Interview – Jordon Prince-Wright: The Decadent and Depraved

Rhys Pascoe

A five-year production from pen to paper to premiere, The Decadent and Depraved has been making waves with audiences across the state since its big unveiling last December. The first idea came about while director Jordon Prince-Wright was still at high school. Twelve months later, Prince-Wright pitched the idea to co-director Axel August, with whom he had recently completed a short film.

The rest, as they say, is history, and now the directorial duo are knee-deep in a winding regional tour that intends to showcase the film to as wide and as varied an audience as possible. Not just a hit here at home, The Decadent and Depraved has been garnering acclaim overseas as well, recently receiving five accolades from the Los Angeles Film Awards.

Taking a break from the regional tour, Prince-Wright – a self-described underdog from Morley Camerahouse – took some time to chat with Hooked On Film about the production of WA’s biggest independent film to date.

“We were filming while I was 19 and 20, and a lot of people were telling me it wasn’t possible,” Prince-Wright said. “I didn’t really know what was involved, but I did know what was involved, if you know what I mean. It was a real learning process on set.

“I initially envisaged The Decadent and Depraved as a showreel piece – that’s what I set out to make. It turned out to be one hell of a showreel piece and sort of snowballed from there. What started as a quirky Western turned into a full-blown feature film.

“It was halfway through shooting, while I was sat on the verandah of this big manor house in Yalgoo with the 200 cast and crew, that it actually hit me. It was a real ‘holy crap’ moment – what have I gotten myself into.”

The Decadent and Depraved Teaser Trailer from Prince-Wright Productions on Vimeo.

 

Hooked On Film: The traditional Western isn’t something we see much of nowadays, nothing like the volume of the classic studio era – what prompted you to dive into this genre?

Jordon Prince-Wright: I grew up watching classic westerns as a kid. The old black and white films of John Wayne were my childhood, as opposed to superheroes and cartoons. I grew into more spaghetti westerns and high content rating western films, as I grew older. So the western genre has always been a genre I’ve been fond of and adored. In saying this, I watch many other genres, but anything that is not set in today’s era and is a period piece is definitely my forte.

I mean I’ve been getting offers to direct and produce other films since high school, all of which are period pieces, so the reputation for what I am good at is out and the next film coming up is going to be even closer to my heart, not only because it’s a WWI film, but also because it’s based on a true story of Western Australians from regional WA who went to the Somme and the Western Front.

HOF: The Decadent and Depraved takes a distinctive genre – the Western – and supplants it into a local setting. Was it a challenge to take the rich American iconography – Stetsons, spurs, and bandoliers – and give them a distinctly Western Australian spin?

JPW: I had the upper hand with all the amazing locations up north. Once we were there and looking at the amazing wide shots with the red dirt it was distinctly Australian. When WA people see that on screen, they know right away that it’s WA. We’ve got a lot of the stereotypical stuff in there – the spurs, the hats – but it still looks like WA.

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HOF: A core theme of the film is “upholding morality in an immoral world”. Can you tell us about any classic Westerns that may have inspired The Decadent and Depraved? Or maybe something else entirely?

JPW: I love my old school films; The Magnificent Seven, Sergio Leone films, John Wayne. I would say names like Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and my friends in school wouldn’t know who they were. I would even go to school dressed as a character from a western and they would ask if I was Woody from Toy Story!

The thing is, all those characters in those films were in a way ‘one layered’ and to the audience it was simple separating the protagonist from the antagonist. Yet when you really look into it, I always would question why both were committing murder and stealing while roaming the vast landscape. What made their choices any better than the other? Both were killing for what he believed was right. With The Decadent and Depraved, I really wanted to blur the lines between good and evil with my characters. Throwing them into a world of corruption just made that all the more real.

HOF: A key consideration during the shoot was minimising the need for ‘CGI tricks’ and preserving that gritty Western aesthetic. Why?

JPW: I have a real love for old school cinema. With this film, throwing in camera tricks and CGI would have ruined some of the classic storytelling I was looking for. They didn’t have them back in the old days, so we weren’t going to cheat.

Also, it’s a western. As an audience member going to see a western, or any period piece for that matter, I am going to see something ‘real’, to be transported into a whole new world, and I think CGI in a way ruins it as we are just creating a world in a computer as opposed to putting thought and energy into actually recreating in real life.

In The Decadent and Depraved, there were no replica firearms. All of them are original 1860s firearms, all of which fire black powder with no CGI tricks. The actors are riding horses and the stunts are real. When you combine this with shooting in -5°C and rain, it all creates an epic aesthetic, which is something the entire cast and crew endeavored to get right.

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HOF: How important was it to uphold historical accuracy and authenticity on this production?

JPW: Our job as filmmakers is to entertain. We can make people think, laugh, cry and jump in their seats, but it all comes back to being entertained. If you’re not entertained as an audience, the film most likely won’t stick with you. It probably sounds obvious when you state it, but sometimes I think filmmakers get so roped into making their film exactly how they envisioned it or how it must be exactly historically correct that they start to lose the audience. Therefore, yes the backbone of the story was to keep this historically correct, but when we felt we needed to, we pushed the boundaries. I think this has paid off extremely well in entertaining those who would not normally watch or be entertained by a genre like this.

HOF: There are some truly stunning WA landscapes featured in the film – what was the scouting process like when you’re such remote locations?

JPW: Long story short, at the premiere of my previous short films, the Shire of Yalgoo were present, as I had got them on board with Red Dirt a few years ago. At that premiere they asked what was next – of course I mentioned the western and what I was after. A few weeks later they flew Axel and I up, and away we went looking for locations. Before you knew it I had neighboring shires contacting me about their possible locations, sites, landmarks that we could use the film, and it all just flowed from there.

