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Interview

The Best Christmas Short Ever – Interview with Writer Tyson Yates

About 4 years ago, I went to the Brisbane Backyard Film Festival. Two films from that night stuck with me that I truly loved and have never stopped talking about. One is Follow that Taxi (I did an interview with Sam Monaghan this year) and the other is It’s Christmas. It is one of the funniest and most original short films I have ever seen and my favourite Christmas short ever. On top of this, it won the audience award at the Brisbane Backyard Film Festival. Before you read this interview, go and watch this film below, it is well worth your time.

Recently, I did an interview with the writer of It’s Christmas – Tyson Yates. Tyson is a Brisbane based writer and director. On top of this project, he has written Lemonade – a comedy web series – and wrote and directed Smashed – a comedy short which won Audience Choice at West End Film Festival. Read on for more.

DP David Aponas and Tyson behind the camera

What inspired the story of It’s Christmas?

“I used to work in journalism, but my number one thing was writing for film. One year I upped and left and do a year of film school. I plopped myself down in Brisbane and did a year at university.”

“The whole idea is just kind of a typical Christmas for me, I am from a small country town in Northern NSW. It was hot, sweaty, there was drama over the prawns. This one was just one of the first scripts that just flowed out of me. I don’t think I struggled to write that one at all. It was just taking tid bits from my family and inserting into the script. And also just who doesn’t love writing genre.”

What was your process writing for this and writing in general?

Kristie and Tyson Yates

“When you are writing you put a lot of pressure on yourself. I think the unspoken thing though is that no one has it right – even some established filmmakers and writers. There has never been this smooth process in writing. But I think the background in media and written journalism really helped the discipline of it. When someone is paying you to write a story you don’t have an option of not feeling it or having mental block – the deadline is 5.”

As someone who writes and directs did you find it hard handing over the It’s Christmas Script?

“I have directed the last couple of things I have done. I released smashed a couple of years ago and that was the first major thing I directed. I just decided to Direct to get it done in the exact way it’s in my head. With It’s Christmas, I must have been a terrible person to have on set because I was following the director around and buzzing around like a fly. I think in the future I will focus less on directing and more on script writing because it’s just a huge commitment.”

Tyson directing actors – Winnie Mzember (middle) and Kyle MacCallion

Are there any specific Christmas movies you love or are inspired by?

“I really love the tone of A Moody Christmas. It spoke so much to me and I think they were aiming for the same thing because it feels like a person experience of an Aussie family. I have had a couple Christmas’s in the cold, and you miss it when you’re not here. I also love genre Christmas movies like Krumpus.”

Were there any general movies that inspired it as well?

“Absolutely Sean of the Dead. Edgar Wright is a perfect example of a filmmaker who can take ridiculous concepts and squeeze sentiment into it.”

Tyson on sound with Nicholas Rowan (sound) and Mellisa Johnson (makeup)

Other Projects

Creating both Smashed and Lemonade, what have you learnt from both projects and would advise filmmakers about starting a web series?

“I am from the school of keep it simple. Everyone does their share house comedy, it’s low stakes. You watch some amazing comedies like Arrested Development and Scrubs, the comedy just comes from the simplicity and characters – something I am still learning. Don’t be discouraged by not nailing something. It was interesting at film school how many people wanted to be at the finish line already. I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s going to take a long time to learn but the best way to do that is to keep it simple.”

As someone who also did one year of film school, I was wondering your opinion on it and if think it’s worthwhile?

On the set of Smashed

“There are two different camps, I guess. I learnt a lot from film school and especially what not to do in a safe situation. You are at the mercy of whoever else happens to be in your cohort. It can be a bit of a scramble to get on top. I didn’t have that problem to much as I had some pretty set goals. There was also good teachers I learnt a lot from. But the reason I left was because the classes and lessons were starting to repeat themselves.”

What is next for you?

“I recently got a job in a production company so any of my film projects just stopped at that point. I had a hiatus for a few years and then recently we jumped back on board with the short stack guys and shot a short film in August. It’s very similar to smashed in that it’s a couple of locations and housemates together. We are just doing the assembly edit now so it’s looking good.”

If someone came to you with one film wish, what would it be?

On the set of It’s Christmas

“I don’t know if I would want to wish my way to the finish line. But me right now I feel I am still finding my way through writing and directing. I would be absolutely horrified to have a world class actor standing in front of me asking what do to. It would be something small like making an indie feature that is well within my means. I would love to have this indie gem of a film that is well regarded. And then I am happy to be sky rocketed into making a Marvel film, substance abuse, not seeing my family – you know, the Hollywood dream.”

