You may have seen Phillipa Finch gracing ABC on a Tuesday night, with her little whimsical journey & lucky enough I got to have a chat with the lovely Emma Magenta; the creator behind her.
Did you always know you wanted to create things from drawings & words?
I have always drawn and loved the written word since I was a kid, writing stories, drawing constantly, reading everything. I never thought too much about it, I just did it. Drawing was always something that I really focused on as an adult, whereas writing was a private activity for a very long time. I only really merged the two things at a certain point because I loved the juxtaposition of certain ideas with a very naïve drawing style…it was more to amuse myself. Humour is key for me when it comes to any kind of epiphany…the drawings and writings are my way of arriving at that feeling.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My personal life mainly as well as observations of human behavior, listening to people’s stories and hearing the emotional truth behind what they are really saying. A deep commitment to locating the divine in everything, animals, music and song lyrics, being open to finding magic in the moment regardless of how mundane, the desire to connect with others on a real basis…many things.
Do personal experiences play a part in how you construct your writing?
I cannot write fantasy. I have tried to write about imagined experiences, but I feel like a fraud…it lacks emotional resonance. I use writing as a way of finding out what happened, what I really felt at the time. I can’t seem to move forward until I make peace with my emotional history. It sounds particularly self-indulgent, but I truly believe that my experiences will mirror many other people’s experiences. Perhaps my understanding of it may in some way be like a friend holding your hand through a rough time.
How was Phillipa Finch born from paper to film?
Phillipa Finch was a name I invented to give life to a shadow side of my nature. She is the self that is seeking absolute perfection in all things, ultimately love. When there is an absence of it in her life, rather than have an emotional meltdown, she turns into an uber control freak and believes herself inadequate and constructs her life around an absolute need for super, SUPER perfection in EVERYTHING.
I wrote for a year in 2008 as to why Phillipa is this way, why she is numb emotionally to sort out why I was like this. It was cheaper than therapy. Then Rachel Okine from Hopscotch Productions approached me and asked me if I would like to create an animation with her…whatever I wanted to do. Such a luscious invitation couldn’t be ignored, so I began to pen a script around the ideas in the book I had written. ABC were in love with it and they wanted it. I began to draw all the illustrations and with the help of some very talented animators; Aaron Powell, Cindy Bower and Adam Lau, my drawings were brought to life. Rachel Okine is really the main genius for bringing together such an amazing bunch of talented individuals. There was also a lot of going for grant funding from Screen Australia and Screen NSW which is like gambling really, but we were very fortunate to have their support as well and hence, Phillipa Finch was birthed.
What was it like to have Toni Collette narrate the series?
Toni is highly professional and gave an extraordinary gift to the project. We had an already established working relationship through collaborating on her children’s book (Planet Yawn) as an illustrator and drawings for her band and art collection in general. She is always a lot of fun and a perfectionist is the best possible sense. She offered to be Phillipa Finch for me when I was ruminating on how to convey the narration without overwhelming the viewer with too much voice…she was perfect.
The Phillipa Finch iPhone game was such an interesting concept & creation, how did that come about?
The whole project from the outset was going to be a multi-platform project, an idea put forward by The ABC. It is fortunate, because I was able to work with truly gifted people. The iPhone game was put together by Guy Gadney from The Project Factory and Chrisitine Coulston from The ABC, although I was able to offer my ideas too. It is pretty funny that I should have an iPhone game anywhere near my name since I am pretty synonymous with such a lo-fi, almost anti-technology aesthetic. This project has really brought me up to speed with it all however.
What’s install for you next?
I am taking a break until the end of May and then I am getting into bringing together all of my notes and imaginings on a new character called Agatha Trundle and her story. An animation yes, but also with something else…it’s a secret. It is never good to speak out loud to anyone of a creation until it has passed the first trimester.
You can purchase the DVD, book, iPhone game and other Phillipa Finch bits over at the ABC shop.
GIVEAWAY:I have a copy of one of Magenta's previous publications The Origin of Lament to giveaway to a lucky reader of The Tea Children. Leave a comment below with one of your favorite quotes, with your email address & don't forget to be a follower. Entries close on Tuesday 17th and the winner will be drawn via random.org