Emily Joy On Australia's Most Mysterious Film
Katherine Sullivan | On 29, Mar 2016
In the space of a year Emily Joy will be seen on the big screen running away from a mysterious monster, filming an exciting new sci-thriller and making people laugh through her stand up routines. Are you feeling lazy yet?
As I approach my interview with Emily, I am left puzzled. There is hardly any information surrounding her latest film Red Billabong directed by Luke Sparke. All we really know so far is that two estranged brothers played by Dan Ewing (Home & Away) and Tim Pocock (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)Â and their friends are tormented by a ‘monster’ in the Australian outback. We caught up with Emily to talk about monster, films and her love of comedy.
The Creative Issue: When did you decide acting was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Emily Joy: I have to thank my mum for supporting my crazy notion of wanting to make money off art. Now that I think about it, ‘thank’ might not be the right word… Blame?! But seriously; she always told me I could pursue any career I wanted as long as I studied it seriously and worked hard. I started acting classes when I was thirteen, I won the Drama Award in Year 12 and then got straight into a three year acting program. Iâ€™ve never considered any other profession. Thereâ€™s lots of challenges like unpredictable scheduling, fluctuating pay cheques & rejection (oh, the rejection!) but I canâ€™t imagine doing anything else. Thanks, Mama!
TCI: Red Billabong is your first feature film. How did you come to land the role of Kate and can you tell us about her?
Emily Joy: My agent sent the director Luke Sparke a self tape I had done for a different project, and he loved it. He sent me the script and asked to meet with me a few days later. I wasnâ€™t sure which scene he was using to audition me, so I learnt them all. We chatted about the film and he offered me the role then and there, no audition. It was very quick and totally surreal! If only every meeting was like that one!
Kate is sweet, romantic and a little naive. She heads to the outback for a party with her friends, then strange and scary things start happening. I canâ€™t give too much away, but she has a really cool story arc in the film.
TCI: The last few years have seen some fantastic Australian horror films (The Babadook, Wolf Creek), what makes Red Billabong stand out from the rest?
Emily Joy: Red Billabong is special because itâ€™s not one single genre; there are horror elements and thereâ€™s a beautiful love story, too, and rich themes on family. Itâ€™s also funny! And thereâ€™s lots of guns and explosions… Itâ€™s a real Allenâ€™s Party Mix!
Â TCI: What was it like working alongside Dan Ewing, Tim Pocock and Jessica Green?
Emily Joy: Dan is so encouraging, really funny and laid back. I love watching him work â€“ he has an incredible energy and gives every take 110%. A total pro. We share a love of basketball and raw desserts – I would bring some healthy cakes to set and heâ€™d gobble them up!
I bonded with Tim straight away, and heâ€™s now a dear friend of mine. Heâ€™s a brilliant actor and such a generous man. Weâ€™d often have long chats about faith and spirituality between takes.
Jess is nothing like I thought she would be. She is the clumsiest, goofiest, most un-model-like model you could imagine. Weâ€™d always chat about boys, music and make up.Â The rest of the cast were a dream to work with, too.
TCI: When people think of horror films, they think of blood and gore. What was the experience like for you? Did you have to spend much time in hair and makeup?
Emily Joy: Firstly, I cannot deal with scary movies! I was nervous going into Red Billabong because thereâ€™s a terrifying monster. Luckily on set it was simply a tennis ball on the end of a long pipe. Remember that when you see me running in fear â€“ ha! Yes, I was in the make up chair a lot, and often came out looking… less than my best. It was no easy task getting clean after what they did to me! â€œBecome an actorâ€, they said, â€œItâ€™ll be glamorous!â€ they said.
TCI: I understand that you have a new film in the works called Stream, a Sci-Fi thriller about a breakthrough that makes telepathy possible. Were you nervous at all about tackling a brand new genre?
Emily Joy: I canâ€™t wait to start work on Stream. The script is by J.E. Clarke and itâ€™s amazing. I love my character, Liz Aaron, so much. Iâ€™m really nervous! The Sci-Fi aspects will be a unique challeng and thereâ€™s also a lot of dark, emotional places I have to go to. Iâ€™ve got a wonderful director, Ryan Unicomb, guiding me so the nerves are settling. I have a lot of preparation to do before our shoot starts later this year. Bring it on!
