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Entries in Independent Film (17)

Saturday
Oct052019

1BR GIVES HORRORS OF RENTAL LIVING A NEW LEASE  

David Marmor’s directorial debut, 1BR, will play well with Australia’s capital city audiences, for whom rental-house hunting is its own nightmarish reality. For Marmor's protagonist Sarah, the gated apartment community she’s found in sunny LA seems too good to be true; in true spine-tingling psychological-horror style, so it proves to be. Working from his lean, taut script and with a fearless leading lady in Nicole Brydon Bloom, Marmor (pictured, below) has crafted an intensely gripping examination of modern urban living. Ahead of the Australian Premiere of 1BR at Fangoria x Monster Fest 2019, Marmor spoke with SCREEN-SPACE about the film that RogerEbert.com praised as “unique horror.” 

SCREEN-SPACE: Your understated directing style serves the simmering tension and unfolding puzzle of the film superbly. Films such as Polanski's The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby came to mind for me, as well as Brian Yuzna's Society. Who are the filmmakers and what are the films that inform your directing?

DAVID MARMOR: You hit the nail on the head with Polanski. I'm not sure it'd be possible to make a movie like this without being influenced by his apartment trilogy. I also found inspiration in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, which I think is a masterful example of subjective storytelling, planting us firmly in Nina's troubled mind from start to finish. Michael Haneke and Stanley Kubrick always influence me, and for 1BR I drew especially from Caché and A Clockwork Orange. Other influences are harder to pin down, as I think I've subconsciously absorbed lessons from so many filmmakers I grew up on. Odd as it may seem, there's probably a little Spielberg in there, too. (Pictured, right; Nicole Brydon Bloom, as Sarah, in 1BR)

SCREEN-SPACE: There's a strong thematic subtext that explores the sacrifice we have to make to conform; one of my favourite lines is, "The sooner you give up, the sooner you'll be free." Is your film a call-to-arms, to cling to your individuality and personal voice? Did you come at the story with a socio-political agenda?

DAVID MARMOR: I really don't have any political agenda. I know there's at least one reviewer out there who was convinced the movie is an Alex Jones-style paranoid fantasy, and someone else once came up to me and said conspiratorially that he understood my real meaning - that it was all an indictment of socialism. I'm actually happy that different audiences are finding different meanings in the movie, but my intent in creating the community was in fact to give it very positive underlying values--and then twist them into something terrible. That was the most frightening idea to me, and it's also the way these things often seem to evolve in real life. I don't think anybody starts out intending to create a repressive religion or a violent death cult (at least I hope not!), but when your goal is to save all of humanity, there are no limits to the means you can justify to yourself. If there's any deeper meaning underlying the story, for me it's more metaphorical than political. I think many people struggle with the tension between being true to ourselves and what we owe our family, our friends, and our society. Those obligations, as important as they are, can make us feel trapped in our lives. On some level, I think of this story as a kind of extreme exploration of that internal tension. (Pictured, above; Marmor, right, directing Bloom during principal photography)

SCREEN-SPACE: The dark psychology that goes into breaking Sarah's spirit is agonisingly specific. Is the methodology you employ based upon research or just plucked from the dark recesses of your own mind?

DAVID MARMOR: Sadly, the world has much darker recesses than my mind, and I found I didn't need to make much up. The methods in the movie are almost entirely based in reality. Many of the physical methods come directly from techniques the U.S. government has used in the Iraq War and other recent conflicts, as well as practices employed by the British government during the Troubles. I also drew heavily from my research into cults, many of which seem to share a common set of psychological tools for isolating people and keeping them dependent.

David Marmor's 1BR will screen as part of Fangoria x Monster Fest 2019 (Melbourne - Oct 13/16; other states Oct 31-Nov 3). Full session and venue details available at the official website

Wednesday
Aug072019

NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: FIVE TO BOOK FIRST FROM SUFF 2019

The Sydney Underground Film Festival enters its teenage phase; the 13th annual festival of warped, wicked celluloid is set to unnerve and entertain from September 12-15. The tone is set from Session 1, with ageing enfant terrible Harmony Korinne’s raucous celebration of self-medication The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConnaughey-hey-hey, set to open the festivities, complete with skank-scented smoke machines (yeah, that’s right). There is a myriad of alternative content on offer - 23 narrative features, 12 documentaries and 45 short films, as well as strands dedicated Virtual Reality, Nigerian cinema and splendidly splattery no-budget effects wizardry.

