Adele Vuko… The Storyteller
Born and bred Bondi local Adele Vuko is a talented actress, writer, director and producer with an impressive portfolio of work already under her belt. Adele is one third of comedy trio Skit Box, who’ve achieved well over 100 million hits online for their piss-funny clips including the parody music videos Activewear and I Got That Flow. We caught up with Adele at The Three Steps Cafe on Bondi Road during the month…
How are you this morning Adele? Good, thank you. It was my day to wake up early with the kids, so I’ve been up since about five. They both have fevers, which is not ideal, so they’ve been up and down all night. Just a shit fever kid morning.
Is that standard? No, they’re usually up around 6.30am or even 7am now, which is really good.
How old are your kids? I’m 33, I’ll be 34 next week. Is that what you asked?
I would never ask your age… I thought you said, “How old are you and how old are the kids?”
How old are they? Felix is four and a half, and Elki is about to turn three, so they’re 21 months apart. They’re so extremely similar now, they’re like twins.
Where are you living these days? We live in Bondi. Born and bred in Bondi.
You’re ‘old-school’ Bondi? I’ve only ever lived in two other suburbs. When I was a kid I lived in Vaucluse, and then lived in Bondi all my life in our family home. Then I moved out but still in Bondi. Then, when we fell pregnant with Felix, we moved to Randwick, and then we came back to Bondi.
You didn’t like Randwick? We loved Randwick, we loved it so much, but the apartment was too small and we were pregnant with Elki. My mum cares for our kids and it was just too hard for us to drive through the bottleneck. Even from Randwick it could be 40 minutes sometimes just to get to Bondi, so when we got the chance we moved back.
Your old man is a former Bondi Boardriders president? Yeah, he used to run Boardriders.
What’s his name? Ray Vuko. He’s an old salty sea dog of Bondi. He’s been surfing here his whole life. Literally almost every local knows him.
You haven’t done Boardriders? I have not done Boardriders. Unfortunately I am scared to death of waves, I’ve always had a fear. I can pinpoint exactly when it was. It was when my dad, he…
…forced you to surf? Yeah, he took me surfing, that’s a very nice way to put it. He used to shape boards as a hobby, and for Christmas he shaped a board for me and my brother. I would have been about ten and my brother would have been about six. They were gorgeous boards and I felt obliged. I knew in my heart this wasn’t going to work, but I felt obliged to give it one spin and I got absolutely dumped under the water for probably two and a half seconds, but it felt like I was going to die.
It always feels like an eternity… That was it. I just went, “You know what? I’ve got better things to do with my life. I don’t need this.” My brother loved it though. He’s a Bondi local now. He’s a Boardrider. He’s in Bali at the moment surfing.
What does your brother do? He’s a rapper. His name’s Daniel, Daniel Vuko. He’s a budding musician, goes under the name Dutch the Rapper. You should interview him next.
I will… Do the whole family! He’s also a roofer, so if you have any roofing needs, then please contact Man on the Roof. He just cruises around in his ute. Or if you are a giant record label, like Sony or whatever, and you’re reading The Beast and you need to sign someone, sign my brother, Dutch the Rapper.
What did your parents do for work? Were they creative? Dad was creative as a hobby, he never pursued it as a career though. He had an auto electrician business, mechanics businesses, all our lives. He still works. He’s full blue collar, a hardworking kind of guy. Mum is very artistic, but didn’t pursue it either. I think they’re Generation X, they had it forced down their throats from the boomer generation post-war, “Get an effing job.” Mum and Dad, to their happiness and dismay, their two only children are doing the most profitless vocations imaginable, acting and music.
But the most fun as well… Well, it’s our passion and that’s what we love to do. But they did still instil in us this ethic of hard work and that nothing comes for free or on a platter, and we had to fund our own way. I had a full-time job and still wanted to do acting and directing and all that kind of stuff. My brother has a full-time job as well. So, we kind of got that instilled in us in a way where we had both worlds, where it was like, “Get a job, pay the bills,” but also, “If you want to pursue what you want to do, it’s there for you. We support you, we love it, but you’re not going to get anything handed to you.”
