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If you are a forty-something male with even a passing interest in film, Michael Biehn needs no introduction. The lean, physical actor has crafted a highly respected body of work in Hollywood since his debut opposite Cathy Lee Crosby in 1978s high-school comedy, Coach. Now, he has taken on multi-hyphenated auteur status with the grimy, grindhouse shocker, The Victim.

Fate has dictated that A-list fame would prove elusive for the Alabama native. He passed on the Kathryn Bigelow films Near Dark and Point Break; was cast as the lead in James Cameron’s take on Spiderman only to have the project collapse; and, got to the final two for the role ultimately played by Stephen Lang in Avatar. Regardless, Biehn will be forever remembered for a series of action film performances in the 80s and 90s that left an indelible imprint on the key movie-going demographic. Most notable amongst them were his collaborations with directors James Cameron (The Terminator; Aliens; The Abyss), William Friedkin (Rampage; Jade), Franc Roddam (The Lords of Discipline; K2), Michael Bay (The Rock) and Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror). His seething villain ‘Johnny Ringo’ from the George P Cosmatos western, Tombstone, is an audience favourite.

He has a particular fondness for Australia, having worked with director Carl Schultz (Blue Fin; Travelling North, Careful He Might Hear You) on the 1988 apocalyptic thriller, The Seventh Sign (pictured, right, with co-stars Jurgen Prochnow and Demi Moore). “I thought Carl did a great job directing that movie,” says the 55 year-old, talking to SCREEN-SPACE from his Los Angeles office.  “It was a movie that was not marketed properly. Sometimes you make a movie that is a great work but, for whatever reason, just can’t find an audience. But a lot of people come up and talk to me about that film, saying how much it means to them. I’m very proud of that film.”

Having established the production company BlancBiehn with his creative partner and wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, he was under no illusion that The Victim was any kind of ground-breaking vision. “It was so small and we had such a small amount of money, we just wanted to make this little grindhouse, exploitation movie,” he says of the film, which has played prestigious genre festivals such as SITGES, Horrorfest and Fantasia. “I wrote it in three weeks and during that time we also did pre-production on it. We rolled that into a twelve day shoot, working twelve hour days.”

Biehn also takes on acting duties as backwoods loner Kyle Limato, a dark figure happiest when humanity is kept at arms length. His life is upended when a scratched and muddy stripper named Annie (played by Blanc-Biehn) screams for help late one night; her friend, Mary (Danielle Harris) has been killed in a particularly graphic bout of rough, outdoor sex (the film opens on the act, so be warned) and Annie is a witness. Complicating things are the identity of the killers – two corrupt cops, played by Biehn’s friends Ryan Honey and Denny Kirkwood.

The shoot was tough, he readily admits, but having worked with the reputedly volatile likes of Bay, Friedkin and Cameron (pictured, right, on the Aliens set with Biehn and actor Ricco Ross), Biehn knew how to crack the whip when needed. “If you took the three of them and wrapped them together on their worst day, that would’ve been me when shooting The Victim,” he says with a laugh. “We were literally running from shot to shot, with me screaming the entire time. Not at anyone for anything they did wrong, but just ‘Get out of the way’ and ‘Who’s talking?’ and ‘Shut the fuck up’, stuff like that.”

Most mainstream critics have not warmed to the film’s grunginess, but genre sites are trumpeting The Victim. “Frankly, I never even thought it would be reviewed,” says Biehn, genuinely humbled by the acceptance the film recieved. “It got reviewed by the New York Times and I’m like ‘What!’ I couldn’t believe it. It played the genre festivals and it started getting good review after good review through outlets like Ain’t It Cool News and Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.”

The film’s success has been reinvested into their production company, which has several new projects set to shoot. Especially ambitious is an English-language remake of the acclaimed Chilean thriller, Hidden in the Woods. Biehn has shown tremendous faith in the original director, Patricio Valladares, taking him on to helm the Americanized version. “He is very young and enthusiastic and I want him to make it in English,” Biehn says.

