Brodie Lancaster is the creator and editor of, Filmme Fatales, a zine on women and cinema. She’s also a fellow staff writer for Rookie magazine, contributes to various print and online publications, and is ½ of Fee£ings DJs. I first met Brodie while in Melbourne this year for Rookie Day/Melbourne Writer’s Festival; Brodie and artist Minna Gilligan organised a ‘Welcome to Australia!’ party for our boss lady, Tavi Gevinson. At the party I discovered Brodie’s Filmme Fatales (nestled between a plate of lamingtons and Iced VoVo biscuits) and it’s fast become one of my favourite zines. I’m excitedly awaiting my pre-order of issue #3 as I write this.
Tell us a little about your journey as a writer so far.
BRODIE LANCASTER: I only started calling myself a writer after about 18 months working as the editor of the site Portable TV. I started an internship there during my last year studying Media Communications at RMIT University, and after two weeks interning, they offered me a job as the editor. By the time my friend shook me by the shoulders and told me I needed to call myself a writer, I’d penned over 500 articles for the site. I was living in New York at the time (Portable has an office there, and I spent almost a year working in the city) and had this warped image of 22 year-old writers moving to the city to be Carrie Bradshaw, and didn’t want to be associated with that vibe, man.
As well as articles for websites and magazines, I’ve written a couple of screenplays and webseries, as well as commercial stuff (press releases, newsletters, social media content, website copy, etc.) to pay da billz.
How did you first discover zines? How did it make you feel?
BL: I was late to the zine party – I only became aware of them (and stopped pronouncing them the way they’re spelled) when I was about 18. I WISH I’d known about zine culture while I was growing up in Queensland – I’m sure it would have made me feel a lot more creative and connected when I was a teenager. My best friend Anton discovered riot grrrl and all its associated DIY bits and pieces when he was a teenager, and he passed on a lot of it to me when we met at uni. He introduced me to Sticky and we went to zine fairs together and he was really encouraging in my early attempts at making zines that no-one else ever saw.
Filmme Fatales is a zine on women and cinema; what inspired you to create it?
I wanted to write about women in film because feminism and cinema are two of my great passions, and I saw a void in both feminist writing and film writing that intersected the two. Instead of waiting for someone else to fill that blank, I decided to just do it myself!
What are some important lessons you’ve learnt from making/editing FF?
BL: I’ve learned/taught myself heaps of practical skills, including using InDesign, dealing with printers and how paper stocks affect postage costs. I’ve also had to learn to be tough; I think a lot of women find it difficult to be direct when they’re in charge for fear of seeming like a bitch, so they coddle and apologise to over-compensate. I’ve had to get better at saying no or giving really clear, direct feedback because, in the end, Filmme Fatales has my name on the front and if something in it does not meet my standards, I’m the only one I can blame.
FF is a print zine; why did you decided to go with a print format as opposed to online? Can zines and the Internet be friends?
BL: There are a few reasons I wanted Filmme Fatales to be in print. I’d just finished working for an online magazine and was working in social media marketing when I launched it, and I ached to move my work offline and create something more tangible. I wanted to do something new to challenge myself. I wanted to finally print a zine and have other people read it. I wanted to create something with a timelessness it can be hard to get online; I didn’t want all the work I put in to be lost in someone’s RSS or Facebook feed. Having said all that, I definitely think zines and the internet can be BFFs! You look at stuff like Rookie and see how interesting models of internet publishing can translate really seamlessly into print. Pocketto do something similar, by archiving their online content in an annual, fabric-bound journal that is a treasure to hold and keep. If I had more time/resources/hands on deck, I’d look to publishing more Filmme Fatales content online, but for now a solely print magazine, that I publicize online, works great for me.
You recently talked on a panel at NYWF about FF; how’d that go? Do you ever get nervous public speaking? (If yes, how do you deal with the nerves?)