HOF: You’ve been touring the film around rural Western Australia over the last few months, from Cue and Leonora to Yalgoo. What has the response been like from the locals?

JPW: It was the scariest thing ever. We had WA’s largest premiere. Lots and lots of people. I can’t remember the premiere at all, actually. It’s just a blur. These were the guys who had a hand in making the film, whether that means helping us out in kind or shooting in their backyard – literally, because their backyard is this huge rural station.

In Yalgoo, 80% of the audience was indigenous and some of them were in tears at the end of the film. They were so overwhelmed and emotional. In Cue we had 200+ people all dressed as cowboys – that was one hell of a night. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, you get to Sandstone and they all bring a plate of food, real country-like. In Esperance, they were laughing at things that I didn’t think were funny. It’s really interesting seeing what different audiences respond to.

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The Decadent and Depraved will screen at Orana Cinemas in Kalgoorlie, Busselton, Albany and Geraldton on Wednesday August 29 as part of its ongoing regional tour. Visit www.princewrightproductions.com/screenings for more information and to book.

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Movie Review – The Gateway

This Perth-produced sci-fi thriller earns a B+ for ambition, but can’t quite make the grade anywhere else.

⭐ ⭐
Corey Hogan 

Jane Chandler’s (Jacqueline McKenzie) time is unevenly split between her family and her all-consuming job as a particle physicist on the brink of creating a functioning teleportation device. A breakthrough in her work reveals that her machine does not in fact transport matter, but instead sends it to a parallel universe; a revelation put on hold abruptly when Jane’s husband (Myles Pollard) is killed in a car accident. Overwhelmed with grief and unable to cope without him, she journeys to a parallel universe to bring back another version of her husband – without realising that the universe he is from has dark and violent tendencies.

The term ‘know your limits’ exists for a reason. It’s a rule that applies to filmmakers too; your idea may be bold, but that might not outweigh the resources you have available to you or the cliché-ridden script that embalms it. Someone should probably have told this to director/co-writer John V. Soto (Crush, Needle), whose heart is most certainly in the right place, but really should have been a bit more creative in bringing his sci-fi thriller The Gateway to life.

There’s always juicy potential in a premise that involves teleportation and multiple variations of our universe, and Soto starts engagingly enough with the determined Jane and her lab partner Regg (Ben Mortley) racing against the clock to make their matter-transporting passion project come to life before their executives cut their funding. It might not be such of a problem for international audiences, but right off the bat, the very blatantly Perth setting throws any credibility straight out the window – at least for local viewers. Perth audiences will no doubt scoff at the idea that our government would possibly commission scientists to experiment with the unbelievable, instead of, say, spending tax dollars on more speed cameras. Amazingly, in a film that features reality-hopping and lethal alien tasers, this is the most far-fetched concept.

Soto’s biggest downfall is shooting for that Hollywood blockbuster feel on a budget that is barely a fraction of their cost. As a result, his dependence on visual effects derails proceedings, bleeding the little money the production had into a hodgepodge of tacky CGI. Worse is the poor lighting palette and filters (particularly in the drab dystopia of the parallel world), which gives this the shabby feel of a Syfy Channel original.

Soto should have looked to his micro-budgeted peers for inspiration. Take James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence, for example. On an even smaller budget, it managed to be far more engaging and thought-provoking without the reliance on any visual trickery, simply because it focused instead on making its characters strong and ideas heard. And as a local filmmaker, Soto should have taken a leaf from Ben Young’s book; last year’s Hounds of Love was miniscule in scale and yet enormous in impact and resonance. Bigger is not always better – what’s the point in copying Hollywood when forming our own creative identity is much more interesting?

It’s not all bad of course. Jacqueline McKenzie does her best in attempting to elevate the material, as does Ben Mortley in forming a likable enough partnership. The early mix of science and family stuff fares fine separately; it’s just unfortunate to see it culminate in Myles Pollard doing his best Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 impression to become killer dad and hunt down his family. As tempting as it is to support local productions, the truth is you can see the same elsewhere and executed much more successfully.

The Gateway is available in selected Australian cinemas from May 3

Image courtesy of Rialto Distribution

Revelation Film Festival -Get Your Shorts On!

Revelation Film Festival crowd-pleaser Get Your Shorts On! came to town last week. Here’s the lowdown on the best of the best in short filmmaking in WA right now.

Josip Knezevic

Get Your Shorts On! encompasses the very best of what Perth has to offer in short films, and this year eight spectacular productions screened at Luna Leederville to showcase the creativity and skill of our local filmmakers. Of these, there were three standouts that I’d like to single out for Perth’s most promising talent.

3. Normal People
Producer:
Jenna Dimitrijevic
Director:
James Pontifex

Contrary to its title, this RAW Nerve funded short is anything but normal. An unfortunate party goer misreads an invitation and rocks up dressed as a panda only to discovers she is the only one in a costume. That is until she meets a man in a penguin suit…

Normal People is certainly an original piece of filmmaking, with some nice moments of quirky humour. My only disappointment is that it only runs for 7 minutes. Given more time on screen, I think these two loveable characters could have been fleshed out even more. Additionally, the concept is loaded with comedic opportunity that could have been further explored in a longer version… So the only question is, when do we get to see the feature film, guys?

2. Outline
Producer: Jess Parker
Director: Cody Cameron-Brown

Successfully funded by Pozible, Outline tells the story of a grieving young artist who seeks redemption in an unlikely place. She uses her craft to recreate her fallen friend in remembrance of her spirit and by the end of the film, you truly get the sense that this was an incredibly personal film for its creators. A simple idea that works marvelously on screen, I thoroughly enjoyed this 6-minute short with its beautiful artistry and emotional touches. Clearly others are being won over as well; the short was selected to appear in the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

1. The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius
Producer: Lauren Elliott
Director: Matt Lovkis & Henry Inglis

Hot damn, this was awesome! The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius is my favourite from this year’s Get Your Shorts On! selection. Yes, on a technical level, this 3-minute animation is fantastically well crafted, but what puts this project in first place is it’s success as a musical. Its catchy beats are filled with ridiculously self-aware, funny lyrics; on my way out of the screening I could still hear the addictive songs in my head. With a joyous colour palette and eye-catching transitions, this short and sweet animation is a must watch!

