Join Johanna Ryle-Howe, founder and creative director of Caves Collect as she talks to close friends, collaborators and inspirational people on their lives and stories.
On. is an ongoing dialogue that delves into the musings and storytelling of the inspiring people we call our community. 
 In our first edition of On. Jo speaks to her old friend Lucy Moir on her journey as a writer and how her diverse background in classical music, philosophy and clowning has influenced her path to screen writing.
Read our first in the series of 'On.' as we explore Lucy's approach to personal style, her thoughts on self-worth and discover what attracted her to the world of film.



JRH: You have one of the hardest jobs, in my opinion, can you tell us a bit about how you got into the arts?

LM: My parents are both actors and filmmakers and so were always trying to dissuade me from getting into this profession. I was a violinist for many years (I started playing when I was 3), then I got frustrated with carrying a violin around (terrible) and switched to jazz singing, which I absolutely loved. Then I went to uni to study philosophy, because I’d always loved that, and history and politics. 

But I think I’d always had this need to try the acting thing - I’d been attending St Martins Youth Theatre while I was at school, and I think because I found live performance so terrifying, it felt like the most important. It certainly made me feel the most alive.

So I auditioned for drama school and got in. I didn't love it to begin with. But in second year (first year felt like therapy) you do a lot of physical training - fencing, dance, feldenkrise, butoh - I was a really shy person, and not at all in my body, so this training really changed my life. That's when I really fell in love with acting. 

 JRH: And you studied clowning…can you tell us about that?

LM: Haha! Yes. Clown as a form of theatre, or ‘play’. I studied Le Jeu, which means to play, with a wonderful (terrifying) teacher called Philippe Gaulier, just outside of Paris. It was great because it forced you to treat performance as a trade, rather than this ego-driven thing that is all about you. You essentially had to learn how to make a fool of yourself. It was really liberating. The idea is that we all have this childlike, playful clown version of ourselves, and how can we access that in order to be truly spontaneous and alive in performance. 

Philippe is such a provocateur - people would get so upset at him and leave the class. I think there were petitions to get him fired! But he’s pushing you for a reason. When you’re angry you do your best work, because you’re fed up with trying to please people or do the right thing. It forces you to break free of yourself. 

 JRH: How did you find out about clown school?

LM: From an old boyfriend of mine (now dear friend). He was going over to Paris with another dear friend of ours, and last minute I just decided to tag along. I really miss the bold, impulsive person I was in my 20’s. I need to bring some of that back. 

JRH: You've always spoken about your parents , can you talk about how they influenced you?

LM: Growing up, they were both in the arts. Dad started as a puppeteer, then he became an editor at Four Corners (back when you used scissors to cut the film), then he worked as an actor. He made a lot of films in the 70’s and 80’s. Mum was a bio-chemist but then became an actor in her late 20’s. It was a much smaller scene back then, but I really think the films were so much more interesting. They have this free spirit or something. I remember we moved to Wilcannia for a few months when I was maybe 3 years old while they made this amazing film called Deadly. Mum was in it. They made this great doco about the wilderness in WA, there are all these great shots of me as a baby with these dolphins…it was a pretty great childhood. 

JRH: What was you impression of being an actor as a kid

LM: It was very exciting. But I also didn't know anything different. Mum was on a long running cop procedural and I used to love going to set with her. But my favourite part was the early mornings, getting to set - this community of people coming together to make something. 

They were both very animated storytellers when they used to read to us from books - that was a real perk. 

But I don't really think I saw it as this objective thing. I just absorbed the importance of it all, and developed a lifelong reverence. 

My parents used to watch films once my sister and I had gone to bed, and I would sneak up and watch the reflection of the film in the oven! I watched a lot of classics in the oven…Kubrik. My parents would have this whiteboard on which they would plot out the structure of the films they were watchin. Everything was story. 

JRH: Storytelling is a big part of how you see the world, and now you’re a writer as well, can you tell us a bit about why you write and perform?

LM: Growing up, books and films offered me an enormous amount of hope. They were an absolute refuge for me and got me through some really difficult times. Either by holding up a mirror or posing an alternative or even just offering an escape. I’m drawn to many other disciples but storytelling, whether writing or performing, never felt like something I chose, it's just the lens through which I see the world. And because this industry gave me so much hope as a young person, and still does, it's always been something I wanted to give back to. 

JRH: Can you talk about how clothing influences you?

LM: The way someone dresses themselves says so much about their character, how they want to present to the world, to what extent they care about how they’re perceived. 

Clothing - I mean I know this from drama school but I think everyone knows this - it can make you feel so different, depending on what you’re wearing. A well-cut blazer or shirt will make you feel instantly different to how you would feel in an oversized sweater. It's totally transformative. It can really change your mood. 

JRH: Can you talk a bit about your work over the last few years?

LM: I just worked on a film in editorial for the first time, assisting Garth Davis on the feature film FOE. It was so exciting to see that process. Sitting through the sound design of a film, then the colour grade, then adding the score - it was such a magical, invaluable experience. All these departments and artistry that I previously had no access to, I was suddenly exposed to practitioners at the top of their game. It gave me such an appreciation of the filmmaking process. It really made me excited to do more behind the camera. 

JRH: What's next/what’re you working on now?

LM: I just got some funding from Vicscreen or a TV idea I've had for a while, so I’m writing the pilot for that. And working on a feature film that's very close to my heart. 

JRH: Can you talk a bit about the concept of backing yourself?

LM: This is something I struggle with, and a lesson I keep having to go back to. It’s definitely something I’ve realised that I need to work on daily, it does not come naturally to me. I find it quite uncomfortable!

JRH: Any tips for people who struggle?

LM: For me feeling grounded in my body - doing yoga, or some kind of breathwork - is vital. Making sure I've eaten enough! Having things in perspective…whatever you can do to work on your relationship to yourself….do that! That really is the most important thing. 

JRH: What's your go-to event outfit? How do you decide what you're going to wear? 

LM: I like more elegant, low-key looks. Less is definitely more. I do love a blazer and a shirt. I love oversized shirts (my favourite: The Lucy Shirt!) and mens jumpers. A good pair of worn jeans. Love a mini-skirt. But for an event…it really depends on what it's for. Feeling comfortable and like myself is the most important. I found these amazing second hand Armani pumps covered in black sequins at a vintage store in SA…I’m still waiting for the right event for those!