In That’s Not Me, a hilarious comedy from Australia, aspiring actor Polly must contend with the success of her more famous twin sister. Co-written by lead Alice Foulcher and director Gregory Erdstein, it’s a movie about fame, siblings, and thwarted expectations.
Loved the movie, hilarious. What was it like to write/direct as a wife/husband duo? Were there give-take imbalances or was it pretty harmonious?
ALICE: Thank you! Because we met at film school, we got to know each other as filmmakers before we got together. After we got together, collaborating on projects was a really organic progression – and I think our sensibilities really complement each other. I also think our personal relationship enables us to be brutally honest with each other. But it does mean we take work home…
And I won’t lie – it’s a bit of an awkward thing having your husband direct you on how to kiss other men. We did both sex scenes in one day. That was pretty intense.
GREG: Cheers! That’s very kind of you. After this many years living and working together, we basically share the same brain now, so there’s not a great deal we can’t discuss openly if we haven’t already figured out what the other is thinking.
I understand you took inspiration from a case of mistaken identity with a friend of yours’ twin being in a movie. Have either of you had experiences similar to Amy’s, i.e. being mistaken for someone else, being told you’re in the wrong field, or having to compete artistically with siblings? And if not, where did you find the relatability in the character?
ALICE: I haven’t personally been mistaken for anyone (although I have been told I look like a young Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver – which isn’t what parents of an 8-year-old really want to hear). For me, the twin relationship is about comparing yourself to someone else. Everyone has that person. Maybe it’s a sibling, but maybe it’s someone you studied with, worked with, or just admired from afar. But ultimately – tracking your life and progress against another person’s isn’t healthy. You’ve got to make your own path.
GREG: I was once mistaken for a young Mick Jagger on three different continents.
For me it’s not so much about familial twins as it is about anyone with whom you had a twin-ship growing up. Be it as friends with shared interests, colleagues or schoolmates.
Film school is an incredibly competitive environment and we are lucky to have several incredibly talented friends who I absolutely love/hate/love because of their success. But that’s part of the learning experience. Learning to pretend to be happy for your friends when they succeed while you’re secretly dying on the inside.
Hopefully with this film I will finally show them all.
In all seriousness though, it’s a small industry over here and there’s not much room for ego. All of the people who made this film happen are people with whom we went to film school and we’ve all worked on each other’s films for years. One person’s success is all of our success.
Did improvisation play a role in the moviemaking?
ALICE: There are a couple of moments of improvisation in the film, but not many. To be honest, bad improv is one of my pet hates. I think some filmmakers try to ape the style of Mike Leigh or Richard Linklater, without realizing the months of rehearsal and development that they do with their actors before that improv. But we did do rehearsals and table readings, and developed the script further based on what wasn’t sounding natural to the actors.
On that, one of the biggest things we learnt in the edit was when dialogue sounds like the characters, and when it sounds like the writers. We cut loads of lines we thought were clever or funny on paper, but off the page didn’t ring true.
GREG: Given our budget and time limits, there wasn’t a great deal of time for rehearsal. We tried where possible to do a read-through with the actors for each scene and during this time we were able to tweak lines and try some improv. But mostly it’s as written.
You said in another interview that the movie is partly about our generations being raised to believe we can be anything we want, and having to face disappointing realities. Do you have any advice for aspiring actors and artists on how to deal with that disappointing reality?
ALICE: I do genuinely believe you should follow your dreams, despite the odds. You only get one life, and I don’t want to be on my deathbed with regrets of at least not trying. But the joy must be in the doing, because there’s no guarantee of success in this industry. I also believe in trying to make your own opportunities. That’s what this film is for us – a chance for Greg to direct and me to act in our own feature film.
GREG: It’s not a film about giving up on your dreams, as it is about pursuing them for the right reasons. As Alice said, the joy is in the doing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then why do it. I had a close friend and feature director tell me before we started shooting, ‘Make sure you enjoy the shoot, because you may never get the chance to enjoy an experience like this again’. And I did. I had an absolute blast making this film, and my only misgiving now is that it’s over.
Did making a movie about filmmaking and auditioning change your thoughts on these creative pursuits in general?
ALICE: It definitely made me assess my own motivations. But I feel like I can compartmentalize Polly – I don’t think she was in it for the right reasons. She was talking about doing the thing, but not actually doing it. So recently when I came close to a role in a TV show but just missed out, I found comfort in knowing that we’re making our own stuff. So instead of waiting by the phone for auditions – we’re pushing forward and growing our creative skills.
GREG: Making the movie itself changed my thoughts on filmmaking, regardless of the content. I had no idea the amount of work that goes into making a feature film, let alone getting the finished film seen by an audience. In that sense I see not only Polly as a tourist, but myself five years ago. But we all have to start somewhere, and I think Polly is stuck at the starting line waiting for someone to show her the finish. We’re at least trying to make our own luck.
What were some funny bloopers during filming?
ALICE: Not really a blooper, but I did make a rookie mistake in actually drinking alcohol while filming one of the scenes I was supposed to be drunk in. I thought it might add some authenticity to the scene, and maybe it does, but boy does it get harder to remember your lines. I’ll never do that again.
GREG: Not so much a blooper, but I did do a small cameo that I made sure was one of the first things we cut in the edit. God willing, it will never see the light of day.