Emma Fleming: Casting Change
To be a professional artist requires talent and determination but this is only the minimum requirement. The creation of a career which not only commands the respect of one’s peers but truly creates change in the arts is the product of vision and commitment to said vision. Whether on more main stream films like Australia’s biggest independently financed feature film Brokers, the upcoming Molly the Magnificent, or innovative ones like Cocoa Rigal and Extreme History LLC’s soon to be released animated series “The History of Drag” and Diversity Pictures film, currently in pre-production, A Boxfull of Billy, Emma Fleming has displayed the application of her expert casting skills to nearly every type of production in film and television. Embracing a modern mindset when it comes to storytelling, Fleming has charged forward with projects which announce today’s generation still has a plethora of unique ideas and experiences to communicate. Her casting work on films like Matrimony and War Cry exhibit how artists push a subject matter into the public view and thereby are a catalyst for positive change while entertaining.
Briar Rose, the force behind manifesting Matrimony, had enlisted Fleming as Casting Director to discover actors who could capture the spirit of the characters, alongside the important and sensitive political message, and tone which was being presented in the film. The casting was highly scrutinizing in this regard. Once the initial cast had been procured, the additional casting included a panel discussion about the actors’ relationships and experience with the themes of the film, namely their experience and opinions on marriage versus matrimony and how Australia’s political stance on marriage had affected them personally. This intense scrutiny to the casting resulted in a curt shooting schedule but was well worth the extra effort as proven by the positive response the film has received. Agent Cleave (as Matriarch) has starred in such iconic Australian TV shows as Blue Heelers and the film Hating Alison Ashley opposite Delta Goodrem. Jaxon Augustus (as Young Matriarch) is a queer actor paired with Cleave in some of the most intimate scenes of the film; scenes which audiences have seen for decades within the context of opposite sex relationships. Presenting them here marked a continued step towards normalizing this. Mercy Rose Watson (as Nun) is an internationally known actress and positive body image advocate. Her role in the film furthers the goal of finding genuine body acceptance and love. Matrimony is an obvious comment about the questioning of the rights of individuals to love whomever they choose without fear of ridicule and within the rights which every person should be afforded. After Matrimony’s sold out Australian release the film was subsequently invited to be showcased, as the headlining film, for the Los Angeles Film Festival ‘Playground Grote3k’.
The setting of War Cry in a religious place challenges conservative ideas some might have about the people in this film. War Cry is essentially a declaration, and subsequent battle against inner demons and those people in society who taunt and feed these demons. An expression of vulnerability and rage commissioned for the Umami Collective’s “U Scary installation evening”, War Cry features a cast with a strong acting and performance background from Melbourne Australia’s exceptional community. Chinese Actress Rebecca Jiang, Queer Actor/Performance Artist Jye Tschepeller, Queer White/African-American Australian Actor Andre Tucker are the incredible cast who present the personal battles the characters face because of their queer identities, being people of colour as well as being creatives pursing a creative life against all odds and judgement. Their portrayals make the casting one of the most important aspects of the film and its exceptional final form. Emma confirms, “I think the cast complemented each other so well, which was definitely rewarding to see come to life. Each of them had such a layered individual performance and there was so much subtext to their work; it was truly captivating.”
Emma Fleming is recognized within the industry for her talent and insight as a Casting Director, without categorization of the type of film she works on or the content. It’s with this goal as a result for every person that she has championed so passionately in films which present the underrepresented members of the LGBTQI community. When so many people ask “How can we do something to help”, Emma has taken her professional skill set and applied it directly to bringing about change. In her estimation, there is something that she can help others understand through film. Fleming insightfully comments, “People are so easily offended and scared of things that are new to them or things that they don’t understand and don’t want to understand. That’s no excuse to sweep it under the rug, supress it, or judge it. We need to educate and we need to want to be educated. Simply because an idea is new to you doesn’t mean it is bad. Every film I work on has new and different people involved; getting to know them is one of the best things about this work.”