Where do you want to see the Australian film scene in 5-10 years?

“I think I have never really put much thought into getting funding. “I guess i believe that a good script will have it’s time and eventually get made. I know people bang on about funding being political, but those people usually have a shit script. I like to believe that a good idea, a good script, will get picked.”

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Interview

The Macfarlane Brothers Interview

Lachlan and Austin Macfarlane are two filmmakers based in Brisbane, Australia. For over 14 years, they have been making sketch comedy shorts with heavy VFX. Now they both work tirelessly on their TikTok and YouTube Chanel – racking up millions of views and even starting viral trends. Read on for more.

You both have been making short films and content for over 10 years, what created this attitude to just make stuff and get it done?

“I started making films just for the fun of doing them when I was like 10. It was just doing things for the fun of it. By the time I got to the end of school it was even more of an incentive to make videos. Also, when you’re at Uni you only make 7-8 things and I feel you want to finish with more than that.” – Lachlan

“I started getting into editing because I was making Marvel trailers. The reason I got into VFX was because I wanted to make Doctor Who intros. It harkens back to us being kids and having lightsabre fights and thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if we could make actual lightsabre fights.” – Austin

Across your careers, you can see how much your VFX has improved. Is this from school, University or just teaching yourself?

“I would say both but mainly self-taught.” – Lachie

“In year 8 and 9, every lunch time I would do a VFX shot. I would shoot it on my laptop, and I would do stuff like shooting a door and it would explode. Another day, my friend punched me and turned into a lunchbox.” – Austin

What’s your process in making these insane TikTok’s and reels you create?

“We will write, shoot, direct, star in, all ourselves. We split up the post tasks because we each have our own strengths. I will usually do the VFX while Lachlan will do the editing.” – Austin

“We will try to film as much as we can on the weekend and then work on it through the week and then get started on the next one straight away. It’s ultimately just about maintaining that repetition.” – Lachlan

“We both have so many ideas but unless it’s something we instantly jump at, we don’t even film it. Our sister is a good judge…. If we show it to her and she laughs it’s probably going to be good…” – Austin

Looking back on film school are you glad you did it or do you wish you did your own thing?

“There are way more people saying don’t do film school than there are saying do it. I would say it depends… When I went to film school, I found it hard to stand out from everyone else. It was difficult, I think at my school you needed a big personality and to be different from everyone. But ultimately it got kind of easier as you get to know people and I found it worthwhile in the end as I got heaps of connections who later got me a job.” – Lachlan

“I think for Uni you get out what you put into it ultimately. I work full time now as a junior online editor and I wouldn’t have got that job if I didn’t go to Uni, and the programs I use at work I learnt from uni.” – Austin

Can you explain the whole Michael Buble story?

“We love him and have loved his Christmas album since we were kids. We made this TikTok where we take him out of the ice for Christmas. I opened my phone the next morning and he had sent us a message on TikTok and commented it. I will ride that high until I die and we are very chuffed about that” – Austin

What filmmakers really inspire you.

“The Daniels definitely. It was very inspiring seeing how they went from small little sketch stuff to features. They are a team of two guys and we have taken a lot of inspiration from their style and we took on that comedic black comedy tone. Also, Edgar Wright and how he shifts your focus so well and so uniquely.” – Lachlan

What are some of your favourite films?

“The World’s End is one of my favourite Edgar Wright films because it has that emotional side. Also, any of Alfred Hitchcock’s films are incredible. Ours are both the same basically as well.” – Lachlan

“Swiss Army Man is my all-time favourite. Parasite, Psycho and the 400 Blows. I love Belfast, Little Women, Whiplash and Star Wars.” – Austin

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I would like there to be more. I am very new to the industry, but I would love the public to be more into it and proud of it. Also, shows that it doesn’t have to be about Australia.” – Lachlan

“I love how many productions are happening on the Gold Coast.” – Austin

What is next for you guys?

“We are going to make bigger short films. But for now, we are just doing TikTok and YouTube. Next year we are going to try for the Screen Queensland Skip Ahead program.” – Lachlan

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Interview

Polyamorous – An Interview with showrunner Archie Waterson

At the beginning of this year, I interviewed Archie Waterson on a documentary he produced – The Diamond from Sierra Leone. Recently, the short doco was selected into the Heart of Gold Film Festival (a pretty big deal for a filmmaker so young). Once again, Archie is back with a brand new project he has been working tirelessly on. Polyamorous is a mockumentary web-series made in 8 weeks. After watching it once, I instantly went back and watched it again because I was amazed how much him and his team pulled off in such a short amount of time. It is funny, clever and most importantly, original. Read on for more.

