Amelia Foxton – the Mother of Invention

Amelia Foxton is the force behind Mother Tongue, a distinctive 36-minute long short, a standalone experience but also a proof of concept for a series. The darkly humorous and frightening film is a powerhouse package of storytelling skill and original ideas, into which Amelia has thrown herself zealously with an enigmatic acting performance, in a role that she also wrote.

Mother Tongue is not only an effective rendition of comedic horror; it also spawns from a source shaped by Amelia’s personal principles and influences. “My writing often starts from a place of advocacy,” she told FilmInk. “I feel that including LGBTQIA+ people and relationships more frequently in entertainment content can promote acceptance, by simply normalising their presence and enhancing their representation. Lead characters Alexandra and Jade are a couple, madly in love, wanting to have a child; but I wrote the script with the intention that two people of any gender or sexual identity could be in the same or a similar situation.”

Mother Tongue takes a darkly humorous perspective on parenting, and emphasis on the value of choice in the matter. In Amelia’s view, a woman should not believe they must have a child to feel complete. “Parenting is definitely not for everyone, we have too many humans on this planet, there are multitudinous ways for women to feel complete in their lives, and the idea that having a womb means you should use it, is both ridiculous and archaic.” As a mother of three herself, she also shares that “parenting can be an unparalleled journey of learning, love and joy. It is also the most challenging thing most parents will ever do. And that’s OK.”

This thematic layering in the screenplay screams effectively through the screen via evocative visual storytelling. Amelia praises cinematographer Tom Gleeson for the successfully terrifying beauty in the aesthetics, and enhancement of NSW’s Central Coast, where Mother Tongue was shot. “He stays involved throughout the planning process and by the time he is on set, he comes with a fully formed vision, perfectly suited not only to capturing each scene but encapsulating the meaning in each moment.”

She also praises Karl Jenner, “another brilliant cinematographer”, here responsible for the stunning visual effects. “Horror films so often rely on VFX to really drive the horror elements home and Mr Jenner handles this with aplomb.”

Amelia’s Jade shares a sizzling chemistry with co-stars Chiara Gizzi as her partner Alex, and Stephen Hunter as against-the-grain goofy black magic practitioner Brian. Amelia’s partner and regular collaborator Glenn Fraser directed and co-produced Mother Tongue.

Social media connectivity between the many film and television professionals on the Central Coast allowed cast and crew to come together for the production. “We all know each other either directly or by association, and we regularly work on each other’s various projects. Between us, we have almost every skillset and piece of equipment necessary to shoot a range of projects, which we regularly do! The crew for Mother Tongue was a passionate group of local filmmakers, who were an absolute delight to work with and brought exceptional talent to the set.”

Influences that have made their way into the short include some of Amelia’s favourite films and shows, inspiring time-structuring, style, and design. She claims the movie Fight Club has an ongoing impact on her. “Its influence seems to find its way into everything I write. I love Fight Club’s unexpected twists and turns, the boldness and the layers upon layers of detail and nuance and shifting perspective that build intelligently throughout the film.

“I added a little Cronenbergian touch in the homunculus, because who can help it when writing a comedic-horror?”

Amelia’s multi-tasking abilities and aspiration to expand Mother Tongue into a series, led us to ask whether she sees herself as a showrunner on the project. “A showrunner? Yes. That is where I’m heading… Ultimately, entertainment is not about the creators at all. Like any art form – it’s about the audience. All forms of art belong to their audience in the end. The artists think it, shape it, develop it; but without the audience, art doesn’t exist. To me, a showrunner is someone who has a comprehensive idea of what is to be delivered to the audience and knows exactly how to hone each process and skill to make sure that comes to fruition. And that’s my jam.”

Mother Tongue screens at the opening night of A Night of Horror Film Festival in Sydney on Thursday September 28 at Dendy Newtown.

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