BL: I LOVE talking about myself, but public speaking makes me really shaky and nervous. That seems so weird, I know! I manage to be a nervous public speaker, a huge braggart and an introvert all at once. I spoke on a few panels during NYFW: the Launch Launchpad, where I did a reading from Filmme Fatales issue #3; a panel on feminism in pop culture called Cherchez la Femme; a panel on Niche Journals and I chaired/hosted a panel on Linkbaiting. The Launch Launchpad event was the toughest, as it was on the first night I arrived in Newcastle, and I was feeling pretty socially anxious about being there by myself. A friend gave me her half-drunk beer before I got up to speak, and my hands shook and voice quavered the whole time, but the crowd loved the reading and people gave me such lovely feedback afterwards. That made me feel a little better. The next night, before Cherchez la Femme, another speaker told me her secret was to take a Beta Blocker before events to calm her nerves, so I might give that a go next time! Before our first DJ set a couple of months ago, my friend/fellow-DJ Sinead and I had crippling nerves. We couldn’t eat or drink before we played. Our friend Nicko, to boost us up, told us that the adrenalin you feel when you’re nervous is the same chemicals in your body as those you get when you’re excited, so you just need to think of that nervous energy as being excited energy. It helps to manage my nerves.
What is it about film that appeals to you?
BL: I love that films combine all elements of storytelling – dialogue, music, performance, pretty clothes – into one, super accessible medium. I’ve always been crazy about movies, ever since I was a kid and would rewind the same movies over and over again. I went through uni thinking I wanted to be a director, but I much prefer writing and reading about film than making it!
Which films are you currently obsessing over? What do you love about them?
BL: Right now I’ve been thinking a lot about Batman Returns, which I only just saw for the first time! There’s an awesome piece by Penny Modra in issue #3 about Selina Kyle’s killer transformation into Catwoman. She’s so dynamite in that movie. Considering it’s Hallowe’en weekend and I’m about to go and spend 24 hours watching scary movies with my friend, I am revisiting old favourites like Halloween and Scream, both of which give us very different horror movie heroines! Sidney is so tough and resilient; she refuses to give in, but she’s also vulnerable and scarred. I love her so much.
You’re ½ of Fee£ings DJs; what was your first gig as a DJ like?
BL: Like I said before, Sinead and I were super nervous beforehand! The gig was at Hip Hop Hotties, which is an all-girls DJ night our friends run. They asked us to be a part of it, even though we’d never DJ’ed before. It’s a super inclusive, low-pressure night. We chose our favourite mid-2000s r’n’b and hip hop songs to play, and Sinead’s boyfriend’s housemate taught us all we needed to know on his decks. So many of our friends came to support us – the place was packed before we’d even started – which made us even more nervous! It was great, though, I love DJing!
You’ve recently started writing for Rookie. I loved your Girl-on-Girl Crime piece where you talk about your journey to being the feminist that you are today. I wanted to ask you, why it is important to you to publicly identify as a feminist?
BL: Thank you! It’s important to me to identify as a feminist because that forms such a massive part of who I am and what I believe in. I honestly can’t imagine thinking or being anything different at this point. It informs so much of how I see the world and how I respond to other people. It’s so lovely to be a part of Rookie where I can discuss and write about stuff like that and not be worried about the reaction. That was my first big, solo post on Rookie and I was super nervous about it (mostly because I wrote about what a jerk I was like as a kid), but seeing the responses on social media and the comments made me feel so encouraged.
I recently read an interview with you from Overland about FF and in the feature the writer commented: “When I talked to the editor, however, she hastened to say – perhaps worried that the term feminist might turn me off? – that the magazine was mostly just ‘about women’.” Do you worry that the term feminist might turn people off? Why do you think the term might deter some folks?
BL: I had no idea that guy was a writer or that he’d write about that on Overland when I met him at the launch, but I think I’d still describe Filmme Fatales as being about women, rather than being about feminism, if I had known. I’m a feminist, a lot of my writers are feminists and my feminism dictates how I approach the content in the zine. But it’s not literary or scholarly and it’s certainly not a feminist text. I do think the term feminism might turn some people off, but I don’t really care! If someone’s turned off by the idea of a feminist publication – or one about women – I don’t want them reading it anyway.
