Grace Tan - Lucky Peach stills
Grace Tan (centre) and behind-the-scenes photos from 'Lucky Peach' (photo credit: Sherry Zheng)
Stories & Ideas

Wed 06 Mar 2024

Grace Tan and 'Lucky Peach' – New Voices in Australian Cinema

Australia Industry Representation Short film
ACMI author icon


Your museum of screen culture

Grace Tan's new short film is inspired by familial history and suburban unease.

Grace Tan is a Writer and Director based in Gadigal land, Sydney, Australia. She is a UNSW Art & Design and AFTRS Masters in Directing graduate, with her work receiving ADG, AWGIE and AACTA nominations. Her work often explores themes of gender, memory, dreams and diaspora identity.

Her short film Lucky Peach is a visually imaginative, deeply personal story about the tensions that develop between an immigrant mother and a young woman as she prepares to head abroad.

Young woman and her mother in front of a bed sheet on a hills hoist - Lucky Peach by Grace Tan

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

ACMI: How did the idea for Lucky Peach come about?

Grace Tan: One of my starting points was Gregory Crewdson’s photographic series Twilight. I was initially drawn to the feeling it evokes of something darker and more expansive lurking in suburban households. Using this as a starting point, I started to unravel some of my family history growing up in the suburbs. While Lucky Peach isn’t autobiographical, the process of writing it allowed me to unearth some memories that I loosely incorporated into the film. Making the film also allowed me to explore aspects of my family history that I hadn’t quite given myself space to reflect on before, in particular the arrival of my parents to Australia alongside the complexities of caring for an unwell parent.

A: Tell us more about your filmmaking journey with Lucky Peach.

GT: Lucky Peach was my graduating film while I was completing my Masters in Directing at AFTRS. It was made during that dark and confusing time of COVID-19 lockdowns, so we were under strict COVID protocols and were still getting used to the feeling of a crew being crammed into a tiny house after being isolated for so many months. It was also the kind of project that seemed to have relentless setbacks, with us at one point going through three editors in the span of a week or two due to unexpected health issues. While it proved to be a blessing in the end, it was a running gag that the film was cursed despite its name. Ultimately, having had people respond to the film and saying it resonated with them, that more painful part of the process feels like a distant memory.

Actor talking to Director Grace Tan - Behind the scenes of Lucky Peach

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

Kitchen scene, face mask - Behind the scenes of Lucky Peach

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

Director Grace Tan looking up - Behind the scenes of Lucky Peach

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

Filming outside - Behind the scenes of Lucky Peach

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

A: Who or what inspires you as a filmmaker?

GT: Last year I had the opportunity to take part in a Director’s Lab through Playlab Films with the artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul in Mexico. Taking part in this lab was not only a dream scenario but it gave me the chance to re-engage with why I’m drawn to filmmaking. Being outside of my comfort zone and embracing the unknown allowed me to return to that very intuitive state of play and experimentation while being present to what was around me at the time. It reminded me to always stay open, to try and channel and capture the special feeling a place and the people naturally provide.

Actor in light pink dress - Lucky Peach by Grace Tan

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

A: What advice would you give to fellow emerging filmmakers?

GT: I’ve appreciated finding my film family and community. I feel like it’s something that helps when filmmaking gets tough. Once you find those people, keep them close, whether that’s your creative collaborators or a group of people to nerd out on films with, or constantly engaging with the work of your film heroes. I think it allows you to stay inspired, supported and excited to keep making the kinds of films you enjoy. I also think it helps to keep exposing yourself to all types of work, to not only hone your taste but also help sharpen your filmmaking brain and allow you to discover an entirely new way of solving a filmmaking problem.

The crew films outside - Lucky Peach by Grace Tan

Photo credit: Sherry Zheng

A: What are you watching or playing right now?

GT: I recently watched the documentary Youth (Spring) by filmmaker Wang Bing. It was filmed over five years and is about rural workers in the textile industry in China. With a runtime of close to four hours, I was in complete awe of his persistence in documenting their lives. The time spent with them allowed him to capture so many intimate moments: from romance and heartbreak to petty fights. On the other side of the coin, I’ve also enjoyed the TV remake of Mr and Mrs Smith. As a fan of Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Maya Erskine’s PEN15, having the two play the lead roles, it felt like a beautiful clash of universes where I could indulge in watching the two creators running around New York City as assassins, falling in and out of love.

Discover more new Australian voices in film

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the latest news, exhibitions, programs, special offers and more.