But if you need your mind quickly blown, just where should you focus your secret, sordid cravings for the offbeat and unusual? SCREEN-SPACE zeroed in on five features from the 2019 SUFF line-up that may satiate those urges, for a while at least…

BRAID (Dir. Mitzi Peirone | 82mins | USA)
Program Prose: A candy-coloured, hallucinogen-fueled lunacy binge, (debut director Mitzi perone) makes one hell of a first impression, applying
a dizzying sense of dream logic and an uncompromisingly feminist edge to a Gothic, almost fairy tale-like psychological horror.
Critical Condition: “What sort of mind would concoct something this peculiar and undeniably personal, and fill it with gaslighting, torment, torture, disfigurement, murder, slapstick, and scenes of adults playing dress-up like kids? I came away feeling that I'd seen, if not a major film, then a film by major talents.” – Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
Screen-Space thinking…: Buzz is this is a stylistic companion piece to Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, with narrative echoes of The Killing of Sister George and Daughters of Darkness. Tick, tick and tick…

Mope Trailer from LUCAS HEYNE on Vimeo.

MOPE (Dir. Lucas Heyne | 105mins | USA)
Program Prose: In the world of pornography,
the term ‘mope’ refers to a low-level, wannabe porn actor who perhaps isn’t quite well endowed or attractive enough to achieve the success granted to “bigger”-name porn stars…Heyne crawls right under the skin of this grimy landscape, crafting a melancholy portrait of two misguided souls seeking love and acceptance, just like the rest of us.
Critical Condition: “Mope is a ballsy movie.” – Kyle Brunet, Boston Hassle
Screen-Space thinking…: Full disclosure – pornography and the machinations that produces it hold an ugly allure; it is why I am drawn over and over to not only Boogie Nights, but also sad, sickly tales like Auto Focus, Lovelace, Inserts and Wonderland. Critics are citing the very human connection that Heyne draws from his characters, which is something new for this sub-genre…. 

GREENER GRASS (Dir. Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe | 95mins | USA)
Program Prose: Eschewing all decorum and boundaries, Greener Grass mercilessly shreds all the institutions western society holds dear… this deranged lovechild of John Waters and Tim & Eric grows more inappropriate, unhinged, and surreal by the frame.
Critical Condition: “It’s basically the best ‘Saturday Night Live’ movie that Saturday Night Live never made, and if Lorne Michaels were half the talent scout we believe, he’d hire both DeBoer and Luebbe on the spot.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
Screen-Space thinking…: Skewering the faux morality and middle-class nightmare that is American suburbia is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but when the filmmakers go for broke and the satire is razor-sharp, film classics are born (Blue Velvet; American Beauty; The Graduate). Fingers-crossed…

THE WOLF HOUSE (Dir. Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León| 75mins | Chile)
Program Prose: Inspired by the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a German commune that doubled as a clandestine torture camp under Augusto Pinochet, The Wolf House distils the horrors of history into a hellish folktale… a dark, compelling, enigmatic puzzle box of a film that will continue to burrow deep into your subconscious long after the credits roll.
Critical Condition: “Sometimes reminiscent of an Eraserhead-style Lynchian nightmare turned into sculpture, paintings and stop-motion, beasts become human, a body forms out of a head like something out of science fiction, and inside every constrained girl is an eager bird desperate to fly free.” – Sarah Ward, Screen Daily
Screen-Space thinking…: The burning passion for ground-breaking animated storytelling that defines the brilliant career of Jan Svankmajer is a clear influence. Good enough for us…

USE ME (Dir. Julian Shaw | 91mins | Australia)
Program Prose: Australian filmmaker Julian Shaw (as himself) travels to the United States to direct a documentary featuring ‘mental humiliatrix’ Ceara Lynch (as herself)… what was meant to
 be entertainment becomes a matter of life and death.
Critical Condition: “A sort of post-truth thriller which feels deeply era appropriate and cleverly engages with its subject matter.” – Anthony O’Connor, FilmInk.
Screen-Space thinking…: Shaw has demonstrated with his past docos (Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, 2007; Cup of Dreams, 2011) that he’s a deft hand at first-person factual filmmaking. He inserts himself into the narrative he constructs about his real-life subject, which is creatively fraught with risk, yet finds unexpected insight and honesty. He makes really interesting films…

The 2019 Sydney Underground Film Festival will be held at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville from September 12-15. Session and ticket information is at the event's official website.

