Two years ago, Perthbased filmmaker Claire McCarthy packed up her family and moved to LA to direct The Personal History of Rachel Dupree – a film produced by and starring Viola Davis, who has since postponed proceedings by accepting another role. Since this early setback, Claire has maintained her foothold in Hollywood. She recently wrapped filming on Ophelia, a highly anticipated film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts.
IT WAS A BIG DECISION TO MOVE TO THE US WITH A YOUNG FAMILY,
only to have [The Personal History of Rachel Dupree] postponed. It’s only now that we’ve rebooted and plan to be shooting early next year. I’ve tried to turn every obstacle into a learning experience, and an opportunity to push myself further as an artist. Learning about the pitching process in Hollywood at the studio level, shadowing and learning from more accomplished directors than myself, particularly in the TV space, finding a ‘family’ of like-minded individuals – this has taken up a lot of my time.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS IS A CRUEL TASKMASTER.
You can feel like a superhero, a complete loser, and sick to the stomach, all in the space of an hour. And the creative process asks more of you each time. You can’t rest on a delusion that, just because something has worked once it will work again. You have to take every project head on, wrestle with it, allow it to show you its shadows and secrets, and try to love the ride.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF [DIRECTING HAS BEEN CASTING FEMALE LEADS.
I immediately connected with the material, and spent a lot of energy winning the gig – and then spent almost six years casting the project. Hollywood in the cinema space is very retrospective around assessing the worth of an actor or a project – it’s all about what has worked before and who has earned what at the box office. It’s frankly a miracle our project has managed to be made.
FILMMAKERS SHOULD GO FOR CHALLENGES, NOT THE SAFE PATH.
Innovate! Sometimes the things you think can’t possibly work are actually solutions, or will strengthen you in the long run. Remember, this is not a business for sprinters – it’s an endurance sport – so stay light on your feet, keep positive [and] healthy, and find your family.