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Interview

A Conversation with Sam Monaghan

If you have been to any film festival in Brisbane, you will have seen Sam Monaghan’s face. AISLE 4, Follow that Taxi, It’s Christmas, Heist, Copperpillar, A Werewolf in Byron Bay – these are some of the many short films and web series Sam as acted in. On top of this, he is in Cheeky Moon’s upcoming web series It’s a Cult, is one third of HIRED GOONS and has been in Thor Ragnorak and Aquaman. Please do yourself a favour and watch some of these shorts at the bottom of this article.

Recently, I had the pleasure to go over to Sam’s house and have a chat. We dived into his career, his goals, all about film and in particular, the Australian film scene. It was one of the best conversations about this chaotic industry I have ever had. What was so refreshing was that Sam didn’t bullshit me. Unlike a lot of people in this industry, he told me how challenging this life truly is. But ultimately, Sam’s passion for film was always there. While it may have dipped, the love always came back stronger than ever. Read on for more.

A Brief Introduction

FRAZIER: Can you just introduce who you are and your many roles.

SAM: I feel like I am introducing myself from Hitchikers Guide – resident of planet earth…

I consider myself first and foremost a creative person. I love to act, enjoy writing and have done a whole bunch of other roles so I can do those things (producing, directing).

FRAZIER: So you produce to act essentially?

SAM: There’s not a lot of opportunities to act in Brisbane so you got to make your own work. You get to have a lot of fun and write some stupid roles like Half man half caterpillar.

FRAZIER: What is hired goons – for people who don’t know?

SAM: Hired Goons is a film production company. It was started before I joined by Pearce Hoskinson and Tim Goodwin who are very amazing creatives themselves. They started it in 2017 and the goal was to do corporate work to fund creative work. I joined in 2018/2019 just when their growth hit so I will say it’s a correlation not a causation. We used all that money – much to my wife’s dismay – to make stupid comedy films.

The Hired Goons team

FRAZIER: So, you had a career before film?

SAM: I left well-paying jobs to come do this. My wife didn’t marry into that when we were dating. I kind of just got fatter and more creative. But she’s highly supportive.

Sam’s Film Journey

SAM: I will kind of tell you the journey I have been on if you like?

FRAZIER: Yeah absolutely.

SAM: Back in 2014, my Mum had a big car accident. She was in a coma for about 4 months and in hospital for a year and a bit. I was doing this job I didn’t really care for. I thought “oh man, you could really die tomorrow.” Pretty cliché, but it was a wakeup call. I knew I wanted to do film and came in super bright eyed, and bushy tailed to the industry.

SAM: I was like 25 and all the other 25-year-olds were so jaded from auditioning for so long. I kept thinking “what are you guys upset about you get to do this!” Because of that, I had this energy at the start and was booking stuff. They were just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring and I was like “go make stuff.” I went through all that until I was jaded like them and burnt out…

SAM: Since then, I am now taking a long-term approach to my film and creative work. I have met some of the most creatively talented people who have been doing this work for 30-40 years and they are still striving. While it doesn’t sound inspirational or like any of the self-help books you read, the reality is that some of the most talented people never make a sustainable career out of their creativity. My goal is to have a fulfilling life while working on my creative outlets.

Sam Monaghan and Gabriel Stolz in It’s Christmas

The Process

FRAZIER: Your comedic timing in your body of work is excellent and so noticeably good. But has it improved over time or were you always like that?

SAM: I haven’t done any formal training. I did one semester of film at university when I first went. I think I have always had a natural inclination for timing and comedy. I used it in my family when I was growing up to diffuse a lot of tension which made me good at it. Weaponised comedy has been my approach to life outside of film. I use it to disarm people, test people, charm people.

FRAZIER: Can you dive into the Follow that Taxi feature film?

SAM: So Follow that Taxi, Peirce wrote into a feature film. We were lined up to shoot that in March. We raised an exceptional amount of money. You think, it’s just two people talking in a taxi and I then I read it and it was probably one of the best screenplays I have ever read. It was full of heart, hilarious, good rhythm, we cast it and produced it. And then, covid…. We looked at rescheduling it but we never knew when it was ending.

FRAZIER: What separates a good director versus a shit one for you in terms of talking with actors?

SAM: I think the very first thing you should do as a director, particularly if you have written it, is let go of your ideas. As soon as you get there, you got to let it go and see what they bring. It could be so much better then what you were thinking. Never direct an actor before they have done a take as well. And always let me improvise. You can cut it out later but you just got to let me get it out of my system.

FRAZIER: On that note, what separates a big Hollywood set versus an indie film. Excluding the money and budget?

SAM: I think it’s the same with any big business, the bigger you get the more care you lose. When you are an indie, you can be very nimble and adaptive. I was an extra on Thor Ragnarök. It was a weird experience. We were there for 6-8 weeks everyday which is unheard of.

FRAZIER: 6-8 weeks as an extra!?!

SAM: We were reshooting these group scenes constantly. I just think there’s more opportunities when you have more resources but having two much resource can limit your creativity.

FRAZIER: When you are first reading a script, what do you look for?

SAM: I want to see that someone understands plot, makes sense, the characters have real motivations. It’s not just meandering for no reason. On the other side, if it’s a sketch it just needs to be fuckin funny man. It must make me laugh and think that’s funny.

What’s next?

SAM: I have written a short that I am going to direct and put together in the next few months. It is absurd. It’s one of my favourite scripts because of how dumb it is. It is such a waste of people’s time.

FRAZIER: Is that how you are going to get them in? “It’s a waste of your time”

SAM: Well… it’s about an oom-pah Loompa who gets diagnosed with diabetes. It’s just tragic and straight. There’s a lot of puns in the first scene but it’s just funny because it’s so sad. I even had a friend graciously make me an entire miniature oompah Loompa set out of paper Mache. She took a year and a half to do it..

Sam Monaghan on A Werewolf in Australia

FRAZIER: Holy fuck.

SAM: Yeah, it was a crazy amount of work, but it looks sick.

FRAZIER: So, it’s got to win an oscar now.

SAM: Yep… I am also in a couple of short films coming up. I just did It’s a Cult with Cheeky Moon.

FRAZIER: Oh yeah, I recently did an interview with them. Can you talk about working on that set with Alastair and Claire a little?

SAM: Alastair and Claire are two of the most incredible people I have ever met. That’s it, that’s all I have to say… Nah, it was such a delight because I came from being exhausted and burnt out from film work. It’s a Cult came, and it was so refreshing. It is just beautiful. It’s heartfelt and funny. I got to be a bit straighter and more serious.

FRAZIER: I was talking to Cheeky Moon about your comedy skills, and they were saying how incredible you were as a dramatic actor. Especially some really challenging scenes.

SAM: Well that’s what I found so exciting about it because I had been stuck in Comedy for so long. My character in this show had real feelings. I got to focus on the moment and being a part of something so moving.

FRAZIER: In terms of working with directors, who is your dream person to work with or project to get off the ground?

