Tell us about your filmmaking journey so far. Is Come Back Mr Bule your film debut?
No I have actually made about 10 shorts and 2 documentaries including this one which is the biggest (3 years of my life), plus a few comedy sketches, concept vids and a music video. I have had a few festival screenings with my shorts including The Angry Film Festival, The Flagfall Film Festival, The Made in Melbourne Film Festival, The Sydney Road Film Festival, The People of Passion International Film Festival and a Tropfest FInalist film (One in a million) which I co-produced and acted in. Filmmaking was not consciously on the agenda for me as I was just a struggling stage actor in my early years. It really spawned out of necessity as I felt this sudden urge to tell my own stories in later years. I grew up watching a lot of classic films at the Carlton movie house as a kid. My Mother use to take me to watch the Marx brothers, Jaque Tati and Mel Brooks films. Then came the Aussie films like Mad max, Street Hero, Storm boy, Moving out, the list goes on. Probably one of the most profound films I ever watched as a teen was Scarface, which I thought was a documentary due to Pacino's performance and of course great directing by De Palma. As time went by I just watched more and more films, which eventually planted the seeds. I only formerly studied acting, not filmmaking, but watching so many films and reading how to do it books and watching many docos provided me with the basic knowledge to actually get started. I don't actually stick to making one type of film or filmmaking style. Basically if an idea enters my head and I cant sleep for weeks on end then I usually write a script or if it's a documentary I research the subject matter. I tend to write, direct, produce, act and even edit my own films. I really admire Jerry Lewis, Clint Eastwood, Jaque Tati and many others who wear the same hat. I wouldn't have it any other way as being an actor is just not enough.
What was the 'ah-ha' moment that lead you to film-making?
Many many years ago I was cast as the lead in a SCI-FI indie feature called "Lost Black Earth" which was directed by my mate James Cole. Ironically it was also selected and screened at MUFF. During post-production I had the opportunity to watch and observe James in the editing process. Having a background as a DJ and dabbling in remixing music I could see the similarities in the sense of time, space, rhythm and layers. It was fascinating as my background as a performer was on the stage but I soon realised that film was a medium where you had more control over what you were watching. I was always a visual person. I also had written, directed, produced and performed in a series of comedy sketches a few years earlier (which James edited) that I submitted to Artists Services. So the writing was on the wall even back then. Finally the penny dropped and a few years after "Lost" I made my first documentary Burgermen on a Panasonic MS1 which also took three years and ended running for 46 mins. Then digital came along and made the whole process much more affordable and I haven't looked back.
What can you tell us about your film and the production?
Zev Howley and I are quite different as people and I have known him for along time so I knew that putting both of us together in Bali was going to be an interesting mix. Zev was quite nervous as we had no official permits or visas and I even received a phone call from the Indonesian consulate in Jakarta warning me that I was taking a risk due to the Australian media illegally reporting events in Bali. We shot for ten days straight then Zev flew home and I stayed and directed Indo rock legend Doddy Katamsi in a music clip (Married again) which was released throughout south east Asia. I flew back over there the following year with Mum, and Yvette Cottier came along as well. We shot some extra cutaways and interviews although most of them did not make the final cut. Theoretically there was only two of us crewing on both trips and we were both doing camera and sound, although I did have a few Indonesians driving us around and one of them was a cameraman who shot some extra footage that was not actually used. There was no official script or funding, just a few pages of the actual concept and many sleepless nights. I chose to shoot on HDV with the Sony FX1E. Shooting with 35 mm lenses with an adaptor was on the cards but too time consuming and using a DSLR was just outright problematic for this style of filmmaking.
What was your greatest blunder on set? What invaluable lesson did you take away from it?
Bloody matte box was in frame on many shots which I didn't discover until I was in post. Don't rely on the camera LCD display for framing because sometimes it lies! lol
What was your greatest triumph on set?
Getting people to talk openly on camera especially the Indonesians.
What can audiences expect from the film and how do you think they will react?
Bali still has a stigma attached to it and that was the reason why I was driven to make this in the first place. I think my film offers an entertaining and honest overview of how things work over there at a grass roots level. If you have been there before you will relate to it and if you haven't well I hope this film encourages people to actually go there. As far as reactions are concerned I think it will be fairly positive despite recent events and tension between Australia and Indonesia. Im not making a political statement or sympathising. This is just my perspective and how I view the place so I hope people will just take it at that.
Is this your first time at MUFF and what does the festival mean to you?
No I had another short 'Two of a kind" play a few years ago plus I also have another short that I co-directed, co-wrote and acted in with Ivan Malekin "Mirror of Filth" which is playing this year at MUFF as well. I'm quite excited to have my first feature play at MUFF as I feel it's the right festival for the film and I look forward to seeing how the audience will react to it.
What's next for the film in terms of festivals and potential releases?
Recently missed out on Balinale but DOC LA and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is something Im looking at. Possibly even the Hong Kong International Film Festival as well.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline? Can you tell us a little about them?
I currently have a comedy short in post called "Dear John" which is aimed at Tropfest plus a rather bleak short in pre-production called "The road house circuit". I am also planning to make a feature length mocumentary about an actor next year as well. There's some Aussie genre film concepts which have been sitting around for awhile plus another Bali concept feature, but they all require a bit of funding and that seems to be lacking in this country.