Interview: Claudia Pickering takes Hollywood by the balls with her US$5k film Frisky

What’s amazing about Claudia Pickering? For one, Claudia taken a huge risk, travelled overseas and directed a film based on her own personal experiences. It could be that the movie has been a huge success in the States and now it’s finally arrived for us Aussie folk in selected cinema runs as well as a digital release. Or is it that Claudia not only wrote and directed, but also acted in the film? I think we’ll all have to agree that it’s all of the above; Claudia is kicking serious arse.

After watching Frisky, I felt like I had come away from watching a home movie of someone I knew so well. Instantly likeable characters who are so gritty and real and down to earth… what Australian can’t respect that? After all, are we not known for spreading our seed of being so outright with the rest of the world? Maybe that sounded creepy? I spoke to Claudia while she was on her way to a shindig in an Uber in Melbourne. Let’s get down to business, welcome to Frisky and welcome to Claudia Pickering.

$5000 USD is one hell of a small budget, did that include feeding all crew?

Yeah it did! Everyone got lunch every day. But we were in San Francisco, so there was Taco’s and they are really cheap and really good. It was like, $100 a day to feed everyone and we went out for it so that was pretty amazing.

The film mentions that it is based on a true story, can you tell me what truth it’s talking about?

Oh my god! The whole way through it? It’s really quite funny talking to someone that has now watched it. Yes, every scene is about something that has happened to me or someone immediately around me. I took all those stories and put them into a timeline and change the characters they were all happening to and it turned into a decent story arc rather than doing them in the order in which they happened chronologically.

So yeah, it was the life of moving overseas and living in Los Angeles and making super best mates with a couple of women, being in the most intense best friend rollercoaster relationships. I just needed to get it out.

Your character of Chloe did not have a great start in the film, not the best of luck that’s for sure, but it all seemed to work out OK for you and the film?

It did end up well actually, the guy who played Mike (Nicklaus Dzienny) in Frisky, I actually ended up engaged to him! But no, it did not start very well at all. When you come out of a 5-Year relationship with someone you don’t really know how to be single, you have no game.

I heard most of the casting was done through Craigslist. Another internet myth or fact?

That’s mostly totally true. The crewing up was done through Craigslist. I found my Director of Photography, First A.D. and so on through Craigslist. The only crew that wasn’t hired through Craigslist was the Art Director, was a mate of mine Katie Nash who also plays Kelly in the film, you know, the one with the fake tits? There not fake by the way, but we made them out to be.

In terms of casting I went through the proper casting networks such as the one over in the states called Casting Networks. If we went through Craigslist for casting it just wouldn’t have worked out. So many actors get burnt by doing student films or short passion project films where they do it for free and get nothing in return or they get the flip after a lot of hard work etc. I wanted to make sure I went through the right channels, I wanted them to know I was for real and I was going to finish this film and for it to feel legit and not sketchy.

I even spent some of the budget on hiring out a theatre space so that they felt it was a legit production. Almost anyone that didn’t get cast as a lead or a supporting role was offered extras work. So, it was great, it was nice to have this team that could sit and get to know each other and have wine and cheese while doing a read through.

In one situation, we had hired a bunch of people for a film that we had to shoot a scene out in the Nevada desert at like 4am in the morning, the main actor ended up just turning around at the last minute and quit, just said ‘nope not doing it’. So, there we were with the rest of the cast sitting in the car and rewriting the entire script so that this main guy didn’t show up for the rest of the film. The film ended up being a proof of concept and turned into the film Winning Formula which is about to be released and that I wrote and produced. It’s been through film festivals, it’s a slow sludge through distribution but we finally have a distributor.

Why did it take so long to come to Australian shores as a theatrical and home release?

Well, Frisky was a faster moving film than Winning Formula, I was putting all my effort into it before Winning Formula because it was my baby, I directed it and I was doing all the festival stuff for it for a year without even knowing how the whole distribution thing even worked. So, it wasn’t until 2016 that I finally started searching for distribution and trying to figure out what the hell that world was about. Once we found someone it didn’t take much longer before it was released in the U.S. and now Australia!

I was going to ask what does a Claudia Pickering do with her time off, but then I stumbled upon the online comedy skit group Frothpocalypse (check them out on Facebook!)

Yes, that is what I’ve been doing! We actually made a Frothpocalypse pilot and it was shortlisted for the Emerging Filmmakers Fund, we didn’t win the money. At that time I was writing two other feature films as well.

Just every day stuff really then?

*Laughs* Yeah just trying to keep my head above the water.

To get an idea of your likes and dislikes is there any current favourite films that have blown you away, that you have loved or hated?

This might suck to hear, but I LOVED Baby Driver, I have heard the ending sucked, whatever, I was literally on the edge of my seat in that first five minutes. I loved it! I have just had people ragging on it online and I was like “Shut Up!” It was so much fun. I saw Killing Ground as well because one of my mates was involved and it was Badass, horror is not usually my genre though, it freaks me out! Also saw Dunkirk, a beautiful looking film, especially when I saw it in 70mm.

There is just too much content I go nuts over, I watch a lot of TV, or streaming services. There is so much good Netflix, I just go bonkers for it.

What’s coming up next for you?

Well, Frisky is being turned into a TV show. The production company Jungle has picked it up and we are developing it and shopping it around, that might not be the right words, it’s being pitched around to a couple of places.

We all look forward to seeing more of our very own Sydney woman Claudia taking Hollywood by storm and seeing the Frisky TV series soon. Until then Frisky hits digital release this week and I highly recommend picking it up, it is a blast!

Frisky has wowed audiences in the U.S. and is now available in Australia, with select screenings and a digital release through iTunes, Google, Fetch, Sony PlayStation, BigPond & Xbox and DVD/Blu Ray.