Saturday
Jun152019

SKID ROW MARATHON: THE MARK AND GABRIELE HAYES INTERVIEW

2019 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL: The act of running is inherently about striving for a goal; one sets out with a determination to compete, earn a place, achieve a PB. For some, that is a life lesson that needs reinforcing. Judge Craig Mitchell of the Los Angeles Criminal Court runs, and he does so with a group of recovering addicts from the Midnight Mission facility, a bastion of hope located on Skid Row in downtown LA. The journey that the Judge and his runners undertook to run a marathon in Italy while fighting their own demons is the soaring narrative of Skid Row Marathon, from the husband and wife production team of Gabriele and Mark Hayes. “The film is about second chances, about reconnecting with your own dignity,” says Gabriele, who spoke to SCREEN-SPACE with her partner and co-director ahead of the film’s Australian premiere at the 2019 MDFF

SCREEN-SPACE: Judge Mitchell is the spiritual core of the film; the recovering addicts and homeless are the many hearts. When did the balancing act that is your narrative structure start to take shape?

GABRIELE: After we had shot about 300 hours of footage over three years we started stringing out the material in big segments. We had several rough cuts focusing on our main five characters - Judge Mitchell, David Askew, Ben Shirley, Rafael Cabrera and Rebecca Hayes. We used a big board with index cards to shape the story, which really helped to see where critical scenes were missing. We realized that is wasn’t clear who Judge Mitchell is; his backstory and his family were missing. But Judge Mitchell’s wife, Juliet, made it clear at the beginning that she didn’t want to be part of the documentary. It took us over three years to convince her that she needed to be a part of it. The interview with Juliet and the graduation of Judge Mitchell’s son Jordan were the last things we filmed.

SCREEN-SPACE: Did you envision, and budget for, a production that would take you to Ghana and Italy? Over the course of the shoot, did the unpredictability of a factual film project ever take a toll?

MARK: Our project is about homeless people running marathons. We were often reminded how similar running a marathon is to making a documentary. The first few miles are easy.  It’s around mile fifteen that you have to start digging deep and making sure things don’t fall apart. And just like a marathon, it’s important to go the distance and to finish. (Pictured, above; Mark and Gabriele Hayes)

GABRIELE: We thought it would take about a year, maximum two years, and that the only trip we would need to take was Ghana and we’d end with the LA Marathon in 2014. However, we returned from Ghana (and) Rebecca joined the running club and we felt her story was very compelling. We followed her to Seattle where she had been a heroin addict living in an alley with her three year old son. We realized that Rome had to be the coming together of all the stories. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Rome was the most expensive part of the production but it was all worth it. Then the editing process took over nine months to finish, and good editors are very expensive. We were running out of money and often came close to giving up. Then we thought of all the runners, like Rebecca for example. She was working, going to school, had a five year-old and trained for marathons. We thought if she can do it, so can we. In December 2016 we had a private screening for friends (and) a well-known editing consultant came up to us and said that he liked our film but we needed to make some changes. $50,000 later, we have the film that you will see at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.

SCREEN-SPACE: What revelations about the nature of addiction impacted you during the shoot?

GABRIELE: We learnt a lot about addiction during the four years of filming. Initially, we had several runners we would follow but they relapsed and disappeared. It really affected me personally because they seemed on such a good path of getting better and then all of a sudden they relapsed. It happened especially with people who couldn’t handle the stress of getting a job or getting back into school. It was too much for them. It was also very sad to see Mody relapse after he opened his luggage store. We were very proud of him that he was sober for over a year. We asked him why he would do that and he responded, “I am lonely.” Our hearts sunk and we understood. People relapse if they don’t have a very good support system. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Was earning the trust of the Skid Row community, having them allow your cameras into their lives, one of the production's main challenges?

GABRIELE: At the beginning it was very hard to gain the trust of the runners. We read about Judge Mitchell and his running club in March 2013, just before the LA Marathon. The next day we contacted the Judge and pitched the documentary. At the time the running club was still small, maybe 5-8 people. He was on board right away but warned us that the runners may not be interested in being filmed. He suggested that we run with them first. So, we ran with the club for six weeks before we started shooting. We started out filming just the training runs and then slowly asked Rafael, Ben, and David for interviews. We felt their stories were the strongest. Rafael was the most open one and we could follow him around; Ben didn’t trust us at all and it took a long time for him to let us film him. For example, he wouldn’t tell us when he was moving out of the Midnight Mission. What we learnt was that when Mark and I would just film our subjects, in that ‘fly on the wall’ style, they would open up and be themselves. Also, it was very dangerous to film on Skid Row. People threw bottles at us, had knives and ran after us to destroy our cameras. We constantly had to be aware that something could happen. (Pictured, above; Judge Craig Mitchell) 

SCREEN-SPACE: If there is a call-to-action that you hope resonates with audiences, what would that be?  

