Los Angeles based writer and director Felicity Pickering has made the jump from theater to film, and is going full speed ahead with two new projects. We had a chance to catch up with the Australian native to talk about everything from inspiration to advice for other female creators.
Tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on.
I currently have two projects I am focusing on. Firstly, Birb Memes. Birb Memes is a web series that I am in pre-production for, it’s intended to be a proof of concept for a half-hour comedy series. Birb Memes focuses on a 30 year old aspiring actress who is shocked when her pet cockatiel, Sweet Cheeks, becomes more famous than she could ever hoped.
Secondly, I am working on an independent feature film Shame On You. Shame On You focuses on June, a recovering alcoholic and feminist podcaster, who follows her boyfriend to Los Angeles to support his film career. As she struggles to find her place in Tinseltown, her boyfriend’s misogynist brother arrives complicating her life even more.
You’ve written a lot of plays in the past, how has the film experience been different?
It was a real learning curve when I transitioned from writing for theater to film. While they are both “dramatic writing” there are so many differences to learn, in formatting and technique. When I first transitioned to film I always had to remind myself to communicate visually and pull back the amount of dialogue.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I often find that inspiration comes from my life. Birb Memes is inspired by my real life pet, Serge Gainsbird. In 2018, our pet cockatiel Serge came into our lives. We created an Instagram page for Serge (@SergeGainsbird) mostly so we could post lots of pictures of him without annoying our friends.
This Instagram led us to discover the niche community of bird people, pet influencers and a community obsessed with “birb memes.” Birb Memes is my examination of that world and the psychology that motivates pet influencers. I was particularly interested in what made pet influencers focus all their attention and efforts on making something outside themselves famous, much like stage moms.
Similarly, Shame On You was inspired by a real event. The film was inspired by a hike to the Hollywood sign with my husband and brother in law. We ended up in a dispute on the subject of feminism. This fight, and the awkwardness around it, was the inspiration behind Shame On You.
What are your goals for your current projects? And what are your plans for the future?
The web series pilot for Birb Memes will be released in 2021. It’s currently in pre-production. As for Shame On You, I’m still at the beginning stages of pitching the project. So, fingers crossed.
What advice do you have for women looking to create their own content?
Take yourself seriously as a writer/director, and then others will take you seriously. Don’t wait for anyone to champion you. Champion yourself.
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