Tango Underpants is a short film about Carolyn (Emma Booth), a young Australian backpacker who arrives in Buenos Aires following a bad breakup. Here, explains co-director Miranda Edmonds, “she discovers not only the wonders of Tango but also the vital importance of wearing the right underwear!” Ahead of Tango Underpants’ screening at Flickerfest, Edmonds spoke to BRAG about the film’s cast, crew, location shooting in Argentina and the importance of crowdfunding.
Tango Underpants is based on Carolyn Swindell’s short story Brief Encounter, which the film’s writer, John Collee, read on the train from Paris to the Cannes Film Festival. “He was recounting this great story and we agreed it would make a brilliant short film. Khrob [Edmonds] and I came on to direct, Tania Chambers and Stephen Van Mil to produce and three days later John had written the script. We sent it to Emma [Booth] and she was in within a few hours of reading it,” says Edmonds.
Directing Tango Underpants alongside her brother Khrob was “pretty easy as we’ve been doing it all our lives – dating back to Christmas concerts in the backyard with the neighbours when we were kids”. Says Edmonds, “we know each other’s strengths” and “have a common film language which helps in aligning our vision in pre-production. [We] have two pairs of eyes, ears and hands.”
What was it like working with Booth? “It was a brilliant experience. She is so talented, hard-working, professional and just plain lovely. Even when it was -2 degrees Celsius and she was only in a tango dress,” says Edmonds. Fortuitously, Booth is a former ballroom dancer and so while tango lessons were organised for her “she got it in about five minutes”. The film’s crew did, however, have to ensure “she didn’t dance too well as her character is meant to be just learning the tango for the first time”.
For Edmonds, shooting in Buenos Aires was an incredible experience. The director believes that filming on location was crucial to securing Tango Underpants’ authenticity. “Every shot is filled with the authenticity of the streets of Buenos Aires and we feel this really brings the film to life,” she says. “There were definitely some challenges with the language barrier like trying to direct a tango scene via an interpreter.” Edmonds maintains, however, that “any difficulties were by far outweighed by the joy of shooting everything in the actual location”.
Crowdfunding also played a large part in realising the film; ScreenWest’s 3 to 1 initiative, which offered $3 for every $1 pledged by the public, was utilised by the Tango Underpants crew to get the film off the ground. With more than $25,000 raised through a Pozible campaign, ScreenWest contributed $75,000 resulting in a budget of over $100,000. “[This scheme] really brings together market place demand and government funding in a whole new way,” says Edmonds. “Crowdfunding platforms not only change how films are made and financed, but they have created a whole shift in focus for us as filmmakers. Having an audience already committed to the project meant we really kept them at the forefront of our minds from day one.”
“Tango Underpants is about being brave and getting out there and living life. We hope that watching the film inspires people to try something different, put themselves out of their comfort zone or at the very least re-think their undies!” concludes Edmonds.
Tango Underpants screens at Flickerfest 2014 at 8.45pm Thursday January 16.