SAM: To start with, I would make the Follow that Taxi Feature film because that was such a blow and I need that closure. I would love to work with Ricky Gervais and Robin Williams I would die to work with. I would have to now as well. What is the right answer though?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

FRAZIER: Fuck it’s a hard question aye.

SAM: Yeah told you ya prick.

FRAZIER: Probably Edgar Wright though…

SAM: Oh fuck yeah that’s definitely the right answer. Hot Fuzz is probably my favourite comedy as well.

FRAZIER: Or Martin McDonagh. He is my favourite writer.

SAM: Oh my god of course! Best writer for sure.

The Brisbane Film Scene

FRAZIER: This is always a challenging one, but where do you want to see the Brisbane film scene move. Even if you just change it or just progress it.

SAM: A long time ago, I was passionate about it. I always thought, I am going to change this place. Hired Goons goals was to showcase the talent here. Now that I am old and jaded, I don’t give a fuck about Brisbane.

FRAZIER: Hahahaha. See I am like you were before you were jaded.

SAM: You will get their kid, you are just a boy… But I would still love to see it grow and expand. If I ever do get traditionally successful, I will never forget Brisbane. I would love to come back and do indie projects.

Make sure to go check out Sam’s short films below. Whether he is acting, directing or producing, they are truly some of the most entertaining and hilarious productions I have ever seen.

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Article

This graphic novels needs to be an A24 Film

Diving movies have always been done poorly. They have these one-dimensional stories, cheap budgets and almost always focus on a fake looking shark. I truly believe there is so much untapped potential here. Imagine a psychological thriller focusing on a single man diving to the depths of the ocean. A man who is slowly losing his mind – unsure what he is seeing down below. Then, I heard of the Underwater Welder…

If you haven’t heard of this book, let me give you a brief summary.

The Underwater Welder is a graphic novel written by Jeff Lemire. It focuses on Jack Joseph – an oil rig repairer off the coast of Nova Scotia. As he dives deeper and deeper, he pulls further further away from his wife and unborn son. Slowly, we learn about Jack’s past as mysterious and supernatural events start happening on the ocean floor.

This graphic novel is one of the most emotionally complex and moving pieces I have ever read. It explores some deep (ignore the pun) themes like grief, regret, birth, death, and fear. On top of this, it has this perfect mystery that made me finish the whole novel in one night. The Underwater Welder is the definition of a page turner and doesn’t resort to cheap tactics like some authors (Dan Brown, J.K Rowling I am looking at you). It keeps you glued to the book because of the characters not because of a lazy plot.

I know there is this boomer perception that graphic novels are for kids or just cheap imitations of books, but this novel proves how fucking stupid that is. It uses the art to display how lonely and dark our main characters life truly is. A man so filled with grief and fear he is trapped in a haunting and depressing world. Even the transitions are simply perfect. The book has this beautiful flow that feel as if you are watching the events right in front of you. Simply put, you can see the care and passion Lemire has put into each frame of this novel.

Rumours of a Film

In March 2017, it was reported by deadline that Ryan Gosling (from films such as Remember the Titans and uhhh… yeah that’s about it) and Ken Kao (Producer of the Nice Guys, Mid 90s and the Favourite) were bringing the Underwater Welder to the big screen. Since then, we have not seen or heard anything about this film so I can only assume its dead in the water (I know, another pun…). So as per usual, let me give you the 44clovers version of this novel.

The 44 Clovers Pitch

The Underwater Welder would be an incredible psychological horror / drama. For me, the ideal run time would be around 90 minutes, so it doesn’t drag.

Writing it

The novel’s core story has to be kept the same. To respect Jeff Lamire, it has to focus on a blue collared character, grief and the fear of birth. All these elements already work so it shouldn’t be too hard.  In my head, the film is a Western set on a coastal town (I know that sounds weird).  Imagine No Country for Old Men or Hell or High Water but underwater. I think this is imperative to accentuate how horrible and depressing this town truly is. Also, I like how quiet these films are and their slow but delicate pacing.

The diving

As with the book, the diving scenes need to show how isolated Jack truly is. I would shoot the underwater scenes as if he is in space, a dark and harrowing landscape surrounding him. The lighting would be very simple to really highlight the nothingness around him. Everything must be done physically, or it just won’t work. Similar to Jaws or 13 Lives, I truly believe this film only works if it feels as real and dangerous as possible. A perfect example is Top Gun or Mission Impossible. The stunts have this incredible effect on the audience where you on the edge of your seat because you know it’s real. Imagine how horrifying seeing someone at the depths of the ocean in would truly be. Exactly

Horror

The film would need to focus more on the psychological horror then the book. I love the elements of him slowly loosing his mind and blacking out but feel this needs to be expanded. I think he should go on 3 dives and each one he is slowly seeing more shit. The watch, his father’s body, a diving mask etc etc. Each item getting more and more horrifying. As the film moves forward, it keeps building up until the audience is questioning if he is completely sane. Think Lighthouse, It Follows, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

The Actors

I would cast Sam Rockwell as Jack Joseph. I know he has done Moon and it is similar, but I think he would be perfect for this role. He has this scruffy chaotic attitude in films like the Way Way Back and Jojo Rabbit I think he can tap into very well. While I never love actors doing dramatic weight changes, I do think it is important he looks kind of scrawny and drained all the time.

Sam Rockwell being a Dad

For his father – Sam Elliot, he is built for this role (the moustache helps). Finally, his wife. I think Toni Collete would be perfect. On top of being an incredible actress, she always has a tired look that matches the wife perfectly.

The Soundtrack

Daniel Hart as always. My favourite composer right now who I believe can do absolutely any film perfect.

Director / Cinematography

I mean James Cameron would be excellent because of his obsession with the ocean but even in my dreams he is denying it. For my round 2 draft pick, I think Leigh Whannel would be incredible and probably better than James Cameron. His blend of horror and character development in the Invisible Man is perfect for this film. For cinematography, I would take Greig Fraser as my number one pick. I know he is now the biggest cinematographer in the world, but I love the colours and looks of Dune and Batman (plus hes Aussie).

Conclusions

Ultimately, I just think this is a film that hasn’t been made and should be. Since A24 is clearly the best production company in the industry right now, they should buy the rights to this film. It screams A24. The story, the characters, the horror – it is made for them. So hopefully, one day we will see this made and not just through a Hollywood production company but through creators who care.

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Film Reviews

Why a good script is pivotal? The Grey Man Non Spoiler Review

I know it’s a been a week, but I finally got around to watching Anthony and Joe Russo’s the Grey Man. The action / comedy stars Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas and Chris Evans playing mercenaries and spies hunting down dark secrets.

I won’t lie when I say I didn’t know this film was happening until it came out. There was no hype, no marketing and no promotion by Netflix. So when it was finally released I was excited to see it. In my head, the film would be similar in style and action to Captain American: the Winter Soldier – an excellent film. But I could not have been more wrong and truthfully, I am still trying to figure out why…

Action

I’m sure in the Russo’s heads the action sequences were cool, but it never felt like there was never any weight or danger to them. What I love about Civil War and the Winter Soldier is those close hand to hand fight scenes. In this film, there is one towards the end that is solid, but the rest are not even on the same level. There is too much focus on big scale expensive sequences rather than the John Wick action we have come to love. Even if you set the action scenes in exotic locations, the choreography still has to be entertaining to watch. In the Grey Man, it simply isn’t.

