Up-and-coming Sydney director Erin Lenore Good once felt trapped in the white walled world of office jobs. Years later she is receiving awards for her creative work, UOW student reporter Keira Proust reports.
A vibrant yellow dress floats through the crowd of clean-cut, slick-suited penguins. An aura of curiosity and energy radiates around the woman wearing it. It’s Abbie’s first day in the ‘real world’, where boxed-up, white-washed office jobs are the norm.
Abbie is a fictitious character in director Erin Lenore Good’s first short film. Although Erin isn’t wearing a bright yellow dress, it is clear that Abbie is the fictional embodiment of Erin. The film, Abbie, depicts a young woman venturing into a working world that is unfamiliar and unfriendly. Before Erin became the ambitious director she is today, the four-walled business world suffocated her creative soul. Erin reflects on Abbie: “It’s so clear that it’s me and related to my ‘thing’ but you don’t think about it at the time, you just do stuff and make decisions.”
Although Erin now feels motivated to achieve her career goals, it was not always the case. After completing high school in 2003, she lacked direction and struggled to choose a career path. She eventually enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Organisational Learning at the University of Technology in Sydney. Unsure of what the degree involved, Erin treaded cautiously into the world of business and human resources.
Erin never felt connected to the degree but completed it anyway. After graduating she moved overseas for six months, where she questioned her chosen career path. This took place in the bustling cultural pot that is London.
During her time there she lived with a film editor. With wide-eyed enthusiasm she explains that she would bombard her flat mate with questions – “How was the set today? What are you working on?” she would ask. She began to flirt with the idea of being a make-up artist or a photographer, anything that could accommodate her creative spirit.
In hindsight, Erin says there had always been signs she belongs to a creative community. Art surrounded her whilst growing up in suburban Sydney. It was present in her love of drawing, her dad’s fleeting fling with photography and her grandmother’s artistic flair. However, it wasn’t until she returned home from London that she decided she was going to enrol in film school.
Erin believes that while the decision was a mix of her interests, upbringing, and indifference over her business degree, her experience in London was a major influence.
“Just being overseas, like your mind opens up and you feel creative and excited,” she says. “It’s easier to lean into a creative direction.”
Once Erin experienced a taste of directing at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, she knew it was something she had to pursue. During her time there she met her current producer and close friend, Taylor-Litton Strain. Taylor says that although one of Erin’s flaws is her impatience, she loves that “she has got strong opinions, is sure of herself, and has her own distinct style”. In directing, Erin’s “style” is far from normal making everything feel heightened in order to translate her themes and messages into captivating pieces of art.
Always looking to steer away from the mundane, Erin uses location, lighting, and genre to draw on her flair. When shooting in a house for her short film, Alone, she had to create a kitchen scene. She says the location was incredible for her style but when she went into the kitchen her first response was, “ugh, it looks so normal.” So, she wandered through the house until she realised that the laundry would be the perfect place for the kitchen. Rearranging the furniture, she was able to make a kitchen that had an edge to it. Waving her hands around, Erin adds, “I like things to be a little… extra!”
Finding locations to shoot on can be problematic at the best of times, but Erin thinks that the most unexpected locations can be the best. While shooting her previous work, the wildly successful web series, Jade of Death, the locations ranged from the back of her parents’ garage in Marrickville, to a rural house in Lostock.
Jade of Death is a genre series that follows a girl called Jade, who knows when people are going to die. She uses her talents in a carnival as the Fortune Teller of Death. Throughout the series there are flashbacks to Jade’s childhood in the country, but Erin says finding the location was a testing experience.
“I was like, where are we going to bloody shoot this, we don’t have any money?” she says.
Luckily, her producer knew a school camp that was only $50 a night to hire in the rural town of Lostock. They drove out to investigate and when they got out of the car they turned around and by chance were at the foothill of the perfect country-style home. The owners let them use the cottage for free, allowing Erin to keep the high quality she always strives for in her work.
Erin is obsessed with making her productions look ‘expensive’. Although she is now more open to creating longer-form films, she was once “totally snobbish” in regards to long-form, low-grade feature films.
“I used to be like ‘no you shouldn’t make a feature if you don’t have the money for it’,” she says. Now she believes there is value to branching out and experimenting with long-form, even if you don’t have the budget. However, she still choses to create 60-minute web series over feature films.
Her web series Jade of Death has won several awards including in Los Angeles and Melbourne. Although the series is not yet online, it has premiered at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival. Despite its success, Erin was only able to travel to one award ceremony in September last year, for the International Academy of Web Television in LA. There the series received 10 award nominations and won four.
Wanting some quality photos, Erin and her producer, Taylor, made the most of the red carpet event and media wall, stopping to ask people to take photos of them on their phones. Erin says they then went through the photographs and weren’t happy with any of them, so they went back for round two.
“We were like ‘you! you, standing over there… MORE PHOTOS’!” she says chuckling, while slapping the table for emphasis.
In light of her achievements, Taylor says that Erin is going to succeed very quickly as a director. Notably she won the award for Outstanding Directing and their Jade of Death star, Bernie Van Tiel, won Outstanding Actress, at the LA Web Series Festival. Her show also won in three categories at the Rome Web Awards.
Although she recognises that she has more to improve on, at the age of 32, she has already achieved a considerable amount. As she hurries back to her hectic life in her makeshift office in Newtown, there is a glimmer of Abbie once more. Her blue and white sneakers reflect her youthfulness, while her bouncy hair and black leather jacket show the world that she is a powerful woman on a mission. Her new, rentable office looks like the funky cousin of the boxed-up, white walled workplace in Abbie. Sliding back down in front of her computer her fingers continue to spark life into the second season of Jade of Death. Rumbling under the mountains of ideas in her head, her work is an avalanche waiting to shake the film industry.