 

WA Short Film – Setting Them Straight

Corey Hogan 

Filmmaking is a tough nut to crack here in WA, but with the right team, some funding behind you, and, of course, a promising idea, you might just have a film festival hit on your hands. Writer-director Kaleb McKenna knows this; his satirical short comedy Setting Them Straight is currently doing the rounds internationally. With a popular webseries (Four Quarters) and the upcoming feature film OtherLife under his belt, Kaleb is hard at work setting his next projects in motion and securing further festival fanfare – everything is a learning experience, as he’ll tell you.

I sat down with Kaleb to discuss how he established himself as a writer-director, his process and experience of the short film and its festival run, and his advice to local up-and-coming filmmakers.

CH: To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what made you get into the filmmaking scene?

KM: I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, so getting into filmmaking was a kind of natural movement from that. I did a Bachelor of Commerce at UWA, which was good because I met a lot of people and I did University Drama and Theatre Productions. I started being in shows and I directed a show, and from that I decided to go to Curtin and did my post-grad in Screen Production. I made some university films that had some success, and that led to getting Setting Them Straight funded straight of uni.

CH: You made your debut in 2013 with two short films – Dinner Date and He Was a Good Boy – how did you make that leap to the point of being able to write and direct your own projects?

KM: It’s all just university – to tell you the truth. The best thing about university is that you get to choose what you get to do; they kind of give you… enough rope to hang yourself. In Drama Production – the class that we were doing – five people wrote scripts, four films got made; my script for Dinner Date was chosen to be made. From there, if you wrote it then you got to choose who you wanted to direct it, so I directed it. I was lucky enough to have some great people to work with on that and it was successful – Dinner Date won the National Campus and WA Film Festivals in 2013.

CH: And how was that whole first-time filmmaking experience?

KM: Daunting. It was really daunting. It took a lot out of us, but we unknowingly at the time did a couple of things that really helped us a lot. We all put in extra money of our own to make sure that we were feeding everyone properly, that we could spend enough on production design, and that we had multiple venue options. The one thing we really made sure to do was to get people who were really good actors. It wasn’t a friend of a friend acting, it was people who were well trained in the craft – and I’ve done that from then on.

CH: Since then has there been a general approach or process you tend to take in making a short film now? Do you feel your skills are honed or improved with each film?

KM: Yeah, absolutely. My skills, definitely, and my organisation; all together my knowledge of what goes into a film is always expanding. I was lucky enough to be the director’s attachment on a feature film called OtherLife, which was shot in WA; doing a project that scale, the organisation kicks up a level. That’s due out later this year, but I can’t say too much until it’s confirmed; features are always changing their release schedule.

CH: Your big hit at the moment is obviously Setting Them Straight. How did that idea come to fruition? Was there a personal aspect, and what creative steps did you take in realising your vision?

KM: It was just a funny idea I came up with, I don’t really know how it happened. I just thought it was a funny premise – that a guy would come out of the closet as straight, and from there, Brett Dowson – who produced, co-wrote and is in it – we got together and we wrote it late 2012, just after we shot Dinner Date. It was one of those things we were going to film with friends but that fell through, so it ended up being this script we both loved that we were searching for an avenue to make. Luckily in February 2014 OOMPF! came along with their one-off filmmaking fund for FTI members, and they really liked the script so they put it up. The only real change it underwent since its conception to shooting in October 2015 was the move away from a funny idea, to instead drill into the reality of why it was funny. The film is showing how ridiculous it is that these parents wouldn’t accept their son because of his sexuality, when in essence it has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with who he is. We took a lot of care with the film’s message and its importance because we want to give those communities a voice, but we don’t want to be their voice

CH: How are you tackling the whole experience of worldwide premieres and festival touring? What advice would you give to up and coming filmmakers now having been through that?

KM: Save a lot more money so you can actually go to the festivals, and look into travel grants and travel funding a little more. The film cost roughly $7,000 to make; the budget was $5,000 and we crowd funded $2,000, and then spent an extra $1,600 on marketing for its festival run. I would say to anyone doing that run make sure you’re in a financial situation where you’re able to attend as many festivals that will play your film as possible. We’ve had a lot of great experiences at festivals but we would love to have gone to the Raindance Film Festival, who gave us our world premiere in Palm Springs. Both Brett and I were on feature films at the time so we couldn’t go, but that’s one thing I’d hammer in – definitely try to get to the festivals that are lovely enough to show your film.

CH: Who are some of your biggest influences and how do they shape your projects, and what is the next stage for you?

KM: John Hughes and Richard Curtis are my two big ones – Hughes being able to tell such a big story with elevated stakes in small environments and situations. Planes, Trains and Automobiles has so much happening for a guy on a cross country trip and The Breakfast Club in the microcosm of a school – he can tell these larger than life stories in such condensed ways. And I love Curtis’ ability to make these honest romantic comedies, the way he explains love and a broken heart I’ve always taken on board – he’s sincere, but never cringe worthy. Oh, and Edgar Wright, I want to be able to write really fast paced comedy like he does.

Feature films are obviously the long-term goal, but there’s so much going on with television and online stuff now – being able to have a continuing or long-form format is really fun as a writer. We’re not as isolated as everyone thinks here in WA, we’re a community and we’ve got each other’s skills to utilise – there’s a whole group of young, really good filmmakers coming out of Perth at the moment. Get together; that’s how you make better stuff. It’s fun.

