When we chat to the makers of South Australia’s first feature-length animation, it happens to be the day they have one of their top tier talent, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, Kween Kong, who’s flown over from Melbourne and is recording voiceover for the character Blade.
Meeting with the film’s creative powerhouse team is an inspiring, colourful whirlwind. The ten-person team is pushing the limits, giving a voice to the queer community, breaking stereotypes and tropes, and tearing up rule books, all with a heap of passion, courage and smarts and a firm eye on the impact art has on changing the culture.
With just one year to pull the fully female-led film together, the team have much to do. The main cast is made up of women and gender diverse people of colour and has a focus on young and upcoming Australian talent.
We have a half hour window lunchbreak, with the busy team grabbing some sarnies, in between voice recordings, talent wrangling, art direction and script rewrites.
It’s fascinating to peek into their studio where graphic artists are using Toon Boom Harmony, VFX, and high-end compositing to create the quirky and galactic characters and the worlds in which they live.
Over the next year, the team will be based at Artisan Post Group’s (APG) digs, on the top floor of TechCentral at Lot Fourteen, overlooking Frome Road’s lush plane tree canopy. And they have the full support of APG’s impressive facilities who have worked with a range of productions, providing integrated post-production on Netflix series Stateless and ABC series Aftertaste to name just two. For the creative industries sector at Lot Fourteen, this really is the place to be.
Feature-length, animated space comedy, Lesbian Space Princess, was written by Emma Hough Hobbs and Leela Varghese. The story follows an anxious space princess who is thrust out of her sheltered life and into a galactic quest to save her bounty hunter ex-girlfriend from the ‘Straight White Maliens’.
Like all good ideas, this one started out in the pub. Where South Australian artist Hough Hobbs, and Tropfest award winner, writer and director, Varghese, brainstormed several ideas offering the world a glimpse into the LGBTQI+ world, with the title stating exactly what it does on the tin.
They brought on producer, Tom Phillips from We Made A Thing (Production Company), and the film was developed, and then greenlit through the South Australian Film Corporation and Adelaide Film Festivals: New Voices initiative.
The story for Lesbian Space Princess takes inspiration directly from Hough Hobbs and Varghese’s own lives.
The heroine, Saira, who lives on Clitopolis, is a little anxious, a bit introverted and is on a quest to win back her girlfriend. However, spoiler alert, although the journey sets off with a clear mission of finding her girlfriend, she discovers herself in the process.
Her voyage encapsulates a story of the importance of self-worth, taking up space and being comfortable with your own company, all important elements of self-love.
The worlds created are jam-packed with colour, humour and vibrancy. The creativity knows no bounds, with a runaway gay-pop idol, gloom goo, blade-wielding maniacs and the scariest thing of all, her own self-doubt.
Hough Hobbs says of their ambition to be totally inclusive, “the main characters are all women and gender diverse people of colour.”
“Regardless of whether a character is queer, gender non-conforming, a person of colour, it’s not about that, we’re subverting those themes.”
Varghese agrees with regards to the plot and storyline, “the simplest way of putting it, is that we’ve flipped it so that everyone in this world who is normally a minority is a majority, so they are loud and proud and empowered.”
“It kind of comments on everything without having to comment on it that much.”
Producer, Phillips, says, “there was something wonderful about this project, as it was so entertaining.”
“Those who like sci-fi, who like exploring different worlds and escapism can buy into this as well, and from our perspective we just loved that aspect of it.
“At the heart of it the character is trying to prioritise themselves first, and that’s a universal experience. It’s very easy to get lost in the shallower aspects of life.”
So, for now, the race is on. With animation, Frozen, taking two years and Moana taking five years to create, their deadline is ambitious, but they have the right team and support around them to make it work.
Lesbian Space Princess is slated to premiere at the next Adelaide Film Festival in November 2024.
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