GABRIELE: So many times we ignore people that are in the streets or abandoned because we are so focused on ourselves. Look around yourself and see if someone is in need.  It doesn’t take much, like Judge Mitchell said, maybe just a phone call on behalf of someone. We hope that after seeing the film the audience will be inspired to take action to get involved in their own community. (Pictured, above; Midnight Mission runner Rebecca Hayes) 

MARK: It became clear that the Judge was a very special individual. Here was a guy whose day job is to send people off to prison for long sentences but in his spare times helps many of the same types of people to get their lives together through running. While making this film, we learned that when it comes to some of the biggest problems facing us as a society, it is better to do something, even if it’s small, and be part of a solution rather than just doing nothing.

SKID ROW MARATHON screens on July 27 at Cinema Nova as part of the 2019 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL. Full ticketing and session details can be found at the event's official website.

Thursday
Apr252019

ME & MY LEFT BRAIN: THE ALEX LYKOS INTERVIEW

Alex Lykos burst on the Australian film scene with his debut script, the 2015 adaptation of his play Alex & Eve. Directed by Peter Andrikidis, the film proved a sleeper hit, but was a frustratingly slow process for the young writer. For his follow-up project, Lykos wanted greater control, and the result is the rom-com/fantasy Me & My Left Brain, a crowdpleaser on which Alex Lykos has taken multi-hyphenate duties as writer, director and star. “I went into this blind,” he jokes, “and I got very lucky.”

Lykos reflected upon the experience of shooting Me & My Left Brain in a lengthy chat with SCREEN-SPACE, in which he addressed the value of a cast featuring Malcolm Kennard and Rachael Beck, the insight that one’s personal journey brings to a script and the stark realities of seeing your first film to completion…  

SCREEN-SPACE: There’s the spirit of early Woody Allen in Me & My Left Brain, with homage paid to Play It Again Sam and Annie Hall, for starters. Who are the filmmakers and films that have informed your writing and performing?

LYKOS: Definitely, Woody Allen has been a significant influence on me. Billy Wilder is another, especially The Apartment, and of course Some Like It Hot. Nora Ephron, I love her writing. Cameron Crowe is another; love Say Anything and of course Jerry Maguire. Recently, Alexander Payne, has been a significant influence. 

SCREEN-SPACE: You and co-star Malcolm Kennard share some long-takes together, working up a great chemistry in those moments. What are his strengths as a scene partner?

LYKOS: When first considering Mal, we set up a half-hour cafe meeting; three hours later we were still talking (laughs). Neither of us came up for air. It was pretty clear a connection was made immediately. We saved so much time trying to build ‘chemistry’ as it just happened. Mal’s process was all about staying as relaxed and as loose as possible. He taught me a lot as an actor, especially when it comes to shooting the close-up. Mal is not about playing it safe. He’s a risk-taker and found some lovely moments that were not in the script. Initially, I had some trepidation towards directing, but Mal encouraged me to do so. To have someone of his standing backing me was reassuring. We’re like brothers; we can argue and make up and argue and make up within a minute. We are like Snapchat (laughs); any arguing is immediately erased, there is no lingering residue. (Pictured, right; Lykos and Kennard on-set) 

SCREEN-SPACE: There is a real sense of friendship and natural sweetness between you and your leading lady, Rachael Beck…

LYKOS: Rachael attended one of my stage shows years ago, and we spoke briefly. Her energy and general disposition suited what I had in mind for the role of ‘Vivien’. And from when she came on board, she was just open to everything. It was she who noted the importance of building a bond, encouraging us to catch up, run some lines. Anyone who has worked with her will tell you, she is just delightful to work with. So much so that I have actually written the lead role for her in my next film. She has so many special qualities on screen. (Pictured, below; Rachael Beck and Lykos between takes during the shoot)

SCREEN-SPACE: I sensed a degree of catharsis was being worked through in your scrip. Is ‘Arthur’ and his experiences drawing upon certain specifics of your life?