Casting

Ryan Gosling is severely under-utilised in this movie. He is one of the best actors working today and is given absolutely nothing to work with. There is no dramatic moments for him to sink into and barely any comedy – two things Ryan Gosling is very very good at. Just look at his character in the Nice Guys and Drive. I just do not understand why the script is not more targeted for an actor with his skill and expertise. Nevertheless, he does feel dangerous. His stature and body are effective in showing that this man is a killer. I just wish there was more for him to work with.

Chris Evans is excellent in this movie. He is absolutely going for it and I am 100% here to watch. This movie made me realise how much I miss Chris Evans playing a douchebag and I am glad he is returning to his old form. On the other hand, Ana De Armas was not working. I don’t think it’s her fault, it’s just her character is very one dimensional and flat. She doesn’t really have a personality or even an arc. Once again, a very talented actor wasted.

Julia Butters. Wow, what an actress. Most kids in movies are extremely annoying and trying too hard to be funny but, in this film, she feels like a real kid. Julia does a great job at reacting authentically to the big set pieces around her. Also, she is funny without forcing it.

Cinematography

I don’t ever dive into the cinematography for films unless it’s really good or really bad. The Grey Man’s photography just doesn’t make sense. They have chosen to use drones for what feels like 80% of this movie and it never works. It’s disorientating and weird. On top of this, it completely takes you out of the movie. It’s like whenever films use GoPro footage in movies. For some reason, it just makes the audience disconnect from the world they are watching. I just cannot comprehend who thought this was a good idea.

Weak Script

Ultimately, The Grey Man doesn’t work for one core reason – a poor script. Everything surrounding this film is solid but when the script isn’t there, the movie is never going to be anything. There is no substance or genuine emotion to any of the characters in this movie. We learn a tiny bit about Six but not enough to care about him or the people around him. They just needed to dive into this character more and I would’ve been there. Even the side characters have literally no backstory except that they went to Harvard. The heart of this film is so clearly missing and I don’t know how the Russo’s didn’t see that.

On top of this, this film is tonally all over the place. We have characters being serious for half the film, then at the end they are all suddenly comedians. Modern blockbusters are obsessed with being funny and it’s getting more and more draining. Just write funny characters and serious ones. NOT EVERYONE HAS TO BE FUNNY IN A FILM.

At the end of the day, this film is fucking stacked. Great directors, incredible cast, solid soundtrack and it was released on the biggest streaming platform in the world. Everything is there but due to a weak script, it is just kind of boring. The whole film is dull. Despite an A level roster, I was never really interested in the world the Russo’s create and don’t want to see more of it.

SHOULD YOU WATCH THE GREY MAN?

I almost never say this but you can definitely give this one a miss. While the action was solid, it was never enough to really make me care for this film in any way.

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Interview Uncategorized

The Diamond from Sierra Leone – An Interview with Archie Waterson and Sam Cotton Wong

Very few documentaries can really change how you view your life. Sure, you may watch them and think “that’s cool” but it’s near impossible to change someone’s perception on the world around them. Sam and Archie did just that. The Diamond of Sierra Leonne is not just an incredible student film but simply an amazing short film. Abib Kamara Smith’s life story made me so grateful for those around me and so driven to do more with my life. If you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favour and click the video below.

Sam Cotton Wong is a freelance photographer and videographer based in Brisbane. Sam specialises in cinematography and music videos. He was the director of this production. Archie Waterson is a writer and producer who is completely dedicated to comedy. He was the producer and writer for this short film.

What is the focus of this documentary?

“The documentary follows the story of Abib Kamara Smith who was originally born in Sierra Leonne. He came to Australia when he was 5 years old. He was adopted into this family called the smiths which had siblings of Archie, Gemma, Isaac, Bailey and Bass and his parents Willie and Anthony. And ultimately the documentary just follows his life from Africa and the struggles along the way.” – Sam

Abib Kamara Smith

Why did you choose to produce this short film, Archie?

“Being a student, I was over doing stuff that wasn’t meaningful or purposeful to me. Taking on this bigger story gave me a lot more passion and I think that’s why it was important to take this story on. The minute Sam told me about Abib’s story, I was hooked. Just imagining seeing it on screen and telling it to the world.” – Archie

Why did you want to tell Abib’s story Sam?

“I have grown up with him. Knowing him and his story is completely different to everything I have heard and in Australia especially. Abib’s whole past, his upbringing and especially how he is now excelling in life. Also, the focus of don’t let your past define you was the universal idea and everyone can relate to this idea.” – Sam

Can you just talk us through the style and shooting of the short?

“When we met up with Abib, he just remembers having this old vintage TV in Africa. We tried to recreate that old TV vintage look as a memory of him watching it as a kid. Also, the floating photos seen were representing Abib’s memories in his head.” – Sam

“We wanted to put a lot of effort into the cinematography. We didn’t want to let it drag. The story was obviously going to carry itself, but it needed to look just as good as it felt. We shot on Super 8 for it. It had a nostalgic feel and, we just wanted to experiment.” – Archie

Adam Potts (DOP), Sam and Abib on set

What were some core inspirations for this documentary?

“Definitely Colin in Black and White. Especially the projector shots, they were a big influence.” – Sam

“Also, another one was …. We were really inspired by the look and how poetic it was. Just the structure and how intriguing it was.” – Archie

Can you talk me through the name a little?

Archie and Adam

“When we were originally pitching the project Abib’s from Sierra Leonne and I just sought of put them together since I am a massive Kanye fan. When I was doing background research, I saw they were the biggest exporter of Blood Diamonds. The overall meaning though is that Abib is the diamond coming out of the ground. Also, giving the Kanye fans a little easter egg as well…” – Archie

Biggest challenge of making an indie documentary?

“We had this three-act structure obviously going in that we knew how we wanted to shape it. But, cutting it to a 5–6-minute documentary from a 36 minute was probably the hardest thing.” – Sam

“Abib had so many different stories you could tell in 6 minutes that it made it so difficult for our editor Cooper and Sam to keep it down. Just finding which leads were the strongest and what to go with.” – Archie

What was the most rewarding part of The Diamond of Sierra Leonne?

Lachlan Wormwell, Abib, Sam, Archie and Adam on set

“Feeling the flame inside of all of us when we were making this thing because it was such a passion project. I felt the happiest I have been years working on this because I knew we were telling this massive story. Also, how good the crew was and how much we cared for Abib’s story. One more thing was the lessons I learnt from Abib as well. The perspective it gives you is second to none. It changed my life and how I look at thing’s day to day.” – Archie

“I remember leaving the interview and just going “Holy fuck.” I knew his story well but it was just so intense. You just look at life a bit different. Also, just watching it on the big screen altogether seeing what we created. We made something special and it’s the best thing I have done.” – Sam

What are your ultimate goals with this project?

