News 14.09.22

FIRST NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: SWEET AS WRITER/DIRECTOR JUB CLERC

Jub Clerc is an award-winning Nyul Nyul/Yawuru woman from the Kimberley region in Western Australia, and the recent recipient of the NETPAC award for her film, Sweet As, at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Jub has over 15 years of screen industry experience in writing, directing and casting.

Screenwest caught up with Jub to chat about bringing personal stories to life, the differences between directing features and series, and where she finds inspiration.

Jub spent many years in theatre before moving into film and TV, working on Australian classics like Mad Bastards, Satellite Boy and Mystery Road Series 1. She then went on to direct two episodes of ABC’s The Heights Series 2, NITV documentary Struggling Songlines and a chapter of feature film, The Turning, to name a few.

Most recently, Jub’s short-form comedy-drama series Warm Props was shortlisted for SBS, NITV and Screen Australia’s Digital Originals initiative. She is currently serving as one of the series directors on ABC ME’s new children’s series Turn Up the Volume.

Jub was the first Indigenous filmmaker recipient of Screenwest’s West Coast Visions initiative in 2018 and the first all-female creative team with producer Liz Kearney, with Sweet As receiving $750,000 production funding.

Described as The Breakfast Club meets the outback, the Sweet As follows 16-year-old Murra, who is on the verge of self-destruction. That is, until her policeman uncle secures an unusual lifeline: a “photo-safari for at-risk kids”. Filmed in WA’s Pilbara region, where Jub grew up, Sweet As stars First Nations actors Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Tasma Walton, Mark Coles Smith, Ngaire Pigram, Pedrea Jackson and Chilean-Cuban-Australian actor Carlos Sanson Jr.

The film made its world premiere at the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival before screening at CinefestOZ and the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.

How did you get started in the industry?

When I was 14 my mum took me touring around Australia for about 4 years with the first stage production of Bran Nue Dae. You could say the arts were well and truly in my veins by then!

You recently wrote and directed Sweet As. What was it like infusing your own personal experiences into a wider fictional narrative?

It was very cathartic and also very nerve-wracking. Revealing something personal about yourself is something you’ve got to take ownership of if you’re going there. ‘Be brave’ was my mantra. I knew these characters came from a lived experience but they were not one specific person but many. So letting go of the feeling that I was exposing my jugular was something I had to work on. Especially with the mum character.

Congratulations on receiving the Inaugural MIFF Black Magic Digital Australia Innovation Award for Sweet As. You filmed in the Pilbara, Western Australia – what was the highlight of filming?

Every day was literally a highlight. Hearing the first call of “Action” was so cool,  but I have to say that having family on set as guest roles or background actors was pretty surreal, in a good way! 

How did your experience directing episodes of the TV Series The Heights compare to Sweet As?

The Heights was fast and furious! I loved it. High octane and a well-oiled fast-moving machine that threw me into the deep end and made me realise I can swim baby! Yayayay!

I had creative control on Sweet As and a lot more time to explore the world around us. It was my baby, from start to finish with a spectacular cast and crew. The joy I experienced every day will stay with me forever.

You have worked on shows such as Mad Bastards, Satellite Boy, Jasper Jones, and Mystery Road. How have these experiences informed your work as a director?

Getting to work on all these different productions over the years, in many different departments has allowed me to have an understanding of what each department needs in order to get the script off the page. As a WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) graduate I also understand the actors’ connection to the character. All these experiences have guided my directing and writing process.

Where do you find inspiration?

Emotionally/Spiritually I find inspiration from my ancestors and family. Creatively I find inspiration in nature, poems and my HODs (Heads of Departments).

What advice would you give upcoming First Nations filmmakers today?

Have more confidence than a mediocre white man.

Where is your favourite place in Western Australia, and why?

The Kimberley, ’cause that is my ancestral lands.

🙂

Take a look at the trailer for Sweet As