Such bold commitments fit well with the BlancBiehn business plan (pictured, right, Biehn and partner, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn). “We are focussed on making small movies now, quality films but films that can also turn a profit. We grew tired of going out on casting calls or just waiting to be called in for acting gigs,” he says. “We’ve created this company so that we can make all our own calls and make our own movies. Maybe, if we make enough of them, we can one day make a big one. Or maybe not, because making these small ones are a lot of fun.” 

Transmission Films will release The Victim in Australia on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on March 27.





The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) kept the 2013 nominations relatively close to the industry’s spiritual home with the announcement overnight of this year’s Oscar contenders. Ceremony host Seth McFarlane, hinting at the low-brow/hit-miss humour we can expect on the big night (a Hitler joke? really?), and actress Emma Stone (pictured below, right) fronted the media throng in Los Angeles to present this years list of hopefuls.

Records were set in the Best Actress category, where 85 year old Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) represent the oldest and youngest nominees ever in that category. Although a handful of nominees came from the international sector (Amour; the Brit pics Les Misérables and Anna Karenina; and, three Australian acting nods) or were low-budget indies (...Beasts; the documentary Chasing Ice), the finalists were mostly from the not-unexpected pool of studio pics that have figured heavily in the award season to-date.

Building what many analysts believe to be insurmountable momentum is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which leads the pack with 12 nominations. Coming in the same weeks as its sweeping of the BAFTA categories, the historical epic’s leading man, Daniel Day Lewis, seems to already have the Best Actor trophy in his cabinet. In line with many of the recent end-of-year honours, other leading contenders include Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (11 nominations); Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook (both with 8 nominations); Argo (7 nominations); and, Amour, Django Unchained, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty (each with 5 nominations). Filling out the field are Beasts of the Southern Wild (4), Anna Karenina (4), The Master (3), The Hobbit (3), Flight (2) and Snow White and The Huntsman (2).

As is often the case, the list of names not nominated makes for far more compelling reading. We break down the major categories below. The ceremony will be held on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre inside the Hollywood & Highland Center.    

It’s early-season release and only-ok box-office took some of the lustre off Beasts of the Southern Wild’s awards momentum, so credit to the Academy for keeping the little film’s dream alive; Moonrise Kingdom wasn’t so lucky. No consideration here for what the public loved (The Avengers, Ted, Magic Mike, The Hobbit, Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises all missing out). The Hollywood Foreign Press corps love for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen also, oddly, did not resonate with Oscar’s voting body.
Amour, Argo, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Silver Linings Playbook.

Much noise is being made about the omission of Argo’s Ben Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathryn Bigelow, but Tom Hooper (Les Misérables), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Robert Zemeckis (Flight), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) could all rightly feel aggrieved.
Life Of Pi - Ang Lee, Lincoln - Steven Spielberg, Amour - Michael Haneke, Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell, Beasts Of The Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin.

Even with his film scoring 11 nominations, Life of Pi’s leading man Suraj Sharma was left out, though he is in good company. Jean-Louis Tritignat (Amour), Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained), Bill Murray (Hyde Park on the Hudson), John Hawkes (The Sessions), Richard Gere (Arbitrage), Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock), Matthew McConnaughey (Killer Joe) and Affleck again were all rightly in the running. Beasts... Dwight Henry couldn’t ride that films good favour to recognition. But this is looking the night’s sure-thing category, with Daniel Day Lewis’ towering performance as Lincoln a lock (pictured, left).
Denzel Washington – Flight, Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook, Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln, Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables, Joaquin Phoenix - The Master.

No clear front-runner, as is often the case with the support players (hence left-field surprises like Kevin Kline for A Fish Called Wanda). Arkin may take the career-vote honours; Waltz and Jones (who did his best work this year in Hope Springs) are past-winners; Hoffman is also Oscar friendly but The Master was wildly divisive. De Niro may takes home the gong, ensuring a trophy for Silver Linings Playbook, which may get swamped elsewhere. Glaring omissions – Leonardo Di Caprio flavoursome bad guy in Django Unchained; John Goodman, who was superb in Argo, Flight and Trouble with the Curve; Javier Bardem’s Skyfall villain; McConaughey again, for Magic Mike or Bernie.
Alan Arkin – Argo, Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained, Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master, Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln.