“We have sent it to a few festivals, and we are looking to get accepted. Another plan was using it as a proof of concept to create a bigger documentary.” – Archie

“I would love to have a screening with friends and family.” – Sam

Where do you both want to see the Brisbane and Australian film scene move?

“For me, I want to see all of the creative people backing themselves more. Australia wise, I want to see more comedy. I want to one day see an Australian TV comedy show that doesn’t overuse Australian cliches. I want to see Australia being universally funny.” – Archie

Abib Kamara Smith

“I think we need more up and coming people supporting each other. At the end of the day, that’s the future and we are all going to be working together one day.” – Sam

Dream project to get off the ground or collaboration?

“I would love to work on a proper Hollywood / Marvel set just to see how it runs. Just watching from preproduction to postproduction to see the flow of things and how they operate. Secondly, starting my own production company. Even if it’s just a photography studio with editing suites at the back. Just a place where we can meet and work together as a creative industry.” – Sam

“I would want to make a feature film. Also, just working with certain people. I would love to be in a writer’s room with Larry David. Even just a conversation with someone like Taika Waititi. I find him so inspiring as someone who comes from somewhere like Australia and keeps his exact same style.” – Archie

Anyone you want to shoutout?

“Shoutout Abib and his family. It’s not an easy thing to allow people with cameras into your home. Also, the rest of the crew on the doco. Our soundie Lachlan Womrwelll, editor Cooper Huzing and our director of photography Adam Potts.” – Archie

The Crew on set

“Big ups to Archie as well. Just his work ethic and planning it all was crazy.” – Sam

All these incredible black and white photos were shot by Finn Negrello.

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Article

The Batman is the New Gold Standard of Filmmaking.

A New Batman for a New Generation:

The Batman is a film that I had on my watchlist for a very long time. Ever since The Batman’s initial test footage released back in 2020, I knew that director Matt Reeves and DC were crafting something special within the Batman mythos, something dark, violent and gritty.

The Batman’s trailers promised that the film would be something completely different and would bring something new to Batman’s cinematic identity, an identify that had been in filmic turmoil ever since the cinematic debacle known as 2017’s Justice League. The Batman also promised to take the superhero genre as a whole to new heights.

And after an excruciating 2-year wait and audience’s beginning to show superhero fatigue, The Batman would officially release to cinemas worldwide on March 4, 2022.

The Batman would not only open with widespread critical acclaim across the filmmaking world, but it would also provide a breath of fresh air to the superhero genre as a whole.

The Batman in my opinion is the perfect mixture of grit, action, noir, mystery, and thriller all tied together in a 2-hour and 50-minute package which is endlessly entertaining, engaging and thought-provoking.

Matt Reeve’s, The Batman, is a visceral, cinematic masterpiece, which has set the new gold standard for superhero filmmaking. The Batman is a film that not only breaks the mould when it comes to how we interpret/discuss modern superhero cinema but also, how much a film can invest its audience within it’s story, emotion and presented world.

A More Abrasive Batman Story:

“When that light hits the sky…it’s not just a call. It’s a warning…to them”

Taking cues from David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ and Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’. The Batman isn’t your typical superhero story that relies on flashy action, characters, and jokey dialogue. Instead, The Batman takes a more methodical approach to the superhero genre.

The film takes its time to delve deep into each character’s thoughts and motives. Each element of The Batman’s narrative feels fully fleshed out and developed from introduction to conclusion, leaving the audience overall satisfied with the product.

The Batman’s narrative begins two years into Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman, stalking the decrepit streets and rat-infested alleyways of Gotham City which has been overrun with crime, gang violence and murder due to crime bosses like Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni.

Matt Reeve’s incarnation of Bruce Wayne (as portrayed by Robert Patterson) is shown to be still traumatised by the murder of his parents. In the two years, Bruce has been patrolling the streets of Gotham, he has become consumed by rage, obsessed with becoming the embodiment of fear within the criminals of Gotham.

This obsession has caused Bruce to become a recluse, pushing away his only family, Alfred (portrayed by Andy Serkis) and distancing himself from his distinguished Wayne family name in order to allow his true self, The Batman, to fully become the personification of vengeance and finally uproot the criminal underbelly of Gotham City. The same criminal underbelly that took Bruce’s parents away from him.

It is clear that in Matt Reeve’s interpretation of the character, Batman isn’t the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, but instead, Bruce Wayne is the alter-ego of The Batman. Bruce Wayne in the film, only serves as camouflage, a tool in Batman’s wide arsenal in order access information that The Batman typically wouldn’t be able to attain.

Meanwhile, the Batman is seen as a mythologic entity within the eyes of both criminals and citizens of Gotham, a ruthless, one-man army fighting against terror and striking fear into anyone who comes face to face with the mythical creature of the night.

During the opening of the film, it is revealed that Bruce has also created an unlikely alliance with GCPD Lieutenant James Gordon (portrayed by Jeffrey Wright). An alliance formed not only on mutual respect but also, formed over the desperation and the hope of finally driving the corruption out of Gotham, one broken limb at a time.

While investigating the mysterious murder of several high-ranking Gotham officials, the Batman and Lieutenant Gordon would begin to uncover several cryptic letters addressed; “TO THE BATMAN”.

The originator of these letters would be revealed as the cold, calculating, Zodiac-like killer, The Riddler (portrayed by Paul Dano). This discovery would unknowingly swallow Bruce Wayne whole, throwing him down a spiral of criminal conspiracy, family corruption, high-level murder, and uncovering the true actual effect that The Batman is having on Gotham City.

Along Bruce’s chase for The Riddler, he would also cross paths with the likes of Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman, Collin Farrell’s Penguin and, John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone. Each one of these characters serving a crucial part in the wider conflict between The Batman and Riddler, whether they wanted to or not.

The story that Matt Reeves and Peter Craig presents to the audience is one that pulls no punches. Every character, subplot and action within the film is given plenty of time to flourish under the film’s almost three-hour runtime, and every single element that Matt Reeves and Peter Craig place within the narrative of The Batman serves its purpose.

The film is endlessly engaging and its dark noir-thriller take on the superhero genre is something that audiences haven’t seen since Batman’s previous solo outing; The Dark Knight Rises (2012), 10 years ago.

The story is so meticulously crafted that every element within the film has weight and only serves to add emotion to the film’s narrative.

The Batman’s Cinematography and Atmosphere:

The Batman’s cinematography and atmosphere accentuates the dark and gritty world which is presented to the audience. Cinematographer, Greig Fraser, who is notable for his work on Foxcatcher (2014), Last Ride (2009) and Dune Part 1 (2021), uses both camera and lighting to create a visual feast for the eyes, that harkens back to the noir films of the ’40s and ’50s.