Recap – 27th WA Screen Awards Gala

Perth has always relished in its reputation as a casual city, but if this week’s WA Screen Awards are anything to go by then the West is certainly upping its game, and starting to get just a little bit fancy. Perth – #stayclassy

By Cherie Wheeler
Featured Image: Michael Caton and Lauren Brunswick – Young Filmmaker of the Year

Now that, my friend, is how you run an awards ceremony! FTI and Muse Bureau, I bow down before you and kiss your feet – the 27th WA Screen Awards gala was nothing short of sublime.

From the moment Perth born comedian Joel Creasey stepped out on stage to present the awards with the apologetic announcement that we would have to endure his extremely camp voice for the remainder of the evening, I knew we were in for a jolly good time. He ensured the laughs flowed freely all night with his cheeky quips, and amusing anecdotes offering a nice interlude between each block of awards. Thanks largely to this event, I would have to say that the State Theatre Centre has cemented itself as the ultimate Perth venue in my books; from the elegance of the Heath Ledger Theatre and the foyer areas, to the heavily mirrored, almost maze-like bathrooms that made me feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole (or maybe that was the champagne?) I was thoroughly impressed, and that was before the canapés even started to circulate.

But on a more serious note, it was a truly humbling experience to be surrounded by such a vast number of talented artists; from seasoned professionals through to fresh faced filmmakers just embarking on their careers, all in the room displayed sincere passion toward producing affecting cinema.

In previous years there has been a tendency to reward higher profile films with substantial budgets (in comparison to their competitors) and distribution deals, with Red Dog and The Turning each taking out Best Feature Film -Drama in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Whilst deserving of their accolades, these wins have given rise to the impression that it would be a David vs Goliath-type feat for a modest film lacking noteworthy names to take home this major prize… well, ladies and gentleman, David has arrived.

Cast and Crew of Pinch

Cast and Crew of Pinch

Amongst a field boasting titles such as the Simon Pegg led Kill Me Three Times, and the family friendly Paper Planes, which received nationwide release, it was Jeffory Asselin‘s low budget crime drama Pinch that was selected as the winner; a decision which I applaud. It seems like only yesterday that my social media newsfeeds were filled with posts from this passion project beseeching contributions to its crowd funding campaign. During his acceptance speech Asselin essentially admitted that the production was built on blood, sweat and tears – the three core ingredients of any WA made film. Our local industry is comprised of practitioners who are not afraid to dig deep, and get their hands dirty for little or even zero monetary gain, so for all these reasons and more, I feel that Pinch is a far more accurate representation of what constitutes a Western Australian film, and am overjoyed that it has received such recognition.

The Indigenous sector of the WA film scene was also afforded the opportunity to bask in the spotlight with multiple beautiful stories presented in fictional and factual formats raking in nominations in a variety of categories. Unique documentary Prison Songs collected a whopping 4 awards, while short film Karroyul, one of our top picks from the films in the running for the People’s Choice Award, took home Best Editing – Short Form and Best Short Film – Drama. These acknowledgements of our Indigenous content were preceded by a touching Welcome to Country from Barry McGuire whose haunting singing voice alongside the clacking sound of his boomerang never fails to mesmerise audiences.

Winners, nominees and Barry McGuire (front right)

Winners, nominees and Barry McGuire (front right)

Whilst Top Knot Detective was another favourite of ours from the People’s Choice selection, surprisingly, it did not win as many awards as we expected. It did, however, blitz the race for Best Production Design – Short Form with designer Matt Willemsen confessing it was an ironic win considering his brief was to make the film look “hilariously shit”.

Good ol’ Greenfield (which premiered last week, if you missed it you can check out our interview with the filmmakers here) also put up a good show with stars Ethan Tomas and Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik sweeping up the acting categories, and I must say, Marthe — dayum gurl! She looked absolutely stunning, rocking her baby bump in a glamorous, low cut cocktail dress.

Liam Graham and Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik from Greenfield

Liam Graham and Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik from Greenfield

FTI CEO Paul Bodlovich intimated in his introductory speech that our feedback from the night would be carefully considered in order to improve the awards for the following year, but honestly, besides perhaps adding yet another use to the already multipurpose trophy statuettes – currently the list sits at disco light generator, paper weight and violent weapon — I don’t see how the night could have been any better. Since Bodlovich took the helm of the not-for-profit organisation several years ago, FTI has truly flourished, seeming not at all deterred by the cuts to its government funding, and determined to soldier on by diversifying its funding streams. I think I speak for many when I say that I am eager to see what FTI will get up to next.

Til next year…!

Images courtesy of FTI

FULL LIST OF WINNERS & NOMINEES

McKenna Hampton Young Filmmaker of the Year
WINNER: Lauren Brunswick
NOMINEES: Jess Black, Joe Henderson & Ruben Pracas

Curtin University Best Feature Film – Drama
WINNER: Pinch – Jeffory Asselin
NOMINEES: Kill Me Three Times – Tania Chambers, Laurence Malkin and Shane Stallings
Paper Planes – Robert Connolly, Maggie Miles and Liz Kearney
                    The Reckoning – Deidre Kitcher and John V. Soto

The Backlot Perth’s People’s Choice Award
WINNER: Emily – Iain Appleyard

Cinefest Oz Best Short Film – Drama
WINNER: Karroyul – Jaclyn Hewer, Melissa Kelly and Kelrick Martin
NOMINEES: Greenfield – Daniel James Tenni and Robert Livings
OnO – Georgina Isles and Lauren Brunswick
Top Knot Detective – Lauren Brunswick, Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce

WA Screen Academy at ECU Best Feature Film – Factual
WINNER: Frackman – Richard Todd, Trish Lake, Simon Nasht and Kate Hodges
NOMINEES: The Lloyd Rayney Storey – Michael Muntz, Brian Beaton and Celia Tate
Artemis International and Stellar Promotions
The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse – Marian Bartsch

