Meet Filmmaker Julia Ngeow
I'm Julia Ngeow- a Chinese-Australian writer/director currently living in Brooklyn, with a passion for sharing stories that unite humanity, whilst featuring more female and Asian protagonists. I've been living in NY for the past 5 years – it's a totally amazing place to be and a very exciting time to be making films. Presently there's a lot of discussion and action surrounding female stories; whether it's the 82 women walking the Cannes red carpet, the Time's Up movement or promotion of Inclusion Riders in Hollywood. There's a lot of awareness and possibility finally opening up for women in the film industry.
How does feminism influence your filmmaking?
There's times in my life when I see large groups of people, in big cities, and I feel compelled to connect with them all, I want to give them all a hug and send them loving words of appreciation – but that's totally impossible. It's from this urge that my compulsion to make films stems from; a desire to communicate and connect with more people than we could ever expect to speak with in one human lifetime.
Along having a platform does come a pretty real responsibility – not just in making movies, but generally speaking, being aware of what it is we're energetically putting out into the world, and what bigger picture impact that could have. With this in mind, I am focused on balancing any imbalances I perceive in the social conscience; whether that's ensuring more well constructed, diverse female characters are present in movies, inspiring people to think outside the box, or just helping people feel good.
How did you get started on your path?
I did high school and university in Australia, originally studying Biophysical Science because I was 101% obsessed with the X-Files and wanted to get into forensics. After this I crammed through a 1 year film course, and got started with my directing aspirations (which meant working in a cafe). After several years of music videos and short films in Australia, it was time for a change – so, I set a path towards New York where I'd found a fantastic and generous directing mentor Claire Carré, who had directed some of Sia's music vids back in the day. After making the big move, the world of possibility really opened up.
EUDAEMONIA was specifically written to pass the Bechdel test, and I wanted to experiment with the characters coming together, not from intoxication or sexual attraction, but in a platonic form of intimacy. I love the idea of exploring that honest simplicity. The story stems from my travels and was originally written on a napkin during a plane ride. It's a story about transience, the power of human connection, and the liberation of anonymity. The narrative follows two female characters, Amy is a poverty-stricken artist and tattooist in the midst of a downward spiral grappling with chronic isolation and meaninglessness in New York City. Cara is a wealthy, young backpacker with self-sabotaging tendencies who’s been traveling for a year, running from family pressures. They meet accidentally when Cara gets locked out the night before her flight and proceeds to accidentally break into the wrong apartment. Amy and Cara’s initial differences gradually subside over the course of the evening. The film pivots around this brief exchange – a simple conversation from which both women emerge changed. Shortly after, Cara rushes off to catch her flight as Amy sleeps, both never to meet again.
A whole team of extraordinary people came together to make the film happen. Actor Amy Everson flew to Brooklyn from San Fransisco, and demonstrated her commitment to the project after reading the script, by shaving a side of her head for the role, even before meeting me! We pushed the shoot dates back to align with actor Alexandra Nell's arrival in New York - an old friend traveling from Perth, Australia. Through a collective fundraising effort we met our budget and went into production in Bushwick. Our shoot was just three days, and in retrospect, I've learnt the life lesson to never write a sunrise scene into a script – it will only come back and haunt you on set....at 4am....in the cold. Thanks to the crew for sticking through that!
How has the journey been?
The past several years have been wonderful – and the film community in New York is so thriving! There numerous groups and resources which help make film life work. I'd love to give a shout out to NYC Women Filmmakers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/nycwomenfilmmakers/), originally founded by Cidney Hue, and run by a myriad of wonderful volunteers - they are a grassroots community that holds monthly workshops and meet ups for women identifying filmmakers of all trades, experience, and background in NYC. Also, the FlimmakHers – another radical community for women identifying filmmakers in New York hold monthly meetups with guest speakers.
Once you find your team, anything is possible.
EUDAEMONIA premiered in New York at the Shorts Night Film Festival 2018, and PictureFarm Film Festival 2018. Some of our team traveled to Cannes Film Festival in May to promote EUDAEMONIA in the Short Film Corner. We're super thrilled to announce our upcoming Australian premiere at the Revelation Film Festival 2018 in my hometown Perth, Western Australia.
EUDAEMONIA INSTAGRAM: @eudaemoniamovie JULIA NGEOW INSTAGRAM: @juliangeow JULIA NGEOW WEBSITE: www.juliangeow.com