in the industry. In the future I am interested on making a diverse range of narratives, not just about issues around disability, but issues that challenge me and challenge audiences to think differently about a whole range of social justice issues. I think that film is such a powerful medium to enact change.

Emily: I’m focusing on theatre for a while.  I’m opening a show in a few days about home for people with disabilities…and then I will be working with the Australian Chamber Orchestra on an inclusive movement and music program.  Later this year I’ll be curating a multi-artform exhibition at PACT, showcasing female artists who challenge perceptions of strength and vulnerability.

The Milky Pop Kid is currently entered into a number of national and international film festivals. We can’t wait all the awards they are going to win!