Eugenia Tan is a talented filmmaker who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Her directorial debut is “Remission” written and directed by Eugenia Tan, produced by Liubov Korpusova and Eugenia Tan. Remission had its New York premiere at the prestigious IFFNY Film Festival in May 2018. She is a recent graduate of the Film and TV Foundations at the Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne).
Alongside her interests as a filmmaker she is also an Architect and the founder and curator of ‘New Architects Melbourne’ (NAM), a volunteer-based initiative which seeks to foster and encourage up and coming architectural and design studios. She brings her experience as an architect into the medium of filmmaking to explore her interest in telling stories about humanity that connects us all.
Hollywood Insider Interview with Director Eugenia Tan
Hollywood World: What was the most significant decision in shooting your current film “Remission”?
Eugenia Tan: We shot over three locations (two restaurants and one cafe) in two days. Although some people around me doubted if it would be wise to do so, I kept to the three locations. It was important to me that the setting of each space was going to speak of the story and I believed it was possible to sew the story together during the editing process so that all three separate locations would end up looking like one restaurant.
Hollywood World: What part of the script/story best stood out for you and why?
Eugenia Tan: The best element of the story for me personally was the juxtaposition between forgiveness and judgement.
Hollywood World: Without giving it away, tell us a little bit more about the characters and the lead actors.
Eugenia Tan: All three main characters that play the Zito family are so unique in their personality. My actors were so invested and professional about the process. I trusted them to take the script and make the characters their own. They worked very well together and all of them shined in their own way. Alfredo Malabello, who plays Mr. Zito is born of Italian migrant parents and supported me in making this film about an Italian Australian family. He was brilliant as we could inject some Italian passion into an important scene which elevated the story to another level for me. I was so fulfilled that the film could express this aspect in a genuine way. Only Alfredo could have done that for the story and for that I am grateful for his contribution.
Jack Doherty came to the audition fervent for the role of Luke from the get go. Ange Arabatzis too. They both shined in their respective auditions. Their take on their characters were greater than what I had envisaged. My decisions to cast these two were made pretty instantly with my casting director.
All three actors had spent some time in NYC. Both Alfredo and Ange had lived and worked in New York which meant to me that they are serious operators and willing to commit themselves to their craft.
Hollywood World: How do you bring this story to life while staying true to your vision as director?
Eugenia Tan: We had certain parameters to abide by for the purposes of film school. i.e. no more than 8 minutes in total, and it must be shot over two days only. In terms of the story, it’s loosely based on a biblical parable – one that is very dear to me. It speaks critically of society’s values on a few levels. The story was relevant to those that lived in Jesus’ time just as much of a reflection of people’s attitudes today. I pondered how to adapt it to a contemporary story and make it a creative endeavour of its own whilst retaining the integrity of the original parable. The thought of setting it in a restaurant came pretty early in the development of the script, as the setting posed the possibility of having two worlds – being the front of house and back of house. And as the story went on, the consolidation of the two worlds before a showdown at the end.
Hollywood World: What excites you about this project?
Eugenia Tan: How it speaks some truth about the human condition and explore the complexities and dynamics of relationships.
Hollywood World: What other works are you most proud of?
Eugenia Tan: This is my first film. Hoping for many more to come.
Perhaps it could be my future child named Francis.
Hollywood World: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Eugenia Tan: The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson – I think I watched it 10 times before realising when the story was actually set.
You me and everybody we know – An insight into the magical Miranda July and how she sees the world. In this film she uses unassuming people to take us on a delicate journey of human connection.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – you have to lose your life to find it. Jean-Dominique Bauby’s purpose was to experience the horrendous loss of his former life in order to write this story.
Gattaca / Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind / Shawshank Redemption and others.
Hollywood World: What do you do to enhance the collaborative process when working with actors, screenwriters, producers and others creative members?
Eugenia Tan: Ensure that communication is paramount, that they can see the vision and potential of the story, that they believe in it, and that they can add their own contribution and talent to it.
Hollywood World: What experiences have you learned from in life? How did that change you and your creative process and the way you go about making films?
Eugenia Tan: Stories are powerful and teach us about ourselves.
Hollywood World: How do you see your role as a filmmaker?
Eugenia Tan: Inspire hope and light into the world. Share stories
Hollywood World: Which film festivals that you have been part of would you recommend to other filmmakers looking to screen his/her films?
Eugenia Tan: This is my first film and my first festival at the International Filmmaker Festival of New York (IFFNY).
Hollywood World: Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? What message do you want to convey with your films?
Eugenia Tan: Yes absolutely.
I have a desire to document the intriguing intricacies and phenomenons within life. I do feel the privilege and responsibility to explore stories that may bring hope and light into the world.
Hollywood World: What other hobbies do you have?
Eugenia Tan: Cooking
Chocolate (especially pana chocolate).
Hollywood World: What do you want to be remembered for in life? What valuable lessons have you learned that helped you become the person you are today?
Eugenia Tan: Depth of character
The meaning of value.
Hollywood World: What are your top five principles of success?
Eugenia Tan: Tenacity
Connection with the human condition
Patting a cat (I’m really into Jordan B Peterson at the moment).
*Cover Photo Credit: Remission by Eugenia Tan, Oli Sansom