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Thursday
Apr262012

GLENN TRIGGS: HOTEL ROOMS AND TIME TRAVEL 

A few short weeks after delivering his film's final edit, Melbourne-based multi-hyphenate Glenn Triggs talks to SCREEN-SPACE about his time-travel feature, 41.

 

Where did the idea for 41 come from?

The idea for '41' came from trying to source a project that really interested me and would hold some gravity of drama to it. Time travel has always been a fascination of mine, especially growing up with George Pal's The Time Machine film. I'm not exactly sure where the idea for using a hole in the floor of a motel to travel back 12 hours at a time came from, but it was manifested on paper and became the film. I wanted '41' to have an extreme realism to it, so absolutely no special effects. I really wanted the element of time travel to be a naturally occurring black hole - as boring as walking through a door!

What are the inherent anomalies associated with time travel stories you had to face in the scripting stage?
 
Continuity in the script was very difficult, as I was dealing with sometimes many different versions of the same event seen from different perspectives. A lot of those issues were ironed out in the script and editing the film itself presented problems that were almost impossible to see in the script yet were fixable with re-shoots and editing. The '41' script was just an idea in my head for about 2 years. I would tell people about it - "It's about this guy, and he tells himself not to go to this particular Motel but he goes there anyway and finds a time portal and then has to stop himself from stopping himself" - and I would be talking about it for 30-40 minutes. All these layers presented themselves and it continually sparked my filmmaking interest. So I sat down one day and wrote it. A year later it was finished and year after that if was shot! 

What films and filmmakers have inspired and influence your work in general and 41 in particular?

Films such as The Time Machine was where the passion for this film came from. I used Field of Dreams as a template, to deal with almost paranormal themes in the film in such a realistic fashion. Ron Howard's 'Cocoon' was a great example about dealing with death and old age which are themes in the film. I'm a huge fan of a lot of the big directors that consistently bring marvellous films to the cinema like James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Mel Gibson. 

With your first film Cinemaphobia getting festival play, was getting 41 off the ground easier?

A little bit. It was easier to deal with the whole low budget element - and realise that you really can get anything on screen if you put your mind to it. Cinemaphobia was a large ensemble horror film that I really had to get out my system, but '41' has really turned into something I hope to one day be remembered by, if anything! 

The thrill of shooting vs the constant struggle to fund - with the power of hindsight, describe the life of the independent filmmaker over the course of a production like 41?

There is a large scale of freedom when making an independent film which I am in love with. Sure things are sometimes harder to get sourced and completed and most stuff takes a lot longer to get done with the majority of people involved having to deal with full time jobs outside of the film. I wouldn't say '41' was difficult to make - it was actually a lot of fun. We spread the shoot out over about 8 months with around 30 days of filming involved in total. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is you have alot of time to organize during shooting what will be shot next. With limited crew this is very useful not to burn everyone out and keep funds flowing from a normal everyday job. The bad side is people change over 8 months, they get haircuts, their clothes wear out. So continuity can be an issue yet we managed to work through all those things. 

What is the distribution strategy for a film like 41? Will you go to market (Cannes, AFM, etc) or focus on Festival exposure, or both?

Festivals, festivals, festivals! Going to get the film out there internationally in a big way and really believe it will find an audience. Then hopefully we will be contacted to get the film distributed around. It could be a long or very short process - all about timing. So the post office will be my good friend for the next few months! 

What is next for you and your production company, Dark Epic?

There is a script in production at the moment. A very epic piece I've been thinking out for a few years. It will most definately require a budget so I'm keeping that one away for a another day. In the meantime I'm working on a documentary about a filmmaking friend of mine and will most likely be shooting another low budget feature in about 6 months.
Saturday
Apr212012

REBUILDING YOUR LIFE IN LEGO

A contemporary family drama offers rare insight into Australia's Indian community.

Despite holding its World Premiere at the 2011 Dungog Film Festival and travelling to Pusan in October with the Screen Australian contingent (accompanied by heavy-hitters Red Dog, Snowtown and The Hunter), Winston Furlong’s unique father-daughter drama Taj is still awaiting a distribution deal here in Australia.

The long gestation period had a lot to do with Furlong’s determination to realistically portray contemporary Indian society as it exists in Australia. He acknowledges that there was no barometer by which to measure his script’s commercial potential. “No film has ever originated from Australia which had any kind of Indian sensibility or Indian actors in dramatic roles,” he states with conviction. “There have been Chinese, Vietnamese, obviously Aboriginal sensibilities attempted (on-screen) in Australia, but no one has ever attempted to look at Indian sub-culture.”

Pitched to Film Victoria and Screen Australia for funding, first-timer Furlong (he had two experimental shorts to his name) very quickly learnt the harsh realities of film financing. “The first question that they ask is ‘Who’s in it?’”, he tells SCREEN-SPACE, exclusively. “Now, the kind of film I was making, given the Australian (acting) scene, there are no Indian actors that are recognised in any way.” Ultimately, Furlong and his producing partners at Oziinda Films sought private financing, a task made easier thanks to the generous involvement of recognizable actors such as Davini Malcolm, Nicholas Bell and comedian Mark Mitchell. 

Also easing the anxieties of those pitch-meetings was the great hook Furlong had in the form of India’s most recognisable landmark made entirely from Denmark’s most famous export. “We wrote to LEGO, hoping to get some sponsorship,” Furlong says, with a laugh, “and they said they were fine for us to do it but they didn’t want to financially back it.” The beautiful centre-piece of the film is the work of US-based constructionist Arthur Guglick, who states somewhat ironically on the LEGO-afficionado website MOCpages.com, “I needed to remember that the model was being built by a precocious teen-ager (with the help of her grandfather who is an architect) so I tried not to use any advanced building techniques.”

Furlong flew Guglick to Australia for the shoot, though dispels any notion it introduced the American to the glamourous side of film-making. “Yes, we got him over,” says Furlong, “but he travelled economy class and he stayed in the spare bedroom of my partner’s house. That’s the world of low-budget films!”

Though frustrated that Taj’s fate is trapped in a void that doesn’t allow for easy marketing angles, Furlong is nevertheless happy to wait for the right screen partner. “There are over 300,000 Indian people living in Australia, so the distributor has to take into account how to get to those people, as well as getting into the arthouse circuit for Western audiences,” he states, wearing his producer’s hat momentarily. “I’m keen to find a distributor who knows how to approach both those markets, because they are very distinct markets.” Furlong seems almost resigned to the reality his film will be self-distributed. “It is looking like an independent distribution model of-sorts,” he says, “though it is a bit piecemeal at the moment.” The film continues to snare prime festival exposure, which will undoubtedly bolster its shelf-life; in April, it will play both the Boston International Film Festival and Northern California’s Tiburon Film Festival. 

Furlong is currently in pre-production on his second feature, a more marketplace-friendly Bollywood-inspired musical/comedy called Serena and Her Sisters. But he will continue to fight with a passion for Taj, constantly drawing strength from the reaction of Indian audiences, both here and in their homeland (producer Michelle Rourke screened it for prospective buyers at the recent FRAMES media event in Mumbai). “When it has been shown it to Indian people in India, they have been bowled over,” he says. “They see their own skin colour, their own people up on the screen and they go ‘Wow!’ It is the first time they have seen themselves onscreen in strong roles.”

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