Interview with director Sophie Hyde:
What made you decide to make the film and tell this particular story? And why was it important to you?
With 52 Tuesdays the form came before the story: the idea of filming two people who meet only on Tuesdays, every Tuesday for a whole year (or 52 Tuesdays), and filming it only on Tuesdays. Once we decided to make a film like that, we searched for characters we could live with for that time and who embodied the promise of change – they didn’t have to change, but it had to seem like they would. A teenage girl and someone transitioning both embodied this promise. We were also looking for characters who question the rules of how we live, which each of our characters does in their own way. Finally I was drawn to the central relationship between parent and child: a parent trying to show all of themselves to their child – in this case, trying to reconcile our ideas of ‘mother’ and ‘man’ – and a child meeting their parent as a real person for the first time, full of flaws, but the first moment you get to decide what kind of relationship you want with that person. It’s not just a given because they are your parent.
How did you come up with the idea of the structure of the film?
Matt Cormack [co-writer/producer] pitched the very initial idea to us, and we were really taken with it. Personally I was interested in how it would impact on the film, being able to make it in a very different way from the industrial model of film production. What would that do to the narrative, to what the film ends up being, to the audience’s perception of it, and also to us making the film? Bryan Mason [cinematographer/editor/producer] and I also have a child together, and it was interesting for us to make something where our life and the film had to coexist. Often times when making a film, other bits of life get put aside.
Obviously gender and sexuality are important themes throughout the film. Was there a particular message you wanted to impart by telling this story?
I suppose I, like my characters, want to question the assumption that we should live life by other people’s rules. I think sexuality is something really important in working out who we are and how we treat each other. I don’t mean sexuality as in am I gay or straight, I mean it as a full exploration of what you like and want and how you live. Similarly, gender is something I think we will continue to talk a lot more about, culturally. I believe the way we use gender as a way to categorise our lives in such an extreme way is very unsatisfying. Just try talking about someone without saying what gender they are or seem – it’s crazy, especially when mostly it seems so unnecessary. But I do think many of us find it unsatisfying and limiting, so I suppose I want that to be something we think about, that we don’t just settle for it being crap.
Was James and Billie’s relationship something you had firmly defined in your mind before you began filming? Did their relationship develop as you shot?
I suppose to a certain extent it was defined, but it changed when Del [Herbert-Jane] and Tilda came into the roles, and yes, it changed as we filmed. I found we needed to complicate the story more than I had anticipated, and this meant that their relationship was really put under pressure.
What’s next for you?
I just produced a feature doc called Sam Klemke’s Time Machine, which was at Sundance earlier this year and will come out on VOD later in the year. I am also writing a feature with Matt, who wrote 52 Tuesdays – it’s actually two feature films that live together as companion projects!
Interview with lead actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey:
This is your first role. Has the experience made you sure that this is what you want to do now?
I don’t know I will ever be sure of what I want to do. I’m 20, so I think being completely unsure about everything is normal and important (I hope). This experience completely inspired all aspects of my life and introduced me to the world of filmmaking in such a special way I think it would be impossible not to fall in love with it. I’m not religious, but I believe films and theatre have really taught me a lot about the world and how I want to be within it. I would be honoured to be part of telling those stories, and I hope to do that in many different ways through many different mediums. I love that film can provide such an intimate portrait of someone’s life. I also love that it is such a communal process. The moment action is called, every person is doing a very specific job to create a moment that, unlike real life, can last forever. I think the passion and risk behind this project are extraordinary, and those two things are certainly something I would hope to strive for in every project in the future. So to answer the question, yes, it has inspired me to continue searching out the film world, but it has also inspired so much more.
How have things changed since you shot the movie?
In some ways that question is almost impossible to answer! Everything has changed, but mainly because I changed so much through the process of making this film. In terms of work and lifestyle, I guess I have stepped into the film industry in a more active way now, and have been auditioning for larger projects in Australia and internationally. I have also worked on two more films and a TV series since shooting 52 Tuesdays. Basically this film has opened up a million new doors. Doors that lead to places I never expected to find myself. I have felt very lucky to meet and work with some extraordinary people and am just crossing all extremities that that will continue. I also finished school, moved out of home and my hair grew much longer.
What was it like working with your friends on the film?
Knowing Imogen [Archer] and Sam [Althuizen] as intimately as I did certainly created certain short cuts within that storyline. It wasn’t hard to pretend they were my best friends. That being said, there were moments when this became tricky too. It’s odd acting out different people and relationships with people you know so well. I have known Imogen since I was five, so it did feel a bit like kissing my sister…. But we all trusted each other so much that after a few giggles we got over it! Spending a year making this film, I think everyone on the project became very dear friends. You can’t really hide things from people when you are seeing each other that much. As clichéd as it sounds, it really does feel a bit like a family from an alternate universe.
What would you say to people going through similar things to those you went though in the film?
Good luck. Being a teenager is hard, and meeting your parents as real people can be even harder. If you have a parent who is prepared to be truly honest with you, that kind of bravery is applaudable. In terms of the teenage storyline, I learnt that what people expect and what the world decides is ‘normal’ isn’t always true and it’s important to challenge that. I believe that curiosity is the most important trait in the world, and not to listen to anyone who said it killed the cat. If anything killed the cat it was probably expectations. That being said, I wouldn’t listen to anything I just said. The most important thing I learnt through this character is that life is messy and unpredictable, and all you can do is keep searching for authenticity and happiness…. And now I sound like a fridge magnet.
What’s next for you?
What an excellent and terribly difficult question. I am about to go to New York for three months as I decided that whilst I am not an adult in every country I can make one more illogical decision. I am making my own kind of university over there whilst also developing a new solo show and installation. I am attached to five film projects, so if one of those comes through I guess I will be doing that. I like to live by a list and love planning things, but I am slowly realising that in this industry the future is a whole new level of ‘who knows’. So at this moment the next thing is breakfast.
What have you learned from this process?
I have learnt so much from this process, I think trying to articulate it through words would never do it justice. I have really learnt about the importance of taking risks and being brave, because without that we would never create anything new.
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