Dark comedy highlights strength of character

Director Martha Goddard talks about her new short film, Stick, a dark comedy about a teenage girl with Crohn’s disease, and what it was like working with the Australian Theatre for Young People’s (ATYP) The Voices Project.

Writer Carolyn Burns, actor Emma Campbell and director Martha Goddard (Photo: Courtesy ATYP)
Writer Carolyn Burns, actor Emma Campbell and director Martha Goddard (Photo: Courtesy ATYP)

In your own words, what would you describe Stick as being about?

For me the film is about a teenage girl’s perspective on discovering she has a chronic illness and finding a way to still be empowered as opposed to feeling degraded. She actually feels different, is proud of it and she’s found a way to cope. So on that level, I think everyone can relate.

What attracted you to the project?

The idea of Crohn’s disease was completely new to me so I did a lot of research and now I’m fascinated by what people overcome and how we adapt. Humans adapt to any situation that’s thrown at them. Philosophically, the piece appealed to me as I see the strength of a teenage girl named Louise, finding a way to cope with this debilitating illness.

As director, what was the biggest challenge in making Stick into a film?

Stick was first written as part of ATYP’s Fresh Ink emerging playwright program, then performed as a monologue in theatre and now it has been transformed into a filmed performance. So the trickiest part was adapting the piece from theatre to film with a visual style that wouldn’t impinge on the drama, whilst maintaining the integrity of the character’s monologue.

How did you find working with writer Carolyn Burns and ATYP’s The Voices Project?

I love what ATYP is doing. I genuinely think that they are one of the great opportunities for young voices. Carolyn [Burns] had a very clear vision of what she was writing and she really understood the voice of the character. The situation is quite absurd in that the threshold of what’s appropriate and what’s not, is gone – which then makes the piece funny! I don’t think Carolyn has seen the film yet so I’m really curious to see what she thinks! I hope she likes it.

I think she definitely will! How would you like audiences to react to the film?

I want the audience to be shocked, provoked, confused and then uplifted. I want them to feel the fragility behind this young girl’s way of handling the situation that she’s been given. I think it’s really great for people to be aware of what Crohn’s is and to be reminded that we all struggle with different challenges.

Watch Stick here or visit the The Voices Project to watch the rest of the short films.

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