Archie Waterson (right) on set with Hunter Smith

What is Polyamorous?

“It is a mockumentary story about 6 people in a polyamorous relationship and the highs and lows they go through trying to be free spirited. It follows the perspective of Mackenzie who is monogamous and is in denial who is following her partner who wants to join a polyamorous relationship to leave her.”

What inspired this story?

Tai Scott, Janice Devarakonda and Matthew Cieslar on set

“I was having a beer with my friend, and he told me he was in the dating game. He went on a tinder date and this girl who he got along well with and she said I’m in a polyamorous relationship. I didn’t know what this was and I kind of got obsessed with it and started watching a ton of documentaries. Through all these shows, I kind of discovered 6 architypes through it.”

What was the writing process and how did you go about it leading a writers’ room?

“The process came from fleshing out the story first. I wrote the character breakdowns, the log line, the pitch and all these characters so I knew who they were and what they would be like in this relationship. I wrote the pilot then I got all my writers and from there, each writer was linked to an episode, and we built this arch for Mackenzie, Jake and Tash and the rest of the relationship.”

How do you the test out the joke /comedy?

Lachlan Wormwell and Archie Waterson on set

“For me, it was weird because I never really wrote for the screen, comedy wise. I feel like if I’m in a social setting I am kind of funny and I make people laugh. I have always wanted to do comedy. What I found is that I try and give to people who I find funny and if they like it, I know I’m onto something.”

What has been the most challenging part of making a web series?

“Overall, it was an intense process we did in 8 weeks. The hardest part for me was finding confidence in myself at the start when I’m pitching it. The stress and anxiety of trying to appease 50 people was challenging. But other than that, it was a very smooth process and I didn’t find too many challenges.”

Are there any other plans to release it other than the festival run?

“Once this all ends, it will be released onto YouTube and Vimeo. I also want to take it to the ABC as a proof of concept to show them.

Do you ever have periods of self and lack of motivation and how do you combat that?

The crew of Polyamorous

“I have in my life. At this point, I feel weirdly motivated and confident which helped in the process. The pressure allowed me to always remain motivated. I feel like the way to get out of these slumps is to reassess why you do it and that creating is a blessing.”

Talking Movies

What movies and shows inspired Polyamorous?

“In terms of style, ‘’What We Do in the Shadows” and “The Office” were two big style guides. “Shameless (US)” for the dynamics between the characters and their chaos.”

What filmmakers do you look up to?

“I love Larry David. I just want to be one of those guys who seems effortless but really cares for the craft. I love Taika Waititi who is this creative inspiration, making stuff from a place similar to where we come from.”

What is the worst thing people do in the cinema?

“People chewing popcorn loudly. Some people are just loud chewers and it’s fucked.”

Tai Scott, Rowan Williams, Archie Waterson and Adelaide Lapere on set

The Future

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I want comedy to not be Australian cliches. I think people living in urban parts should have a voice because they are just as interesting as people in London and New York. I want there to be a blend where it’s not just tourism but beautiful Australian stories.”

Matthew Cieslar, Bianca Rapp, Janice Devarakonda, Abigal Waugh, Hunter Smith, Chris Nguyen and Archie

What is your one film wish?

“I would love to get coffee with Larry David. I would love to have a job comedy writing for a TV series.”

What is next for you?

“Probably the grad slate next year. Just writing again and getting back into the development phase again.

Anyone you want to shoutout?

“I want to shoutout Amy Lightbody, my producer on the show. She put in so much work and she just made the process super smooth for me.”

All photos taken by Sam Goldsmith and Felix Lovell.

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Interview

The Pallidura – Australia’s next best horror web series

Nathan Simmons is a Brisbane based filmmaker. He is currently in his second year at University and runs a production company known as Salty Dog Media. Recently, he was the show runner for the horror web series The Pallidura. After watching Episode 4, I was amazed at how well crafted and scary this series is. It will definitely be an amazing horror web series that I am very excited for. Read on for more.

What is the Pallidura?

Nathan on set

“It is a story about a couple – Curtis and Jessica – who are celebrating a birthday. An old friend comes to the party with a mysterious painting and once he enters the party Curtis’s life is never the same.”

What was your big inspirations for this project?