You’re totally self-funded? Have you had any grants or anything like that, or you just literally nutted it out on your own? The process is long but at the moment all my invoices – everything I make money from – comes from being hired by other production companies, depending on what I’m doing. There are also grants through Screen Australia. Screen Australia has basically paid my f*cking rent for the past decade.
Would you be stuffed without Screen Australia? Yes, and not just me, everyone, even the ABC. Any Australian TV show or film has had a significant chunk of cash from Screen Australia. They are the thing that’s keeping this whole industry going. It’s wonderful, it’s incredible, it’s rare. America look at us and they’re gobsmacked. They can’t believe it because they all run on private investors, and investors need to make money back and all that stuff. Screen Australia, their grants do not need to be paid back.
Is that funding under threat? I know nothing about the politics of this sort of stuff… Yeah, it can be, absolutely. Especially with certain governments, you know? Obviously Labor are more arts focused. I think the Liberals cut funding to Screen Australia. I know they cut funding to the ABC, a significant amount, which is all public knowledge. It’s constantly under threat and could always get worse. Who knows, really? It’s a government thing. It’s not up to us.
Why is local content so important? What percentage of what we watch is Australian? Should they have quotas? Oh, gosh. I think that local, niche, authentic content from real people is so important in storytelling, especially now. Also, it’s in higher demand than it ever has been. Ten or twenty years ago we had a handful of networks that were the gatekeepers of content creation. Now we’ve got all the Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) all around the world streaming constantly – digital platforms like Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, they’re all SVoDs, a service where people get unlimited access to a range of programs for a periodical flat rate. The whole broad relatable sitcom thing is not in as high demand as it used to be. People want very specific content. There’s a whole section on SBS On Demand at the moment called Nordic Noir. That’s a subculture of storytelling, like Scandinavian, dark, mystery thriller shit that people just want.
Nordic Noir? Yeah, right? But you can just tell that these kind of local stories are in high demand. It’s also important to have all these different voices. Coming from my perspective as a female creator, five to seven years ago people were like, “What? That’s kooky, you’re crazy,” you know? Now people are desperately wanting female-driven content. Fleabag is a wonderful example. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, she’s done two seasons of this show and has absolutely smashed everyone’s idea of what storytelling is – what comedy is – and she’s just this unashamedly messed up chick, in a hilarious way. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it’s amazing.
I’d heard of you through your Activewear clip, which my brother and I absolutely loved, and also the connection with Christiaan from the Bondi Hipsters, which we loved as well. Did anyone blow up about the Activewear video? Did you get any complaints? We had a couple of people comment that this was a little bit mean towards women and mums. We made a conscious decision to pay ourselves out. That was the thing, it wasn’t against women and mums – I am a mum, I show off my baby in my activewear. That is a literal thing I do.
“Showing off my baby in my activewear…” Such a good line… I do, totally. It’s so relatable because I do it, I’ve seen other people do it, and it’s funny. It’s a cute moment and people have a right to feel what they feel, and if you’re feeling a bit offended by that, then so be it. But there was never any mean or malicious intent. You just know once you’ve hit something that everyone’s been thinking about, the amount of people tagging their friends, “I do that, you do that,” you know?
I’m fascinated by what offends people. Some of the phone calls we get are just bonkers… Really? Wow, phone calls take effort. That’s old-school, isn’t it?
Some of the emails we get are just frigging hilarious, about the weirdest shit… Well, we did a clip about getting your period called I Got That Flow. It’s a Skit Box clip. I Got That Flow caused a big argument, a big stir. There were a lot of offended people, mainly men, who just thought it was completely inappropriate to talk about getting your period in a café. That was the whole argument. But the debate that it caused was actually incredibly hilarious. “If I took a shit in my pants and started talking about that at the breakfast table, is that appropriate?” People were actually saying that.
