Next in our profile series with the wonderful Women in Film & TV UK, and celebrating our proud sponsorship of their monthly networking event, we sat down with Actor, Writer, and Founder of Freida Films Amelia O’Loughlin.
Tell us what you’re up to at the moment.
Hey Franklin Rae PR!! Top o’ the morning! Well, like the rest of the world right now I am in isolation. I was due to be in New York City with an audition for a TV show. That was before it happened. Despite wearing pyjamas for six weeks, things have been super busy here in London with the launch of Freida Films! It wasn’t quite the boozy celebration till 5am I had in mind, more like a GnT for one on Zoom but it was a launch nonetheless.
Freida Films is home to a female-driven production company and global creative network. We’ve had a ton of new scripts come through; there are some really exciting, fresh voices out there, and at a time like this it seems the want for connection and expression has never been stronger. People have a lot to say. And as audience members too, the desire for interaction and hope through storytelling is inviting at this time. I think we will always use film to feel closer to people. As legendary AD, Michael Stevenson (Lawrence of Arabia) once said to me: The people will always want music and they will always want film.
So Freida Films is working away on a couple of documentaries; two narrative short films, and a feature film – I’m writing the latter. Eek. On the network side of things, we’re growing rapido rapido! We have Freida freelancers and partners in London, LA, Melbourne, Toronto, Tel Aviv, NYC, Mumbai, Barcelona, Mexico City, the list goes on!
What’s been your best career moment so far?
Ah, I couldn’t possibly pick a moment. Going to America in 2018/19 has to be up there. As always, it’s the people that shape an experience. I trained in NYC, and my God, the daily dose of motivation and inspiration from coaches, industry folk and fellow actors was fierce. Find your crew and you’ll find the work. Ron Howard told me that. In America I had the invaluable experience of meeting and working with people who live for film.
NYC streets have a palpable energy about them, they emanate hunger, and they’re known for it. But a NYC acting studio?! You ain’t seen nothing until you’re six hours into an intensive actor-training class – dripping with sweat and crying over a sense memory from your younger years – amongst 30 others who are all as determined to be seen as you are. As the Boss says: you can’t start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart. I learned that there is no time for playing small. There is no time for playing someone else either; learn from others, watch to see what works, but own the artist you are – the good, the bad and the ugly. And everyone’s got “the ugly” so no shame. Yeah, I suppose that realisation was my best moment.
Last film you saw in the cinema?
Before the virus.
What did you think of the story?
It spoke of an under-represented perspective which is such an important endeavour in film! Especially if you’re hitting mainstream platforms and the masses. Like his other films, Okja especially, Bong Joon-ho captures a dynamic that’s both subtle, poignant, and harrowing, whilst reaching for vulgarity and bold, unapologetic brutality – it’s an emotionally and physically violent experience. There’s something of a gothic writer in him. He does not shy away from human beings at their worst. In fact, that’s exactly the bitter lemon that he squeezes on.
In both Parasite and Okja, he plays with the meaning and perception of animalism; holding up animalistic qualities in his seemingly- civilised characters for all his audience to see. He has us checking ourselves to see if we share a shed of their inhumanity in our own reflection.
It is the children and animals in his films that embody purity and freedom from judgement. Adults have made things all too complicated with our feelings of inferiority that cause us to buy superiority. He laughs in the face of humans’ perceived elevation from the uncivilised world, whether that be an animal or a second-class citizen. Like a slap in the face he questions what’s the difference in our society?
Wealth, health, beauty, online presence and fame are all currencies that we exchange with in the modern world. In Parasite we see how the absence or over-indulgence of modern-day “gold” can destroy us. People are secretly or subconsciously sticking a value on the head of everyone they encounter, themselves too, social media and a culture of “reviewed experiences” make it difficult to tame judgmental thought patterns that are so well-embedded in our time. These power structures have Joon-ho characters chasing things that ultimately lead to their demise. Oh and I love the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” attitude of the sister in Parasite. But Bong does not hold back on the bittersweet- ness of it all; fake it to yourself and you’re in big trouble. Social-mobility is a marathon not a race – one small slip and your shiny new-world can come slipping down; Joon-ho speaks both beautifully and brutally of the fight to the finish line.
If you could work with anyone who would it be?
What a question!! Well, Bong would be up there. But honestly it would be a tie between Paul Thomas Anderson and Ava DuVerney.
When did you realise you wanted to work in film?
It was probably the first time I watched the film Hook. Boy, I watched that film on repeat. Robin Williams was my hero; he made himself available to such vulnerability (Good Will Hunting) and outrageous, ridiculous comedy (Mrs. Doubtfire, etc.)
I didn’t take the acting game seriously for a long time though! There were other things I needed to do and learn. I’d always revelled in disappearing into stories or music or dance; disappearing into characters grew with time. Theatre was my first love, but the first time I stepped on set it was an instant feeling of: F**k I need to do this.
Summarise Freida Films in three words.
What is your favourite genre of film to write, act and to watch?
Drama, drama, drama*
*but there’s nothing like a hangover-day spent watching Ace Ventura and 13 Going On 30
What are your top 3 films?
The Colour Purple
One thing you’d tell your 16 year old self….
(Oh, and don’t sunbathe in oil. You’re Irish. And hold your grandparents awhile.)
Tell me something I may not know from reading your resume.
I have the most beautiful friends/ family in the world. Being with them, by the sea, in the sun, with good music, food cooked by yours truly, a camera in one hand and a cold glass of something strong in the other – that’s bliss.
Amelia O’Loughlin is a writer, actor and the founder of Freida Films and SPEAK PRODUCTIONS. She’s travelled the world working in the film industry; notably in New York City, Barcelona, Los Angeles and London – where she now resides. Amelia created the ongoing docu-memoir series Episodes Of, she’s recently finished writing her debut feature The Gates, the pilot Starvin’ which she co-wrote with Elina Saleh is currently in post production, and she is now working closely with Freida Films to develop various new treatments.
Amelia loves to find new voices. There’s hella magic in the pipeline. As a child dancer, Amelia’s been on stage her whole life and has continually relished exploring performance in myriad forms; turning her hand to immersive performance, comedy improv, spoken-word, etc. In recent years her focus has been pulled to film & TV; she’s played the lead in numerous short films (both sides of the Atlantic), last year she worked opposite Ewen Bremner in Nick Moran and Danny Boyle’s latest feature Creation Stories and her TV debut was playing Ruth Goodman in Call the Midwife. This year she’ll be playing the lead in Double Vision/ Amir Reichart’s new American/ German series RIFT.