WA Screen Academy At ECU Best Short Film – Factual
WINNER: Naji – Jodie Bell, Kimberley West And Terry Hunter – Ramu Productions
NOMINEES: Olga Cironis: Embodiment – Tenille Kennedy, Georgina Isles and Melissa Hayward                       The One and Only – Is Sharing Caring? – Karla Hart – L’unica Productions
The One and Only – Kurrunpa Kunpu – Perun Bonser – L’unica Productions

Central Institute of Technology Best Student Film
WINNER: Pale Blue Eyes – Cameron Whiteford – Murdoch University
NOMINEES: I am No King – Karl Lacambra and Rob Gibbon – Central Institute of Technology
Jennifer’s Coming Home – Georgia Landre-Ord and Dawn Jackson – WA Screen Academy
at ECU
Water – Shelby Shaw and Poppy van Oorde-Grainger – WA Screen Academy at ECU

Media Super Best Performance by an Actress
WINNER: Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik – Greenfield
NOMINEES: Emma Diaz – Water
                     Naomi Pigram – Dark Whispers
                     Nina Deasley – Indefinite

Media Super Best Performance by an Actor
WINNER: Ethan Tomas – Greenfield 
NOMINEES: Ben Sutton – OnO
                     Clarence Ryan – One Fine Day
                     Liam Graham – Greenfield

ADG Best Direction – Long Form
WINNER: Prison Songs – Kelrick Martin
NOMINEES: Frackman – Richard Todd
The Reckoning – John V. Soto
The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse – Russell Vines

ADG Best Direction – Short Form
WINNER: OnO – Lauren Brunswick
NOMINEES: Little Darling Director’s Cut – Damian Smith
One Fine Day – Kelli Cross
Top Knot Detective – Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce

AWG Best Script – Short Film
WINNER: Madhouse – Bill Scheggia
NOMINEES: Maap Mordak – Dot West
OnO – Lauren Brunswick
Setting Them Straight – Kaleb McKenna and Brett Dowson

Lot 20 Best Animation
WINNER: God Squad – Troy Zafer and Nicholas Kempt
NOMINEES: Game Over – Gareth Lockett and Michael Redfern
Reflections – Damian Smith
The One and Only – When I Look At The City – Samantha Johnston – L’unica Productions

FTI Best Interactive Production
WINNER: Dinosaur Discovery Augmented Reality Experience – Hungry Sky and WA Museum
NOMINEES: Choose Your Homage: Chinchilla Hunt – Hayden Fortescue and James Pentecost
#emilywasted – Shelby Shaw and Briege Whitehead – WA Screen Academy at ECU –
Theatrical Response Group – Red Tiki
The Dark Room – John Robertson, Jon Hayward and Jetha Chan

FTI Best Game
WINNER: Drumbeat Quest – Holyoake
NOMINEES: Catnips – SK Games
Square Heroes – Gnomic Studios

Frog Management Best TV Production – Factual
WINNER: Prison Songs – Kelrick Martin and Harry Bardwell
NOMINEES: Birthplace of the Giants – Jodie De Barros, Leighton De Barros and Jonathan Rowdon
Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery – Andrew Ogilvie
Who Do You Think You Are? Andrew Denton –  Celia Tait, Brian Beaton and Margie
Bryant – Artemis International and Serendipity Productions

Ultimo Best Visual FX
WINNER: The Amber Sky – Andre Chang Fane and Peng Fu – Rockett Launch
NOMINEES: Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery – Mike Dunn – Phimedia
The War That Changed Us – Mike Dunn – Phimedia
These Final Hours – Nathan Stone and Stuart Campbell – Double Barrel
Top Knot Detective – Dominic Pearce, Robert Woods and Steven Hughes

Colonial Brewing Co. Best Music Video
WINNER: Stone Cold Sober – Mathas – Lauren Cleary, Dominic Pearce and Aaron McCann
NOMINEES: Too Much Time Together- San Cisco  – Robert Livings and Luna Laure
The Weapon is Sound – Thundercracker – Dominic Pearce and Luna Laure
Willowbeats – Merewif – Lauren Brunswick, David Vincent Smith and Daniel Craig-
Matsu Photography

Revelation Perth International Film Festival Best Original Music – Long Form
WINNER: Pinch – Ash Gibson Greig
NOMINEES: Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery – Ash Gibson Greig
The War That Changed Us – Ash Gibson Greig

Revelation Perth International Film Festival Best Original Music – Short Form
WINNER: God Squad – Ben Chase
NOMINEES: Karroyul – Ash Gibson Greig
Maap Mordak – Lorrae Coffin
The Parting Gift – Andrew Clarke

Best Sound – Long Form
WINNER: Prison Songs – Kim Lord and Glen Martin
NOMINEES: Pinch – Ric Curtin
The Reckoning – Ric Curtin, Glenn Martin and Scott Montgomery
The War That Changed Us – Ric Curtin, Glenn Martin, Ash Charlton and Owen Hughes

Best Sound – Short Form
WINNER: God Squad – Ben Chase
NOMINEES: Karroyul – Ric Curtin and Glenn Martin
Pale Blue Eyes – Ben Nockolds
The Amber Sky – Mathew Dwyer

Happs Best Production Design – Long Form
WINNER: Paper Planes – Clayton Jauncey
NOMINEES: 8MMM – Emma Fletcher
Kill Me Three Times – Clayton Jauncey
The War That Changed Us – Emma Fletcher

Happs Best Production Design – Short Form
WINNER: Top Knot Detective – Matt Willemsen
NOMINEES: Bloom – Onna Evdokimoff
OnO – Alana Starcevich
Wanderer – Sarah Ryan