It was too much to hope that the LA-centric AMPAS voters would honour two French actresses here, thus explaining the absence of Marion Cotillard’s highly-touted turn in Rust and Bone; Riva was favoured. The octogenarian aside, the category reflects a refreshing acceptance of the new young wave of leading ladies; no Meryl Streep (Hope Springs), Maggie Smith (Quartet), Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) or Judi Dench (Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
Emmanuelle Riva – Amour, Jennifer Lawrence (pictured, right) - Silver Linings Playbook, Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty, Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Naomi Watts - The Impossible.

Will probably be the category that allows AMPAS to tip its hat to the love it/hate it musical Les Misérables; Hathaway’s better-than-expected turn as Catwoman will also help her chances. Notable no-shows include Nicole Kidman, who had season momentum for her sad small town tramp in Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy; National Board of Review winner Ann Dowd from Craig Zobel’s Compliance; and, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s reforming alcoholic in James Ponsoldt’s Smashed.   
Amy Adams - The Master, Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables, Helen Hunt - The Sessions, Sally Field – Lincoln, Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook.

Some big names missed out here - Ice Age 4, The Lorax, Rise of the Guardians, Madagascar 3, the wonderful Hotel Transylvania. Brave has the popular vote and Pixar has the runs on the board, but the pick of this category is Frankenweenie. Will AMPAS honour the brilliant career of Tim Burton with a nod for his pet project (no pun intended)? Good - the category contains three hand-configured stop-motion works; bad - a tad all-American. Apparently no room for short-listed works such as Japan's beautiful From Up on Poppy Hill, France's The Painting or U.K's A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman (below, the film's trailer).
Brave; Frankenweenie; Paranorman; The Pirates!; Wreck-it-Ralph.

The Hobbit could find no love in this category, and it needed to as an indicator as to which side of the ‘brilliant/indulgent’ argument the Academy sided with. Hard to see where Beasts... will find traction if not here, but there is the behemoth that is Tony Kushner’s Lincoln script to contend with. The ‘old-man institution’ tag fits the Academy’s bias when superb portraits of teenager angst such as Stephen Chbosky’s reworking of his own novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower are overlooked.   
Chris Terrio – Argo, Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin - Beasts Of The Southern Wild , David Magee - Life Of Pi, Tony Kushner – Lincoln, David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook.

If AMPAS want to honour Haneke with more than just the night’s Foreign Film honours, it will be here. Would be too edgy for the voting members to honour another of Tarantino's ‘n-word’ littered scripts. John Gatin’s Flight over Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is this categories most egregious miscalculation.
Michael Haneke – Amour, Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom, Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty, John Gatins – Flight.

Claudio Miranda’s contribution to the mostly-CGI Life of Pi is hard to pin down to casual observers. Richardson perfectly captured old-school western iconography through his lens and may be Django’s sole winner. But if Lincoln takes picture honours, these top-tier tech categories could easily follow suit.
Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey (pictured, right), Django Unchained - Robert Richardson, Life Of Pi - Claudio Miranda, Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski, Skyfall - Roger Deakins.

Heartening to see the specific skills of Ishioka and Atwood honoured in otherwise poorly received works; would have been entirely fair to see Kym Barrett’s and Pierre-Yves Gayraud’s work on the equally maligned Cloud Atlas similarly honoured. Maybe Les Mis, probably Lincoln.
Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran, Les Misérables - Paco Delgado, Lincoln - Joanna Johnston, Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka, Snow White And The Huntsman - Colleen Atwood.

As great as it is to see outside bolters like 5 Broken Cameras (pictured, left) make the cut, the absence of Bully, West of Memphis and, in particular, The Imposter, hurts this category’s credibility. With several awards in the bag already, expect Searching for Sugar Man to pip the The Gatekeepers.
5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How To Survive A Plague, The Invisible War, Searching For Sugar Man.