“The idea came in a writing workshop we had. The educator said, think of an object in your home and how it can attract a character. I thought about how some people can have a fascination for a painting and some people can have a hatred for it. The story has evolved from a divorce story where one partner hates it and one loves it to where it is now.”

Throughout the whole process, how do you maintain motivation and a good headspace?

“I never had bad feelings. It’s because I love it and I love making films. I really wanted to make the story as good as it can be. We spent like 50 hours writing it in the writer’s room. It was also a learning opportunity to as well because these ideas came from my head and I had to communicate it with 60 other people.

What are your plans for releasing it?

“60 people worked on this so it would be cruel if people didn’t watch it. We are currently looking at what festivals it can go out to. Obviously, there are a lot of horror festivals it would suit. YouTube would probably be the very last place we would stick it. We might even take the idea to screen Queensland.  I wouldn’t mind telling the idea again…”

Isabella Lee, Molly Humphries, Bailey Leis on set

TALKING MOVIES

What specific movies or shows inspired the Pallidura?

“The Babadook was a heavy one. I love the allegory of depression and grief. Oculus was another good one as well. The original idea was inspired by The Ring but I have never seen it, I have seen Scary Movie 3 though. I really like Jordan Peele’s movies, I’m on board for everything he does.

The Babadook

Are there any key writers and directors that inspire you?

“I love Tarantino. I was also watching Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul at the time and it’s where I got a lot of visual style from. Big fan of Spielberg but I didn’t use any of his techniques.”

What scares you personally when you watch horror?

“Not knowing. I hate jump scares and don’t find them scary. I just find them really annoying. I saw SPIRAL and that movie pissed me off because they just relied on loud noises. I also watched Dahmer and that had some terrifying moments, especially where the cops let a victim back in.

What is the worst thing people do at the cinemas?

Charlotte Chaffer-Brock, Nathan Simmons and Jude Buxton on set

Fucking talk. Shut the fuck up when you watch a movie! I watched Halloween Kills last year and there was these people who kept talking and saying they didn’t find it scary. I can’t stand in, don’t ask me about the plot.”

The Future

 Where do you want the Australian film scene to be in 5 years?

“The movies they are making are more aimed at the older target audience. Movies like The Dry and Red Dog are created for that age demographic. I just think there should be movies about a random thing that happens in an Australian city. Like the Matrix was shot in Sydney is a perfect example. Ultimately, they just haven’t hit me as a target audience yet.”

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

“I would love to direct a feature. If I was funded, I would love to write, direct and edit a feature and show it in the cinema with my family and friends.”

What’s next for you?

Salty Dog Media. It’s my new business media company with Chris Radman where we make content for other people and we are open to collaborating with others.”

“Huge thanks to all the students involved in creating the Pallidura. Especially Abbey Rose who helped out as the series coordinator. Everyone should be super proud of what they have done. Can’t wait to show the world what all of us have made.”

All photos taken by Grace Newlands

Sam Cotton Wong and Nathan on set
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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!!!

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Interview

A Conversation with Writer and Director Michael Shanks

If you are talking sports, Michael Shanks is like a number one draft pick for the Australian Film scene. He is the writer and director of Time Trap, Rebooted and Wizards of Aus, has a YouTube channel with over 200k subscribers and his script – Hotel, Hotel, Hotel, Hotel – recently was selected for the BlackList (that’s a big deal). In the next 5 years, anyone interested in film will know his name (if you don’t already).

Guy Pearce and Michael Shanks on set of Storm Music Video

I was lucky enough to interview Michael last week. It is undoubtedly, one of the most motivating film conversations I have ever had. His commitment to the craft over the years has made me ready to work harder and excited for the future of Australian films. Read on for more.

INTRODUCTIONS

EXT. ZOOM – DAY

FRAZIER: So! Before we go into the proper filmmaking stuff, I just want to talk about the something stupid video with Nicole Kidman that you made…

MICHAEL: Oh God.  That’s definitely a blast from the past…

FRAZIER: Well when I was 14 there was this big deal with ‘try not to laugh’ challenges and your video was in it. My friends and I had some type of forfeit that if you laughed you would have to get slapped. So your video would always make us crack up.    

Is there any small part of you that wants to give up the filmmaking career and return to these types of videos?

MICHAEL: If it gets people slapped then I am happy about it. But no not really. Kind of the opposite. I have always wanted to make the next thing bigger then the last. But that video is like the first thing I ever did that got any attention.

FRAZIER: Well I didn’t know you even made it until like two months ago.

