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Such Sweet Sorrow - blog post image

Such Sweet Sorrow


A retelling of Hansel & Gretel, entitled Sweet Tooth and partially shot in a colonially transformed Woodford Academy drew HAZE down to discover more.

The premise of the film is intriguing, a feminist twist on classic format by focusing on the strange origins of the wicked witch.

Stumbling onto a sombre grey scene of morose singing townsfolk, poor children and an open butchery, Director Shannon Ashlyn directs the young actors with ease whilst they’re focused on their parts. Asked why she decided on a Blue Mountains location, Shannon explains that the highly evocative scenery of the mountains bush brings up flashbacks of a growing up in Switzerland.“My bedroom window over looked a ‘fairy tale’ pine forest and all the different tales that I read during my childhood amalgamated together whenever I would lookout my window.” In filming this ‘dark fairytale’, to quote cinematographer Emma Paine,“lighting, movement and camera can create our own world for a visually opulent fantasy film”.


For her job of making 1780 Europe in 2018 Australia, production designer Emma Bourke states, “We are very lucky to have such a beautiful location at Woodford with naturally aged sandstone walls and features which really work in our favour. No matter what, we’re just trying to do what is best for the story.

©AFTRS 2018

The whole Sweet Tooth film crew, including cast and students from the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS), are also very impressed with the level of support they’ve seen from the local community, who’ve offered animals for the filming, an artist to turn up to assist with the art department and sourcing for extras. In a fitting detail for this witchy film, Katoomba’s Gingerbread House has offered sponsorship. Shannon is ecstatic. Along with a crowd-funding campaign and funding from AFTRS, getting a first sponsorship from a local business is icing on the cake. States producer Katherine Shearer, “A period film is an expensive exercise. All our funds have gone into production qualities to make it as authentic as we can.”

In portraying our protagonist, actress Liz Wheeler stars as a visually impaired character but is visually impaired herself. In reading the plot, “I got shivers as the sub-text really spoke of my journey of becoming disabled”, Liz says. “Acting is something very new to me. After learning to live life vision impaired, I found the confidence to try new things.”

Now in the midst of post-production but with an aim to complete Sweet Tooth around November this year, an exclusive interview on Radio Blue Mountains’ Media Circus program helped grow some hype, with a possible chance of a screening in the mountains. To sum up with the words of Director Shannon Ashlyn, “This film is not about a perfect storybook world, it’s about people from diverse backgrounds and abilities; getting rid of what’s perceived as normal in favour of what is real.”

Stay tuned for the release of Sweet Tooth and discover more at

Writer and Director Shannon Ashlyn (left) 

with Producer Katherine Shearer (right)

© AFTRS 2018

Shannon directs on set (below)





Written by Matthew Currey

 Edited by Corin Shearston

 Photos by David Collins

© AFTRS 2018






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