FF #3 is about to come out; what will we find inside? (I can’t wait to get my copy btw!)
BL: Oh boy, issue #3 is so good. I can’t even be humble about it – I love it so much! I feel like all the things I learned making the first 2 issues came together to make this one the best. You’ll find graphs by Ariel Katz and my editing hero Ann Friedman; a recap of the First Wives Club; mock resumes for characters from Sofia Coppola films; illustrations of underwear, dildos and Drew Barrymore; depressing Pretty Woman fan fiction; an interview with genius comedy hero babe June Diane Raphael and a stunning, sad, beautiful story by my friend Anton De Ionno (which is what I read at the Launch event during NYWF. There are heaps of amazing original illustrations and cover photographs from Jill Peters’ Sworn Virgins of Albania series. And so much more!
Other than music, film and writing, what are some other things you love?
BL: I love scrapbooking and journaling, I love One Direction and listening to Nick Grimshaw’s radio show online, I love cooking and eating, I love my new studio I work from in Collingwood and all the creative people who also work there, I love sparkling mineral water and taking myself out for breakfast, I love hanging out in my bed with my housemate’s adorable cats, painting my nails and watching reality TV shows on my laptop.
What else is happening in your world right now?
BL: I’ve just finished my first week of part-time work after three and a half years of working full-time. It feels so liberating and freeing and, even though I’m only needed in the studio 3 days a week, I was there every day working on Rookie stuff and hanging out, because I don’t know how to relax and not work! Sinead and I are preparing for Fee£ings’ next gig at GROUSE this coming Friday. I’m coming down from a month of extreme One Direction obsession now that they’ve offered me salvation and left the fucking country.
And lastly, I wanted to ask you about your love of Kanye West. I’m a huge fan too but I never get to fangirl about him/his work with anyone else! What’s some of your favourite Kanye moments?
BL: I love Kanye. SO. MUCH. I think it’s so easy for people to be like “HE’S CRAZY!” but that’s just a lazy, easy response to someone as transgressive and important as him saying, “I am a genius and an artist.” I can never settle on one favourite Kanye song, but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is my favourite album. Monster, Power and Runaway are my faves from that album, and Hey Mama, All of the Lights and Stronger are some of my other faves. Yeezus is one of the most important albums of all time, full stop. His recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel was so great because he just didn’t give that smug son of a bitch an easy way out – his confidence forced Kimmel to grovel and backpedal and I LOVED watching that. Then for Kanye to say it’s backwards and old-fashioned for Kim to not have a star on the Walk of Fame was awesome. I love how much he loves her. I love how they have a kid and Kanye sees North as the amalgamation of the two things he loves most: Kim and himself. I love that he yearned for Kim for years, watched her go from one relationship to another, supported her as a friend and Photoshopped himself into her Christmas cards before writing lyrics like “my girl a superstar all from a home movie”. I love that he does not deny or ignore or apologise for Kim’s sexuality/sex tape, that he doesn’t shame or judge her for the decision to do that. I love that they respect one another and have agreed on boundaries – like how Kim said that she signed up to live in front of TV cameras, but that does not mean that Kanye and North will. I love that Kanye said Kim is the first woman who does not need his money or power because she has enough of that herself, and she’s able to just love him without those things being a factor. Most of all I love that, at the end of his Zane Lowe interview when Zane basically asked him why he’d want to design clothes when he could build hotels or pyramids (as if fashion was not good enough), and Kanye straight up said, “You can’t tell me what dreams to have.”
That’s my new life motto. What I want is always going to be good enough for me, because no-one else gets to tell me what dreams are good enough.
*Image credits: 1) art by me; photo courtesy of BL’s fb. All other pics courtesy of BL’s fb, FF site & @BrodieLancaster.