First time director Simon Croker explores the fragility of a breakup in All Good Things
Ahead of its Flickerfest Premiere Simon Croker discusses the inspiration behind his new short film All Good Things and the ever-changing landscape of LGBTIQ+ stories on Screen.
You wrote and directed this short – why did you want to bring this story to life?
I’ve always wanted to create a queer love story that features self-assured characters who do not suffer because they are gay. All Good Things centers on a young couple empowered by the recent marriage equality win in Australia; we see them thrive without fear, allowing us to focus on the tension and tenderness in their relationship.
Growing up, it was difficult to feel at ease being anything other than heterosexual. The same-sex marriage plebiscite was a reminder of the legacy of society’s gay shame and that really reinforced the importance of making this story to me. Those three months were devastating for the LGBTQIA+ community. Yes, love won, but we also had to endure the most hurtful public debate online and on the streets.
It was important for me, in my own growth towards self-acceptance, to make a film like this. It was for the younger me who wanted so badly to be ‘fixed’ or made ‘normal’. This film was terrifying to create and that’s exactly why I needed to write and direct it. I’m glad I did.
You’re an alumnus of the Australian Film and Television School (AFTRS). Did AFTRS support you in making the film?
My time at AFTRS not only equipped me with a storytelling craft but also an opportunity to deeply and holistically investigate my own personal voice and the type of stories I’d like to tell. I had the most amazing mentors in my final year there. The staff were all so generous with their time and expertise. They knew exactly how personal this story was to me and I always felt their complete support.
Do you have any thoughts on LGBTIQ+ representation in Australian cinema?
Well, the indie-sector certainly seems to be doing most of the heavy lifting. I play Tommy in Sequin in a Blue Room; despite its low budget, this queer erotic thriller has been screening to sold-out cinemas all over the world, earning encore screenings at every turn. It’s been an incredible journey for all of us who made it and an important reminder of the power of our voices. The audiences are clearly there for these stories. It would be great to see mainstream Australian cinema and especially our commercial television networks step up a bit more.
Screen Australia released a landmark report into diversity in Australian TV drama, Seeing Ourselves, in 2016 – an estimated 11% of Australians are of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity, but by comparison, only 5% of characters across 5 years’ worth of programming were identifiably LGBTQI. But even then, there seems to be a greater disposition to represent gay cis men than there is any other letter of the queer alphabet. We’re rarely seeing asexual or intersex characters on our screens and there’s a real hesitancy towards representing non-binary gender identities or more fluid sexualities. There is a lot of work to be done here.
A lot of progress has been made but it’s important that we’re consistently supporting emerging queer filmmakers and diversifying our writers’ rooms. There is more than one queer story out there; so, let’s move beyond the coming out narrative, let’s stop centering the white experience of being queer and for god’s sake can we stop killing off queer characters?!
A lot of the issues we’re facing run deeper than the film industry, clearly, but we also have the unique opportunity to create a systemic shift through the stories we tell. How do we do this? Firstly, hire writers from diverse backgrounds. Secondly, listen to them. Your films will be beautiful.
Best of Australian 5 – 2020 stream
Monday 13 January 2020, 8.45pm | Runtime: 110 mins
Image: Simon Croker. Photo by Will Edgar.