On the Couch with Alice Bell

Arts Review On the Couch Alice BellWho is Alice Bell?
I am a screenwriter who lives in Sydney with my husband Leon Ford and two daughters, Frankie and Emilie. My debut was a film called Suburban Mayhem and now also I write for television… The Slap, Puberty Blues and most recently The Beautiful Lie. Screenwriting is my dream job.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wish I could be more in the moment sometimes. I think the mid-thirties have got to be the busiest time of your life. I feel like I am constantly running in a panic from family to work to family to friends to work to family – and then on the way – I’m doing all the things I forgot to do and calling all the people I forgot to call, I am a master multi-tasker, my life feels like a race! Maybe I could invent another day of the week. Then I might be able to fit everything in.

Who inspires you and why?
I am always inspired by the tribe of clever, talented and driven female producers around me. They all work tirelessly and passionately, juggling their busy lives, some with kids in tow – Claudia Karvan, Imogen Banks, Leah Churchill-Brown, Amanda Higgs, Jan Chapman, Liz Watts, Nicole O’Donohue… I feel lucky to live my life surrounded by smart, interesting, busy, funny, artistic, generous, well-read women.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would find a way to open up living and working opportunities for all the people in detention, here in Australia. People need purpose. People are at their best when they feel like they belong to something. Those poor people don’t have anywhere to go and we lock them up because of it. It’s not only inhumane but it’s also a complete waste of who they are as individuals and what they have to contribute.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
When I land in Italy it’s like my soul takes a huge breath out. It’s a country that celebrates family, food and wine. Oh and afternoon naps. Those are all my favourite things.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Well, I live in Marrickville which is heaven for foodies! I would probably take them to breakfast at renowned Marrickville café, Cornersmith and then we’d head off to see the harbour somewhere – get out of the inner west and breath in some fresh air. Then we could head back in for a pub dinner at the Henson Park or a pho at one of the Vietnamese restaurants.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates last night. It started out sort of slowly with lovely little observations about life and relationships but then it began to drift into much darker territory… And then it got really, really dark by the end. It was a bit like Anna Karenina in that way. I do love a bit of a hefty tonal shift in a novel… keeps you up late at night!

What are you currently listening to?
I have been listening to Marlon Williams obsessively for a while now. I am someone who can play an album over and over and over, I used to do it as a teenager too. I want to know every note and every lyric. We based a character on Marlon when we were brainstorming The Beautiful Lie after John Edwards heard him sing on ABC radio one morning on the way in to the writer’s room. We even called the character Marlon. Then when it came to casting we believed there was no harm in asking him straight up, after all he was living in Melbourne… He said yes that very day. That was a great day.

Happiness is?
Listening to my daughters make up stories. Listening to them make each other laugh. In saying that, nothing would make Leon and I happier than if they just finished their dinner. Nothing.

What does the future hold for you?
More travel with my little family. Another television series. Hopefully another movie. More of the same please!

Alice Bell is a screenwriter and script producer who lives in Sydney. She wrote the very dark and multiaward winning Suburban Mayhem, which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. It was the first screenplay she’d ever written and earned her an Australian Writers Guild (AWGIE) Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Alice wrote for (series 1 and 2) and script produced (series 2) Puberty Blues, which won the AACTA Award for Best Television Drama in 2013. She was one of the writers of The Slap (the Connie episode) for which she received an AWGIE for Best Mini-Series Adaptation in 2012. Other writing credits include Spirited and Channel Ten’s Rush (series 1-4).

Alice has also directed music videos for Silverchair, Missy Higgins, Toni Collette and the Finish, Jimmy Barnes and Little Birdy, winning an ARIA Award for her Silverchair Straight lines music video in 2007. Alice has two more feature films on the horizon; Gin & Tonic (directed by Cherie Nowlan) and The Circus (directed by Emma Freeman).

Alice’s latest work, The Beautiful Lie can be seen on ABC TV from Sunday 18 October 2015. For more information, visit: www.abc.net.au for details.

Image: Alice Bell