Under A Kaleidoscope is your feature film debut. Tell us about your filmmaking journey so far.
When I was 5 years old my Mum took me to see TERMINATOR 2. From the moment I saw the T-1000 walk out of the fire after that insane motorbike vs truck chase, I knew I wanted to make films. Cut to about 6 years later and my Dad gave me a video camera. After that, Dylan (My cousin and current producer) started making short horror films, which were terrible.. 95% of them were probably the worst and most embarrassing films that anyone has ever made. But it definitely ignited a passion. I kept making short films and as technology changed and became more user friendly, the films became a little better.
When I turned 21, I started putting more focus in to screenwriting. I wrote a few scripts and managed to get some interest from a few producers, nothing eventuated, but it gave me the drive to keep writing. I wrote a revenge script called The Hospice around the same time that I got to know Stuart Simpson. I sent him that script and he responded well to it, which then formed a friendship and eventually making CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA.
We had tried to get The Hospice going and another crime film, but it didn’t happen. We both loved Glenn Maynard, who I’ve personally known for most of my life and have a strong friendship with, so it was an easy decision to write a feature for him. So that’s basically how CSV came about.
While that was being made, I was fortunate enough to spend some time on set and see the way it was created. I also got to see how it was handled in post, which taught me a lot.
While CSV was being made, my partner Jasmine Jakupi and I were trying to figure out a way to make a feature film. I had already written UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE, which was the script I wrote prior to CSV. We both really liked that script and it felt like it was the most viable to make with a micro-budget. So we went in to it head first and here we are.
UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE is a psychedelic-thriller starring Kenji Shimada, Kristen Condon and Aston Elliot. It took about 20 days in total to shoot, but was done on weekends so it ended up spanning over about 8 months. It was tough at times but overall a lot of fun to make.
We had a crew of about 7 on the best of days, but it was mostly a tiny crew including myself, Jasmine, Emma Matsuda (Cinematographer) and Simone O’Dea (Production Manager). It actually worked better that way as quite a chunk of the film is shot in a small apartment and having more people there would have been a nightmare. The crew were brilliant on this film and I owe all of it to them for sticking through it and being my constant voice of reason.
What was your greatest blunder on set as director and what invaluable lesson did you take away from it?
Fortunately for the most part it was a smooth shoot. I guess the biggest learning curve came from just how long it took to shoot the film. Because it was my first feature and a lot of the crews first, we were so big on ideas and would film a lot off script material. It was a lot of fun and is a great way to experiment, but I think in future I would want to keep the schedule tighter. We are currently doing that with MONDO YUKUZA and we ended up shooting almost half the film in 6 days. We expect to be finished shooting by the end of September, which would be a huge achievement given the ambitious nature of the project and the tiny budget we have. I wouldn’t of been able to work like this without getting that experience on UAK, so I’m grateful for my blunder.
What was your greatest triumph on set?
The most rewarding part of UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE was shooting and then watching the footage of the LSD trip moments. We all love psychedelic films and to be able to experiment in that way was constant fun. After most shooting days we would all have a few drinks and watch the footage, those scenes were incredibly fun to review after.
What can audiences expect from the film and how do you think they will react?
Although it's a much different film to CSV, people can expect a similar tone. A lot of my favourite films can go from being funny to sinister in a heartbeat.. So I always like to experiment with tonal shifts to keep the audience on their toes. I honestly just hope people laugh in the right spots, cringe where necessary and are ready for something a bit different.
Your screenplay for Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla won MUFFs 'Best Screenplay' at last years festival. How did that change your career/goals, if at all?
That was a truly amazing moment and one of the highlights of my (short) career. It’s incredibly cool that a festival that I used to attend and find some of my current favourite films at, have an appreciation for my work. It’s surreal in the best possible way.
What does the festival mean to you?
MUFF has a long track record of brilliant and inspiring artists that got their start there like Jon Hewitt, Patrick Hughes, James Wan.. So instantly as a film maker you know you’re in good company. I think what I appreciate so much about the festival is the overwhelming support it gives to independent artists. It’s a place for films that most other Australian festivals ignore. It’s really for like-minded people who are on the look out for interesting, cutting-edge modern indie cinema. I have full respect for MUFF as a film maker and as a film fan.
What's next for the film in terms of festivals and potential releases?
The film has been entered in to a huge number of festivals and it’s basically a waiting game for us now. Hopefully we can get some more international exposure. We do have COLOR International Film Festival of India coming up, joined with Jarret Gahan’s GONE LESBO GONE. Very stoked about that!
As for a release.. It’s coming. I can’t talk too much about but it will definitely be released in the not so distant future.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline? Can you tell us a little about them?
I am half way through shooting my second feature film. It’s called MONDO YUKUZA. It’s a blood-thirsty bullet ballet revenge film starring Kenji Shimada. Been having a blast making it and I can’t wait to be able to show it. I’ve already cut a fair chunk of the film and I feel really good about it. It’s a very different film to UAK but I think it shares the same spirit. We have a facebook page and will be launching more news about the new film in the near future. We also a few films in the pipeline to make after Mondo.
A brief synopsis of Under A Kaleidoscope?
Caleb Loomis (Kenji Shimada) is a pot-smoking, LSD dropping agoraphobic film maker. In between partying with his hop-hop loving brother Matt, he makes miniature cities and films sci-fi films all from his cramped apartment. One day his lonely little life is rocked when he hears the lady next door being abused. Her name is Beatrice. Caleb and Beatrice form a friendship through the wall of their bedroom..
However their friendship comes at a cost as Caleb is introduced to Rog “The Hatchet Man” Smith (Aston Elliot), a heavy Melbourne criminal.
The lives of these three are forced together in a tale of revenge and redemption.
UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE OPENS THE FESTIVAL ON SEPT 11 (8PM) AT THE BACKLOT.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO AND TO PURCHASE TICKETS.
ADDISIN WILL ALSO BE PRESENTING A FREE MUFF ACADEMY CLASS ALONGSIDE FILMMAKER STUART SIMPSON AT HOGAN GALLERY ON SEPT 12 (4PM).