MICHAEL: “I used to get slapped because of it!”

Winning Flickerfest for Rebooted

THE PROCESS

FRAZIER: You started off with the Doomsday Arcade series for the Escapist Magazine, if I’m not mistaken?

MICHAEL: The first thing I made was a pilot for a web series when I was in year 12. I made it for a competition and won. The prize was that your entry was part of a 25-part series that you were paid to make. That was kind of how I jumped into filmmaking.

FRAZIER: Well I watched it the other day.

MICHAEL: Oh God…

FRAZIER: It has got some funny jokes and I was genuinely laughing. It’s got this kind of referential/ parody humour that is woven throughout everything you do. Is that where it started or have you always loved that style of writing.

MICHAEL: I was always into that stuff like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Spike Milligan’s Books and Monty Python. I always loved genre parody. But moving back to the show, I kind of used it to be able to jump into different genres that I loved.

FRAZIER: So after this show you didn’t go to film school?

MICHAEL: No, I think of Doomsday Arcade as my film school. Almost two years of straight shooting, writing and editing.

FRAZIER: I recently dropped out and I was thinking, did you have a period of people constantly telling you to go to film school or any self-doubt? Or did you know this was the path you wanted to take?

MICHAEL: Well since I had it as a job and had to do it, it gave me the confidence to just keep going. I know it sounds pretentious, but I think the best film school was watching films. When I started moving onto proper sets, I didn’t really know what second AC was… but that’s fine! You get told on the day and you work it out.

The short that launched Michael’s career.

FRAZIER: Following this, you had Time Trap released after the success of the George Lucas special edition trailer and that short film was only made with a budget of 6k?

MICHAEL: Yeah so that was just self-funded. It was 6k with people lending their time and borrowing a camera and just making it happen. And it was a huge amount of time – months of visual effects and composing. I then had this huge amount of traffic coming to my channel from this Star Wars parody I made. I just released the short film on that same day and it really caught fire. It got a lot of eyeballs on it, especially in LA. It was actually how I got my US reps because the short film went around Los Angeles. I was out there a few weeks later interviewing managers and agents.

Time Trap

FRAZIER: When this crazy period was happening what was your mindset like at the time?

MICHAEL: It was very exciting but I was weirdly hamstrung cause I just had signed onto do the web series the Wizards of Aus. I had these reps saying these are things we could go for but I had to go and spend 45 weeks making this web show.

FRAZIER: So with the Wizards of Aus, I saw something you said that you moved back into your Mum’s house for 36 weeks to edit the VFX straight?

MICHAEL: Yeah…

FRAZIER: How do you do that and maintain motivation because I would be drained?

Michael on set of Wizards of Aus

MICHAEL: I do get pretty fixated on things… It’s really satisfying work as a day job. I find it akin to playing a puzzle video game. You have these certain tools to get from point A to point B. I am also just one of those people who is content to just sit in a chair for hours.

FRAZIER: When you are on set and working with comic actors like Aunty Donna, Nick Cody and Guy Pearce, do you like improvising?

MICHAEL: It was a mixture of both. Me and a guy called Nick Issel wrote the show. But when you have guys like Aunty Donna doing funnier stuff it’s pretty sweet. I love the idea of improv but sometimes you can tell they are just improving the whole thing and it feels kind of loose.

FRAZIER: Now onto Rebooted, a short film I have shown my friends and family like 20 times. I understand the budget was only $120,000. But if the budget was bigger, do you think it would have changed the film that much?

Rebooted Short Film

MICHAEL: I think probably not. It would have made some quality-of-life stuff easier like bigger offices and larger studios. The only thing that would be different was that because it is a mixture of genuine stop motion and live action, we weren’t able to move the camera in specific three-dimensional ways. If we had a bigger budget we would have been able to do motion control shots. But other than that, it turned out exactly how I wanted it.

FRAZIER: Now just onto your directing style. I have seen a lot of videos where you say you storyboard everything to a tee, is this linked with your love for visual storytelling?

MICHAEL: I just think it would be really hard to come up with that stuff on the day. By really storyboarding everything, I found more cohesion across everything I am trying to do. It’s just a way of me feeling like I have the shot exactly in my head.

Michael on set

FRAZIER: I saw on your Instagram that your script got selected for the Blacklist. Can you just talk about your process in writing an already successful script?

MICHAEL: I am not one of those people who writes a million ideas. I just want to make sure the idea is super unique. But once I have that 3 act structure, I will typically go away and find some AirBnb for like a week and beat out a draft. But I am really slow at editing. For me it’s just really premise heavy, once I find a sweet idea then that’s it.

