Addison Heath's name is becoming synonymous with the Melbourne indie film scene and any Australian who revolves in movie circles is likely to know exactly who he is. He is of course the award winning writer of CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA (featured heavily at FakeShemp.Net) and the writer/director of the brand new psychedelic film UNDER A KALIEDOSCOPE. With an uncanny knack for creating quirky offbeat characters and placing them in dark and menacing situations Addison is proving to be one of the country's most promising and talented writers and comparisons to the late great Everett De Roche (ROADGAMES, RAZORBACK, THE LONG WEEKEND) best describe his work. Just like DeRoche, Addison taps into the Aussie colloquial effortlessly and toys with its nuances to bring his characters to life. Shaping them with strong dialogue, concise back-stories and contextual environments his characters leap off the screen and confront the viewer face to face. The result is a fluid, eclectic and sincere style of filmmaking that stands out above so much of the droll, laborious and typical films within the Australian film industry at the moment. And aside from his obvious creative talent Addison is also one of the many dedicated and passionate champions of the DIY movie scene. His first two films skirted all of the go-to funding bodies and were both made resourcefully. With micro-budgets funded directly from his own pockets (and those others involved) his productions have been a true labor of love and personal favours with more blood, sweat & tears shed than the average blockbuster. Filmmakers like Addison put everything on the line to see their vision come to life... many fail and others become jaded and yet Addison shone through it all with two celebrated bodies of work... and awards to boot!! The most exciting thing of all is that Addison hasn't stopped. In fact he is already in pre-production for his 3rd feature length film, BUBBLEGUM: A DETECTIVE STORY. He joined us a few weeks ago on our podcast and following the recording he gave us the heads-up that he was about to dive head-first into the next film. With little time to spare on the night he agreed to check back in with us to dish the dirt on this mysterious new venture. If you know his work like I do then you will also be frothing at the mouth to learn more about it and so here's the part where I pick his brain and scoop it out.
Let me cut to the chase. Tell us about BUBBLEGUM: A DETECTIVE STORY.
What's it about?
Bubblegum: A Detective Story is a true-blue who-dunnit. A dark comedy about a couple of country blokes that are forced to become detectives when a prized guinea pig is stolen. Our main hero is Bubblegum, a mower by trade but he's also somewhat of a local legend. He's joined with his trusty sidekick, a heavy metal kid named Braiden.
It sounds very quirky. Does it fit within the same universe as either of your previous films?
Yeah absolutely.. Like CSV and UAK, It's a colourful vision of dark themes.. However, Bubblegum is first and foremost an Australian comedy.. Like the earlier films, It does contain some heavy subject matter but this is definitely intended to be a comedy and at it's heart, is more a sweet-natured film than my previous work.
Where did the idea for it come from?
I've always been a fan of hard-boiled detective stories.. and who-dunnit's.. So I had wanted to do one for a long time. A somewhat slow-burning crime story.. At the same time, I've had the character "Bubblegum" in my mind for a long time. Bubblegum is a community focused bloke with a heart of gold. He wears his rural upbringing as a badge of honour. So after having ideas for this character for quite a while, I started developing a who-dunnit story that would suit his innocent way of life.
What were some cinematic influences when writing it?
A few early influences on the writing were definitely the Coen brothers.. Specifically Fargo and Raising Arizona.. I love the way they are almost cartoon-like characters that are put in to sometimes dark situations.. I love the language of those films.. I wanted to try and create a singular language for Bubblegum.. A celebration of Aussie-isms and a focus on the naff. So those films served as an inspiration.
Other influences would be Wes Anderson, Taika Waititi and the Clint Eastwood movie with the orangutan, Every Which Way But Loose and it's sequel Any Which Way You Can.
Where about is the film in terms of pre-production?
I'm currently working with Jessica Pearce, she recently produced the bushranger epic "The Legend Of Ben Hall".. She has been amazing to work with. Very understanding of how I want the film to be.. She immediately got the script and has been a joy to work with. We are currently sourcing locations and organising materials to apply for funding. Jasmine Jakupi, who handled all the design elements of UAK is also hard on designing the world these characters live in.. This isn't a period piece, but it does contain a 70's Australian style, so we are all working towards making that happen.
This film seems much bigger than either of your previous ones. Have you got a funding model in mind?
Unlike my previous films, we are sourcing financing for this project. That would include government financing as well as private financing, but we are still early stages. Not a whole lot I can say about it, but yeah.. This is definitely a much bigger production than my previous films. A bigger setting and overall a larger story and scope.
What can you reveal about the casting?
I'm extremely happy to be able to announce some of the key cast.. Aston Elliot, who I've had the pleasure of working with twice is playing our hero Bubblegum. Aston is an amazing talent and really one of my favourite people to work with. I wrote the role for him and I think when audiences see him in this role they will see just how versatile the guy is.. A huge talent!
Kenji Shimada is playing Braiden, our trusty side-kick. Loved working with him on UAK. Again, this role was written with him in mind. Kenji has brilliant comedic timing and I want to be able to showcase that and let him go all out on the role.
Last, but definitely not least.. We have secured Glenn Maynard to play the local police officer. Glenn is a life-long friend of mine and he will be in everything I do. Loved working with him every time I've done it. I think he's the most interesting actor that I know. I'm a big fan and I can't wait to work with him again.
Audiences will know Aston from your previous films as deeply violent and menacing characters. Why did you cast him in the lead?
Aston is great at playing heavy characters with a penchant for violence, and I've loved watching him play those roles. However in real life, Aston is from the country and he's really funny. He knows comedy well and I wanted to flip the roles and have him play a completely likeable character.
So am I right to assume that you had him in mind from the get-go?
Yeah definitely. It was written for him.. Also being on set with Kenji and Aston, they had an instant rapport and I started trying to think of a way to allow these actors to play off one another.. Bubblegum felt like the perfect way to do that.
And what about Kenji? Was this character written before or after you worked with him on KALEIDOSCOPE?
This film was written after UAK was shot. I was in the edit room and writing Bubblegum at the same time. Braiden was written with Kenji's voice in mind.
You are stepping back into your director shoes for the second time. What are some lessons learned that you will be applying to BUBBLEGUM?
Bubblegum will be a pretty different playing field to UAK.. UAK was a tiny crew, shot completely guerilla and Bubblegum will be a sourced production with a full crew. However, there are definitely things I will take away from UAK.. How to treat people on set.. It's all about respect. I've been on sets that are moody and it's not fun for anyone.. I will try to keep the set as an inspiring place to go to work.
CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA & UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE both had a heavy presence on social media. Will you be pushing a similar campaign with BUBBLEGUM?
Absolutely.. We want to be pushing Bubblegum as hard as possible.
We currently have a facebook page set up, if you want to keep up to date. Hit like at www.facebook.com/BubblegumDetective
This is really exciting news and its fantastic to know that you're wasting no time in getting your next film off the ground. Please keep check in with us soon to give us an update on its progress.
Thanks for your ongoing support. It's much appreciated!
Thanks for your time Addison. Best of luck!!