I think it was about our fourth or fifth edition of the magazine, the grommets had found two dildos and one of them was buzzing around on the promenade, this big f*cking double ended purple thing… Oh my God!
It was a busy summer’s day and people were walking past and having to wheel their prams around this vibrating dilly, it looked like it was following people… That would have gone viral, you know?
There was this other one, and I stood it up on its end and took a photo of it with the beach in the background and I used that as the photo on our contents page. We started delivering the magazines just before Christmas and I had to turn my phone off because of the amount of complaints, just from a picture of a plastic dick, and it was all blokes complaining… Oh my gosh. Blokes?
Not a single chick rang, it was all guys complaining about this big rubber old mate… That’s… yeah… I mean, we could unpack that for a while, hey?
Ever since then, we’ve just been fascinated about what offends people. I’ll ask them, “Why are you offended by that?” and they try and explain it but it just sounds ridiculous… Yeah, yeah, it unravels.
Anyway, I’ll stop talking about myself… No, it’s alright, that’s a really funny story. I’m going to do that.
So, you’re an actress, writer, director and producer; how are you able to do all of those things? What’s the endgame of your work? That’s a good question. Producing I no longer do because that’s the hardest job in the world and I’m so bad at it, but we used to self-produce all of our Skit Box stuff. That was a few years ago. I came from a production background so I knew how to do it basically, but now I leave that to the professionals.
Is producing just organising money and marketing stuff? The producer facilitates it all. They find the money, get the crew together, then hand over most of the job of putting together the crew and the budgets and the shoots to the production manager. The producer is the brains and the facilitator and the budget holder behind the creative. And then it can branch out. There can be really creative producers and all sorts of things. That’s why nowadays it would be impossible. I would not be able to do that and the other things. It’s just way too much to think about. I love telling stories, and it’s kind of the reason why I like writing, directing and acting. It’s the three angles by which you can tell a story in really different and creative ways. The endgame for me is to be able to continue doing that but on the biggest scale possible. Give me a Marvel film, I’ll write and direct that for sure. At the moment I’m obsessed with Taika Waititi’s career.
He’s your favourite director? Yeah, I’ve got a couple. He started with indie films, short films, comedy in New Zealand, making authentic, wonderful stuff. He now gets to direct big budget films as well. He’s writing and directing his own stuff. The worry sometimes is if you’re spreading yourself too thin, but I don’t know, I’m just kind of doing what I feel is natural, what I instinctively kind of want to do, which is create and tell stories.
Did you want to be an actor and basically started writing your own stuff so you’d get roles? Totally, 100 per cent. I was 21 when I went, “I’m going to be an actor,” and waited by the phone for just way too long. It was just hard. It was back when diversity was a cool thing. There was a very significant moment… diversity obviously is very important in terms of cultural diversity on screens. There was a lot of underrepresentation. But when I was 21, everyone was still kind of hiring the girl next door look, the typically Australian looking girl.
What’s your background? Half Uruguayan, half Serbian.
That’s a rare combo… It’s weird, yeah. I don’t even know what I am, you know? Who am I?
How did your parents meet each other? Surprise, surprise, on Bondi Beach. They both grew up in Australia. They were just young teenagers hanging out on Bondi Beach.
So they were both Aussies too? Yeah, yeah. My dad’s mum is a refugee from World War II, from Serbia. She lost everything, came here. My mum’s parents migrated from Uruguay just for a better life, so I guess Mum and Dad are second generation.
I was picturing some Serbian guy bumping into a Uruguayan chick on the beach, but they actually were two little Aussies… Just a couple of Aussie teenagers being teenagers, yeah, that’s funny. I don’t know what happened.
When you started Skit Box, I read somewhere that you were at an awards night and you noticed that it was all blokes, and you were like, “F*ck this,” and got together with two of your mates and just started making short films… Yeah, 100 per cent, that’s exactly it.