TALKING MOVIES

FRAZIER: I know that the Lord of the Rings BTS, the Simpsons and Edgar Wright were big inspirations but was there any other films or creators that helped you?

MICHAEL: Definitely all of them. But for the last few years I have really been mainlining horror. Recently, I watched Incancation (2022). I was loving it but my girlfriend can’t watch scary movies. She had come out and I was at the end of the movie, watching it through the menu on the third of the screen that’s how scary it was. Horror films just always surprise me. They have a looseness to them and can introduce elements of surrealism without having to build a fantasy realm. Horror films can just be really unique.

Michael on set

FRAZIER: Do you have a current favourite horror director?

MICHAEL: I know these are mainstream choices, but I think Ari Aster is incredible. I think Hereditary is so so so good. It’s the sweet spot for me because it’s unique and I didn’t know where it was going but it was really exciting. Also Jordan Peele. Nope was awesome and I love his ability to make mimetic visuals.

FRAZIER: Now in the opposite direction, what is the most annoying thing people do at the cinema?

MICHAEL: The most annoying experience I had was in Sydney, I was by myself in this small cinema. 30 minutes into the film I hear this foil crinkle and they unwrap two big burritos and it’s just the smelliest food. This old woman several rows in front was looking around smelling… That and obviously just being on your phone.

FRAZIER: The other month I was seeing Doctor Strange 2 and this group of 12-year-old eshays came into the cinema. They were all vaping and all you could see was the vape smoke covering the screen. This guy told the manager and they came in and kicked out the wrong people so we had to get involved and tell the manager who it was… right in the middle of a big set piece.

THE FUTURE

FRAZIER: Where do you want to see the Australian film scene move in the next 5-10 years?

Wizards of Aus

MICHAEL: I think we need to be making movies that people want to see. I think the movies we are making is ‘the whole small town has a secret’, which is fine but we are just making samey films that appeal to middle aged people. I would love to see us take more genre swings. When I tell my girlfriend a movie to watch and say it’s an Australian film she says “oh an Australian film…”

FRAZIER: I have interviewed a few people now and they all say that same thing.

MICHAEL: I am not saying they are bad, I just think they are a little safe. Maybe because a lot of stuff is based on state and government funding.  But it is literally something everyone in the Australian film scene talks about and it never changes so I don’t know what the fuck is up with that.

FRAZIER: I just think doing the Wizards of Aus and Rebooted is the right direction but it’s like why is there not more of that…

MICHAEL: The people I know at Screen Australia are very cool and funny so I just don’t know how it works.

Motion capture…

FRAZIER: My last question… what is next for you?

MICHAEL: I want to always feel like the next thing is bigger and better. With that trajectory, hopefully the next things is bigger. Over the last few years, I have been putting my efforts into writing features for people and hopefully that’s the space I can work in.

Make sure to go and check out all of Michael’s work on Youtube because it is honestly some of the best Australian filmmaking I have seen.

Categories
Interview

A new kind of rom com – An Interview with writer/ director Seth Griffiths-Kemp

Seth Griffiths-Kemp is a writer and director based in Brisbane. He is currently finishing his third year at Griffith Film School where he is working tirelessly on his grad slate film – Schrodingers. After talking with Seth for a while, it made me so excited to see this film. The concept is so unique and refreshing that I cannot wait to see how he puts it all together. Read on for more.

Seth on set

What is Schrodingers about?

Schrodingers is about an incompatible couple – Rosie and Roland – who match on a dating app. They go on a date, and it is not what they hoped it would be. Before they call it quits, they come across this bar called Schrodigners and they decide to have one final drink. Little do they know; each drink shows them visions of the future…”

Poster

How did this idea come to you?

“In came to me last September. I kind of delved into this world of the bar and what if you could see your future with a drink. It feels like a trope of so many rom coms where they share a montage together of their perfect future. So I thought what if that’s tangible and if it’s something that neither character wants.”

Davis Dingle and Brigitte Freeme on set

“When I came to Callum Styles (my producer) we really interrogated this idea and it spiralled into all these different things like the existential feelings young people have, struggles with connection, gamification of dating. All these ideas just blossomed once we dived into these characters.

How did directing and writing a web series (Ain’t it Fun) help you with this film?