Inocente, Kings Point, Mondays At Racine, Open Heart, Redemption

William Goldenberg’s masterful touch with Ben Affleck’s handheld aesthetic will earn Argo the nod.
Argo - William Goldenberg, Life Of Pi - Tim Squyres, Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg, Lincoln - Michael Kahn, Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers.

Not even the Harvey Weinstein touch could up mega-hit The Intouchables into consideration. Haneke’s time has come; Amour will win. But why no Asia Pacific films in the mix? Are AMPAS members missing out? Or is the region’s cinema just in a creative lull? Hong Kong’s Life Without Principle, India’s Barfi! and Thailand’s Headshot all must have come close, right?   
Amour – Austria, Kon-Tiki – Norway (trailer, below), No – Chile, A Royal AffairDenmark, War Witch - Canada

The vastness of the task she faced and the skill with which she brings it off should ensure Lisa Westcott’s efforts on Les Misérables are rewarded.
Hitchcock - Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater; Les Misérables - Lisa Westcott.

He has four Oscars, but John Williams hasn’t won since 1994 (despite being nominated 17 times since then!) Certain to be one of Lincoln’s gongs.
Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli, Argo - Alexandre Desplat, Life Of Pi - Mychael Danna, Lincoln - John Williams, Skyfall - Thomas Newman.

The year’s sleeper hit, Ted, gets its only nod here so may be rewarded (director Seth McFarlane has clearly wooed AMPAS power-brokers to get the hosting gig). But Adele’s Skyfall theme song is a classic Bond tune in a year when Bond hit big and celebrates its 50th anniversary.
'Before My Time' from Chasing Ice, 'Everybody Needs A Best Friend' from Ted, 'Pi's Lullaby' from Life Of Pi, 'Skyfall' from Skyfall, 'Suddenly' from Les Miserables

Traditionally where the historical epics are rewarded, meaning this category is between Anna Karenina (did enough voters see it?), Les Misérables (did enough voters like it?) and Lincoln (will the inevitable backlash have kicked in by then?). Probably Lincoln...
Anna Karenina, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln

Having only seen Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare and Paperman (pictured, left), it’s tough to make a call. Paperman accompanied Wreck it Ralph into cinemas and offered more magic over its few minutes than all of the feature presentation, so I’ll side with it for now.
Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Maggie Simpson In The Longest Daycare, Paperman.

Asad, Buzkashi Boys, Curfew, Death Of A Shadow, Henry

The ultra-realism of Zero Dark Thirty does not come easy and its stunning soundscape may see it take the category here. Although, the same could be said of Argo...
Argo, Django Unchained, Life Of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty.

Skyfall’s five nominations mean that it has already wowed the tech guild AMPAS members, so expect it to take a few of these below-the-line honours. Unless it’s a Lincoln sweep...
Argo, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall.

Given the whole movie is a ‘special effect’, this will be Life of Pi’s trophy. The Dark Knight Rises and the otherwise well-received The Amazing Spiderman were unlucky.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey , Life Of Pi, The Avengers , Prometheus , Snow White And The Huntsman.



A life-long obsession with the wit and wisdom of Woody Allen has led to French director Sophie Lellouch's film debut, the eccentric Parisian romantic-comedy Paris Manhattan. In her charmingly staggered version of English, she discusses her first feature, stars Patrick Bruel and Alice Taglioni and directing her idol.

Screen-Space: What inspires you most about the works of Woody Allen? Why is he such an important author/artist/filmmaker?

Lellouch: Because I think he answers with the very words I imagine. Do you understand? When you watch a Woody Allen work, you can see and believe that everything is possible. He is a director that works a lot with dreams, poetry and the imaginary. When I saw, for the first time, The Purple Rose of Cairo, it was a shock because I remember as a young girl a dream I had to be inside of a movie, to be part of a movie. And it’s weird because a lot times and for a lot of people, he makes true your fantasy. Even for this movie, Paris Manhattan, I was inspired by Play It Again, Sam. (After that film), everyone was dreaming of having Humphrey Bogart as a friend, to help you seduce women. I immediately imagined Woody Allen as my friend.