Every shot in The Batman feels dark and cold because Fraser utilises heavy amounts of shadow and contrast. This consistent shadow mixed with the desaturated blue rain, the orange hew of Gotham city and the ever-present darkness that creeps its way into every shot, combines together to create a visual symphony that allows the film to look just that bit more grimy and akin to films produced by Alfred Hitchcock.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography shines brightly throughout The Batman, each frame bleeds character and uniqueness. Greig Fraser’s use of the ARRI ALFA anamorphic lenses creates a focal point in the centre of each frame. This choice of lens also created a severe falloff of resolution with the edges of the frame. This creates the effect that the audience is watching the film layout through a fish eye lens and gives The Batman a truly unique look.

The Batman is a masterclass in both cinematography and atmosphere, Greig Fraser’s use of Mise En Scene, lighting and ARRI ALFA anamorphic lense creates a visually stunning and unique piece of cinema with has the potential to inspire a new generation of cinematographers for years to come.

Not Your Typical Superhero Film:

The Batman feels unique when viewed in the same light as other superhero films that have been released in 2022. While the recent slate has begun to feel similar and generally formulaic over the last couple of years, The Batman differentiates itself from the norm of flashy action and jokey dialogue.

Instead of presenting The Batman as an MCU copycat (which has been the trend for most superhero films of recently), Director Matt Reeve’s instead opted to present a story that is more akin to the pulp noir films that dominated the box office almost a century ago. Instead of a fun, light-hearted, family-friendly superhero film that is appropriate for all ages, The Batman instead replaces everything audiences have come to expect from a superhero film with grit, grime and mature themes.

The Batman is through and through a slow-burn detective story that prioritizes’ s characters and story, over flashy CGI fights and comic relief. The film is cold, dark and violent, its characters are mature and given time to breathe over the film’s 2 hours and 50-minute run time. The film’s action is brutal and given weight by the character’s established beliefs and values clashing against one another.

The Batman feels like the breath of fresh air that the superhero genre needed after Avengers: Endgame. The film feels fresh and brings a lot to the table in terms of storytelling, character exploration and, how to tell a new, intriguing story with old, iconic characters that have been around for generations.

Conclusion:

The Batman has raised the stakes when it comes to creating a compelling superhero drama. Matt Reeve and the entire production team have shown that innovation within the superhero genre is still possible and that not every superhero film has to follow in the footsteps of the MCU.

The Batman exceeds in telling an interwoven, complex story with characters audiences are already familiar with.

Greig Fraser’s use of the ARRI ALFA anamorphic lenses is a serious game changer in the realm of cinematography, the unorthodox use of these lenses grounds The Batman’s story in realism and creates an effect that general moviegoers have never seen before.

The Batman is one of the greatest films that I have ever seen, and I truly believe that this film has reinvented what moviegoers should consider to be quality superhero films. Not a flashy, high-budget mess of CGI and comedy, but, a meticulously crafted narrative that engages the audience not just through its story and characters, but also through its cinematography, world-building and use of Mise-En-Scene.

That’s what sets The Batman apart from the rest, that is what The Batman is the New Gold Standard of Filmmaking.

By Michael Qualischefski.

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Interview

Otter and Fox – an Interview with Ben Rohan and Carmelo Keating

I truly believe comedy is the most challenging film category. Sure, horror and drama can be hard, but nothing is as complicated as making someone laugh. Whenever someone says they are comedy writers or producers, I have instant respect for them. Ben Rohan and Carmelo Keating are another pair who have jumped headfirst into this challenge. After speaking with them, I can see their passion for comedy and more specifically their love for their upcoming short film Otter and Fox.

Ben Rohan is the writer and director of Otter and Fox while Carmelo Keating is the producer. Both are currently working tirelessly on pick ups and reshoots. 

What is Otter and Fox?

“Otter and Fox is a 15 minute short film about two robbers in the middle of the biggest heist in Brisbane’s history. They have robbed 9 luxury stores in a row and want to celebrate by robbing some snacks at a grocery store. At the store, they run into a kid named Zane and from their chaos ensues.” -Ben

Where did this idea first pop into your head?

“I typically get inspired by the name first… The idea was the name Otter and Fox and then the robbery part came after.” – Ben

Mark Hill and Bridget Freeme
Carmelo Keating on Set

Melo, why did you choose Otter and Fox to produce?

“I got to hear Otter and Fox right from the conceptual phase and its pitch. I just thought “that’s just Ben on a page, it’s brilliant and hilarious.” I actually also pitched my own idea and I slowly saw it got deleted on Teams. But straight away I knew I wanted to be on Otter and Fox. It was always a project I supported and always loved. – Carmelo

When you are casting Ben, what do you look for in actors?

“The main things we looked for were people who could take directions but were also really good at improv. Being a comedy, they had to be good off the cuff. When people did it differently or added their own twist it just made them standout.” – Ben

What have been the biggest challenges of making an indie comedy?

“The film takes place in a supermarket. We looked into independent supermarkets. All in all, I contacted 30 supermarkets across Brisbane and only one replied. They almost dipped out and we had to get them back on board.” – Melo

“One of the biggest challenges was probably getting the script right. Once you start writing, you see that people don’t get it or the plot holes start opening up. Rewriting jokes and trying to get jokes in is sooo tricky. You want it to be funny but you don’t want it to be cheesy.” – Ben

So far, what has been the most rewarding part of Otter and Fox?

“Hands down the actual filming process. Finally getting on set and working with everyone with such an awesome crew was amazing. There were tears but they were always good tears followed by laughter… I hope.” – Ben

“Getting the team photo after an exhausting week. Seeing our crew still smiling and being happy it pointed me back to that first night where I got attached to it.” – Melo

Ben’s Writing Process

Ben on POC

“75% of the time my script writing process is not writing a script. I suck at sitting down and doing something. I have fun doing it but I just won’t. Just verbally vomiting as much as you can to keep the story going. Even if you don’t think something is going to work, just keep going with it, finish it and then edit it. The more you write the more you come up with” – Ben

Melo’s Producing Process

“I had to try and allow myself to take momentary breaks. If it’s just go go go you will burn out. Always prioritising your mental health first but if you are having a breather, it’s got to be a productive one. “ – Melo

What are your ultimate goals with this short film?

“I would love to do the festival circuit. But I just want to show as many people as possible. I am so proud of this project and I will be just pushing it into my family and friends faces. This is why I couldn’t hang out with you for the last 12 months. Also, I would LOVE to do a cinema screening. Just to see it on a big screen would be so fun.” – Ben

What are your dream projects to get off the ground or collaboration?

“I once pitched this project called the Death of Cinema. It’s about this 40 year old washed up cinema manager who has lost his love for the job he is in. His autistic nephew who he has been separated from him comes to start working for him. I wanted it to explore the meaningfulness of the cinema as being one of the only places where people can go and share the same experience no matter who you are.” – Melo

Sarah Stone on set

“My brain keeps going back to Survivor. I love the idea of watching it, making it, the twists, voting each other out, even the craziness of it. Being a producer on that or even reality TV in general. Starting my own reality show would be fun.” – Ben

Favourite movies and director?