ScreenWest Outstanding Contribution to the Industry
Gail Pether

Sandbox Best Editing – Long Form
WINNER: Prison Songs – Merlin Cornish
NOMINEES: Birthplace of the Giants – Jonathan Rowdon
Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery – Lawrie Silvestrin ASE
The War That Changed Us – Lawrie Silvestrin ASE and David Fosdick

Sandbox Best Editing – Short Form
WINNER: Karroyul  – Lawrie Silvestrin ASE
NOMINEES: Pale Blue Eyes – Joe Henderson
The Amber Sky – Andre Chang Fane
Top Knot Detective – Steven Hughes and Dominic Pearce

Canon Best Cinematography – Long Form
WINNER: The War That Changes Us – Jim Frater
NOMINEES: Birthplace Of The Giants – Leighton De Barros
                     Pinch – Antony Webb
Prison Songs – Torstein Dyrting ACS

Canon Best Cinematography – Short Form
WINNER: Litter Darling Director’s Cut – Damian Smith
NOMINEES: Karroyul – Torstein Dyrting ACS
Pale Blue Eyes – Joel Crane
Top Knot Detective – A.J. Coultier

27th WASA’s People’s Choice Award

By Rhys Graeme-Drury

Last week I had the privilege of attending the People’s Choice Award screenings for the 27th Annual WA Screen Awards. Across three exciting nights, 22 locally produced shorts received their time in the sun courtesy of the big screen at The Backlot in West Perth, with all manner of genres accounted for.

From killer robots, to spiritual journeys of discovery, and irreverent cult comedy wannabes, the entrants covered cinematic tastes of all shapes and sizes. With the winner to be announced shortly, let’s take a look at the cream of the crop – here are my Top 5 picks from the People’s Choice category.


5. One Fine Day
Director: Kelli Cross
Starring: Clarence Ryan & Rarriwuy Hick
Spear Point Productions


What starts as an unassuming insight into a typical, everyday family of four blooms into one of the more poignant and affecting entries from this year’s collection of shorts. One Fine Day is about nothing more than two parents, and a trip to the hospital, and yet, it crams so much emotion into its short runtime that it’ll stick in your mind long after the credits have rolled. Kelli Cross’ direction is gorgeously executed, and supports a rich narrative that explores themes of love and loss that isn’t just deeply personal to her, but to everyone and anyone watching. It’s a touching story told in a simple and subtle manner; Clarence Ryan’s heart-breaking performance has gone on to earn a Best Actor nomination, which says a lot when the script only works dialogue in when absolutely necessary.

We also loved One Fine Day when it screened at Flickerfest earlier in the year, check it out here.


4. High Tide
Director: Kimberley West
Starring: Taj Jamieson & Synae Lane

Bathed in the bronze glow of the hot Broome sun, High Tide is an enchanting story of childhood romance that’ll transport you back in time to your own adolescent courtship days. Directed by Kimberley West, the story centres on Jamie (Taj Jamieson), a boy with his heart torn in different directions by two loves; the girl of his dreams, and fishing trips with his uncle along the coast. When he falls hook, line and sinker for Trudy (Synae Lane) and they take a trip to the movies, Jamie struggles to keep his mind from wandering back to the boat. Interspersed with some gorgeous time lapses, and dreamy editing, High Tide is a slick production that will bring a warm, sentimental smile to your face.


3. Karroyul
Director: Kelrick Martin
Starring: Chanelle Hawkins & Bruce Martin
Factor 30 Films & Spear Point Productions

Karroyul is the tale of an Indigenous girl who, feeling lost and empty after the death of her mother, discovers her past in an unlikely place. Accompanied into the bush by her uncle, Kelly (Chanelle Hawkins) soon finds that her surroundings are rich in Indigenous culture, with the stories of her ancestors waiting amongst the trees ready to be uncovered.

This short film has been showered with WASA nominations this year, and it’s easy to see why; from Ash Gibson Greig’s ethereal score, to Torstein Dyrting’s haunting cinematography and Lawrie Silverstin’s sublime editing, every technical aspect of this production is excellently crafted. The use of sweeping crane shots lends a sense of clarity, as well as drinking in some gorgeous bush scenery. The message might feel a little on the nose, but by highlighting the importance of Indigenous history and heritage, this isn’t a short that should be ignored.


2. Pale Blue Eyes
Director: Joe Henderson
Starring: Ben Mortley & Maddy Culver
Image courtesy of Tanya Voltchanskaya


A man walks into a bar, but what happens next is anything but a witty punchline. Pale Blue Eyes is a heart-pounding thriller from Joe Henderson, and it follows the events of one tragic night at a roadside diner in rural Western Australia.

Through a mixture of creative camerawork and pulsating sound editing, this chilling short builds a thick atmosphere of tension through even the subtlest of details; from the mismatched clothing, to his undisclosed motives, an air of mystery envelops our main character from the moment he steps foot in the claustrophobic setting.

It’s also a film that communicates so much in its short runtime. Like any captivating thriller, Pale Blue Eyes leaves you piecing together all the clues and making sense of it all at the very end. Slick and smart, this David Lynch inspired short balances both substance and style.


1. Top Knot Detective
Director: Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce
Starring: Toshi Okuzaki & Masa Yamaguchi
Blue Forest Media
 

What do you get when you take a cult 70’s cop show, add a dash of Dan Harmon metahumour, mix in influences of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and top it all off with lashings of tongue-in-cheek documentary filmmaking? Well, the end result would be something akin to the multi-WASA nominated short film, Top Knot Detective.

Top Knot Detective oozes creative thought, and a deft understanding of genre from the very first frame. From the Roger Moore Bond inspired opening credits, to the goofy file photos, and flimsy sets that wobble, it’s a hilarious unpacking of numerous genre conventions that film fans will lap up.

