In the past, we’ve described the fantastic feminist movie zine Filmme Fatales as the mag that ‘always passes the Bechdel test.’ Started by movie writer Brodie Lancaster because of her desire to create a publication encouraging film criticism that has a distinctly female perspective, Filmme Fatales’ fresh voice and hand-made aesthetic has made the zine an instant cinephile favourite.
We catch up with editor and founder Brodie after the release of sunset pink and red issue seven and as she arrives at this year’s SXSW festival.
Where are you today?
I’m in a hotel room in downtown Austin, Texas for SXSW. The film program kicks off today and I’ve been here since yesterday with high hopes of getting my bearings of the city before it gets too hectic… but I’ve mostly spent that time eating and watching videos of Lin-Manuel Miranda on YouTube.
What can you see from the window?
I can see the intersection of Brazos and Sixth streets, where a lot of the SXSW action will be taking place. Right now there’s a guy on the street offering passers-by free Lyft rides. I’m going to hit him up later.
Are you a morning or evening person?
My whole life I was very much a morning person – always the first person to wake up and the one who consistently bails on late-night activities in favour of going to bed early – but recently I’ve learned how to sleep in and it’s a game-changer. I’ve got a nine-to-five job at home and am often working all night on freelance writing, editing Filmme Fatales or trying to write a book, and it’s kind of an ineffective system so I will often get up around 5am and do chunks of work over coffee before the work day starts.
Which magazine do you first remember?
I was always a big fan of the cut-out lyrics sheets in Smash Hits, TV Hits and other kids’/teen magazines.
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
When I was picking up my SXSW badge and swag bag yesterday, I grabbed a copy of Bright Ideas magazine based on its cover photo of Celia Rowlson-Hall and the headlines ‘Why Our Favorite Films Totally Suck’ and ‘What Happens When We Let Women Make Movies’. I can’t wait to get stuck into it.
Who are your favourite women in film this morning?
Aidy Bryant, whose short ‘Darby Forever’ brought insane levels of joy to my life this past week; Julia Hart, who I’m interviewing this week about her lovely first film, Miss Stevens; Melanie Lynskey, who is unflinchingly and reliably incredible always; Stella Meghie, whose film Jean of the Joneses is one of my most-anticipated at SXSW.
Tell me about the new issue’s theme of ‘space’.
I was preparing the seventh issue in mid–2015 and, at the same time, I saw the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time. I followed it up by watching Alien and Aliens and started getting so excited about the possibilities of talking about women in space: not just astrologically, but also their physical spaces and emotional states. The themes are always loose to ensure my contributors can be really creative and open in their thinking and interpretation of the them, but they also create nice links and cords that connect otherwise disparate pieces in an issue, and give my designer, Hope, a visual language to communicate with. ‘Space’ felt like a constraint but nothing too constrictive.
Since starting the zine, how your opinion about the representation of women in the film industry changed – do you feel more positive or negative about it?
It’s a bit of both, really. I’m exposed to a lot more films by women, or ones that tell interesting stories about women, now that I have this platform to talk about them, but at the same time I am talking to those actors or filmmakers and really getting a sense of what they’re dealing with and up against in the system. I think this is a good time to be having these conversations though; they’re getting a lot of airtime, and new grants and initiatives are being developed that prioritise work by and about women. So there are solutions to be had.
Your choice of illustration is so distinctive and obviously hand-made, it reminds me a lot of Rookie. How do you find and select the image-makers that you work with?
It’s a mix of people I know—some artists through Rookie, and some whose work I’ve been following for a while—and people who submit their work to me. Mai Ly Degnan, whose contributed to the last two issues, is one of my favourite artists and she just emailed me a little while ago to tell me about her work. I’m obsessed with her now.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
I’m looking forward to sleeping after lots of long days and late nights during SXSW. (Remember when I said I’m the first to bail on plans?) I’m also interviewing some really great actors and filmmakers about their new work for upcoming issues of Filmme Fatales, which is super exciting.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
The inevitable fatigue that will come from racing from one theatre to another, in the Texas sun, for eight days straight.
What will you be doing after this chat?
I’ll be turning up the volume on the Hamilton cast recording album, prepping some interview questions for tomorrow, and eating an enormous donut.