Interview With 52 Tuesdays' Sophie Hyde and Debra Liang
May 7, 2014
52 Tuesdays is an Australian film directed by Sophie Hyde, that follows 16-year-old Billie as she traverses her way to independence, while her mother undergoes a gender transition.
The film has garnered amazing reviews the world over and a host of awards including World Cinema Dramatic Best Director at Sundance and the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival.
Ditto caught up with 52 Tuesdays’ Director Sophie Hyde (SH) and Music Supervisor Debra Liang (DL) to discuss the film’s themes, idea and the soundtrack, with the latter distributed exclusively through Ditto Music.
52 Tuesdays is an interesting film, not only in subject matter but also in the way it was shot; filming every Tuesday over 52 weeks. Tell us a little about that process and when you came into that process.
SH: The writer Matt Cormack actually pitched us the concept first. He said “how about we make a film where every Tuesday, two people meet, for a year and we film it only on Tuesdays and we call it 52 Tuesdays”? We (Bryan Mason, Cinematographer/editor/producer) and I both thought there was a lot of potential in that idea – in terms of story and narrative (though we didn’t know yet what that would be) and also as
filmmakers, to create something outside of the normal industrial model.
The way it actually worked was that we shot every Tuesday and we started with a story document/outline and about 6 weeks of script, we then scripted as we went and gave the cast their scripts a week before. We rehearsed a couple of times a week, we had pre-production meetings and location hunts and costume/set purchasing going all the time and we did some post production during the year too. So it was fairly all consuming. And yes, we filed every Tuesday, only on Tuesdays for 52 Tuesdays.
The film follows the plight of James who was born biologically female. Throughout the film we follow James as he transitions from Jane, coming out as a transgender man to his daughter Billie. How did you use music to help add to this story?
SH: I would say the music is quite subtle in the film. We worked with composer Benjamin Speed to create a music score that felt quite soundscapey. We knew that we also wanted a soundtrack of pre-existing tracks to be used within scenes. I think the pre-existing music is almost entirely used as though it is there on location – being played out of stereo and in and around the houses. Each song is chosen for quite specific reasons, often revealing a little more about a character or filling our their world. We use Caitlin Park’s “Warriors With Wild Hearts” for instance in a scene where Billie is really considering and exploring the idea of herself as a sexual person. Caitlin’s track has a great youthful energy to it and we liked the mix of that excitement in a kind of rough way. We use a local Adelaide band Subtract-S when Harry is home a couple of times, giving some idea of his character I think.
Tell us who is on the soundtrack… Were you focused on trying to find LGBT bands and artists to help with the story, or was that not an issue?
SH: We were focused on getting a range of different artists and certainly wanted some LGBT musicians because some of the characters are LGBT and it felt right to use artists they would be listening to…so that meant LGBT artists among others. We found the Stereogamus remix of Rodeo’s “Way Back Home” through a friend who has brilliant music taste and knows the LGBT music scene really well – that has great energy and we liked the idea that we would use a celebratory LGBT track in a scene that is a very happy one for our character – the day they start on testosterone. Other artists include Asta - who was a young triple J unearthed artist who I always really liked - The Collarbones who are a great electronic outfit from Adelaide and Sydney – we just loved their sound – and Carla Lippis (also local to Adelaide) who has one track from her slightly country outfit Carla Lippis and the Martial Hearts as well as a song that she and her The Rules partners created for us specifically for a scene in the film where I felt quite clear about what sound I wanted but we couldn’t find the right thing – that’s one of my favourite tracks in the film 1000 synths - it just feels like so much that Billie is going through at that time. It’s so different from their band stuff and I just loved it. Super stripped back.
Did you stumble across any interesting/new artists while you were searching for the music?
SH: Really enjoyed finding Caitlin Park and The Collarbones and also Rodeo. I like all the music of course and it was important to feel like the artists were quite diverse.
DL: We also considered using JD Samson & Men, and also local Australian artists Loon Lake as well during our search for music that fit our brief for the film.
Were there any artists/musicians commissioned to write specifically for the film?
SH: Benjamin Speed composed for the film and his is the bulk of what you hear. He also has a track called, "Hello Goodbye", which I just love. We have known Ben for a while and have worked with him previously. When we were thinking about how to create music for this, there were a lot of options and I was interested in heaps of different musicians. Then I listened to this track and I just felt like Ben would be right. The track isn’t actually in the film, though some of the instrumental parts are in one section. We do use it in the trailer and the teasers and also promotion for our companion project My 52 Tuesday’s, which is a free app where people can participate in their own year-long project. So all Ben’s stuff was made for the film and also the song from Carla, Adrian and Geoff from The Rules (in their new collaboration Le Grande Saucier).
The film has been extremely well received so far with great reviews coming out of Sundance as well as winning the top prize in the Generations 14+ at the Berlin Film Festival; has this helped the film find a larger audience?
SH: Yes I think so. It’s very heartening to have had it so well received. It’s an unusual film but really different pockets of audience have really embraced it. At Sundance it won the Directing Award for World Cinema, so that’s very much an award from industry. At Berlin, yeah, it was a youth jury who gave us the Crystal Bear and we were so pleased to be presenting the film to young people – teenagers and people in their 20’s for whom the film really resonated. We also won an award in berlin called the Siegessaule Award, which is the readers award from a big Queer street-mag and we won the audience award for best film at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival recently. These are really varied audiences and we have been really surprised and pleased at how broad the audience is. We think people in Australia are also really responding to the characters, the family and the mother daughter relationship in particular.
Did this also help with finding distribution here in Australia?
SH: We had always intended to release it ourselves and prior to the festivals had already hooked up with some of the great indie cinemas – Cinema Nova in Carlton, the Dendy chain, the Luna chain, State in Hobart. But when we started seeing that it was going to take a lot more time and promotion we were really happy to accept the offer to work with Vendetta who are a NZ based company. It’s their first release of an Australian film into the Australian cinemas. To be fair, they were always huge supporters of the film, right throughout it being made.
So the soundtrack will be released digitally through Ditto Music. Tell us a little about how that came about and why you chose that platform.
DL: The reason why we chose Ditto Music was that we only wanted to release our soundtrack online digitally. We thought having a physical format in the form of a CD would be great, but it just wasn't viable on a cost basis for distributing our official soundtrack. By choosing to distribute digitally means that our soundtrack is just a click of a button away, this makes promoting our soundtrack along side the film more convenient.
Where can we find out more about the film?
52 Tuesdays - OST Tracklist
1. Hello Goodbye - Benjamin Speed
2. Warriors With Wild Hearts - Caitlin Park
3. My Heart Is On Fire – Asta
4. 1000 Years - Subtract S
5. Way Back Home (Stereogamous Remix) – Rodeo
6. Cocooned – Collarbones
7. Billie's Video - Benjamin Speed
8. 1000 Synths - Le Grande Saucier
9. Steppin' Off - Peak Twins
10. Reaction - The Black Doves
11. Rendezvous - Carla Lippis & The Martial Hearts
12. Let Me Call You Sweetheart - Benjamin Speed
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