How did you start? Sarah, Greta and I, we only knew each other as colleagues. We’d worked together on different things.
Had you been to NIDA then? Yeah, I’d studied, it was like a two-year on-camera course at NIDA, camera acting, which was really cool.
Straight out of school? No, a couple years out. It was like a part-time thing. I had to work, had to do that part-time. But by then that was 2011. All of us were trying to get jobs but we weren’t having any luck. It was kind of like there were no women on YouTube at the time. We were like, “This is crazy, can we be the only three women with a YouTube channel doing sketch comedy since, what?” We hadn’t seen an all female sketch comedy group since Big Girls Blouse and Kath & Kim, so we thought, “Let’s just do it.” We knew the only way to get stuff made was to set a date, so we were like, “Okay, in a month we’re shooting.” A week after that awards night we were writing sketches. I had the background of production, so we were pulling together mates, friends, DOPs that wanted to kind of cut their teeth on some funny content, soundies, all that kind of stuff. We were getting different directors that we knew as well, like Christiaan was directing, we had Al Morrow and Craig Melville directing, all these kind of working comedy directors to help us. At the time we weren’t interested in directing. We were a bit scared to direct, I think. A month later we’d spent $500 to $1,000 of our own money doing a two or three-day shoot, and we made about ten sketches that we released online. We just wanted to shoot really economically, really quickly. A lot of the sketches occurred in the same place.
Are a lot of these ideas actually things that you see yourself doing and then you write yourself off? Absolutely. Most of the stuff is what we either see in ourselves or observations of people around us. In the sketch about girls one-upping each other, no doubt we’re all guilty of it, but I think Sarah had witnessed it in a café in Los Angeles or something. She was like, “It was just the most wonderful spectacle.” They didn’t realise they were doing it. We thought it was something that everyone kind of does but they don’t realise, everyday experiences that women have – some light, some dark – that kind of aren’t spoken about. That’s where we try to angle it.
You’ve got a film in Flickerfest, which is coming back to Bondi in January, called The Hitchhiker but I wasn’t able to find it online; can you tell us a bit about that? It’s still under festival embargo at the moment but I can’t wait to share it. The Hitchhiker is a short film, starring Liv Hewson and Brooke Satchwell, about three girls on a boozy road trip. One of them has a bit of a secret, and she picks up a hitchhiker and everything kind of starts to go awry. That’s a bit of a vague description because you must watch it in order to enjoy. The short film came through a funding program through Screen Australia called Hot Shots Plus. It’s kind of like a career pusher for people who are dabbling in a certain part of their career but want to kind of get propelled forward. This is my first foray as a writer and director alone.
You didn’t cast yourself in it at all? No, I wanted to focus on directing. This is actually for a larger film idea, so the short film is almost like what’s called a proof of concept, or a small taste of what the larger film would be, which I’m writing at the moment and Jungle Entertainment are producing it.
Have you got backing to do the feature length version? It’s an incremental process, but at the moment we’re writing it. Screen Australia is extremely involved and supportive, so it’s really exciting. I’ve never written a feature length film by myself. It’s a mind-numbing jigsaw puzzle.
Are a lot of the short films in Flickerfest the same kind of set-up? Like short films written by someone who wants to make something bigger? I don’t know the stats, but I would say yes. For me, personally, a short film is a great vehicle for you to tell a story, but also for you to show how you would tell a story on a bigger scale. It’s almost like a CV. I know a lot of people make short films with that kind of next step approach. I’ve seen some where you could tell quite clearly that this is a proof of concept, and other ones that are just so amazing that you kind of just want it to be a bigger film anyway.
Have you had films in Flickerfest before? Yeah, Skit Box had a short film in one of their side programs many years ago. Then last year I didn’t even realise I was in a film. It was really funny, me and Christiaan just went on a date night to Flickerfest, and I was like, “Oh shit, that’s me!”
