Tuesday, May 10, 2016

{Inspiration} Filmmaker Megan Riakos

Inspiration is simply defined as a person, place or experience that makes you want to do or create something.

I am constantly inspired by people and it got me thinking about asking them some questions and including them on my little happy place here on the blogosphere.

So first cab off the rack is Megan.

Recently I met Megan. She is a filmmaker and in 2013 made her debut feature film, Crushed, on my friends family's vineyard in Mudgee. Ever the movie lover, she inspired me to want to make my own film!

What is your background? What have you done to get where you are?

I started sewing the seeds for my filmmaking career by doing an B/A Communications (Media Arts & Production) at UTS from 2000-2002.  It gave me a great overview of all the different areas in the film industry, a super important part of being a director is understanding and appreciating the different departments involved in creating a film.

I then moved to LA where I worked on a number of low budget features and Movie of the Week gigs, starting as a production assistant and then moving on to Assistant Directing and Art department.   These productions are fast and fierce – most were shot in three weeks, so it gave me a great foundation for when it came time to make Crushed to understand what was possible to capture in such a tight timeframe.

I then moved back to Australia where I continued to work as a crew member in the industry while making short films and writing features on the side.  In 2010 I was then accepted into the Australian Film Television & Radio School for Directing and after I graduated, I then completed the Professional Screenwriters Program at UCLA where I wrote Crushed (specifically to be made as an indie film and my debut feature).

What ignited your passion for film? 

I have always been into reading, writing & performing and I was constantly mounting plays with my siblings and mucking around.  But it wasn’t until I saw the movie ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’ in a media studies class in year 10, and then got to make my first short film as a class exercise, did the filmmaking bug bite me.  And it bit me very hard!  Films have a way of making you step inside someone else’s shoes and to become a more empathetic person.  I love films that challenge the way I think or feel about something and I hope my films are able to achieve that too.

What was the catalyst to do you own feature? 

I have been wanting to direct a feature since that media studies class back in 1996. I gave myself a deadline of making my first feature by 25 and when that passed, the new deadline was set for 30.  By the time I got to 30 I realised it would be a whole lot longer if I waited for the traditional funding path for my feature so I planned to go the indie route.  At 32 I was standing on set calling ‘action’ on the first day of shoot for Crushed.

What is the main lesson you have learnt? 

The easy part is the shoot! Making a feature is such a long game, so many decisions in both a creative and business sense.  But the main lesson for me, would be to treat the film like a small business – set yourself up properly, take the time to understand how to manage different people and set clear and realistic goals for your film.

What do you do to relax?

I am a regular runner. I used to compete as a teenager and old habits die hard!  I also try and get to yoga if I have the time and of course I love to go to the movies. It helps me get out of the house and forces me to sit still -  where my computer, phone, chores can’t distract me.

Who inspires you? 

My parents have been an unwavering source of support, they brought up 5 kids with little money and barely out of their teens.  Their incredible work ethic and their attitude of ‘just make it happen’ has definitely been instilled in me. Of course the women directors who have paved the way, like Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Gillian Armstrong & Jocelyn Moorehouse have helped me to believe in myself as a director.

Thanks Megan for spending time to answer these questions :)

Who inspires you?

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