I’d like to say it was a close fight, but it wasn’t; I loved every second of this inventive short, and never second-guessed its inclusion at the top of this list. Do yourself a favour, and check it out – you won’t regret it.

WASA poster courtesy of FTI

Behind The Scenes – 54 Days

By Tom Munday

54 Days is the latest Australian production counting down the final hours to Judgment Day. The story kicks off, in true alien invasion/para-military strike/nuclear thriller narrative fashion, with a fun get together between our plucky leads. Nick (Michael Drysdale) is seeing Michelle (Michela Carattini) behind her husband Anthony’s (John Michael Burdon) back, whilst Dirk (Gregory J. Wilken) and Liz (Dianna LaGrassa) are caught in the middle. After a biological attack on Sydney, the five become stuck together in a bunker.

Inevitably, 54 Days becomes a swirling vortex of anger-fuelled egos and shocking revelations. Executive Producer/Writer/Director Tim R. Lea establishes himself as one of Australia’s most promising auteurs. His crowd-funded romp is worth praising for sheer determination alone. Sadly, whilst watching this flick, it’s difficult not thinking of preceding post-apocalyptic schlockers, from Skyline to These Final Hours.

Lea’s direction overshadows most of 54 Days’ flaws. His style, making the most of the single-setting format, crafts a wholly discomforting atmosphere throughout. His first feature, though not perfect, foreshadows a successful career for everyone involved. The film has already received immense acclaim, winning such honours as Best Low Budget Feature at the Film Society of Little Rock’s Fantastic Cinema Film Festival 2015, Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Achievement at 30 Dies Festival.

Working off ideas expressed in the short film version, Lea and co. set about the exhaustive transition from short to feature filmmaking with blistering precision. Lea, having begun in corporate finance before the transition, knows the industry’s high and lows first hand. His impressive 12-year screenwriting/producing/directorial resume features 7 feature film works, 3 shorts, and 10 short plays. Lea chatted with Hooked on Film about everything from the feature film process to the world’s inherent misfires.

Still from 54 Days

What challenges did you face transitioning from short film to feature film production, and how did you overcome this?
The biggest challenges we faced were making the plot different, and to explore more of the characters; after all why would an audience pay to see the feature version if it is the same as the short film? I actually wrote 16 different endings, and through improvisation let the characters themselves find the natural ending. Equally, given the movie is in one location for 85% of the time; how do we make it sufficiently interesting so that we are not just filming a stage play? To this end, the plot twists and turns, and there are emotional highs and lows that take the audience on a journey.

You received funding from crowdsourcing opportunities, how did you set up this process? How did it differ the production from preceding projects?
We raised crowdfunding through the Aussie portal Pozible, and had a launch party where we showed the short version of the movie. We served free popcorn and a complimentary glass of wine from our product placement partner Rosnay Organic Wines, and held a Q&A afterwards with a talk from screenwriting guru, Karel Segers as well as an auction of donated gifts. The campaign was launched to raise $54,000 in 54 days, but it was hard work I have to say. Previous productions had been self-funded from credit cards and savings.

How did you find your lead six actors? How did they impact the production process?
Three of the leads I had seen, and had worked with in the theatre. One came from a film making buddy of mine; I met her at one of my mate’s barbecues and the final actor (the lead) we held auditions.

What was it like filming in such small, claustrophobic locations? How did you set up each major shot e.g. the final shot of both rooms?
We shot in a small studio in a Church complex and at one time had 35 people on set. The shoot was only 13 days, so the claustrophobic nature of the location was not too bad, but the small size of the studio did make it feel tight, and the actors felt tight in the space; so it added to their performances. As for the final shot, we took down the flats at the rear of the set, and set up a slow tracking shot, so much so that the director of photography and his team finished up deep into in the carpark. We then played with After Effects to matte out any nasties and apply that magic dust…

The team behind 54 Days

With apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives hitting their strides in Hollywood, how important is this topic to the zeitgeist?
We are in very turbulent times from a geopolitical viewpoint, so it is not surprising it fits with the zeitgeist. That said, the level of paranoia is markedly less than the cold war from the sixties. We have had most support for 54 Days in the US with several references to the “preppers” in reviews and articles… so that says something about the US zeitgeist.

The Australian film industry has been through many recent highs and lows, what could be done to bring bigger audiences and financiers in?
This is a very expansive question….Aussie films do not perform well at the local Box Office; not because they are bad films per se (although there are a few shockers), but because of the power of Hollywood. When you consider the average international marketing budgets for the big studio films now average $200 million, the studios are essentially buying eyeballs. How can an Aussie film hope to compete head-on with Hollywood movies? Fundamentally, it is all about good stories told and executed well, but because the industry is so small, any significant talent has to go overseas to make inroads, and get the better gigs. The way forward would be for more money being put into script development to build better stories. I think also by reducing the thresholds for the Producer’s offset (where you can get 40% of your local expenditure back) would see more local films financed, as there is less risk for equity providers.

Finally, the issue of finance and financiers is not just an Aussie phenomenon. When we were in the US for our premiere, all producers were moaning about cash, or a lack of it. The film industry as a whole is going through massive change at the moment, and the returns on film are generally poor, so if one can make films cheaply there will be more chance of films getting made. So for Aussie films to succeed, like any market, we can’t compete with the big boys. Instead we need great quality genre movies that smaller audiences will see locally, but that also has a wider world market.

Still from 54 Days

Images courtesy of 54 Days Productions

Behind The Scenes: The Angry Man Series

By Corey Hogan

Ever wanted to say something to a rude or disrespectful person in public but couldn’t bring yourself to? In The Angry Man Series, regular guy Andy does just that – standing up to the litterbugs, bad parkers and shirtless of society – there’s no breaker of social etiquette he won’t tackle.

