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Interview

MAKING A WEB SERIES – AN INTERVIEW WITH CREATOR MACK STRUTHERS

Mack Struthers is a Brisbane based writer and director in his second year at QUT. Recently, he premiered his web series, Greenlit, at cinemas in Brisbane and Sydney. Mack has spent over a year working tirelessly on this series – writing, organising and funding this show. Read on for more.

Mack on set

Can you just introduce yourself and your roles in film?

“My name is Mack. I have been making films since I saw Interstellar and thought the soundtrack would go really well with some Lego stop motion. I primarily write and direct. As a young creative, I do all the other things so that I can write and direct more. “

What is Greenlit?

“Greenlit is a 6-episode comedy web series created by me and shot in January this year. It follows a team of writers trying to get their series off the ground into production. Over the course of a year, we have been making this series. I think a total of 50 people have been involved.”

What has been the biggest challenge as the creator?

Green Lit

“Being a good leader. I think there is a misconception that directing or creating what you want. I think there is better value in learning to bring the best out of people.”

How did you go about funding a web series?

“We had two primary sources of funding. Bonds’ reach out grant and a QUT grant. Myself and four other people decided we need money for this project and started researching underutilised grants. A lot of organisations want a tax write off for supporting the arts and will only get a couple hundred applications for these grants. If you apply to as much as you can, it is likely you will be able to get some money together.”

 What was the biggest thing you learnt from making Greenlit?

“It’s a marathon not a sprint. Realistically, me and 4 others worked every day on this show for at least an hour and sometimes up till 12 hours for a year. Finding the thing that can keep you going and going for a long time is of utmost importance. Another thing I learnt is compromise. Filmmaking is collaborative and restrictive. You will get your best work when you start compromising.”

The core cast of Greenlit

TALKING MOVIES

Do you have a favourite film, writer/ director and show?

“Synecdoche New York or Before Sunrise. Director is Andrei Tarkovsky and Dennis Villeunve. The show is a tie between Bojack Horseman and Mr Robot.

Ruby Shannon and Mack on Set

What writers, films and filmmakers inspired Greenlit and you in general?

“The Office, Community and a little bit of Mr Robot in terms of style. Avengers Endgame was also such a fun point of reference because all the tropes are so stupid and cheesy and fun.

Most annoying thing people do in the cinema?

“All the classic ones, being on your phone, talking. But I think the most annoying thing is when people nearby me are trying to be funny. If you are sitting on the couch at home, you can make jokes then.”

“When I saw the new Doctor Strange movie, there was this guy in the line who wouldn’t stop talking to me. During the movie, he was talking to me THE WHOLE MOVIE.”

The Future

MAck on set with Madelyn Leite

Where do you want to see the Brisbane and Australian film scene move in the next 5 years?

“I think people forget that what protects the film community the most is legislation. The Australian Writers Guild have been in battle to get all the streaming platforms to invest a percentage of what they make into Australian only content. In my ideal world, some of those things get passed and we stop having Marvel films exclusively and English TV cause the land is cheap. We start getting new Australian content.”

What is next for you?

“I am doing some corporate work which is always interesting… I will try to do a grad slate for QUT. I am currently planning on doing two web series. One will be a play that my friends are doing at the fringe Festival called Call Girls. And I am also not prepared to walk away from Greenlit.”

If a film genie came to you, and gave you one wish, what would it be?

“I think it would be this series I have been writing for over a year now. It is called Come Apart and it’s not a comedy but kind of experimental drama.”

Go watch Greenlit on Youtube right now!!!

Categories
Film Reviews

A Complete Surprise: Thirteen Lives Review

Thirteen Lives is a survival drama based on the true story of the rescue divers that saved thirteen Thai boys’ lives. Directed by Ron Howard, the film stars Colin Farrell, Vigo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton. It is a movie that came out of nowhere. Maybe it’s because of Amazon’s horrible marketing strategy or because the documentary had already been released, but this film had absolutely no traction behind it. Despite this, it completely shocked me. Thirteen Lives was not what I expected in any way, let me explain.

Tense

I honestly cannot tell you if it is because this is based on a true story, but this movie is one of the most tense and nerve-racking cinematic (streaming) experiences I have had in a while. Every time that Colin and Viggo entered those caves I felt like I was right there with them. Even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t take away from how horrifying this film is. It doesn’t feel like a standard survival movie. Instead, it feels like I am watching a horror movie and that is an amazing thing.

Ron Howard and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom have crafted this film perfectly. Directing underwater sequences would be so challenging and they both did it for weeks on end. This practical work is so effective in making the audience feel as claustrophobic and tired as the divers were. Having a cinematographer who specialises in underwater photography is an excellent choice and one of the core reasons these sequences work. But perhaps what is most important is that it never feels like a Hollywood movie. Every underwater scene feels authentic and such a stark contrast to the CGI garbage that is being pumped out lately.

The Script

I think the script is going to divide a lot of film lovers. For me, it works perfectly. Thirteen Lives sticks to the events of the story and nothing more. It doesn’t dive into back story, character arcs or even the Thai boys. In a BTS interview, Ron Howard specifically says he wanted to be as “journalistic as possible.” I love this decision. We get to completely focus on this story and not get side-tracked with some forced backstory of our main characters.  It feels so procedural and realistic that it adds even more suspense to this already thrilling story.

Thirteen Lives has an incredible core theme. The film is about community. In particular, the Thai community. This golden thread of sacrificing yourself for others is weaved in so subtly you could almost miss it. Ron Howard does an excellent job of showing that when people come together great things happen. The divers, families, villagers all give up what is important to them for the greater good.

Acting

Everyone in this film is bringing their A game. There is not one person in Thirteen Lives who did not completely sell me on the stakes and danger of this mission. Obviously, Colin Farrell and Vigo Mortensen are excellent. I loved the chemistry between these two, it felt like they had known each other for years. Furthermore, Joel Edgerton comes in at just the right time. He is so talented at being afraid and scared that it added a whole new layer of pressure to the task at hand. These three actors don’t have much to work with and yet I completely understand them as people. I knew their motivations and fears as soon as they stepped on screen.

I also want to shoutout the actors playing the Thai boys. I think they did an excellent job of capturing how afraid and drained these kids would have been. Every time they were on screen, I completely believed their performance and consequently had this constant fear for their lives.

One Issue

There is only one problem with this film, and it bugged me as soon as it started – it wasn’t released in cinemas. Usually, I don’t give a fuck about where a movie comes out but when it is a film like this, it feels disrespectful to not see it on a big screen. It just would have been so much more captivating with proper speakers and a huge IMAX screen. I know it’s where cinema is moving but a movie like this will always make me want to see it in a cinema.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT?

Abso – fucking – lutely. Thirteen Lives is an excellent and well-crafted movie that kept me gripped from the moment it started. While the run time may seem long, it never drags or feels like the 147 minutes it is. Definitely go watch this film on Amazon Prime.