Film Director Christine Luby is set to have an absolute cracker of a Gold Coast Film Festival this year, with not one, but two of her projects featuring as world premieres on the program.
Not only that, her film premiere ‘This Little Love of Mine’, is her directorial debut, and will be given the full gala treatment on the first Friday night of the festival.
“I’m super excited,” says Christine when we ask her about the ‘This Little Love of Mine’ premiere.
“This feels like The Little Film That Could,” she chuckles. “We made it in the middle of COVID and the middle of lockdown, and the fact that it’s going to be seen by so many people is out of this world.”
Filmed entirely in Far North Queensland in 2020, ‘This Little Love of Mine’ is a contemporary rom com that tells the will-they-or-won’t-they, work-meets-holiday romance story of Laura and Chip. Christine explains how she came to be involved in the project.
“The Steve Jaggi Company [production company for the film] had previously done a rom com called ‘Romance on the Menu’ that I was the Assistant Director (AD) for. It was their first rom com and it started trending at No. 3 on Netflix!
“We had such a fun time making it and wanted to follow up with a second rom com, and this time we wanted to shoot on location.”
That location ended up being Palm Cove, just north of Cairns.
“We went up to Palm Cove and just fell in love. There are these stunning rows of palm trees, it’s so beautiful, and I couldn’t think of a better place to have made it.”
These sentiments were reinforced when the team was able to partner with an absolute beach front hotel in which they were able to create a “magical little bubble” to work for the sixteen-day shoot during COVID.
“We were super lucky to be able to make it happen up there,” says Christine.
Originally from New Hampshire, USA, Christine relocated to Australia in 2010 after living in London for 10 years and now divides her time between the US and Australia. Although ‘This Little Love of Mine’ is her first official turn in the director’s chair, Christine is not short on directorial experience.
Approaching the natural end of her career in contemporary dance more than decade ago, Christine felt that a tree change was necessary, turning her attention to film after an experience shooting a dance sequence piqued her interest.
“There was this rude person shouting at us all and I thought ‘oh how awful’ and he turned out to be an AD,” Christine laughs. “It was my first window into this whole other side, what’s behind the camera, and I thought it was so interesting.”
After working – unpaid – on student films for a while, Christine landed her first AD gig kind of by accident.
“I did this one film that turned into a feature film and it was just the director, cinematographer and me working on it. They made me an AD, I didn’t even know what to do! So they told me to get a clipboard so I looked the part,” Christine laughs again. “I did everything – catering, sound, whatever was needed.”
With the title of AD on her resume, Christine was able to gain more work within the industry, working in that role for the next fourteen years and learning her craft from the ground up. I asked her if the directorial experience held any surprises for her by the time it came around.
“Not a lot,” she says. “When it came time to direct my own feature it felt that I’d done it already because I’d helped so many first-time Directors through theirs.
“The only part that was a bit scary for me was rehearsal in advance. It was the one part of film I hadn’t been privy too, because no one goes in apart from the Director and the Script Supervisor, so I had to figure out how to do that pretty quickly. Now that I’ve done one though, I’m like ‘it’s a piece of cake!’”
Of course, Christine acknowledges, the people you work with can certainly make or break an experience.
“I had the most gorgeous cast on this, I got so lucky,” she gushes.
When you’re doing your first film as a Director you want to be surrounded by people who are awesome and on board and with your vision.
“Saskia Hampele plays Laura, and she brought her A Game every day, she was so dynamic and really embraced the character and both sides of the character; on one hand a San Francisco lawyer and on the other embracing her island roots and allowing herself to soften and listen to her heart. It was a beautiful transformation.
“And we also had Liam McIntyre as Chip, he is an Australian actor and was perfect for the role. He had just amazing chemistry with Saskia which is super important to get right in a rom com.”
Christine’s second premiere at the Gold Coast Film Festival is the first three episodes of a series entitled ‘Dive Club’.
“Although I’m one of the Directors, it’s not my episodes that are airing – just a few scenes of mine”, she clarifies. “I’m super proud to have it showing.”
“It’s a drama and that follows a group of four teenage divers. One of the girls goes missing after a storm hits and they spend the series trying to track her down and find her again.”
Already contracted for airing on Channel 10 and then Netflix, the thrilling 12-part series is still in post-production, that’s how fresh it is. So Gold Coast Film Festival audiences are in for a preview in the truest of senses.
“It’s hot off the press!” Christine exclaims.
While super excited about ‘Dive Club’, which is undoubtedly set to be a hit, it’s the ‘This Little Love of Mine’ red carpet that is definitely on Christine’s mind at the moment. I ask her to give prospective audiences the feel of the film ahead of its showing.
“It’s a chance to slow down and enjoy the small things,” she muses. “And listen to your heart too, those things are so important, particularly in challenging times.
“I like to think of the film as balm for the soul. I think people need comfort right now, and I hope they can come and enjoy it, and fall in love.”
The annual Gold Coast Film Festival will run from 14 to 25 April, 2021 bringing films, panels, Q&As, parties, pop-up cinemas and more to more than 10 venues across the Gold Coast. Visit gcfilmfestival.com for information and bookings.