Which one was that? It was called Under the Hammer, and it was by a director named Dan Reisinger and starred Nick Boshier, and I didn’t know it was in Flickerfest. I was like, “Oh, cool.” We love Flickerfest. I’ve gone to as many as possible. Christiaan’s obviously had a lot to do with it and he judged on it once, but it’s just such a wonderful event. I hope it stays in Bondi forever. It is one of the best, most inclusive, beautiful film festivals, so I’m so excited and chuffed that The Hitchhiker is involved.
What can we expect at Flickerfest this year? A really cool short film called The Hitchhiker!
I watched a bit of Over and Out, which you won an AACTA for? We were nominated for Best Online Drama or Comedy. A web series called Robbie Hood ended up winning, but we were so excited just to be nominated. There’s plenty of competition here.
You won the Cannes International Series Festival, short form series in 2019 for Over and Out, which is massive… Yes, we won that one. Massive.
That was written by both you and Christiaan and starred your whole family, including your kids; is that your career highlight so far? Absolutely. Definitely. On many, many levels. That and The Hitchhiker, I guess, but it was incredible to be able to work with Christiaan. We’ve had a huge hand in each other’s work. It’s imbued – Hipsters, throwing lines if he’s writing it, or I help produce or acting in it, same thing with Skit Box. He’s all over it. With Activewear, he cut it and shot it and helped write it. It was so nice for us to be able to write something and create something together that we can call our own. Having our kids in it was an accidental decision I didn’t want to make, but then budgetary constraints resulted in us actually needing to have our own children, because they’re much cheaper, wink, wink.
You got the snot shot though… Poor baby, she was so sick. But it was such a great shot. She had been sneezing all day, and it just happened to come on camera. But we looked after them and they had so much fun. They’d only really shoot for about an hour at most in a whole day. Having them involved, and also Christiaan’s brother, Connor, who was directing, made it a really nice family affair. That can be wonderful at times, but also quite high pressure.
What did you do at NIDA? I was there a long time ago, and I didn’t do the full-time course, the proper one that goes for three years. I was doing one on the weekends, it was like a two-year on-camera course. Nicholas Bishop, an old-school Home and Away actor, ran it. I had a slightly different experience than the more traditional NIDA experience, but I definitely recommend it, absolutely. You can do the three-year course if that’s available to you and if you get in, but in terms of whether you need to work, there are so many courses that kind of get the job done. I think the three-year course is a gateway. It’s not a guarantee, but you’re going to get exposed to the best agents when you graduate. And most do sign with a good agent. It’s great on your resume and you come out being a shit-hot actor. With the part-time courses, you’re just learning the skills that you need to learn in order to make a good start. That’s what I felt like I got out of that, the nuance of performing in front of a camera and just workshopping scripts and all that kind of stuff. It was really cool.
How long did it take you to get to the stage where you were making enough dough not to be stressed? Yeah, that’s an ongoing saga. At the moment it’s a relatively decent living. We can pay the rent, we can pay for our children to eat and all that jazz, go on holidays…
Afford to live in the Eastern Suburbs… Yeah, which we know is bonkers, but we’re here for now. I started acting at 21. From the age of 21 to 29 I had another job. I was a production coordinator on other acts. At 29 I stopped being a coordinator and I could just be funded on the thing that I really wanted to do, so that took… what’s the complex maths there? Eight years. It’s a long stint.
If money wasn’t an issue at all, what sort of film would you make? That’s such a good question. I’d make The Hitchhiker.
