Set and shot in Fremantle, How to Please a Woman took out the top gong at the WA Screen Culture Awards last Sunday night (December 4).
The cheeky dramedy won the award for best film with a budget over one million dollars, and snagged another three awards including best editing (local editor Merlin Eden) best actor (WAAPA graduate Hayley McElhinney) and best writing (Renée Webster, who also directed the film).
“When I wrote How to Please a Woman, I always wanted it to stand alongside bigger commercial films and to be seen by audiences worldwide, but we didn’t have a commercial-sized budget to work with,” Webster told the Herald after her win.
“It has taken a lot of creative innovations from our producers, crew and post teams to find ways to elevate the work on every level, and incredible talent from our cast to make it more than comedy.
“It takes a lot of believers to make a film like this and I’m very grateful for all the talent that was poured into its making.”
A laugh-out-loud, gut-busting comedy of the highest quality, How to Please a Woman stars English comedian Sally Phillips as Gina, a mature woman who decides to start an all-male house cleaning business.
When the local women start to take advantage of the men’s “additional” services, Gina must embrace her own sexuality if she is to make a new life for herself.
How to Please a Woman had its Perth premiere at the 2022 WA Made Film Festival before opening in cinemas around the country in May.
The film is available to stream across multiple services include Stan, which hosts one of Australia’s biggest collections of locally-made movies.
Other big winners on the night include short film Freedom Swimmer, which won two awards, and Martin Wilson’s incredible Perth-shot mental health drama Pieces, which won best film under one million dollars and best production design.
“We are very honoured to receive these awards and grateful to everyone who helped make the film,” Wilson told the Herald from Sydney, ahead of the AACTA Awards where Pieces was nominated for Best Indie Film.
“Pieces is a very personal project and in making this film we hope it helps destigmatise people living with mental illness and highlight the efforts of their careers,” Wilson said.
Pieces is a mockumentary-style feature film that follows an art teacher and her recovery class who are commissioned to make the backdrop for a professional dance performance.
The intense and sometimes shocking drama was commissioned by the not-for-profit WA-based mental health organisation HelpingMinds.
Pieces recently screened at The Backlot Perth with 13 sold-out sessions, and will continue its screening run early in the new year.
This is the second year for the independent WA Screen Culture Awards, which is run by the team behind the world-renowned Revelation Perth International Film Festival.
Head to wascreencultureawards.com.au for a complete list of winners.
by MATTHEW EELES