Screen-Space: Did you ever tell Mr Allen of the depth of your adoration for him?

Lellouch: No, no. I was too shy and I think he was very shy also. We would exchange some nice words. He would say, “So, this is your first movie?” So, no, I never told him but I think he may have figured it out by now (laughs).

Screen-Space: We should get this question out of the way, I suppose. What is your favourite Woody Allen film?

Lellouch: Right now, it is Midnight in Paris. It is a beautiful, beautiful Woody Allen movie.

Screen-Space: Allen is often guilty of casting actors who are then called upon to do their own version of Allen, such as Kenneth Brannagh in Celebrity or John Cusack in Bullets Over Broadway. In casting Alice Taglioni as your leading lady, how determined were you that she would resemble or even mimic you?

Lellouch: Alice and I (pictured, right; on-set, from l-r, Patrick Bruel, Lellouch and Taglioni, seated) spent a lot of time together and she very clearly understood what I needed. Alice is not at all like her character; she is not a dreamer, she is very rehearsed and responsible. But she understood and she is very good actress. But it is true that sometimes when I saw her, I would think it is me. It is true! When you know Alice in real life, you realise her character is not her but the more I looked the more I was able to see what she was doing with the character and what she was doing with me and my words. She is a very good actress.

Screen-Space: Working with someone as experienced as your leading man, Patrick Bruel, must have been a thrill. What did he bring to both the role and the set?

Lellouch: Patrick is very charming, very natural and authentic. I needed that for the character. I needed someone who was able to fit in everywhere. When ‘Victor’ is invited for the dinner, you don’t feel uncomfortable for him; he certainly doesn’t seem uncomfortable. There is no place for him, but he still eats and he talks. He is at ease everywhere. And that’s Patrick. He has lots of qualities so it was easy working with him.

Screen-Space: You directed the very well-received short, Dieu, que la nature est bien faite!, in 1999. Some reports say you were disheartened by a tough shoot. Why the long gap between projects?

Lellouch: No, it wasn’t tough. Time, for me, is not something that is very concrete. For thirteen years, time was very good for me and I didn’t feel its passage. But the moment I felt older, I decided to make the step and make the movie. Do you understand? I am a real dreamer, not really into real life, so I didn’t have a real one year or two year strategy. Now, I am a bit more like that (laughs). And life was different, too. I had children so my life was more focussed on that. I did not feel the urgency to make a movie. I knew it would come later.

Screen-Space: So you chose as your return to directing a project that featured your idol, Mr Allen. Describe that first day on set. Did you ever have to say “Cut! Woody, can we do that one more time...?”

Lellouch: (Laughs) It was crazy! It was my first day on my first movie, so I wasn’t going to say “No, no good! Repeat please!” (laughs) I would have to do a first and second take, but it was more for Patrick (laughs). He was not the usual Patrick. He was there but he would take me aside and say, “This is hard!” It is very unusual to be playing alongside Woody Allen; we were all startstruck. But Mr Allen was perfect. He knew his text and he would always lighten the mood. He was very generous.

Paris Manhattan will be in Australian cinemas on December 13.



Moments after Sarah Snook's Lead Actress nomination was announced, the radiant star of Not Suitable for Children sat with Screen-Space to reflect upon her time making Peter Templeman's inner-city dramedy and what this nomination (her second consecutive nod) means to her.

Screen-Space: At this stage of your career, what does an AACTA nomination mean to you?

Snook: I think at any stage of an actor’s career an AACTA nomination is pretty exciting. I was pretty shocked but certainly thrilled. Very thrilled.

Screen-Space: What was the mood like on the set of Not Suitable for Children? Did the project feel a comfortable fit from the start?

Snook: It was confusing in a way because we were enjoying ourselves so much, which is good. But it can be a dangerous thing, if you are enjoying yourself too much, because then maybe the audience doesn’t get to or it can come across as something completely different. Luckily in the hands of Peter Templeman, he was able to craft it that didn’t seem too self-indulgent, that the actors were running off with the script.