Is that your best work? Because it’s my only one, it’s my only thing that I’ve done myself, but my goal as a filmmaker is to create female-led, genre-specific Australian films. I love the supernatural, I love mystical, I love space, I love anything sci-fi. I love anything where humanity is kind of augmented. You’re still studying the humanness of someone that’s superhuman, right? I grew up watching Xena Warrior Princess, Sailor Moon, you know? I loved anything with vampires in it, and I just want to keep seeing more women in those roles, and I want to challenge our ideas of female strength and female heroism and all that kind of stuff. If I had all the money in the world I’d love to be able just to see anything that is basically just a badass female character – flawed, messed up, f*cked up – put in a situation on the other side of space or something. That would be cool. I loved Interview with the Vampire, Let the Right One In, really dark, sinister vampire stuff.
There seems to be a lot of money in advertising work; do you go near that, or is that frowned upon if you’re a purist? Nah, money, I go where the money is. I sell out, if that is even a thing anymore.
Do you do any of that stuff? Branded content has really helped us, especially Skit Box. Now Christiaan and I are doing quite a few branded content pieces with our family as well, with our kids. They’re a wonderful way to tell a different story and meet a brief, but it also pays the bills. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about branded content and ads. Love them.
How did you and Christiaan get together? I’ve known Christiaan’s brother, Connor, for many years. When Christiaan got out of hospital, which I vaguely knew about, they were shooting stuff together already. They were shooting stuff for their Fully Sick and the Side Effect Project web series. Connor just rang and he’s like, “Do you want to play a role in one of our sketches with my brother?” I’m like, “Yeah, cool, that will be fun.” It was a sketch where Connor dresses up as Xena Warrior Princess and I play Gabrielle, the sidekick. Christiaan wasn’t in it, he was filming, but we had a little bit of a, “Oh, hello,” moment.
He’s a good sort… Oh, yeah. Yeah. He’s a bit of alright. After that we just kind of hit it off.
Do you bicker when you’re making films together? Yes. There is obviously the constant hum of jealousy that any actor, writer or director has whenever anything good happens to anyone else that isn’t you. Apart from that, which is unavoidable, we’re always so happy for each other’s successes. And because we’re married, his success is mine and mine is his, so that’s nice too.
You get half of each other’s shit… Exactly. It’s all mine. But then writing stuff together is almost like relationship therapy. Doing Over and Out, we had to really learn how to talk to each other about our work and our scripts. That’s ongoing, but as long as it’s respectful, it’s always getting better and better. But writing and raising children with your husband, and shooting, it’s a lot.
Do you think we need quotas for Netflix and all mediums to guarantee a certain amount of local content? Yep, I do. I think that would be amazing. I hope that we get there. I don’t really know how we would though.
Do we have quotas now? I think there are maybe some, I know obviously the ABC has. I think our Australian networks do have a quota, but the international ones, I don’t think that they do.
Are businesses like Netflix investing in local content at all? A little bit, yeah. Netflix have done two commissions of Australian content recently, Tidelands and the Chris Lilley one, Lunatics. That was exciting. Hopefully they’ll do more. Amazon is coming here as well. They’ve opened up an Australian leg here. They’ve already commissioned some really great stuff, so it is happening, which is exciting.
Is American influence too strong in film and TV? I hear little Aussie kids speaking with American accents and it infuriates me… Yeah, it is a huge influence. It’s defined our culture in the Western World, and that’s why it’s so important that more Australian stories are being told. But, mind you, Americans, they’re opening up their doors in a really exciting way with Australia. Gone are the days where every studio and network in America is like, “Does it have an American in it? Does it have an American accent? Why do I care?” Now they’re like, “No, give me some Australian shit.” They’re actually really more involved. Again, because there’s just so many streaming platforms that they’re happy to have non-Americans on their screens. People get it now, that there’s non-American accents in the world.
Do you aspire to get over there and make it in Hollywood? I would love to be able to raise my children here and work here but on a global scale. The Hollywood thing isn’t that important, the glitz and the glam and all that.
