Cloudy Rhodes is a Sydney-based filmmaker with a decidedly queer gaze.
She’s been described as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging artists, with her abstract and distinctive style embodied within her photography and films. Her first short film, Lo Loves You [above], is an unapologetically queer and impassioned debut. Now, she sits down with Out & About to discuss her craft.
How long have you been making films?
Not long. Lo Loves You was my first experience of shooting moving image and that was about two years ago, so I’m pretty fresh.
Did you know you wanted to make films for a long time before you made Lo Loves You?
Yeah, I did, but I was always really intimidated by it. I always made images – photos, collages and stuff – but I got frustrated because I wanted to tell stories and those mediums felt limiting to me. Making films felt like a more meaningful way to spend my time.
Did you make a conscious decision to make gay films?
No, not at all. I just tell personal stories. I think a film is so much work, so much goes into it, that it needs to be something you’re connected to and care about.
So you wouldn’t necessarily say you have a political agenda.
I just want to tell stories that I feel connected to and can identify with, and I also want to tell stories that need to be told. I guess there is a bit of politics in all of that, but for me, the emotions come first. With Lo Loves You I didn’t think about it as political – I was just telling a personal story – but I guess all gay love stories become political.
Would you say you make films as a response to that unfulfilled need we all had as baby queers, to see some representation of ourselves on the screen?
Yeah, 100 per cent. If you’re emotionally moved by a film, then that film is good, but when you can identify with something more closely you’re always going to have amplified emotions. When I watch gay love stories I’m so much more moved and invested, because I can relate.
I had a moment as a teenager when I watched my first-ever film with a central gay romance and found myself inexplicably invested despite having nurtured a healthy disdain for the genre. I was like, “Oh wow, so this must be what straight people feel like all the time!”
Yeah exactly! That’s exactly it! I had the same experience.
Has anybody ever given you shit, professionally, for the gay content of your films?
My latest film – the script wasn’t originally a gay story. It was an interracial love story, but the politics became way too complicated. So I made the choice to make it a love story between two girls. In making that choice, surprisingly, I had people who were apprehensive about it because they were afraid I’d be pigeonholed as a gay filmmaker.
What was your response to that?
I am a gay filmmaker.
So you just decided to go ahead and make it despite that feedback?
Yeah, I just made it and I will continue to make those films.
What’s next for you? What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got a feature I want to get into development; it’s in very early concept stages. I’ll keep making films that move me, and it’ll always be from the female gaze, you know? I’m never going to have the perspective of a straight white guy.
Like you said, you want to tell the stories that need to be told.
On Friday February 24, head over to Work-Shop in Redfern for queer artist Kim Leutwyler’s drunk painting class. The class is for everybody regardless of their level, and total beginners are encouraged. The term ‘drunk painting’ is meant figuratively (but there will be some cheeky drinks available). Using acrylic paint as the medium, students will learn about paint application, brush work, colour mixing and abstract painting. You don’t need to bring anything, just turn up and have fun.
On Saturday February 25, mosey on down to the St George Sailing Club in Sans Souci for Bad Dog’s Gaylien, the gay space party you didn’t know you needed. The lineup features Stephen Sonius, Bill Cotsis, Annabelle Gaspar, Ben Drayton and Kevin Davidson. Tickets are available from Max Black (Newtown), The Toolshed (Darlinghurst), Hair of the Dog (Surry Hills) and Happy Endings(Redfern). They will also be available at the door in a limited quantity.
Also on Saturday February 25, The Shift Club on Oxford Street is hosting Club Arak, a night for queers of all backgrounds to come together and get down to the best Arabic music served up by DJ Chadi.Write a Letter to the Editor