“My favourite movie is Mr Bean’s Holiday. It’s up there with Over the Hedge and the Little Rascals. There’s just something so stupid about them and how nostalgic they really are. Taika Waititi – I love Hunt for the Wilder People and Boy. Also, Sam Raimi cause he directed Spiderman 3. Also, Edgar Wright.” – Ben

“I do adore Spielberg because he was at the forefront as one of the handful of directors who made sci-fi what it is and some of the best war films. But Adam Mckay is one of my favourite directors – Vice, Step Brothers, Anchorman. My favourite films are Star Wars, the Great Escape, Blackkklansman.” – Melo

Adam Mckay

Where do you both want to see the Brisbane Film scene move?

“I really like the Brisbane scene but since I am at the beginning of my journey, I want to see more beginner filmmakers getting into it. You honestly don’t need a budget to make a film and I think that’s something we need to push. I feel like the community is pretty small and I want to see it expand.” – Ben

“Breaking down the stigma of making a bad project. You have got to make a bad film so you can learn from it. I don’t think I made a bad film but I made an ambitious film. It was ultimately a learning experience. I would love to break down the stigma – don’t hide from your films or be embarrassed about it.” – Melo  

Anything else you want to shoutout or promote?

“Keep an eye out for the names Carmelo Keating and Benjamin Rohan attached to it. Also, the Griffith Film School Chronicle, go check that out.” – Melo

The crew of Otter and Fox

“I want to shout out the actors Bridget Freem, Mark Hill. As a director, they have made it so fantastic, they are super funny and easy to work with. They make each other laugh and even the crew laugh. Also, the moment Chris fell over…” – Ben / Melo

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Article

Why this book needs to be an animated movie?

Via – the literary edit

Trent Dalton. The most heartfelt, talented, and remarkable writer I have ever read in my 19 years of reading. The most beautiful thing about his work – it comes from Brisbane – his insight and knowledge into the Australian psyche, the idiosyncrasies of people and fundamental belief in love is something truly unmatched. You’ve probably heard about his debut book Boy Swallows Universe (now being made into a Netflix series!) or his most recent (and my favourite) book Love Stories, but I would like to pitch a case for his second book: All Our Shimmering Skies, and why in my opinion, it would make a fantastic animated movie.

The plot and its themes

A supernatural, mystic adventure amidst the backdrop of World War 2 and the Australian outback; the plot of this book translates onto the animated screen so well it is crazy. The protagonist of the story, Molly Hook, reminds me of so many strong female leads in animated movies like Coraline (in Coraline), and Chihiro in Spirited Away, who overcome immense struggle through finding themselves in a world that is actively pitted against them.

Both of those films would make a great template for the sort of movie this would be – a beautifully animated, dream-like mystery where the young main character finds themselves through a long and perilous journey, exploring themes of history, family, grit (quite literally), passion and hope.

Animated movies, like Up, Inside Out and Soul, all work on an emotional level because the medium enhances their messages, accentuating their themes of love, self-discovery and realisation through exaggerated, larger than life animations and characters. This would be perfect for All Our Shimmering Skie’s protagonist Molly, who develops and changes immensely throughout the novel, from a frightened girl to a strong and brave young adult. As well as this, with many different sublots intertwining throughout the narrative, the books’ non-linear structure works well for the animated medium as it allows for jumping around – being able to delve into backstories, past trauma, family and dreams without sacrificing continuity, similar in execution to something like Coco.

“Hearts don’t turn to stone, Molly,” Greta says. “But they do turn. One day your heart is filled with nothing but love and then something gets inside and mixes in with all that love and sometimes that something is black and sometimes it’s cold and feels just like stone because it’s heavy, and sometimes it gets so heavy you can’t carry it inside you no more.”

The Land

As we all know, the land is the fundamental jigsaw piece in the puzzle we call Australian existence. It provides us with culture, spirituality, language, law and identity – a tenet in Indigenous Australian culture – it is the place we all stand, love, and act. In the book All Our Shimmering Skies, Trent’s description of Australian landscape is stunning alchemy of light, colour, history, emotion and vigour, traversing the bomb exhausted streets of Darwin to mysterious deep caves in the heart of scrub and bush. It is honestly some of the best descriptions of landscape I have ever read, and I think it would translate beautifully onto an animated screen, something unachievable in the realm of live action.

“Purple sky with streaks of pink and red, streaks of fire. Three wanderers moving under and over sandstone ledges, around freestanding rock outcrops. A shifting landscape, stone country turning to brief rainbow-coloured of clusters of orchis and banskias…”

The choice of art-style to bring this to screen could go many ways. Personally, I think something like Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs is a good starting point, as they project beautifully rich, romantic and meticulously crafted landscapes to life, and you can tell genuine care and effort has been put into every frame.

Likewise, movies such as Fantasia, Kubo and the Two Strings, and pretty much anything Studio Ghibli are all great starting points to explore the vast expanse of the empty Australian outback through virtue of emotional thematic and aesthetic association.

Something Australian

Australian cinema is on the rise, which is fantastic. But alongside this rise should also come a focus on animated movies, and I think we can do better than Blinky Bill’s Outback Adventure. As the narrative is deeply entrenched the Australian mythos, the film would provide foreign audiences an insight into Australian culture; an homage to our way of life and what makes us tick. But most importantly, All Our Shimmering Skies pays its respect to First Nations history and culture and does so in a way that is not in your face or forceful – as I said, the land is a pivotal character within itself.

“…he said the land gives you all you need if you know the right way to ask for it.”

The exploration of Indigenous culture is something that can be done beautifully through the lens of film, and I believe adding an animated picture to the increasing amount of great Indigenous Australian movies would be an incredible milestone for our country. Stories provide all cultures with information about people, values and truth telling. If steadfast and committed to its visual style, All Our Shimmering Skies would be a visual tone poem beyond language, connecting to the spiritual ancestors of the land in a stunning visceral way whilst also paying homage to a momentous time in our nations history, and something I believe all Australian Audiences need to see.

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Interview

Making an Indie Romance – An interview with Charlie Baz

Charlie Baz is a Brisbane based writer, director, and actor. He is a co-creator of a new production company known as 2nd Circle Studios whose focus is on creating work that is story driven. 2nd Circle studio’s film show reels and promotion for people looking to get their work made. Through this, Charlie has written and directed an upcoming romance known as It’s nice to meet you. Talking with Charlie reminded me why I love interviewing creatives – seeing how passionate artists are about their projects. I am extremely excited to dive into this interview because of how enthusiastic Charlie truly is.

Emily Crow, Charlie Baz and Ethan Waters

What is It’s nice to meet you?

“It’s fancy boys’ night and Chris falls in love again. Will she be the one? This story is a classic love story that is very close to my heart. I wrote it from how I have interpreted romance my whole life.”

Where did this idea come from?

“A few years back, I had this very deep crush and fascination with this girl. I kind of based it around what that could look like. It is not a real story, but it came from real feelings.”

Why should people see this film?

