Archives For Interviews

Since the age of 19, with his accomplished documentary about his aunt, Chasing Buddha, Amiel Courtin-Wilson has been swimming through a sea of never-ending work (“I just really love what I do, so I try to do as much as I can.”) When FilmInk catches up with him in Paris, he is working with composer and sound designer Nicholas Becker (Batman Begins), about to board a plane to return to hometown Melbourne as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) for a screening of his new film The Silent Eye, as well as a 10th anniversary screening of his documentary Bastardy.

Running just over an hour, The Silent Eye is a contemplative performance piece that sees Japanese dancer, 72-year-old Min Tanaka collaborating with free jazz pioneer, 88-year-old Cecil Taylor; the pair having known each other for over 30 years. It’s a stripped back affair that contrasts with Amiel’s previous narrative work.

“I’ve been doing these shoots that take years and years, I wanted to do something that was discreet and very contained,” he explains. “I was really interested to see if I could shoot a feature in a few days, in a single room and setting those kind of creative constraints.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

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Perhaps all of us at some time have wanted to reinvent ourselves; to be reborn a new person. For former housewife Morgana Muses, the desire came when she was at her absolute worst. Recently divorced and feeling isolated from her conservative community, Morgana, sadly, wanted to end her life. Before doing so, she hired a male escort for one last stab of intimacy. It was from this point onwards her life took on a whole new meaning. Seizing a later opportunity to make an erotic film about her experience, Morgana lit the touchpaper to a new life as a feminist adult actress.

The documentary, Morgana, follows the titular subject as she takes ownership of her sexuality and identity and is directed by Melbourne filmmakers, Josie Hess and Isabel Peppard. Isabel is an award-winning animator whose short Butterflies won great acclaim on the festival circuit. Josie, along with writing and producing the short film Sunroom, has worked on numerous indie erotica projects including Morgana’s Permission4Pleasure label.

“Josie had approached me to direct Morgana’s 50th birthday present to herself, which was to be suspended in a giant bondage installation,” Isabel explains. “It wasn’t something I would have directed, because I only direct my own visions and the stories I write. However, Josie told me about Morgana’s story, that three years ago she was a housewife from rural Australia and now she’s a pornographer and I thought ‘wow, that’s an incredible story’.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

The Space Between is the feature length debut from director Ruth Borgobello and the first to come out of the Italian/Australian co-production treaty signed way back in the ‘90s. A potent blend of second chances, love and stunning scenery, the film is likely to resonate with the Europhiles of Australia.

Filmmaker Ruth Borgobello hadn’t always wanted to be a director. Growing up she had her heart set on being an actress or a writer. Discovering films like A Clockwork Orange and The Graduate in her teens, led her to wanting to study film at VCA. A word from her careers guidance counselor led her down a different path however.

“He gave me a disapproving look,” Ruth explains “and said, ‘if you want to study arts, then at least do Arts/Commerce so you have a back-up.’ I took his advice to heart and ended up at Melbourne Uni studying Commerce, sneaking in a few cinema subjects and getting involved in theatre. Marketing was the most creative of the majors on offer so I did that.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

British actor, Steve Oram, co-wrote and starred in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, and has also featured in The Mighty Boosh, The World’s End, and Paddington. His new film Aaaaaaaah! – which he stars in, wrote and directed – is screening this week at The Lido Cinemas in Melbourne. The film, in which the actors only communicate through animalistic grunts, sees Smith (Oram) fall in love with Denise (Lucy Honigman), which pushes him to prove his dominance as the alpha male on the quiet suburban streets of England. The film also stars Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, and pop singer/actor, Toyah Wilcox. FilmInk caught up with Steve Oram to talk about his unusual approach to storytelling.

You co-wrote Sightseers, and you have a number of other films under your belt. Was Aaaaaaaah! always at the back of your mind? “It’s an idea that I’d been mulling over for ages, because I found it so funny that we’re very similar to apes. Everything about us is so similar! We are primates, but no one references it. So, I had this idea for ages of speaking like apes but in a normal setting. It wasn’t until I got the right story that things started to take shape properly. The idea of doing a very straight, traditional, almost love story – Romeo and Juliet style – but in this brutal way really crystallised a lot of the ideas and themes within the film for me. I knew that I was onto something good when I started talking to people about it, and everyone was saying, ‘That sounds amazing! You’ve got to make it!’ I’ve always been very confident about it. I knew that getting the right cast would make it work. We did it on a shoestring budget, which meant that we had the freedom to do it exactly how we wanted to.”

