Interview with Filmmaker Mia de Rauch (BARWON MANSION)

BARWON MANSION, 12min,. Australia, Drama
Directed by Mia de Rauch
Claire has found the strength to leave her unsafe environment and now needs a home that will take her through her journey of trauma. Barwon Mansion is that place. A place that calls to the people who need it’s protection most – for as long as they need to be safe within it’s walls. “Barwon Mansion” is a short film that follows the story of Claire as she recovers from her emotionally scarring relationship at the house of care.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The location! I run a production company, so we were at Barwon Mansion to film a promotional video for the local council. I had been there before for other shoots, but on this occasion I had time to chat with one of the volunteers and learned the story of the house. My DOP, Pete was also with me and said he wanted to use the place for a short film. Pete’s short films are always in the Horror genre. This house deserved better than a horror!

So just to make sure he didn’t create a horror film with the mansion in mind, I went home and started writing what became “Barwon Mansion”.

The story itself, was a mix of many stories I had heard from women who had removed themselves from tough relationships. I wanted to create a story that showed that there is no one formula to recovery from trauma, you yourself know what you need to heal. There is always so much more left to the story after the big climatic, horrible event that causes the trauma. I wanted to capture that.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Writing time was quite quick! I already had a crew I work with, so that simplified things as well. Alice, who plays “Patricia” was already in my mind when writing the script. She actually gave a lot of writing support and research to help that process. So it was all about finding the rest of the actors and a time to film.

I had the support of the wonderful team at Barwon Mansion, the National Trust Victoria. So when it came time to production it all moved really smoothly. Until Covid lockdowns.

We were shut down twice. The second one was within hours of the actors travelling to location.

There were so many ups and downs getting this production happening. However, I think the universe was really working for us – because our third attempt at production was perfect. All in all it’s been a year and a half.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Emotionally Impactful.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

COVID! Gah. It was really annoying. I had so much support from cast, crew and the location along with other local businesses, that pulling it all together was great. It was the constant lockdowns (we live in the most locked down state in Australia; if not the world) that really affected us. The other obstacle was ME. It’s been 15 years since I created my first and only feature film, “Centre Place”. So I had a lot of layers to rebuild emotionally to bring another creative project to life.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I cried! I received the email in the morning, and was too nervous to open it. After countless rejections from other festivals, I really wasn’t sure if I could handle any sort of feedback. The feedback turned out to be so good! Really thoughtful, insightful, detailed and really supportive.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I love the creative process of film, but not how slow it is. I’ve wanted to be in this industry since I was three years old. To be on the big screen as a Hollywood actor. As I spent more time studying and experiencing the industry, I realised I wanted more than that. To make my own films and create the stories.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s a tough question. When I love a movie, I can watch it over and over again. I wish I still had that kind of time. I think I would have watched “The Matrix” a million times when I got the DVD. “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Notting Hill” are always go-to films as well. I also love storytelling type films such as “The Castle”, and “The Dish” for its cinematography and sound track. So there are a few films that are in regular rotation.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s been a great experience. All the festivals in one place, great descriptions and the ability to continually update my projects is really helpful.

9. What is your favourite meal?

My partners bolognaise on roast sweet potato. With lactose free cheese and avo. Yum!

10. What is next for you? A new film?

What is next…no idea. The corporate arm of the business is getting busier, which makes it hard to focus on creative. However, I have a few stories floating around in my mind and a location that I would really like to film in…so there is always something on the cards.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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