“Taylor Ring came to me with this incredible idea and I was immediately on board. We were lucky enough to be greenlit and the moment we were greenlit, we bought like 30-40 other people on board. The most important lesson I learned was the value of collaboration and how important that is. The writers’ room filled with so many different ideas we weren’t even considering. It all created this great cohesion and collaboration. Being open to scrutiny allows you to get to the best possible point of your idea.”

During shooting, what was the biggest challenge to overcome?

Seth, Davis and Brigitte on Set

“Practically, it was the stuff out of control. Whether that was actors or crew not being available or the weather, because we got rained out on the first day… All that stuff is really challenging, and you just got to suck it up and find a solution.”

“After that, it was how taxing it was mentally and emotionally. I hit my low point at least 5 times this year. I just realised I had to power through my inner critic regardless of if I’m satisfied.”

What is the biggest challenge of making an indie short film?

“The financing wasn’t the biggest challenge, but it was taxing on the wallet. It was a constant stream that was going into this. Location cost, outside equipment and catering…”

So far, what has been the most rewarding part of Schrodingers?

Noff Baras on set

It has been seeing these lines of dialogue and images in my head brought to life. The chills when everything is done and set up is really affecting. Especially when it’s something where people are like you can’t do this. Proving people wrong is one of my favourite feelings in the world. We have our VFX artist (Lachie Margetts) and he sent me some edits he did last night and it blew my mind. I am just so excited for people to see those moments and the talent behind this.”

Talking Movies

Favourite writer, director, show and movie?

“I feel like the favourite movie question is death sentence to any film person. I will say that my favourite creative is Donald Glover. He is someone I look up to who is this renaissance man. Going off that, my favourite TV Show now is Atlanta. Season 3 was just ridiculous.

Seth and Davis on set

What films, directors and creatives inspired Schrodingers?

Definitely La La Land. It is just such a comfort movie for me. Also, 500 Days of Summer. Those very classic rom coms with a twist. But the biggest inspiration came out after we finished writing – Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The Future

What is next for you?

“Honestly, I am just happy to go with the flow on a lot of things. I have got a bunch of things. I want to write again and do a music video soon.”

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

“I am hopeful because all the Griffith Grad slate films are so unique. If the Australian film scene is going to be as creative, risky and diverse as these 11 projects then we are going to be in good hands. For the Australian environment, just more risk. I feel like when I see an Australian film I always know it’s an Australian film. The people who are coming up now I think are going to break that mould and make it more about the stories and less about the environment.”

The crew of Schrodingers

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

“They would all be adaptations of things. I would love to see a good take on Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction. Also, there’s this one novel called State Highway One. I would love to see that made because it’s set in New Zealand as well. And just a Nightwing Movie…”

Make sure to follow Seth’s career as he moves into the film scene and especially Schrodinger’s at festivals near you.

Categories
Interview

PAUSE – A Conversation with Writer and Director Jacquelynn Auger

A little over a year ago, I went to the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival held in Winton. All the films were genuinely solid, but one really stood out – PAUSE. Written and directed by Jacquelyn Auger, the short film was incredible. It felt so real and authentic I almost forgot I was watching an indie film. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to do an interview with Jacquie and after finally calling her on zoom, I am glad I did. I learnt so much more about the challenges of women in the industry, what Jacquie has faced and a new perception on commercial success. Read on for more.

EXT. BRISBANE – ZOOM – Day

INTRODUCTIONS.

FRAZIER: So can you just kind of introduce yourself and your role in film?

Jacquie on set

JACQUIE: My name is JACQUELYNN AUGER. I am 22. I finished my degree in 2020. Since then, I have gone on to write and direct. I am now working as a video editor. But writing and directing is my passion.

PAUSE

FRAZIER: Now just moving into PAUSE. Just a rough log line for what it is and what’s it about?

JACQUIE: Rosie comes home from leaving a small town – Winton. She returns for her grandma’s funeral after being away for three years and ghosting her past lover – Jamie. It’s just a love story, plain and simple.

FRAZIER: So how long has this idea been bouncing around in your head for?

JACQUIE: The previous year I went out to Winton as part of the Alumni trip to Winton before the students went out. It started off as a comedy about Romeo and Juliet in the Outback with two opposing pubs. It just wasn’t going anywhere, no one was taking reigns on writing it. I just stemmed it off that because the comedy wasn’t really working.

JACQUIE: I just had a lot of inspiration from past relationships. My community, being a queer person, especially a female/female presenting peoples, we don’t really see ourselves represented properly. Our love stories are usually very sexualised for the male gaze or straight gaze.

FRAZIER: So when did pre-production actually start?