It’s got a distinct documentary feel to it…you’re almost expecting David Attenborough to narrate the action… “It’s very much influenced by David Attenborough’s documentaries, and the unflinching way that nature documentaries in the ‘80s looked at their subjects. These days, it’s much more anthropomorphized, and there’s this weird music over the top. It’s like watching a drama about two penguins or something. But Attenborough never looked away. He’d just have a slow zoom in on this primate ape that was about to smash the brains in of another ape. It was really disturbing as a kid; I was fascinated by them. [Laughs] It stayed with me for days.”

It’s a very black and white universe in the film, with people brutally forcing their justice on others? “But then so is our culture anyway. When you strip away language, you actually are left with a very brutal culture. Language allows us to feel clever and above the creatures in nature, when we’re actually not at all. We’re just apes in clothes living in weird structures. We have rules and we’re able to kid ourselves that we’re superior. It’s true that anything in the film can actually happen in real life. Some of it is ever so slightly heightened, but it’s all real.”

For the rest of this article, please visit filmink.com.au.

The worlds of genre cinema and roller derby collide this year with the release of MurderDrome: the tale of a Melbourne based roller derby team being chased down by a soul hungry, inline skating demon. Whip It this ain’t. Nor was it a straightforward production; the film’s publicity highlights that this was three years in the making.

The idea was conceived by Daniel Armstrong, the film’s director and writer, who had written a script nearly six years ago “that was more or less a rip-off of The Warriors,” in which a gang of Derby girls comes to blows with gangs of pro-wrestlers and mimes. Although the script didn’t work out, his heroines stayed with him.

Years later and Daniel’s previous attempt at filmmaking almost crushed his spirit for the art.

“Trying to hold down my 9 to 5 job and make a feature film in the lack-of-spare time that allows was draining,” he says. “To have it fall over in post was devastating. I had to sell all my gear to cover debts and essentially shelve the project indefinitely.”

After almost calling it quits, a little bit of time and perspective (“I also got bored,” he explains) helped him make the decision to pick up a camera again. This time he would try an ‘80s style slasher: “I recalled my roller derby protagonists and it was like ‘EUREKA – a roller derby slasher film!’”

Having had his fingers burned with his previous film, Daniel understandably wanted to keep things as simple as possible to ensure a smooth shoot for all. Rather than a feature length affair, MurderDrome was intended to be a five episode web series that would have been quick and easy to achieve. With a script that was roughly 20 pages, Daniel went into pre-production, and it was during the auditions that he met Louise Monnington who would co-star in the film as well as act as Derby Advisor and Script Editor.

The rest of the interview can be read at FilmInk.com.au.

 

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

This article was originally a college essay for my Freelance Journalism course. My thanks to Margaret Pomeranz who was extremely helpful.

Refused classification in 2003, Ken Park is still no closer to being released in Australia. John Noonan talks to Margaret Pomeranz about her part in the attempts to help the public see the film.

A teenager arrives at a busy skate park. He pulls two items out of his backpack; a video camera and a loaded gun. With the video camera set up, he takes a look around and produces a massive grin, which he maintains even as he puts the gun against his temple and pulls the trigger. As openings go, Ken Park (Larry Clark, 2002) is pretty confrontational, but that harrowing scene is not even the most controversial aspect of the film.

Made in 2002, Larry Clark’s Ken Park centres on the lives of four teenagers; each suffering a hand-to-mouth existence filled with abuse and disenfranchisement. With frank and graphic depictions of realistic sex – including an act of auto-asphyxiation – the film was met with polarising reviews.

Margaret Pomeranz, presenter of movie review program At the Movies, has a history with Ken Park. Having organised an illegal screening a few weeks after it was refused classification. I asked Margaret about the first time she saw Ken Park.

‘I first saw Ken Park at the Venice Film Festival in 2002. I said to Larry Clark then, that I thought he might have problems getting a classification for the film in Australia. He scoffed at that idea, said Australian audiences were some of his biggest supporters.’

One of the main reasons given for the film’s classification refusal was cited as being down to the scenes involving unsimulated sex. In the Board’s opinion, these scenes are graphic, depict the characters as minors, involve sexualised violence, as well as one scene of implicit sexual abuse and, in some instances, were ‘unnecessarily long in duration.’ It was judged too strong for an R and, due to the depiction of minors and masochistic sex, it could not receive an X either. The film was in limbo.

The film was originally lined-up to play at the 2003 Sydney Film Festival. Whilst a film shown at a festival can often bypass classification for public viewing, a stipulation under the Commonwealth Classification Act says that, films have to be classified before they can be sold, hired or shown publicly. Ken Park’s distributor, unbeknownst to the Festival, had applied for the film’s sale and distribution. As such, the film went under closer scrutiny.

‘The timing was horrendous,’ Margaret said, ‘If they’d held back until after the festival, not nearly as much fuss would have been made.’

