In show business, artists are usually able to summarise their work in one or two key words, but not Park Ridge’s Elise Lamb, a performing arts aficionado who is a professional director, producer, playwright, actress, dancer, and production manager.
While Ms Lamb would usually be on the road or overseas chasing gigs, the last few months have provided the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, and further develop film projects she hopes will one day make the big screen.
There is no curbing her enthusiasm when she talks of the performing arts and what it means to her.
“I can’t imagine anything else,” says Ms Lamb, who has spent much of the last 10 years living and working between Australia, England, and Japan.
As a child, she fell in love with performing at the Logan Dance Academy, which was the first step on her path to becoming a dancer for the Australian Ballet.
“It’s crazy when you think I started learning ballet with Miss Linda at Logan Dance Academy,” says Ms Lamb.
“I feel super lucky to be doing what I’m doing, especially in these crazy times.”
An important break came when she was recruited by Universal Studios Japan to be an actress, dancer, and stunt performer.
“Going to Universal when I was 21 and living in Japan for two years working with them was life-changing,” she says.
She also helped create 14 theatre productions across England and Australia and earned a Master of Arts at England’s prestigious Royal Central School of Drama and Arts, but lately her focus has been on film and television.
“I graduated from Griffith Film School in 2019, so basically I’d been living in England for five years and I came back to Australia, and there’s not a lot of theatre here compared to London, so I felt I had to adapt to what was going on here in Queensland, and there was definitely a lot more film going on,” she says.
“And also, I’d written a play in London that I had been wanting to adapt for film anyway, so going to Griffith, it allowed me to learn how to write for screen, which is very different to writing for stage.”
One of Ms Lamb’s first films was Method In Madness, which earned a number of accolades at film festivals.
“That was a semi-finalist in the Los Angeles CineFest, and it was also a semi-finalist in the Shakespeare Shorts festival, which is judged by Kenneth Branagh in London, who is basically our generation’s Laurence Olivier,” she says.
In her first time writing a television pilot last year, she was longlisted by Screen Queensland and streaming giant Stan for a development fund that could have seen her proposal for a television series, Rocking Out, go to production.
“Which was awesome, because it was the first time I’d ever written a pilot, so for it even to get longlisted was a huge feat because I was amongst people who have produced television before,” says Ms Lamb.
Rocking Out is about a mother and daughter’s love of music that carries them through a dark period when the mother is confronting terminal illness. Central to it is also the relationship the mother shares with one of her other daughters who has cerebral palsy.
That kind of thread runs through another of Ms Lamb’s short films, Skin & Blister, which draws upon her experiences growing up as a primary caregiver to her own sister who has a disability.
“It was hard because writing the truth is hard and very confronting,” she says.
“Once you finally have the courage to show it to people, and people show they’re genuinely interested in it, that’s probably been the better part, but the journey for that piece is not over yet, it’s got a long 10-year path ahead of it, really.”
“I’ll always keep working on it, but I need to get a team, and I need to find a production company or streaming platform that’s interested in funding it.”
Skin & Blister was an official selection at the HollyShorts festival in the USA and the Sydney Lift-Off Film Festival in Australia.
This January, Ms Lamb will also return to work on the set of a major Hollywood production on the Gold Coast.
“I managed to get on a major motion picture, it’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on,” she says.
While details of the film remain a secret for contractual reasons, Ms Lamb says the gig is a nice way to welcome in the new year.