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News08 - Nov - 2021

Writer-director Jacob Melamed and emerging actor Emily Scerri-Rikkert dance to their own beat with their film We Have Me

Emily Scerri Rikkert and Jacob Melamed photo credit Max Melamed

Ahead of We Have Me’s world premiere at the 68th Sydney Film Festival – Jacob Melamed & Emily Scerri-Rikkert share how Emily’s love of dancing inspired them to collaborate together.


Congratulations on having We Have Me selected to premiere at the 68th Sydney Film Festival. What are you most excited about in having your film screen at such an iconic Sydney festival?

Emily and Jacob: It’s just a huge honour and something we’ve only ever dreamed of. To be able to see our film on the big screen, watched by industry leaders, esteemed filmmakers and the general public is an honour.


We Have Me tells the story of a high school basketball captain who forms a unique friendship with a young girl with down syndrome. Where did the idea come from?

Jacob: I was filming a charity video for an amazing non-for-profit organisation called The Friendship Circle. They run programs and activities for children with and without disabilities, from all backgrounds. I had gone to a park with Jodine, my co-writer and producer, to film a countdown video for one of their upcoming events, and this is where we met Emily. She was dancing the entire time we were filming, both on and off camera. She was electric! There was just something about the way she moved and how happy it made her that resonated with Jodine and myself. It was then, that we knew we had to write a story about her.


You both had a hand in writing the script with your producer, Jodine Holli Wolman – tell us about how you all collaborated together to write the script, and about your writing process?

Emily: We all got together several times to talk about the script. Jodine and Jacob had some ideas and I could change anything I wanted. I know I am a good dancer, so I made sure that was written in the script.

Jacob: After we met Emily at the charity event, Jodine and I wrote a preliminary script with a character written for Emily to play. We quickly realised that something didn’t feel right. So, we contacted Emily and went to her place and just hung out. During this hang out and many more over the next few weeks, we began to figure out exactly what kind of character Emily would like to play. Every line of dialogue, every action, every story beat involving Emily was crafted together with her. We would not have been able to write the script without Emily and the story would not exist without her either. The process feels pretty special to Emily, Jodine and myself.


The film has a standout cast. Emily stars in the film with TV heartthrob Carlos Sanson (Bump) and actor, Anita Hegh (Total Control, Janet King). Jacob, can you tell us about the casting process for We Have Me?

Jacob: Funnily enough, when casting through Maura Fay Casting – Bump had not yet been released. In hindsight, it’s kind of insane to me that we got someone as amazing as Carlos to send in an audition tape, let alone agree to work on the film.  I’m so happy and lucky that he did!  I’m sure if we were casting just a few weeks later, it would have been a different story. We offered Anita Hegh the role of Carlos’ mother and with experience like hers, it would have been criminal not to have her on board. Both of them are incredible, along with the amazing Anni Finsterer and Travis Jeffery. I can’t wait to work with them all again.


Emily, this is your first acting role. What was the experience like for you and has this inspired you to do more acting in the future

Emily: I enjoyed making the movie. It was special working with Carlos and everyone else on the set. I love to dance, and I love to perform. So, to do both in this movie worked really well for me. I am happy that I was asked to make this movie and will definitely do more acting in the future.


What advice would you give emerging filmmakers with disability wanting to break into the industry?

Emily: Not sure what you mean with disability? I only do things that are fun and when everyone else does the same, let's see what happens.

Jacob: Don’t define yourself by your disability. Your talent, your creative vision and your ability are what’s important. Sadly, there may be more obstacles in your way, but your stories are worth being told and the best part is, people want to hear them. Do not give up, do not get discouraged! I hope to take more steps towards a more inclusive industry in my film career.


Image credit: Emily Scerri-Rikkert and Jacob Melamed (photo credit Max Melamed