Intimacy vs. Sentimentality: Shannon Murphy on Babyteeth

Yeah, I have to ask. Why the mustache? 

I just loved it. I thought it was very Henry and I also hadn’t seen Ben with that for a little while. I thought it also had a tiny comedic edge to it that I liked. Yeah, yeah. And he’s just been in so many roles recently where he hasn’t had it. And I just, I missed it. I was like, I really like that. Yeah, it just felt very Henry.

Intimacy vs. Sentimentality: Shannon Murphy on Babyteeth 1

Yeah, I like the intimate nature of the film and wanted to ask about that. I read somewhere that you said you didn’t want to sentimentalize the film. But I think it’s hard for audience members to feel or know the difference with these characters. So I was hoping you could talk about the sentimentality versus intimacy within the film, especially with this portrayal of characters kind of all in flux.

You’re right, like I see that as I’m a very emotional person and I think my work is very emotional. But that does come from the intimacy that I create, on set with the actors, with the story, but also with all my creatives. Like I have, probably, deeply co-dependent relationships with my heads of department. I really formed strong attachments to these people and and yet, I don’t like to over-sentimentalize the story because I think it takes away from the believability of it to be honest. I think, often in film and all storytelling art forms, we romanticize parts of our lives that don’t help us actually to understand who we are and aren’t the point of what stories or parables, or whatever you want to call it, that we put out there into the world for each other to kind of learn from or open up discussions with. They’re supposed to be, you know, truths for us to look at not easy excuses, I guess. I want the work that I make to have impact and I think the only way I can do that is if you’re holding up a mirror to people. And so I try to do that as honestly as possible.

I had a couple questions about certain lines, too. By the pool after Milla throws up, and Miles gets kicked out. He walks away and yells, “F**k!” Is that something that was planned?

That gate was really stiff and we made it harder for him. And I think Toby just couldn’t get it open and yelled, “Really?” That’s just a very Toby moment. Actually, I mean it’s a very Moses moment, but I don’t know. 

So he was just upset about the gate?

Oh, yeah. He was just no, he’s just committed. He was committed to kicking that gate open and he couldn’t get it open. Australia, we’re on smaller budgets. So yeah, no we don’t have, “We’ve set this up beautifully. And you just have to act kicking it and then by the third kick, it’ll open.” Like no, you can kick it until it opens.

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