Student short film addresses sexual assault at WA festival

After seeing the 2020 black comedy thriller, Promising Young Woman, film student Chantelle Lucas felt compelled to write and produce a film that explored the theme of sexual assault at a deeper level.
Student short film. Chantelle

Chantelle’s film Meat, which she made with the support of producer and SAE graduate, Tabbetha Marshall, has since been selected to screen at the WA Made Film Festival – Western Australia’s only independently operated film festival featuring exclusively WA made films.

Meat tells the story of Caroline, who experiences a traumatising relationship break up and as part of her healing process goes to a bar to meet new people,” Chantelle explains.

“Caroline starts talking to several men at a bar, and one of the men shows an interest in her. It becomes quite intense, and it escalates quite quickly when they go back to a motel, and she’s forced to do the unimaginable.”

“It gets to a point where Caroline’s going to be sexually assaulted, so her instincts take over and she fights back. As she retaliates, she bites him several times and ends up killing him.”

With one in three Australian women having experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and almost one in five having experienced sexual violence in their lives, Chantelle said it was an important topic to her.

“My friends and I have been in situations where they’ve been with a man and found themselves in a situation where they have not given sexual consent but the man just doesn’t listen.”

Chantelle’s experience watching black comedy thriller, Promising Young Woman, pushed her to write and direct Meat.

“The portrayal of how women are treated by men didn’t sit well with me – it felt like a slap in the face for survivors of rape. I didn’t like the way the protagonist, Cassie, spends her time faking drunkenness in bars, and then allowing predatory men to take her home, before admitting her sobriety. I felt the comedic elements to it made light of the topic,” she said.

“The film should have been cathartic for survivors. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen; it just felt very safe and didn’t want to address the deeper issues at play.”

“I wanted to produce something, as an indie filmmaker, that was therapeutic for women, so that’s when I came up with the script for Meat.”

As part of Chantelle’s studies at SAE Perth she worked with her fellow students and teachers, including Film Department Coordinator, Jesse Laurie to bring her creative vision to life.

“I was really lucky to have such a great network of students to collaborate with at SAE. We did all the shooting of the bar sequence and motel scenes in July and August last year, and wrapped up post-production in December,” Chantelle said.

“Jesse was awesome to work with. He gave me some great advice on how to amnplify the script.”

Jesse said Chantelle’s motivation to make the film really impressed him. “In my role as an educator, I like to ask students their underlying motivations and what they’re trying to achieve with their film,” he said.

“Having seen Promising Young Woman, Chantelle was inspired to make a film that she’d want to see. I think it’s so powerful to have great motivation like that.”

Jesse said SAE teachers encourage their students to create content that had meaning and could affect meaningful change.

“It’s important that students find their voice, because if they can put that into a film, it makes people engage and respond,” he said

“That’s why there’s this notion that a film must have an embedded meaning within it to capture an audience. Chantelle successfully found that meaning and that drove Meat from its conception.”

Film students working with a camera

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