Screen-Space: What environment did Templeman create on the set?

Snook: Pretty chilled (laughs). He’s a bit of a surfer dude from Perth and he had a lot of personal experience, living that party lifestyle in his 20s in a big warehouse in Perth so he was able to fill us in on that reality. And we had a lot of rehearsal before we started shooting, which was good, because it allowed us to create a more realistic bond between those core friendships in the film. So when we were on-set, Peter would say, “Right, you all know what you’re doing, now let me go focus on the technical.”

Screen-Space: When you first read the part of your character, Stevie, what appealed to you most?

Snook: I think her wit. She changed quite a lot over the course of the audition process. Where I read her being, at the beginning of the process, and where she ended being was quite different but, I guess, a little bit of the beginning always stayed with me, all the way through. I enjoyed meeting that first person and I enjoyed creating the last version of her.

Screen-Space: How deliberately did the production try to steer clear of the grungy, inner-city attitude? There is a warmth to the story and characters that is at odds with how many people would view that hedonistic, 20-something crowd.

Snook. I know totally what you mean. I’ve just moved from Redfern to Stanmore and almost immediately I was like “Uh, there’s hipsters everywhere!” (laughs) Which I love, they are my friends. The costume designer on the film, the amazing Gypsy Taylor, created a look that was definitely of now but that wouldn’t age so obviously. She still had the tight jeans but she made things that were a little off-beat but also still cool; not so “Wow, that looks so 2012.” And, you know, hipsters are people, too (laughs). You were probably a hipster when you were a kid, right?

In addition to Sarah Snook's Lead Actress nomination, Not Suitable for Children was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Ryan Corr), Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Music Score at the 2012 AACTAs. It is currently available on DVD.



Driven but humble to a fault, Julietta Boscolo would never acknowledge what many in the industry already know; the Perth-born director is at the forefront of the next wave of Australian feature filmmakers.  Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2011 with a Masters in Film and Television Directing (Narrative), she quickly made industry waves. She became the only Australian (amongst 35 world industry attendees) to be invited to the inaugural Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Talent Lab; her script Acoustic was a finalist in the Vegas Cine Fest Screenwriting Competition and the FirstGlance Screenplay Competition in Philadelphia. To date, her short Safe has secured festival acclaim the world over; her other works, including The Branch and Sam's Gold (pictured on-set, below), are generating serious industry buzz. In SCREEN-SPACE's biggest interview to-date, Boscolo granted generous time and insight into her Australian film industry far....  

Who were the earliest influences on your decision to become a film-maker?

My decision to become a filmmaker was driven solely by my perfectionist streak. After acting school I decided I wanted to create some work for myself. I saw an ad in the Sunday paper to make a short scene for the Comedy Channel and I thought: ‘How hard can it be to make a short film?’ I wasn’t happy with my first film so I sought ways to make a better one. I still do that with every film and thankfully they’ve been getting better. I’ve always been driven to tell stories. I can remember directing skits at primary school. For some reason, that was always my job, that and acting in them and the other kids just accepted that that was what I did, although I was incredibly shy otherwise. I also really love every aspect of creating a film and collaborating with talented people in order to tell a story.  It didn’t influence me to become a filmmaker but Chris Marker’s La Jetée, really resonated with me when I first starting making films. I think it was because it was so simple, composed of still images, yet expressed emotion so powerfully.

Which modern artists most influence your creativity?

Nowadays, I’m inspired by anyone who looks at the world in a fresh way. Whether it’s someone like the painter Franz Marc, the psychiatrist Norman Doidge, who writes about brain plasticity, or a graffiti artist. Although your question does remind me that I need to go look at some art; it’s been too long! Certain films rather than certain filmmakers inspire me. The Fisher King, Le Notti di Cabiria , Lantana, Muriel’s Wedding, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Miracolo a Milano, Life is Beautiful, Iris, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Films full of humour and magic and light. Walter Murch, because I’m really inspired by his original way of approaching sound design, even when he was working in mono. I haven’t even gotten started on inspiring documentaries but I saw two docos in Edinburgh, Calvet and Bombay Beach, that I thought were astounding. Oh and Jane’s Journey about Jane Goodall, there’s one inspiring woman right there!

