Sydney drag queen Maxi Shield says she got some acting tips from Courtney Act during filming of her campy John Waters-esque indie flick The Winner Takes It All, premiering at the Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The raunchy over-the-top farce shot in Sydney last year and is screening in Sydney this weekend at the Mardi Gras Film Festival. Tickets are on sale at the QueerScreen website here.
Maxi Shield plays Maxine Fowler, who hears from her socialite BFF Kiki (Jessica Marchi) that her husband is cheating on her. The two women make a deal to uncover the truth.
Hunky actors Manuel Kornisiuk and Jack Stratton-Smith also play gigolo Hunter and porn star Randy in the queer farce.
Maxi Shield recalled watching the new movie for the first time with the cast and director James Demitri earlier this month.
“To see the film all together at our first screening and hear the whole room laughing when they were supposed to was such a relief,” Maxi told JOY 94.9.
“We were hearing, ‘That was hilarious. That was so silly. I laughed so hard I almost wet myself.’ It’s everything that you want from the film.
“The film ticks every box, and wraps up the boxes in silly string. I loved the silliness. You never know what’s around the corner.”
‘What have I gotten myself into?’
Maxi Shield said The Winner Takes It All was shot in “bits and pieces” with the cast around the world at any one time.
“My first day was with Jessica Marchi. She’s a professional actor, and I was like, ‘What have I gotten myself into?'” Maxi recalled.
“At the time Courtney Act was at the Opera House in a play with big monologues. I called and asked her, ‘How are you remembering all these lines?’
“She gave me an app, and a few pointers. It was sisters helping sisters.”
The film is described as a campy, raunchy John Waters-esque farce. But the drag queen will not accept any comparisons with Divine.
“Absolutely not! No, there was only one Divine. [But] when Divine was around, people weren’t batting an eyelid,” Maxi told JOY.
“This drag queen was playing main characters, this mother. Why did that disappear?
“When James approached me with this film, it took the drag back to a realm we haven’t seen since Divine. Silly and crazy, but fabulous at the same time.”
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The Winner Takes It All at the Mardi Gras Film Festival
Director James Demitri explained the project initially also drew heavily on Latin telenovelas. But what started as a more “highbrow, sophisticated comedy” soon became “bonkers, completely bonkers,” he explained.
“It took on a life of its own after two days of filming. We initially tried to make it feel a bit more sophisticated. But it didn’t feel right,” he told JOY.
“We leaned into the more silly, let’s-just-make-people-laugh energy.
“Maxi Shield is just so witty. She came up with some absolute pearlers throughout filming. We ended up keeping them. It was such a joy.”
The Winner Takes It All is screening at the Mardi Gras Film Festival on Saturday (February 18). The 30th Mardi Gras Film Festival is on until March 2, with tickets on sale now at the QueerScreen website.
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