Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Lucy Knox’s films have been screened in cinemas all around the world, from Berlin to Palm Springs, Sheffield to Sydney. The multi-talented writer and director dabbles in both documentary and narrative filmmaking, covering off subjects as different as Australia’s last remaining motion picture film processor (Last Man Standing), a mother and daughter’s nightmarish spa retreat (Hot Mother), and the complicated bonds that exist between identical twins (An Act of Love). Lucy’s been making waves in the film world for a while now, and after catching up and talking all things 16mm film, dog ownership, and lockdown-spurned writing sessions, we can’t wait to see whats she’s got in store for us next.
What have you been keeping busy with at the moment?
I’ve just been writing a lot, I’ve spent the last two months working on writing long-form. And I just got a dog, like two days ago!
What did you get?
I’ve got a golden retriever, somewhere. He’s sleeping right now.
What’s his name?
At the moment it’s Snowy Possum Knox, but I dunno, it might change.
So, you mentioned you’ve been doing writing, but have you found yourself exploring other areas creatively?
I think mostly it’s been kind of like a big kind of reflective process and really kind of taking stock of my process of working and then researching some of my favourite directors kind of methodology.
Tell us about the Berlin Film Festival and what you were up to there before coronavirus.
Yeah, it was amazing. It was pretty funny. I went there with my short film (Hot Mother) and my team and we had like, six screenings. They’re all really quite big cinemas which was cool, and the audience was really vocal. It’s kind of dramatic, almost like a thriller in parts and the audience yelling like, ‘Oh, scheisse!’ out loud during the screenings, which was fun. It was a lot of great filmmakers and great to kind of be over there with some other Australian and New Zealand films.
So, you had a pretty creative upbringing. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, yeah, I did. I think that’s probably a very large part of why I’ve kind of landed in my job today. My mom’s a painter and my dad’s a mud-brick builder. I grew up in Eltham, which is like quite a creative little pocket in Melbourne down the road from…. do you know Montsalvat?
It’s an artist colony in Melbourne. My dad did a lot of work from there and ’cause my mom’s a painter, I kind of just spent a lot of my childhood there. There was a lot of creative stuff going on around me. A lot of my aunts and uncles are in film. I remember like my uncle, he used to direct to like a lot of music videos, so I’d go on set quite a bit as a kid and be an extra or whatever. There was this Boom Crash Opera music video. I remember saying like, everyone kind of working and realising that that was a job and it was a cool job.
And how did you first make your way into film, and work towards where you are now?
I studied video art originally. I wanted to do video art, but all the video art that I was making kind of just ended up being quite narrative based. So then I thought that I should go to film school, which I guess is quite a traditional way into film. I went to VCA in Melbourne and then from there, just started making music videos, which led into commercial work. And now I guess I’m just in that transition stage of trying to go from short films to feature films. The things I’ve been writing at the moment are projects that I’ve wanted to write for a really long time and haven’t, normally kind of had the time to really nut out and work on.
And tell me a bit about Swag?
Swag is myself and my business partner, Bill Bleakley, and I guess it’s like our little collective slash production company for music videos and short films. Sometimes we produce stuff for like director friends, or if it’s a story that we’re really passionate about. Like last year we did a TV documentary about male burlesque dancers, we produced that for my friend Isaac Elliott.
You also work a lot with film 16mm, why that’s so important to you and what you love about that process?
I love loading. I love the physical element of it, like I just think learning to load is such a great experience. I always feel safer with them. I’ve never had a film job stuff up, but I’ve been on shoots where memory cards have stuffed up or corrupted or whatever, and I just always feel really safe with film. Most of the look that people want to create is to emulate the film look so I just think, why not shoot film and support the people in that industry? People like Werner who processes all my film jobs in Sydney at Neglab, I just think it’s a nice process.
Outside of the people who you grew up around, who else has motivated you or pushed you along your creative path as well?
I think it’s largely my business partner Bill who keeps me motivated on a daily basis. He calls me most mornings and asks me what I’m working on that day, so that’s a pretty good motivator. Sometimes he just calls and plays the like, Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: ‘Money, never sleeps, pal.’ He’ll just call and play that recording to me in the morning, so that’s kinda like my daily motivator. He tells me if I’m slacking off or going too hard on a job and I think it’s really helpful to have that kind of creative partner to bounce ideas off and keep me motivated.
Entering the future, is there anything you want to do differently?
When everything shut down the slow pace really freaked me out because I like to be busy a lot, but the stillness has been pivotal. So I guess—unsurprisingly—a slower approach to everything is what I’ll be focusing on going forward in life, work, travel… all of it.