You don’t care about being famous and cool? I just want to buy a house and guarantee my kids a good education and go on holidays to Europe and maybe have a really expensive car. That’s all.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on stage or in front of the camera? Oh, shit. The most embarrassing was when I was just starting in acting, I was just 21, I went to some event where there were agents and people watching you do a performance, and then agents will sign you. I went up, and it was some thing about Ben Affleck and Jenniner Lopez, because they were a thing at the time, and I just started my first sentence and then I lost all memory of what I was meant to say and I froze in front of hundreds of people and the judges. I’m like, “Everyone knows that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez…” and that’s it. I just stood on stage, long silence, and they’re like, “Just say anything.”
The longer it goes on, the harder it is, how do you get out of that? Well, I didn’t. I honestly just… I think I mumbled a few words and then I just left.
Do you get a second crack at it? No, no, I left and I cried. That was the worst experience of my life. It was a nightmare. But nowadays that doesn’t happen to me anymore. That was stage fright, and I can move and manage stage fright now, so it becomes more of a weapon and a tool. Even though it’s kind of hard to deal with, I love the nerves. I love the adrenaline. I need it. It’s what will help me be good on stage. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, make sure I know the lines, move around, maybe try and meditate just to calm and centre myself, and then, right before you go on stage, it’s just magical, no drug can replace it, especially when you get on stage and you get the first laugh. Once the first laugh happens it doesn’t matter, and you’re present and you’re there, and that’s it until it’s done. There’s no feeling like it. It’s probably like surfing. It’s a pretty amazing buzz. It’s the reason to do it.
Are you passionate about any particular issues? I would call myself a feminist. I’m very passionate about implementing female stories on screens. A lot of what I do as well is I partake in different writer’s rooms, so they’re kind of incubators, brainstorming rooms to create a TV show or a script. Sorry, a film. So, before you even start writing out a script, we’ll look at writer’s rooms. I try a lot, I try very hard to make sure that the female characters and female voices are strong and that they have depth. I guess, in a way, that’s my politics, which is just making sure that we’re telling authentic female stories that aren’t through a kind of stereotypical gaze.
When you say you’re a feminist, how do you define that? Feminism is the belief in equal rights and equity between both genders or both sexes, it’s equality for men and women.
Equality of outcomes or equality of opportunity? Both. Equality is just equal opportunity, equity is actually having the equal starting point. This is why meritocracy doesn’t work in my mind, which is merit-based success. Say if you and I both go for the banking job, right? And it should only be based on how our resume looks, right? But we know that that’s not the case. We know that, statistically, you are more likely, as a man, to get that job because there are all sorts of factors – preconceived factors – that the person higher up, whether it’s a male or a female, may not even know that they’re making, but they tend to go for a male person, especially in banking. Right? That’s just an example. So, if there was true equity amongst genders, races, social and economic levels, then there wouldn’t be any kind of preconceived notions of who would be better just based on what you look like. It would just be everyone starting on the same level playing field. I am a feminist. I know that there are different levels of feminism. I’m not the best feminist. My work is as good as it can be, and I’m constantly learning. But I know that not everyone… my work isn’t, and the Skit Box work and everything, Over and Out, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you can poke holes at the feminism there, but I’m always trying.
Do you think there should be quotas for female politicians? Yes, absolutely.
Rather than just take the best person for the job? That is what has been happening for the past 200 years in Australia, getting the best person for the job, right? And look where we are. I understand the argument that the logic is we can’t just hire a woman just because she’s a woman. I can get that sense of logic, but we need to do something, and if it takes a bit of a step like that, then I think it’s worth it.
With equality of outcomes, how do you equalise across all, say, genders, races, ages…? It’s so hard. There’s no quick answer unless, you know…
Sorry these are annoying questions… No, it’s great. We can look forward to a potential climate apocalypse and then we can all start from scratch again as little amoebas and then we can evolve, and hopefully the system doesn’t become a patriarchy again. It will take years. It will take decades. It’s a very long process, and all we have to do is just keep trying to learn, understand, be open in conversation, be open in debate, you know?