Emily Crow and Ethan Waters

“Everyone loves a romance. Even if you don’t, there is something so sweet about watching people fall for each other. It also looks amazing, and I can only thank Jarod, our DOP, for that (Jarod Woods). The music is also stunning as well – written by Natalie Ferris. “

“It’s also short, so it will take you 15 minutes if you watch it twice…”

Biggest challenge of making an indie short film?

“Postproduction. I was editing it and I now know why a director shouldn’t edit their own films. There is so much technicality and obsession with getting everything perfect.”

“All in all, it was just praying that it would work. Just hoping it would translate from script to screen.”

Jarod Woods and Charlie Baz on set

Charlie’s Writing Process

How long was this idea bouncing around in your head?

“Honestly, subconsciously, forever. I started writing this short film in 2020. It was very boring and a clinical romance film. Something that came off that was “is that how I interpret romance?” I just realised the relationship to romance and love in my own life and I think that brought out the feeling that this film brings. “

How long did it take you to sit down and write?

“It was never really done. I could always go back and rewrite it. But probably like 6-7 months of proper rewriting.”

“When I’m drunk and out with friends, I will write on a scrapbook a lot. I will think of a moment, open my notes, and write it. The next day I look at it and think why was this anything.”

How did you put yourself into the script?

“Its quite a raw snapshot of me a year ago. Even when I was directing it, it’s like I was directing something so close to my heart.”

When you are writing, how do you keep focused when writing?

“I kind of don’t…”

“I really enjoy writing and telling stories. I want to do that for a living. I use distraction to help me write. I try and write a page a day. I will then take a break for a few days and when I come back it’s like I was too in it.”

What are the core challenges of writing a romance?

“Making the characters interesting. I look at films like La La Land where both characters are interesting and feel like distinct people with personalities. The struggle is writing an interesting relationship and not interesting characters.”

How has an acting background helped with writing and directing?

“I direct people how I would want to be directed. I came from a place of just talking a lot. From a writing perspective, we were reading so many monologues and scripts. You get a gauge of what you actually like.

What are your final goals with It’s nice to meet you?

Liam Wallis on set

“I think my dream for this film is for people to see it. For me, I want it to work as a proof of voice. I want it to be accepted into festivals but that’s also not the end of the world for me.”

Favourite movie, director, and show?

“My favourite film is easily La La Land. I do love Damien Chazelle. I really really love Bertie Gilbert. He makes lovely short films. My favourite show is Normal People, it’s just a bloody beautiful show that doesn’t need to be recreated or touched.”

If you could choose your dream project to make or be apart of, what would it be?

Bertie Gilbert

“Working with Bertie Gilbert would be amazing. Acting or on crew. I also have this short, long film idea. It’s a story about a band who is on the verge of breaking up. I really want to be able to do that with crowds and mosh pits. Honestly though, just being able to go to work and make cool stuff with my mates, that’s all I need.”

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

“The film scene in Brisbane is pretty good. I would love for more of a community involvement. Its very insular, in its own little section that is pushed off to the side. I would love for more people to get amongst it.”

“With Australian films, a lot of the time it is the same stories. A bushman, small town, someone who needs to belong, a murder etc. It can be interesting – Baby teeth – but I would like to see more films that don’t have an Australian feel to it.”

The crew of It’s nice to meet you

The short film is out this Friday July 15th on the 2nd Circle Studios YouTube Channel. Make sure to like it and share around this incredible project.

Categories
Film Reviews

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER REVIEW

Thor Love and Thunder is finally here. Now I’m not going to bother with the whole spiel about who directed this and the cast and the plot and the blah blah blah. We all know who Thor is and we all know who made this film. At this point, Taika Waititi feels like he owns Hollywood. He is in every film; can choose any project he wants and seems to have complete creative control over his movies. Now I love his other films. Jojo Rabbit, Boy and Hunt for the Wilder People are incredible, but I was never that obsessed with Thor Ragnarök. Going into Thor 4, I was hoping he would prove me wrong. Unfortunately, he didn’t. Let me explain…

Too Wacky

Taika Waititi has been building up how crazy and silly this movie is for years. In every interview, he goes on about being surprised what Marvel let him do – after seeing it, it’s certainly not a flex. There is certainly some weird shit, but it honestly never felt true to the story or character. It just seemed like Taika wanted to go as crazy as possible just to be different. Its like he was so focused on being weird and wacky, he forgot to write an interesting story and compelling characters.

The fundamental problem with this is the number of fucking jokes. I’m all for a strict comedy and I love Taika’s humour but in this it felt so draining. Even in dramatic moments, he seems intent on making everyone be as stupid and idiotic as possible. I cannot remember a single scene that just lets the characters feel real and authentic. This is so disappointing because Taika is one of the best directors and writers when it comes to dramatic moments. In all his films, he has these scenes that really punch you in the heart. But for Thor, I cannot think of a single one…

Acting

There is some big fucking names in this film, and everyone is doing something completely different. Chris Hemsworth is as good as ever. His comedic timing is excellent and is as sexy as ever. However, he doesn’t seem to push the character in the right direction (This probably isn’t his fault). In this film, it feels like Thor has taken a step backwards instead of forwards. He has returned to that same destructive idiot we see in the first film. I think it would have been much more engaging to focus on a Thor who was really depressed, had PTSD and had given up fighting. They touch on it a bit but don’t dive into it as much as I would have liked.

Christian Bale holy fuck man. He is taking 50 shots and making 40 of them. Bale absolutely goes for it in this film, and I am here for it. He has some really heartbreaking and dramatic moments that only work through his performance. On the other side, Christian can be so terrifying when he chooses to be. It’s so refreshing to see an MCU villain that actually feels scary and has a purpose in their movie. I have a theory that he took some inspiration from working with Heath on Batman. Both characters take up so much of the screen and make it their film. Essentially, they bring something new to the villain stereotype that we haven’t seen before.

Pictured: Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher

Natalie Portman…  I hate shitting on actors I know are talented but what the fuck happened here. Natalie Portman is an amazing actress who has some deep range. Unfortunately, comedy is not included. She is so talented at dramatic acting but whenever she tries to be funny in this film it is hard to watch. I have a slight tingle that a lot of these lines were forced improv and you can see how forced and unnatural it is for her. Other then that, her fight scenes are amazing and she really sells being a Thor.

Action (minor spoiler)

There is a lot of action scenes in this film and all of them are pretty forgettable. Sure, Taikia has a striking 80s style he injects into Thor but the choreography or set pieces never really stuck out to me. Except for one scene…

The fight on the Moon planet. What a fuckin fight scene. Choosing to make it black and white was a perfect decision. The way the light from the hammers shines in the bleak darkness and how contrasted and stylised this world is (Chefs Kiss) is so refreshing. Marvel always gets a lot of shit for its bland colour palette, and I think Taika knew that. By taking away all colour, it is actually more effective then just dumping a bunch of it in like the rest of this film.