What does the quote by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi that features on your website reveal about you and your films? Is there an archetypal 'Boscolo' character or theme forming in your works?

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought” doesn’t really reflect an archetypal character or theme but it does reflect my desire to make films which allow audiences to make emotional discoveries; to see the world and themselves as they never have before.  And be inspired to live their lives as completely and as compassionately as they can. Charlie Kaufman’s address to BAFTA on screenwriting also summed it up beautifully. He gave the example of carpenter ants who are infected by a fungus and turn into ‘zombie slaves’ of the fungus, acting against their own interests and the interests of their fellow ants to serve the needs of the fungus. Kaufman said: ‘…I want to do what I can to understand my carpenter ant self and not mindlessly disseminate the fungal spores of my masters’. This is what I want to express in my work, understand my carpenter ant self and the way people understand each other.

And to put that in the context of your narratives…

I’m interested in stories of people who are trying to live in everyday circumstances and find what we all want- love, acceptance, peace of mind, but who see the world differently. People who appear like everyone else but aren’t. Whether this is because of something they’ve been through in their past, the extreme example of this being that poor woman in Austria who was imprisoned by her father in the basement. Or whether it is a physical thing, such as a severe learning disability like that experienced by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, author of ‘The Woman Who Changed her Brain.’ Or because of something they’re fighting to achieve. I’m really interested in perception and portraying emotional states viscerally, so audiences can empathise with these characters and understand where they’re coming from. Humour is also very important as I think people can see it in even the worst circumstances; it’s a survival mechanism.

Safe (pictured, below) continues to enjoy acclaim at festivals worldwide. Why is this film connecting so profoundly with audiences, programmers and juries?

Safe is about a woman, Mia, who wants to fall in love but she never gets past the second date because she is too scared about answering questions about her past. So she goes online and orders ‘The Secrets Safe™’ , a machine that you tell your secrets to and it purports to store them away, encasing them in concrete blocks. But the question the film asks is, “Can you find love if you lock away your past?” No matter how small or trivial their secrets might seem to other people, most people can empathise with someone who wants to hide them away. People seem to either love or hate Safe, which I’m completely fine with. I’d prefer that they hate it, rather than think it ‘so-so’. It’s also been really nice to receive emails from strangers who were moved by the film and calls from actors who’d like to work with me after seeing it. There are things I would like to change in all my films and this also applies to Safe but I’m happy with how it turned out.

Many remark that Safe is a visually stunning work, a very bold vision...

Safe was my first collaboration with cinematographer Jeremy Rouse. For me it was really important to show Mia’s emotional perspective visually to convey how this impacted her relationships with men. So Jeremy and I collaborated on getting this across to an audience through the use of lenses and shot sizes. I’m also a big believer in shooting with natural light and Jeremy thinks natural light is the best light. Performance is also a strong focus of mine and Jeremy was very mindful of the cast. He suggested that rather than have the set of The Secrets Safe booth three-sided (leaving the fourth side open for lighting, camera and sound access), that we enclose the booth completely and just drill a hole for the lens to fit through. The whole thing would be lit from overhead or from within the booth. Effectively, Adrienne (Pickering, lead actress) was alone with the camera and I think that this really helped in what were some incredibly emotional scenes.

Was the production the usual struggle associated with getting short-film visions to the screen?

I was really lucky to find an amazing team that read the script, embraced my vision of it and helped to bring it to life. The beautiful Adrienne Pickering (pictured, left), who completely understood the character of Mia and delivered such an astounding performance in the film. The funny thing is that when we were shooting, Adrienne had just finished up on the first series of Rake and on paper, her character Missy could seem very similar to Mia. Both were women with pasts to hide. Yet Adrienne played them completely differently, a testament to her talent. On the production side, our producers, Fiona Leally and Janet Duncan, thought outside the box and made a difficult film happen logistically including arranging for us to shoot underwater in the Olympic diving pool at the Melbourne Aquatic Centre in the middle of the night. VCA also allowed me the freedom to tell the story I wanted to tell.