Shot in Perth over a breakneck two days and an independent budget, the webseries stars local comedians Ben Sutton (as Andy) and Sian Choyce. In the vein of Seinfeld, Arrested Development and The Office, the creators of this comedy have taken a different approach and decided to release all six episodes simultaneously online last month in order for maximum distribution and to gain as large a following as possible. I sat down with writer/director Aaron Moss and producer Maya Kavanagh (pictured above. Coproducer Meg McPherson was unable to attend) to discuss the comedy of the production, the challenges of local filmmaking on a micro-budget and the growing potential of online marketing.

CH: First of all, congratulations on The Angry Man Series, can you tell us a bit about how the idea originated and the early stages of production?

AM: I thought it’d be interesting to watch someone speak out when most people want to speak out, but don’t. All of it came from me being angry; I thought to have a character that stands up to people about their social etiquette would make a good series. It might have started with a parking situation actually – I saw someone double parked and I was like, “Do I say something?” then I didn’t, and I wish I had. I knew Maya from other projects we had worked on, so I pitched it to her and she dug it.

CH: The series was self-funded on a relatively small budget, what kind of benefits or challenges did this present, and did it affect the subject matter at all?

MK: The good thing about the ideas Aaron had was that they were all relatively easy to do. They were personal, using real locations and a small cast. The main challenge was how long we shot for; most allow weeks to film a series, but we were on a tight budget so we decided to cram everything into a two day shoot. That was probably more difficult for Aaron than anything else. We decided to shoot three episodes per day then we’d have to move on to the next without thinking “Have I got this shot?” If it wasn’t planned we didn’t do it.

AM: You can’t plan for everything, I guess. A lot of it was in the writing as well; we realised there were a lot of things we couldn’t do as we were restricted on time and money. I wasn’t going to have a scenario where Andy got in a fight or a punch-up as that would get complicated. We had that in mind in the writing stage, so we made a plan and wrote to our budget. I think if we do six more -which we really want to do, and I hope we can get the money for – we would have higher concept ideas in there, and maybe longer episodes. It helped to have restrictions though; it made it easier to write to a budget. That’s how I realised we could do it; it’s just a guy in everyday situations.

Behind the scenes of The Angry Man Series

CH: Did this speedy process of completing filming in two days work in your favour to heighten the comedic value?

AM: Well we stuck to the script as we didn’t really have time to alternate things, but I think more time would have been good because we could have used more improv, and spent more time with the actors. But we cast it well; the actors knew the style of the show so we mostly shot how it was scripted.

MK: The cast all have stand-up backgrounds, so they knew to use their comedy within a timeframe. We organised them based on what episodes and situations would work in a two day shoot, and using that mindset to discover on the day what best suited the cast. We would let the actors improvise when we could, and if it felt more organic than the script we would change it.

AM: I think the scene that changed the most was the one involving the ATM; we let Ben cut loose on that one. That, and the episode with the shirtless man, didn’t have a lot of dialogue on the actual script, but that was good for Ben, as we knew that he would be able to act something out in that scenario. We whittled it down from eight episodes; we went as far as to location scout for one that involved the Angry Man stuck in a car behind a cyclist, but we realised that wouldn’t work into the two days. The ATM scene replaced that one.

CH: What were some of the biggest influences on creating the series?

AM: I looked at a lot of comedies that inspired me; a lot of Ricky Gervais shows like The Office and Extras – that awkward confrontational type humour. Moments you can relate to with anger at someone who does something rude. It was very situational; we wanted as real a reaction as possible. Wanting to act on something that really infuriated me in real life really helped the writing.

Behind the scenes of The Angry Man Series

CH: You’ve taken the increasingly popular Netflix approach in releasing all six episodes at once as a tactic to gain a following. Did this affect the production at all and in hindsight do you feel this decision has been successful?

AM: We planned the production and marketing around that structure; I’d seen other web series that had released an episode per week, and I felt if they were longer episodes people would tune in to the concept. It’s okay to release Game of Thrones once a week, but online you’re clicking away at different websites, and it’s easy to become distracted. Early on we decided to release them all at once on YouTube, then space it out a bit on Facebook, posting one episode at a time.

MK: We didn’t want to restrict the audience in how or when they viewed the series, whether it be one week or six weeks after the launch. When you don’t have a budget or a large fan base yet you have to grab their attention, and get it out there. The episodes are designed to be watched in any order; the idea is that they could circulate the internet, and still be relevant at any time. They’re not referencing an event or year so any audience can connect, and this was made much easier by releasing them all at once. With this strategy you’ve got to factor in the restrictions that professional companies wouldn’t face – we’ve relied a lot on friends and family sharing it and getting the local media involved, and we’ve averaged about a thousand views so I’m very happy with that.

CH: You’ve mentioned that you’d like to continue the series, what would be its future and will you continue to experiment with different methods of distribution to gain exposure and a large audience?

AM: It’s hard to say now, we’d have to wait and see. If we were to make six more we’d do it with money behind us this time, and explore some higher concept ideas since Andy is a character you can place in any situation and watch what happens. You could have it open in say, a football stadium, and think “Okay, what’s going to happen here?”

MK: Anything you do a second time you want to be bigger than the first, so that would be our objective. It would be good to involve the cast more in pre-production, and to really become a part of the online environment. Australians tend to be a bit behind in that area, they’re more dependent on television for comedy. I think that would be the next stage, finding the budget to air on television so Australians will take notice.

Aaron Moss was a recent Top 10 Finalist in the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship in L.A. for his first feature screenplay Holly & Tyler. Maya Kavanagh has just been accepted as an intern at the Cannes Film Festival in France. All six episodes of The Angry Man Series are available to watch now at the website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

theangrymanseries.com

Behind the scenes images courtesy of Mac1 Photography