The MCU

I know I talk about the MCU a lot and that is for one key reason – it’s the biggest thing in the world. The MCU is pumping out so many shows and movies its even hard for me to keep up. And I truly believe this affects Thor a lot. If Thor love and Thunder came out 5 years ago, I would be praising this film and so would critics. But there is so much superhero content that is all equally good that films now have to be a 10/10 movie to stand out.  Remember Shang Chi, Eternals and Black Widow? I don’t at all. Not necessarily because they are bad but because there is so much of this being pumped out. I remember the Batman. That is because it’s a crime film first and a superhero movie second. Thor just feels like another superhero movie with some wacky moments and a lot of jokes.

Should you watch Thor Love and Thunder in cinemas?

Yes absolutely.  This film is still a very entertaining and engaging movie but as Scorsese says, it is just a theme park ride. There is no memorable scenes or heartbreaking moments. Honestly, if the story was a bit more complex and layered, this film could be so much more. There is to much focus on getting from point a to b and not on exploring these once interesting characters.

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Interview Uncategorized

Shooting a film in outback Australia – an interview with maia jorgensen

Maia Jorgensen on POC

Every year, countless movies, short films, and productions are shot out in Winton, Queensland. If you have never been or heard of Winton, it is a tiny little remote town in Outback Australia. Winton is home to some amazing scenery that has been featured in films like the Proposition and Mystery Road. Recently, I was able to interview another writer and director who recently shot their upcoming film in Winton – Maia Jorgensen.

Maia is a Canadian born writer and director currently based in Brisbane. She recently completed production of her Australian psychological thriller / drama Solitude. Before this, she has directed an episode of the web series Ain’t it Fun and an incredible outback short film called Shelter. Maia is another Brisbane based creative who is clearly on the rise.

What is Solitude about?

“Solitude is about a co-dependent friendship between two childhood friends that takes a dark turn when old secrets come to the surface. It is a psychological thriller based in Winton that uses the landscape as a third character.”

Mackenzie Curtis as NOA

What inspired you to write Solitude?

“I went on the Winton Outback trip last year. I left the trip knowing I wanted to make a film that showcased the landscape in Winton and the beautiful outback. The core idea came from my own experiences with friendships. I thought it would be interesting to tell a story that shows how toxic platonic relationships can be. You see those toxic relationships between couples on screen so I thought it would be interesting to explore it between friends.”

When you are casting, what do you look for?

Maia Jorgensen, Sandro Karayan, Megan Dale, Jarrah Marchio on set

“I specifically wanted someone who had experience and training. People who can be good collaborators and really shape these characters and bring them to life.  Its also very internal so I wanted actors who could really showcase the subtleties so we can truly understand the subtext. I also wanted people who had really good chemistry because there such close friends.”

Biggest challenges shooting in the Outback?

“We definitely had some problems… Most of the issues that we learned from was how to shoot with the outback sun. I think we got the hang off it by the end of it. When we shot our Proof of Concept, it was overcast but when we were out in Winton, it was a full sun with no clouds. We couldn’t get it too look or feel right. By the second day, we just had to cut shots and shoot within that 3-6pm area. “

Lachlan Margetts and Remy Webber

“Also, half the crew went up by bus and half drove. Just a really long bus ride together, 21 hours…”

What was the scariest thought going into production?

“The sunlight and also shooting at night was daunting because it gets really really cold. The day would be warm but at night it would drop to like 10 degrees.  Even just knowing we only had one shot to do this and there was no room for mistakes. We couldn’t reshoot anything because we only had one chance. Also, the wild animals, shooting on the edge of a cliff, rocky boulders and driving back late at night on the highway.”

With that pressure and stress building, is there anything you do to combat this?

“There was one day specifically where the crew was getting really stressed. We just couldn’t figure out the lighting. So I got all the HODS to meet and we stopped filming. I just reminded everyone that this is an enjoyable experience, and this isn’t going to be the end of the world. We just breathed and came up with a better plan to schedule for the light.”

What are your primary goals with Solitude?

‘We will definitely be doing the festival circuit and in particularly indie Australian film festivals. With my time in Australia, I have fallen in love with Australian filmmaking.”

Why should people pay attention to Solitude?

“This film has a unique perspective on platonic friendships. Just because it isn’t romantic doesn’t mean their can’t be toxic dynamics and tendencies. When you do put all your attention, love and care into one person that can backfire in a way. Also, just the exploration of the outback and landscape. “

Maia’s Writing Process

How many hours a day were you writing during the peak time?

“It was a lot… a lot of time. This might be dramatic but probably between 8-12 hours on planning. When I actually started writing it was probably more like 2 or 3 hours a day. When I sat down and wrote it, it didn’t take that long, it was just the planning.

Is writing a challenge for you or does it come easily?

“I enjoy writing. It was a bit of a challenge for me because I have a lot of experience directing things I haven’t written. This was the first thing I wrote and directed in a while. I am meticulous so I wanted it planned out perfectly.

Do you find yourself getting distracted?

“I can be quite singular focused. If I ever got distracted it would be with the pitch, so always Solitude stuff.”

How did you know the script was finished?

“I think it was a gut instinct. I got to the point where if I made changes it would divert from where I wanted it to go. The screen actually didn’t change that much from March since I planned it out a lot.”

When you draft do you completely restart or have the first draft next to you?

“I like to have it next to me for reference. I start a new document to rewrite but if I ever feel like I get to a block I will start from scratch and not look at the old one until I bring them together.”

How do you put yourself into the characters and story?

“It does come from my own experiences, but they are not necessarily negative. I wanted to showcase a different kind of relationship on screen that I have with my own friends but not in a bad way. That platonic intimacy and co dependency that may not be toxic but does exist. I have had experience with friendships that don’t work out and so I intertwined those negative feelings and those intrusive thoughts. Also, just playing into those deepest insecurities.”

What is your dream project / collaboration / film? (No limitations at all)

“I would love to work with Taika. He is my favourite human in the entire world. I take a lot of inspiration from him as a director and creative. “

As someone who isn’t born in Australia, where do you want to see the Brisbane and Australian film scene move?

Anya Suffolk on Set

“I definitely think its on the rise. As an outsider, its interesting not seeing Brisbane on the international level like Vancouver or Melbourne. Its definitely on the rise and is up and coming. There is still something unique Australian about films that come out of Brisbane and the Gold coast.”

Advice for other indie filmmakers on writing and directing?

“Just trusting yourself and trusting your own experiences and instincts. I feel you can get a lot of criticism but at the end of the day you’re the only one who knows their own mind. For directing, remember to enjoy the experience and knowing that no film is worth your mental health or the crews. Also, just putting in the work to learn your craft and working with your actors.”

Why filmmaking?

“I just love storytelling and entertaining. Also, just being on set and brining a film together. You can only go into film if you are passionate about it. When you are on set, everyone there wants to be there so badly and have worked so hard to be there. “

The Crew of Solitude in Outback Winton

“A shoutout to my crew. I had an amazing crew and I couldn’t be happier with the people who supported me. Also, my cinematographer Remy Webber, Ash Burgess, Frank Button, Joe Mineham and the town of winton.”