TCI: One only needs to take a look at your social media accounts to see that you are always involved in acting workshops. How important do you think it is for an actor to learn new skills?
Emily Joy: Itâ€™s so important for an actor to be doing workshops; like a pianist practicing scales or an accountant reciting times tables.
You can do a drama degree but you can never stop learning. I take weekly scene study classes, and workshops here and there. I recently did one with the amazing actor Anthony Brandon Wong and learnt a bunch of tools that Iâ€™ve applied immediately to my craft.
The best short course I ever did was all about self-taping. It’s an online workshop run by the president of the Casting Guild Australia, Greg Apps. He has helped me so much! I have a lot of love and respect for that man.
TCI: You obviously have a love of stand up as you have recently competed in the Raw Comedy Qld Semi Finals. Has comedy always been something that you have been interested in and would you want to pursue it further in the future?
Emily Joy: Yes! My heart lies in comedy. Itâ€™s been really weird to be cast in dramas for all my professional work when all I want to do is make people laugh. I bring humour to the dramatic scripts I audition for and I think thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m cast half the time. Tragedy and comedy exist in one another.
Iâ€™m currently writing and co-producing a comedy with actor/playwright Tammy Weller. We have an amazing chemistry and a wonderfully productive working relationship. Our TV series deals with
â€‹agoraphobia. Itâ€™s calledÂ The Great Indoors. (Get it?!)
TCI: How hard is it to get up onstage in front of a live audience and perform stand-up? Is it more challenging than acting in front of a camera?
Emily Joy: Stand-up is tricky! You have to get the room onside quickly and have enough energy to sustain a one-sided conversation. Itâ€™s a different challenge to acting; it can be very daunting. People say, â€œOh, youâ€™re so brave [to do stand-up]!â€ without realising that a live audience laughing with you is the greatest feeling and totally worth the risk of bombing. The major difference is that youâ€™re alone. I love acting because of that connection to the other actor; you help each other and make each other better. In stand-up, if I’m a bit off, I suck! But when Iâ€™m working on camera, if things arenâ€™t feeling truthful, I can quickly reconnect to my partner and bam, itâ€™s magic.
Iâ€™m an actor first and foremost; stand up is just a bit of fun on the side. Iâ€™m married to acting, and stand up is my mistress.
TCI: During your career, have you ever had moments where you have felt like giving up acting? What advice would you give to struggling actors to overcome feelings of self-doubt?Â
Emily Joy:Â There have been dark moments, for sure, but Iâ€™ve never truly considered giving up. I have mental health practices in place, and a strong spiritual faith that keeps me grounded. I believe this industry is too difficult to navigate without these things. Iâ€™m getting super serious now, but itâ€™s so important to nourish yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.
When I donâ€™t get a role I really wanted, I take the day and night of finding out and cry my heart out. I allow myself to feel the disappointment, I let it all out and the next day I always feel better. I find this much more healthy than trying to suppress my feelings or pretend it didnâ€™t matter. I used to think that when I didnâ€™t book a role, it was because I wasnâ€™t good enough. Now I understand that there are so many factors when it comes to casting â€“ talent is just one element. Learning not to take things personally has helped me so much! Also, make sure the people closest to you are supportive of your dreams.
Self-doubt never goes away. Fact. Try to let it fuel you, not distract you. The only way to get from where you are to where you want to be is through doing. Want a career as an actor? Act! Audition for a community play, make short films with your friends, learn a monologue, film a self-tape. Just act, act, act. Donâ€™t worry about long-term results; if you do one small thing every day for your craft, your career will take care of itself. If you feel like giving up, remind yourself why you love to act and know that persistence makes success inevitable.
Red BillabongÂ is set to be released in 2016 â€“ follow the film online or like it on Facebook. You can you also stay up to date with what Emily Joy is doing by following her on Instagram and TwitterÂ @em_joyable.Â
Image Credits: Amelia J Dowd, Bea Shot This & Jimmy Malecki