Park Ridge’s Elise Lamb has been working professionally in the performing arts since she was 15 years old.
She has spent much of the last 10 years travelling the world and practising in some of the elite pathways for performing arts, including the Australian Ballet and England’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she earned her Masters, but lately she has been diving into the art of filmmaking – and quite successfully.
Fresh off completing her postgraduate studies at the Griffith Film School last year, Ms Lamb is spending time developing a proposal for a television series drama titled Rocking Out.
Rocking Out is about a mother and daughter’s love of music that carries them through a dark period, which sees the mother face a battle with terminal lung cancer.
Remarkably, this was only Ms Lamb’s first time writing for television, yet her proposal was long-listed for a development grant by Screen Queensland and streaming giant Stan. Had she been successful with that, it could have meant her idea went to production.
Even though her idea fell short of the final prize, Ms Lamb was thrilled to make it that far.
“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.
Since first conceiving the idea, Ms Lamb has been developing her proposal further through creative consultations with filmmakers at Screen Queensland.
She says the drama is centred on the relationship between a mother, Jane, and her two daughters, Stevie and Rhiannon.
Set in Logan and regional Queensland, the story follows their footsteps as they embark on a musical tour of Queensland pubs, headed by the mother’s washed-up band. Secretly, Jane knows it will be her last one, having just received a lung cancer diagnosis leaving her with little time to live.
“At first no one knows of Jane’s diagnosis,” Ms Lamb says.
Jane decides against having an aggressive form of treatment, opting instead to live the rest of her days on her terms with her daughters, and to fulfill one last wish for Stevie.
“Jane also hopes to reunite Stevie with her biological father who she hasn’t met and doesn’t know about,” says Ms Lamb.
Along the way, Stevie and Rhiannon confront their own inner struggles: Stevie is deflated after breaking up with her partner and failing in her attempt to launch her own musical career, while Rhiannon is grappling with cerebral palsy and desperately wants to live more independently.
Altogether, the story is one final hurrah – for the band and the bond that is shared between Jane and her daughters. Before time is out, Jane and Stevie must reconcile the best way to prepare for life once Jane is gone, and make some big decisions that will impact Rhiannon’s life forever.
“Who is going to care for Rhiannon? Stevie doesn’t want to put Rhiannon into assisted living and wants to take on the responsibility of full time carer, which would have a drastic effect on her career and social life. However, Rhiannon longs for her independence,” Ms Lamb says.
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.”
Ms Lamb’s overarching aim in all this is to one day get her films into a major film festival and on television with the likes of the ABC or a streaming service like Stan.
“I’d want to go to Sundance [Film Festival] – get it into a really good film festival, which would then allow me to meet agents and do all that networking I need so I can then make another film,” Ms Lamb says.
But that is all long term thinking and, in the meantime, there are years and years of rigorous development ahead.
“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,” says Ms Lamb.
“It took Jojo Rabbit like 12 years to get made, you don’t make a feature overnight, it takes a long time.”