LYKOS: Absolutely. A lot of us have felt the pressure of Sydney’s real estate market, kicking ourselves for not having bought 10-15 years ago, (leading to) second-guessing a career choice of a life in the arts. You see friends in the corporate world, getting promotions or a pay rise, that ‘uniform climb’ up the ladder. The life that artists choose doesn’t offer that. So there have been many dark moments, at least for me. For one scene, I was on 2 hours sleep a night, enormously stressed. We did this dramatic scene that, in many ways, mirrored my real life situation, and I broke into tears. With each take, I got more emotional and was bawling my eyes out. The take we ultimately used was the 6th one, after I had spent all my tears. On the day it looked like good acting, but in the edit it was too much. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Tell me about the work ethic needed on a shoot like this. It was low-budget but looks polished; there was location work, which comes with its own variables.

LYKOS: It was definitely a grind. We shot in 13 days so I needed to do a lot of pre-production preparation, especially on the locations. I got a couple of actor friends, went to the shooting locations and walked through the scene, literally pre-blocking it. So on the day, with the real actors, I knew exactly how the scene would play out. I think this is where my background in theatre helped. (Pictured, right; co-stars Kennard, left, and Chantelle Barry on location with Lykos)

SCREEN-SPACE: What professional lessons did you learn from the experience of building this film from the ground up?

LYKOS: Oh my gosh, heaps. Having a good crew is paramount. And it really is all about the script. Shooting is a whirlwind, so there is no time to rewrite. I had no idea what post-production entailed. Once we finished shooting, I was introduced to Miriana Marusic (Director of Photography on The Castle) and she edited the film. We built a great energy in the editing suite and I came to rely on her opinion on everything. Without her, the film doesn't get finished. Miriani and I would travel to the Newcastle studio of our sound designer, Anthony Marsh and we would have the best time working on the sound. And I was fortunate enough to have composer Cezary Skubiszewski (Red Dog; The Sapphires) give the film a real professional polish. Flying down to Melbourne to watch the live recording of the music was a real buzz. Cezary treated me like I was family. I went from shooting a film with no idea what post-production was, to having three of the best work alongside me to get it finished. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Are the traditional elements of the romantic comedy being challenged by the shifting nature of gender definition in society? In writing Me & My Left Brain were you conscience of representing male and female roles in the most contemporary way possible?

LYKOS: Absolutely. The landscape has changed and we as writers need to be sensitive to this new landscape. We actually shot the film October in 2017 and in the 2nd week, the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. I have always tried to write honestly, and when writing this film, I wasn't thinking so much about the representation of men and women. Alex & Eve has played such a big part of my creative life with three incarnations on the stage and the film, and it relied on broad 'ethnic comedy' and ethnic stereotypes. With this film, I wanted to tell a comedy which did not rely on these broad stereotypes. I did not want to cast according to ethnicity, (but) simply based on who had the right disposition for the role irrespective of their cultural background. (Pictured, above; Lykos with co-star Laura Dundovic)

ME & MY LEFT BRAIN will be in select Australian theatres from May 16; venue information and ticket sales are available via the official website.

Thursday
May102018

RABBIT: THE LUKE SHANAHAN INTERVIEW

Cryptophasia (noun): Language and/or transmission trends formed between twins that are comprehendible only to them.

The mysterious bond that twins share has proven fertile material for some of the world’s great film directors, from Brian De Palma (Sisters, 1972) and David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, 1988) to Spike Jonze (Adaptation, 2002) and Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, 2016). In crafting his film debut Rabbit, the story of one twin’s descent into madness as she searches for her missing sister, Australian director Luke Shanahan joins a club of fearless filmmakers willing to walk a dark, ambiguous narrative path. The combination of Shanahan’s daring storytelling and the acting bravado of a cast that boasts Adelaide Clemons, Alex Russell and Belgian star Veerle Baetens has ensured a prominent festival profile for the thriller, shot in the South Australian hinterland.

Ahead of his film’s screening in Brisbane as part of the Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow, Shanahan spoke to SCREEN-SPACE about the challenges he set himself with his first feature…  

SCREEN-SPACE: There are no easy passages, no sign-posted narrative shortcuts in Rabbit. You're not afraid to challenge, even confound your audience to tell this story…

SHANAHAN: I didn’t set out to create confusion. I’m not a fan of films that deliberately confuse. But I did see this as a film of two halves, of two twins, two stories. Then I leave it to the audience to join the puzzle together. I wrote the film as it appears and we shot the script in order. You could say the first half is more conventional than the second half and everyone seems to have a favourite half, referencing that idea of the favourite twin that Maude alludes to as her search continues. Identical twins are so intriguing that I did want the narrative journey to intrigue. Nothing is straightforward. 

