Narrated by Cate Blanchett, who was drawn to the project by the filmmakers’ intention to tell a new kind of fairy story, Sweet Tooth is a tale about family, adventure and what it means to be brave. It’s about taking your fate into your own hands – no matter the consequences.
This short film is the work of actress-turned-writer/director Shannon Ashlyn, made as part of her Master of Arts Screen: Directing at AFTRS, with actress-turned-producer Katherine Shearer. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel & Gretel, Sweet Tooth is the untold story of the wicked witch and her infamous gingerbread house. It’s a new kind of fairy tale in the tradition of Disney’s Maleficent but with a female protagonist, we’ve never heard from before.
As the film prepares to hit the festival circuit, here’s a first look at this beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy.
“To me, the best part of filmmaking is the genuine, creative collaborations along the way. So many amazing artists poured themselves into this project. I’d like to think that that’s what shines through and that perhaps it’s also what Cate responded to. If nothing else, this was a short with lots of heart where no one was doing anything by half-measures! For the latter, I have the Masters course to thank. Where else do you get the opportunity to connect with so many brilliant peers and have access to world-class equipment, whilst also being guided by industry mentors all the way? It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go out there and be brave.”
Blanchett’s involvement with the film has given wings to these storytellers as they step out onto the international stage with their first film. By endorsing this story, the Australian icon has made a clear statement about supporting emerging female talent and claiming executive roles in filmmaking, the roles which are traditionally and disproportionately filled by men.
How did you convince Cate Blanchett to join the Sweet Tooth team?
Shannon Ashlyn: The answer is very simple: we just asked her – from the heart and with zero expectations. Mad as it sounds, we never imagined anyone else narrating, so when it finally came to it, I plucked up the courage to record a piece to camera explaining why I had written the film and why I believed its message might be something Cate may also deem important. Admittedly, it felt surreal…!
Katherine Shearer: That was the first, crucial step. But after that, it still took a lot of faith and support from the people around us to get our message to Cate. For instance, our casting agent and mentors at AFTRS really put themselves out there for us, even as first-time filmmakers. That was incredibly humbling, and we are so thankful. The fact that Cate actually agreed was – and is – a dream come true.
[See press release for full interview]
Written and directed by Shannon Ashlyn
Produced by Katherine Shearer
Cinematography by Emma Paine
Production design by Emma Bourke
Costume design by Sabina Myers
Edited by Rochelle Oshlack
Music by Allister Haire
Casting by Amanda Mitchell CGA
Full cast and crew credits