However, that was not to be the case. Ken Park was refused classification on 21 May 2003 and the Sydney Film Festival found itself with a hole in its schedule.

‘The festival organised a Q&A session with Larry Clark, no vision, just audio.’ Margaret said. ‘Julie Rigg (movie specialist and previous host of Movietime) and I discussed the issues of the film and the cause celebre of its banning with him. He was not happy.’

Straight after the session, Margaret, Julie and documentary filmmaker, Martha Ansara discussed Ken Park and formulated a plan to organise an illegal screening to give people the opportunity to see the movie. As well as Margaret and well-known Australian journalist David Marr, around 500 people attended the screening, who had learnt about the event through the wonders of ‘word of mouth.

Also making an appearance were Balmain’s boys in blue.

‘It was pretty impressive, the support we got from film lovers,’ said Margaret. ‘There was a certain hesitation about actually going through with it because of the police presence, but we felt we should at least show it.’

After addressing the audience, the play button was pressed and, before the opening credits could even finish, the authorities immediately put the kibosh on it.

‘It was bit of an impasse, the crowd was getting agitated. And so I said, damn it! And pressed play again.’

The police then cut off the power which successfully stopped the screening but of course they were unable to remove the illegal DVD from the player because there was no power! With the screening officially over, names and addresses were taken and David Marr let off a bit of steam.

‘This is ultimately how it’s done,’ he said. ‘By a team of police, in a public hall. Full of adults who wish to see a film that is freely screened in many countries around the world.’

In a live debate on ABC following the event, Maureen Shelly, then of the Classification Review Board, admitted that Ken Park, ‘had substantial artistic merit’ but reiterated that it was still the right decision to refuse it classification. This comment still concerns Margaret today.

‘I don’t understand the granting of ‘artistic merit’ status and then refuse classification. However there were conservative forces at work in Australia then.’

It’s been 10 years since that screening and Ken Park is still yet to receive a classification in Australia. In that time, films like Shortbus (Jordan Cameron Mitchell, 2006), which depicts real sex acts, and the previously banned Salo (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975) can both be bought at your local JB HiFi. Conversely, I Want Your Love (Travis Mathews, 2010) was banned from being shown at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, for its explicit nature.

‘These days I think censorship is irrelevant in its current form,’ Margaret says. ‘What I think the role of the Board is to give adequate and detailed advice on content so (people) can make up their own minds.’

Margaret doesn’t believe she’s alone in this view, either. Indeed, there certainly does appear to be a rising tide of protest towards censorship in Australia. The power of social media means people are free to express their thoughts about classification decisions quickly. Earlier this year, the videogame Saints Row 4 was turned down twice for classification and had to be edited for an eventual. This is despite newly introduced R rating put in place to supposedly stop these kind of issues.

‘The “Nanny State” is anathema to me and to a lot of people,’ says Margaret. ‘Whenever I have campaigned on censorship issues the overwhelming response has been support from the general population who want to be treated like adults.’

Winding up our conversation, I asked Margaret what her thoughts about Ken Park are like today and whether she stills stands by the decisions she made ten years ago.

‘I haven’t seen Ken Park in a while, but I am still convinced that there is an honesty in the film about the alienation of children. I was very moved by the movie when I first saw it. I hope I still would be. You’ve made me want to go back and revisit.’

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

For those shameful few who’ve never seen this Ozploitation classic, Patrick is the tale of a comatose patient with telekinetic powers who develops an unhealthy crush on his night nurse; unleashing a series of atrocities upon the men in her life and the staff of the hospital. The remake is directed by Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens) and produced by none other than Antony Ginnane, a legendary producer whose back catalogue includes Turkey ShootScreamers and Last Dance.

Antony took some time out of his busy schedule to give John Noonan the lowdown on Patrick.

Patrick (2013) - Dir. Mark Hartley

Patrick (2013) – Dir. Mark Hartley

You produced the original in 1978. It’s an Aussie horror classic – In Not Quite Hollywood Tarantino said he pays homage to it in Kill Bill – what made you want to revisit it?

Director Mark Hartley was a fan and asked me if I had considered remaking it. We knew Carrie was being remade and, of course, so were a lot of classic and near classic cult thriller and horror pics from the 70s and 80s. Mark and I are both Hitchcock devotees. I have argued strongly for more Australian remakes – so it made sense.

Has it been easy getting it onto the big screen? Have there been any obstacles or has it all been smooth sailing?

It’s never smooth sailing to finance any film. It took close to five years from conception to completion. Putting together an Australian film finance package is complex and multiple elements have to fall into place.

There were some bumps on the way – but we got there. Screen Australia had become more open to genre – which was helpful.

The rest of this interview can be found here.