10 Questions with…this year’s filmmakers 2016

Well here’s a juicy little insight into the brains of some of our movie makers for 2016! So, get to know our filmmakers a little better why don’t you? You may even catch some of them at our screenings.

This month’s ’10 Questions with…’ is a group effort as we spread the love between 5 of our full-length films showing at this year’s Down Under Berlin festival: a moving documentary, action thriller, animation adventure, charming New Zealand comedy drama, and Aussie romantic comedy. Without giving too much away, we ask about the films and also about the filmmakers themselves in two questions each. A bit like speed dating, for film buffs.

By Shane T. Hall | AUS | 2013 | 87 min | European Premiere

1. Why did you feel the need to make a good Australian thriller?

Shane T. Hall: I thought there were lots of great thrillers being made but many of them were quite weak on character, so I wanted to make a strong thriller that really invested in the character’s moral journeys and that ultimately would lead to complex resolutions. So essentially a thriller that you really have to think about, and may leave you with more questions than answers.

Also, I had a killer pitch line that really told a story in one sentence that no one had ever heard before… sadly if I told you now it would give away the whole film.

2. What does good filmmaking mean for you?

Shane T. Hall: Kubrick – Who wouldn’t want to redefine every genre you work in and create if not the best film, then one of the best films in each.

Essentially giving every aspect of the filmmaking process such original and detailed thought, pushing everyone to raise their game to make your vision the best it can possibly be, finding morally complex and interesting stories, a quest for true artistry.

The Drowned Dreams
By Farshid Akhlaghipour | AUS | 2015 | 53:30 min | Farsi with Engl. Subtitles |
European Premiere

3. What inspired you to make this documentary?

Farshid Akhlaghipour: Since I immigrated to Australia, I have read and seen lots of sad news about asylum seekers who traveled by wooden fishing boats from Indonesia to Australia. Many of them had lost their lives or were injured seriously in horrible boat tragedies. So as a filmmaker I started my research and decided to make a documentary so I could tell the story of people who experienced these horrible boat tragedies.

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Farshid Akhlaghipour: I have studied and started filmmaking in a filmmaking high school when I was 15 years old. It was always my passion to make movies and inspire people. Now it is about 19 years that I am an independent filmmaker, and make shorts and documentaries. I love my job and want to do it forever.

The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead & Roundhead 
By Elliot Cowan | USA/AUS | 2014 | 71 min

5. Where did the idea of Boxhead and Roundhead come from?

Elliot Cowan: They were originally a book project nobody wanted to publish. I wanted to create characters who were friends, who loved each other, and weren’t perfect but worked together to help each other in a big, bad, scary world.

6. Did you always want to make animated films?

Elliot Cowan: Yep! Animation and drawing are one of my earliest memories.

By Stuart McBratney | AUS | 2015 | 91 min | German Premiere

7. Where did the inspiration for Pop-Up come from?

Stuart McBratney: Pop-Up consists of three separate yet interlinked stories:
1. A man finds a camera containing a single photo of a woman’s face. Smitten, he tracks her down. I lived in Berlin in 2008, and I was signed to a Romanian production company as a director – A rejected proposal about a guy finding a camera, and falling in love with a girl in a photo – stuck with me. So I used it in the script for Pop-Up after returning to Australia a year later.
2. A woman makes pop-up cards for everyone she knows and hand delivers them. As a kid, I often made pop-up cards for my family, so I had the character of Rada channel her anguish into this activity. I created a character who was not merely ghosted but deserted in a foreign country with nary a shoulder of support.

3. A theatre director seeks deadly revenge on a critic. A critic gave my first feature, Spudmonkey, 2 stars out of 5. These days I’d probably give it a similar rating, but at the time I was indignant. Instead of doing anything stupid, I channelled my frustrations onto the page and the character of Neil the playwright was born.

8. What is your favourite genre to watch?

Stuart McBratney: I have a great appreciation for well-made genre films. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a landmark piece of cinema and still packs a punch after four decades. And I’ll always have a soft spot for The Empire Strikes Back, as it was the one movie that inspired me to be a filmmaker. Films with genuine characters and engaging stories. It was a great honour to work with some respected names in Romanian cinema on Pop-Up, so hopefully, my luck continues.

By Curtis Vowell | NZ | 2013 | 83 min | German Premiere

 9. As a writer, how hard was it to turn this story from theatre monologue into a screenplay?

Writer Sophie Henderson: It was really hard. I’d never written for the screen before only theatre, so I had to teach myself all the differences. I read heaps of screenplays, writing books and talked to other New Zealand filmmakers until I had sort of worked it out. What I love about Fantail is that I didn’t know all the rules so it was exactly the story I wanted to tell at that time, I didn’t know about genre formulas or perfect 3 act structure and I’m glad I didn’t. It gives it a distinctiveness and a freshness that is harder to do on your second film – now I know what I don’t know.

The monologue was the exact same story, but told from the ending – Tania is telling the security camera what happened. The original monologue existed in the final script and we shot all of it to use throughout the film. But in the end, it was just a scaffolding. It helped us make the film but we realised we could take it away and the film could stand up on its own without it. We showed the story instead of told it.

10. What is your favourite film of all time?

Sophie Henderson: The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I think the screenplay is perfect. It’s hilarious and romantic and exciting. There’s pirates and sword fights and kissing and I love it. I can watch it over and over and fall for the characters again and again. They are brilliantly written, cast, directed and performed. I saw it on the big screen for the first time this year and it was a real treat noticing things you can only see in a cinema. There is a lot of genius detail in there. True Love!

Thank you, filmmakers!

Check out the Down Under Berlin festival calendar for all sessions dates and times for these awesome films and subscribe to the newsletter for more information from Down Under Berlin! Watch this blog space in the coming weeks for more insights into our films this year.

Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, and along with her husband, is the founder and content manager of the online travel guide My Guide Berlin.