Behind the scenes: Filmme Fatales
Fed up with the elitist jargon of academic film writing, Melbourne-based Brodie Lancaster decided to start her own magazine, Filmme Fatales, a feminist film journal featuring personal perspectives from people who love the movies.
Three years and seven issues in, I caught up with Brodie to talk about how she got started, how Filmme Fatales has evolved, and what she looks for in the writing she publishes.
What sparked the idea behind Filmme Fatales?
I was always really interested in film and used to think I wanted to make films, so I went to university to study film production. As part of that I did a cinema studies course where I learnt how to read and write about cinema, classic film theory, and about Laura Mulvey and the other academic feminist film writers.
But I didn’t respond very well to the tone of a lot of academic writing on cinema, so I wanted to create a space for people who like film, and who have something to say about it in an accessible, fun and non-nonsense way.
I was and still am a feminist and so I find that’s the lens through which I have conversations about film and pop culture in general. So it made sense to use feminism as an approach to talk about all kinds of films, whether it’s a feminist film or not.
How did you find your voice and become confident that you have the ‘right’ to talk about film in the way you do?
During my final year in university I got an internship and later became the editor of a cultural website where I wrote about online film and just learnt by doing. I’d say I learned the principles in university, figured out what I didn’t want to do, and learnt how to put it into practice through that job.
I think I still have some imposter syndrome around that though. Now that I make a magazine about film, people want to talk to me about it, and often about very obscure genres or directors I don’t necessarily know about.
You’ve published seven issues of Filmme Fatales – how has it evolved since the start?
Starting out it was a lot more zine-like, especially the design. After designing the first four issues myself, Hope Lumsden-Barry came on as a designer, so the last issues have taken a big step forward in design and production. I also work at a writing studio in Melbourne called The Good Copy, which has been publishing Filmme Fatales since issue four. That makes a big difference because it means I don’t have to pay for print out of my rent money any longer.
You published the first issue in 2013, and I can imagine a lot has changed since then in terms of the overall publishing scene and the consensus around feminism.
One of the reasons I started Filmme Fatales was that I didn’t see anything like it around; if I did I would have just bought that and not bothered to make my own. At the time I was reading a lot of feminist publications like Bust magazine, Rookie and Jezebel, but I was also reading cinema and movie magazines like Empire and Little White Lies.
Empire is very new release-driven and always (always!) has men on the cover, whereas something like Bust, for example, had the tone and talked about the politics that I was into, but on everything from travel to crafts to food. I wanted to create something that specifically combined that perspective with film. Now I see numerous small titles touching on the same topics as we do, but in their own ways.
What do you look for in the pieces you publish and the way they talk about film?
I think the most important thing is a point of view; someone saying something I haven’t heard a million times before, and for the arguments to be very resolved and well considered. I really like it when people use their own personal politics and perspectives to approach an idea or a film to say something new.
One of my favourite pieces is Chanel Parks’ ‘What if Frances Ha Were Black’, which was included in issue six. As a young black woman, Chanel used that as a starting point to look at how black women are depicted in the dating scene in movies and the lack of people of colour in films like Frances Ha and Tiny Furniture – films featuring young women who don’t know where their lives are going. It’s a genre that’s kind of reserved for young white people. It was an amazing piece that I was really proud to publish.
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Portrait of Brodie by Greta Parry