Bridget Webb and Jina Venice

JACQUIE: We went out (to Winton) in September 2020 and we filmed two things, came back started writing it and then went back in June in 2021. So it was like 6 months of pre-production. It was meant to be that everyone who was on the previous film was meant to go onto the next thing, but no one really stuck around. I then brought Kate Boylan-Ascione on board who is an amazing producer. And then she believed in the idea and Ash Burgess also believed in it and it kind of kicked off.

FRAZIER: So how long did it take you to write from beginning to end?

JACQUIE: It took a lot of rewrites… Just because I wanted to make it as authentic as I could. There was a lot of stress about not letting it be a film that doesn’t represent my community properly. I just wanted young queer people to look at this film and think “this is what it is actually like.” A lot of it came from talking with my actresses. I wanted to cast queer actresses.

JACQUIE: When we finished wrapping PAUSE, I didn’t care about the product anymore. What it did for other people and the crew was incredible. I made it so that every person could say a suggestion, I just wanted everyone to walk away being like “there’s a piece of me in it.”

FRAZIER: So your goal was bigger than film festivals? More about the emotion behind the shooting and story?

JACQUIE: Yeah I just wanted to make my community proud and speak to people who haven’t been represented properly.

PAUSE Crew

FRAZIER: When you are writing – cause some people find it challenging and some find it really easy – do you find yourself getting distracted or are you locked in from the beginning?

JACQUIE: When I have an idea, I can sit there for hours and flesh it out. Through Uni and High School, I have found writing scripts quite easy.

FRAZIER: So when you were making it, what was the most challenging part of making an indie short? Whether that be financing, organising, writing, etc.

JACQUIE: I think the hardest part was believing in myself. My last production before that was the Chocolate Bar. It didn’t exceed my expectation of myself. I went into a pretty shit self-loathing hole from that. I didn’t think I was cut out for writing it. Also, my goal of representing my community was a big “holy fuck.”

THE INDUSTRY

JACQUIE: I think the best part of the whole thing was choosing my crew. For the subject off what we were doing, I wanted to provide female identifying people to do it. Majority of our crew were female which is awesome. It’s just hard being a woman in film…

FRAZEIR: Do you want to go into that a bit more or just leave it?

JACQUIE: Me working in the industry, I just felt uncomfortable. There’s a lot of older crews that work on film sets. You kind of get caught between “should I say something to stand up for myself or am I going to ruin my chances of making it.” I feel like we are constantly in that battle being women on set. Surely, it’s getting better, but that’s why I have been discouraged to go down the industry path because I didn’t really have the best experience the first time around.

FRAZIER: Do you have any plans to go back to the industry later?

JACQUIE: If it leads me there then definitely. Since I have this job, it is nice having an income especially coming out of an arts degree. At Film school, they never really talk about commercial work as a success. When I was at film school – it could’ve changed – it just felt like there was only one way to get to success. I just don’t think it’s selling our or giving up doing this kind of work.

FRAZIER: That is so true looking back on it. I only did a year… but it was never about commercial work.

TALKING MOVIES

FRAZIER: I always ask this question, so it must be done. Who is your favourite director and what is your favourite show and movie?

JACQUIE: I don’t have a favourite director… My favourite sitcom is How I Met your mother and New Girl. My favourite movie is Rocky Horror Picture Show. Honourable mentions are Normal People…

FRAZIER: Yeah, I love normal people, just rewatched it again.

JACQUIE: Oh and Fleabag.

FRAZIER: Of course, of course.

THE FUTURE

FRAZIER: This one is hard, and I always give people a while to think about it, but where do you want to see the Brisbane film scene move in the next five years.

JACQUIE: Wow

FRAZIER: Yep ahaha

JACQUIE:  In Brisbane and Australia, I want to see more high production Australian stories to be told. I feel like there is a lot of overseas productions coming over and using our beautiful landscapes. We just need more Australian stories.

FRAZIER: Another hard one, but what is next for you?

JACQUIE: I got this editing job at the moment. I remember talking to Ash about how really good writers and directors are also really good editors. I definitely want to get back to writing and directing again. I want to create content. Maybe a music video.

FRAZIER: Just my last question, if someone came to you and they were like you can make your dream project to make or person to work with, what or who would it be?

JACQUIE: Oh my good… I think it would be the next sitcom. I would love love love to write the next big comedy sitcom.

FRAZIER: So like the next Australian sitcom?

JACQUIE: Yeah like Please Like Me. That’s one of my favourite TV shows.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.