You’re not a Jordan Peterson fan? No, but I find him interesting. He’s very interesting. Again, he’s got some compelling arguments. I don’t like his fans though. They seem pretty f*cked up.
A lot of his fans are kooks, that’s an important clarification, but he’s a data-driven scientist and he makes you think… He does. Do I like his interview tactics, his aggression? No. I think that sometimes that’s what makes him seem the better arguer, because he can be quite aggressive.
You reckon he’s aggressive? I think so, from my female gaze. He could just be nicer about it. I’ve seen a couple of ones where he gets a bit fired up.
What advice would you give to aspiring youngsters trying to get a start as a writer, director, actor or producer? Set a deadline. Set a date, and then work hard towards it. Don’t let your failures deter you. They’re going to happen and they’re going to happen early. They’re going to keep happening, and that’s what helps you learn. And never stop learning. If someone more experienced than you is giving you advice, just take it before you don’t take it. Give it a go, and then if you don’t like it, move on. That’s all. That’s based on my experience too.
I’ve got a question about role models, but you’ve kind of already spoken about that… Yeah, I should put a female one in there, obsessing over Taika. My mum, that’s cute. In terms of a filmmaker, I absolutely love, Jennifer Kent. She did The Babadook.
My mate’s kid was in that… Really? Was he the boy? Wow. He’s a good actor. That’s incredible. There’s a scene in that where I just went, “That is messed up,” where he sees the Babadook in the car and he’s screaming. It’s eerie. It’s the scariest film ever, that and The Ring. That film f*cks me. I love her career trajectory, her journey, her unapologetic content. She’s an incredible filmmaker. I can’t wait to see what else she’s going to do. And she was a Flickerfest entrant too, The Babadook started at Flickerfest, it was a short film. She’d been working on that feature for years before it got up, yeah.
What are your favourite childhood memories? Going to family dinners with my parents, old-school restaurants that are still here, Papa Giovanni’s, Gelbison…
Your dad would have been down the beach a lot? Yeah, he was down the beach heaps. But, you know, being a teenage girl and back when you had nothing to do in the holidays and you’d be there from 10am to 4pm every day during summer holidays. I was so dark! Those were the days.
Do you know Steve Hirst and Darren Arbib, the guys that made a film about 15 years ago called Benny Unseen Hero? Was that at Tropfest? Is that when he used to do all sorts of crazy stuff, and no one ever witnessed all the awesome shit he did? That was amazing. That’s a great short film.
What shits you about the area? Backpackers. No, sorry, not backpackers, illegal f*cking backpacker places. I’m certain there is one on our street. They leave all their shit and their junk everywhere, glass, bottles, crap – not great for kids – on our street. People who hoon down the road in their little Porsches and their little f*cking Lexus’ and whatever, just the rich boomers, down family suburban streets, you don’t need to go 80. People are walking with their prams, all sorts of shit. I hate it. Beeping, goddamn it. Too much beeping. Anyway…
The area has become so affluent, especially over the last ten years or so; growing up here in a grassroots family, how do you feel about the way the area’s changed? Look, there’s pros and cons. I love that there’s the Bondi bubble and you don’t really need to leave sometimes. You’ve got everything here, which I kind of like, being a mum and lazy. But with so many people and more apartments being built, obviously the traffic is a nightmare. Getting in and out of Bondi is only going to get harder. So, things like that bother me, but I don’t mind change. I don’t mind that it’s becoming a better and better suburb. It’s pretty expensive though. At this stage in our lives we’d have Buckley’s chance of buying. We’d have to hit it massive, or we’d need a crash. But, comparing the Bondi I grew up in with Bondi now, I like the change and the evolution that’s occurred.
In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Adele Vuko? The future holds me becoming an extremely successful writer and director, and successful not in terms of fame or glory, but being able to create the stories I want to create on a global scale. Working and raising my children here, but also, again, being able to work globally. And just making fun stuff and being able to keep paying the rent or the mortgage ●