Jessie Ryan-Allen's new film on gender: I'm excited about shedding a light on Australian music in a way that has previously been overlooked.

Jessie Ryan-Allen

Artist and film composer Jessie Ryan-Allen has written a brand new documentary called Breaking The Mould. Premiering at this year's Australian Music Film Week, Breaking The Mould explores the role of gender in Australian music since the 1950s. The film features interviews with The Jezabels, Katie Noonan, The Grates, Jebediah, Abbe May, Stonefield, Grace Knight, Regurgitator, Mia Dyson, and Mental As Anything, and is narrated by ABC's Zoë Norton Lodge, (The Checkout, Story Club and Media Circus). Jessie took some time to talk to Music Love about the new film inspired by Lindy Morrison's legendary documentary, Australian Women in Rock & Pop Music released in 1995, and how she aims to continue that same conversation through the honest experiences and perspectives  of men and women in the Australian music industry. 

Breaking the Mould features interviews with artists like Mia Dyson. 

Breaking the Mould features interviews with artists like Mia Dyson. 

How did this film come about?

In 2014 I did an Honours thesis on the gendered stereotypes of women in Australian music, so in the process of gathering information I was struck by the small amount of information regarding gender in Australian music. Also during that year I found a documentary by Lindy Morrison and Greg Ferguson called Australian Women in Rock and Pop Music, which really inspired me to create Breaking The Mould. 

You're an artist yourself, right? Tell us about your music 

Yes I'm a songwriter, performer and film composer – I wrote the music for Breaking The Mould and a few of my songs from my latest EP are in there too. My solo stuff is alternative pop rock and I also have a side project called Lost Luise which is experimental electronic pop.

What was the biggest thing you learned from making this film?

The interviews gave me a unique window into the thoughts of the artists and bands and more importantly the experiences that informed these perspectives. I found some points our male interviewees spoke about particularly interesting. Everyone we interviewed was very open and honest with us, which made the tone of the film contagiously optimistic and curious.

What are you most excited about people seeing when they watch this film?

This documentary was very much made to create and evoke a conversation about the role of gender in Australian music, so for us it's unbearably exciting to be premiering Breaking The Mould [in] November. I am most excited about shedding a light on Australian music history and contemporary Australian music in a way that has previously been over looked. 

Tell us about the role Lindy Morrison's film had in influencing the making of Breaking The Mould.

As previously mentioned while doing research for my Honours thesis I came across Lindy's documentary and was struck by the candid and generous remarks of the people interviewed who revealed the plight of their experiences in the music industry from a very honest and personal perspective.

What women in music films/documentaries do you love?

I very keen to see the Canadian documentary Play Your Gender which is screening before Breaking The Mould at Australian Music Week Film Festival. 

Some music documentaries that I love include 20 Feet From Stardom, Sound City, The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna, Gimme Shelter and Look What The Light Did Now. For me a great documentary changes and challenges the way you see the world and I hopefully in its own way Breaking The Mould does this. 

Breaking The Mould will be premiered at Australian Music Film Week on 1 November in Sydney. For more information head to Facebook.  And for more information on Australian Music Film Week, head to the website.