What lessons did you take from the Sam’s Gold shoot?

Sam’s Gold is about how sometimes stories are our way out. The film was made through Screen NSW’s Emerging Filmmakers Fund and it really helped having a little bit of money to pay everyone, although it was literally a little bit. Sam’s Gold was the first of my films I hadn’t written and I really enjoyed working with the writer, Rebecca Clarke, who wrote such a beautiful and original little script. Bec’s a close friend of mine and it was her first film and she was very open to feedback but also knew when to go with her instinct. Matt Reeder is a really creative producer and it was great to hear his input at every stage of the process. I’m really proud of the film. And although we’re just starting to send out to festivals, we’ve already been offered distribution from a large shorts distributor which is nice.

Describe the industry environment for the Australian short film-maker. Is there a commitment in the industry to mentoring young directors of short-films?.

I see myself as a storyteller who has started out telling short stories and is now moving into telling longer tales. I am also willing to tell stories of any length, as long as I tell them well. When I was first starting out, working as an assistant editor at a TVC cutting house, Ray Lawrence (pictured, right) was incredibly generous to me at a time when I was just starting to find my own voice. He read a short script of mine, sent me writings on story by Aristotle, lent me a copy of his favourite short film and gave me a book on screenwriting. Ray taught me: ‘You have to tell stories that you care about and want to share.’ I also was inspired to shoot with natural light after working with him. It was funny, as an Assistant Editor I often had to make Ray coffee on this professional coffee machine that we had in the office. Problem is, I don’t drink coffee. So I had really no idea how to make a good one.  And Ray had no problem expressing time and time again how bad the coffees were that I brought him. After I left my job at the editing place, Cate Jarman who was producing for Ray at the time, got me a job as runner on one of his TVCs. My job was to make coffee for the crew. I went around taking people’s orders but when I got to Ray, he said loudly: ‘She can’t make coffee… But she’s a good writer’. So rather than making coffees for the crew, I had to go to the shop and buy them for everyone instead. But I didn’t care.  I wasn’t planning a career as a barista. My long-term mentor is also a friend, Paul Goldman.  Paul has supported me for years, giving me references and advice, reading scripts, watching my work, giving me very honest, insightful but mindful criticism. I feel very honoured because I think Paul is an incredible director. It was also fantastic doing a Director’s Attachment with Tony Krawitz on the Sydney shoot for Dead Europe. I feel very blessed - lots of people in the industry have been incredibly supportive when I needed them; too many to mention although I do remember them. The industry is full of big-hearted, caring people.

What have been your highs and lows? What moments will you reflect upon when mentoring the next generation of film-makers?

There are a lot of lows but you move past them.  Struggling for money; being shortlisted but not getting funding; having to shoot incredibly quickly; not being able to pay people properly. It was also very difficult being at VCA while my partner Simon was in Sydney. That was probably the most difficult thing for me. The rest of it is transitory. Highs include being the only Australian at the inaugural Edinburgh Film Festival’s Talent Lab. Having someone quite high up in the international industry asking to read my script. It was also nice to be nominated for an If Award for Rising Talent, screen in some fantastic festivals and of course receiving the Emerging Filmmakers Fund grant from Screen NSW.  Acknowledgements are great as they help you get where you need to be and show you you’re not entirely crazy for pursuing what you want to do; you’re crazy for other reasons! Ultimately the high for me though, is when your film finishes and there is loaded silence before people start to respond. Or a stranger waits to talk to you so they can tell you how much it affected them. That means you’ve done your job well and makes all the hard work worth it.

Julietta Boscolo’s debut feature film script, Catching Sight, was short listed for Screen Australia’s Springboard Initiative and is currently in development.