SCREEN-SPACE: The film offers such a unique perspective I begrudgingly ask your influences. The 'Australian gothic' feel recalls Terry Bourke's Inn of The Damned (1975); some twists are reminiscent of Pascal Laugier's horror classic Martyrs (2008)…

SHANAHAN: You’ve nailed it in two. But I borrowed from a bunch more; throw in The Wicker Man, Rosemary’s Baby and Wake in Fright. I like horror played fairly straight and most of my ‘mood books’ I used as influence covered films that aren’t straight horror stories, with the exception of Martyrs. Drama really, played straight. (Pictured, above, from left: producer David Ngo, actress Adelaide Clemons, Shanahan, and actor Alex Russell) 

SCREEN-SPACE: When did the complex psychology shared by twins first present itself as a story concept?

SHANAHAN: I had a friend who was an identical twin and we started talking about connections. She mentioned that although at times she isn’t close with her twin, she would feel it if she was being tortured. I thought, okay, wow, that’s a weird thing to say. I then tried to examine (a basis) for a thrilling and intriguing tale. 

SCREEN-SPACE: The shoot finally happened after some convoluted financing gelled - SAFC, MIFF Premiere Fund, the Level K team, to name a few of the 'money men' who stepped up. What lessons were learnt about the modern indie film financing landscape by the time you started rolling…?

SHANAHAN: That’s a big question. I know to raise the funds, it does sound like a committee but all (the financiers) involved gave us full reign to make a truly independent film. And the most important thing that David Ngo (producer) gave me was creative freedom. Essentially, we had final cut and throughout the entire process, David and I worked together as sounding boards for each other. That may never happen again and I am truly grateful that I got to do it. The biggest lesson I learnt was to follow your gut and your instinct. When it’s just you, that’s all you've got. I like the responsibility of living by the creative choices you make. Is the film perfect? Of course not, but it was the film I wanted to make. (Pictured, above: Shanahan on set with DOP Anna Howard; photo Ian Routledge

SCREEN-SPACE: There are some bold stylistic flourishes, reminiscent of Italian giallo cinema. Firstly, the 'big red screen', that moment when the entire screen is filled with a 'Lynch-ian red'…

SHANAHAN: That was a moment that would no doubt have been pulled up by a committee or a conservative distributor. I still can’t believe we got away with a big chunk of red in the middle of the film. That makes it sound like an indulgence, which it is, but it lends itself to the dichotomy of the film and the narrative structure of two halves. It’s crucial in that respect. That signals that we’ve gone down the ‘rabbit hole’, the moment that the film shifts. I wanted to give the audience a moment, smothered with a big fat organ chord , to take that in. It’s over the top for sure, but I like it. It’s a tip of the hat to giallo and Italian horror cinema, a broad brush stroke that makes me smile. (Pictured, above: Adelaide Clemons, as Maude, in Rabbit) 

SCREEN-SPACE: And, yes, that “big fat organ chord”, that operatic wall-of-sound that you employ... 

SHANAHAN: Mike Darren (composer) and I sat down at the start and I told him that no idea would be taken off the table. Be bold. Be loud. We’re making a wild film and I like soundtracks that aren’t just backing music or wallpaper. Music is a character for me and that’s my Kubrickian reference. I can turn the picture off and hear the film. I love that. I’m a big collector of soundtracks and I hope that we’ve reared a nice one here too. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Rabbit relies upon a very precise structure to convey the themes of memory and connectivity and loss. Do you adhere to the old adage that the editing process is the final draft of the script?

SHANAHAN: I guess I do. Stu Morley (editor) and I have been working together for many years. We always would speak about the breath and flow of the drama. It’s what we relied upon. He has such a beautiful manner when it came to working scenes in the edit. He’d make a broad cut and then we’d finesse. He told me to concentrate on what information I needed to convey from each scene. This was invaluable, as I’d sometimes get caught up with the flourishes, as you do shooting your first feature. We also had voiceover that we needed to guide the audience through a lot of the third act. It was a juggle but early preparation meant that most of what we set out to do didn’t throw too many curveballs within the edit. Our aim was to make sure we gave the audience enough information to understand the story without pulling back the curtain completely.  You’ve got to have that chat in the cafe or bar after the film, don’t you?

RABBIT will screen May 25 at Events Cinema Myer Centre as part of the 2018 Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow. Details can be found at the official website. A North American release is being planned through distributor The Orchard.