‘We’re all a little bit mental’ – Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia

Anthony LaPaglia and Rebecca Gibney play an unhappily married couple, Barry and Shirley Moochmore, in P.J. Hogan’s MENTAL.

Anthony LaPaglia and Rebecca Gibney seem relaxed and happy sitting on the couch together talking about their roles in P.J. Hogan’s latest film Mental, in which they play a Gold Coast husband and wife, Barry and Shirley Moochmore, parents of five rambunctious teenage daughters. Well, LaPaglia and Gibney seem as relaxed and happy as you can be, in a high rise hotel room with different journalists coming in precisely every eight minutes to ask you roughly the same questions.

Still, the roles they play in the film are interesting departures for both of them. LaPaglia is an Emmy and AFI Award-winning actor more used to playing heroes and strong men in TV shows like Without a Trace, and films such as Balibo, Lantana and Looking for Alibrandi. In contrast, he’s more of a cowardly lion in Mental, playing a philandering local politician who’s a clueless father (echoes of Bill Hunter’s monstrous turn in Muriel’s Wedding), completely unable to cope with his brood when their mother, played by Gibney, has a nervous breakdown.

Gibney is known and loved for her AFI and Logie award-winning performances on television in shows like Come in SpinnerHalifax F.P, Packed to the Rafters and Stingers, where she’s played a string of predominantly likable but strong women. Having appeared in a few small film roles, Mental is by far her most significant big screen role to date. She’s quite transformed in it, having famously gained weight to play the frumpy and downtrodden mother and wife, who escapes her miserable existence by pretending she’s living in The Sound of Music and going on manic shopping sprees.

Not quite the Von Trapp family – Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia (centre) in MENTAL.

Both LaPaglia and Gibney agree that the film is a refreshing departure in numerous ways, especially from any idea of what’s ‘normal’.

“I don’t believe it’s a film about mental illness,” says Gibney. “It’s about dysfunction – it’s about a family in dysfunction. And it’s about the fact that we’re all a little bit mental! And that’s normal, and we can live with it and laugh at ourselves. It’s a liberating film.”

LaPaglia chimes in with that gravelly voice that always commands attention. “I guarantee that if you show me any person and I look at them hard enough and long enough, I will find some form of behaviour that if I single it out, looks mental. Once you accept that, it’s actually quite liberating. It’s like when you turn 90 and you can say whatever you want because suddenly you’re liberated from being polite. ‘I hate you. I always hated you!’”

Rebecca Gibney as the jam donut-addicted Shirley Moochmore in MENTAL.

Gibney is open about the fact that she fought for the role in Mental, and had to convince the director that she was right for it. “I did go all out to get it in the audition process,” she says. “I’ve said it before and P.J. knows it, that when I read the script I just knew the character. It’s one of those classic moments where I said ‘this is my mum’ – and other people that I know. Obviously my mum is not Shirley Moochmore, but she’s raised four daughters and two sons, and we have a slightly dysfunctional family, and she’s the ultimate people-pleaser. So I knew that I could bring something to the table. So I went out and got the fat-suit and put the muumuu on, and sang my guts out when I auditioned. I told P.J. that I’d do anything – put the weight on, do anything. Thankfully he gave me the gig!”

“That’s great – you do have to fight for the roles you love!” answers LaPaglia, encouragingly. Which begs the question, did he have to audition or fight for his part in Mental?

“No, I didn’t audition, but I wasn’t handed it on a plate either. I sat down with P.J. and had a very long discussion about it. At the end of that discussion, had we not seen the same thing on the page, I don’t think he would have hired me, but based on the discussion that we had, I think he felt that I understood the character, and could do it justice. I think he had a specific vision in his head about the character and I don’t think he would have compromised that for a minute by hiring someone who couldn’t commit or give the performance he wanted.”

One of the aspects of the role which appealed to LaPaglia was not just the chance to sing a rather atrocious version of ‘Eidelweiss’, but to depict something of the struggles of fatherhood.

Not running for Father of the Year – Anthony LaPaglia as Barry Moochmore.

“I love the scene in the film where I finally admit that I’m just like my father,” he says. Looking over at Gibney, he says to her: “We’re both parents now and how many times, as your kid gets older, do you find they ask perfectly logical questions but they’re difficult to answer? And you say ‘Because I said so!’ And suddenly you’re like  your own father. I promised myself I would not be like my father with my kids, and suddenly I find myself saying the same crap he did, and now you realise why. Because you don’t have time to explain everything!”

Asked how they think viewers will respond to Mental, Gibney and LaPaglia are aware there will be criticisms from some sectors, but agree that what they most love about the film is the fact that it’s the product of one single authorial voice and vision. “It may not appeal to everyone and there will be scenes that some people might find confronting or uncomfortable,” says Gibney, “and I’m sure P.J. got asked to remove some scenes to make it a bit more palatable for some people, or to make it easier for an American audience, and he would have said ‘no, I’m not going to. I wrote it this way, and that’s how it’s going to be.’ He’s a very passionate man and knew exactly what he wanted right from the outset. It’s his script, his baby, and he’s been working on it for over ten years, so everyone that came on board knew exactly what they were going into, and the fact that he was going to stretch all of us and challenge all of us. And he did.”

LaPaglia agrees. “On a lot of films that you work on these days, there’s always outside pressures to change your film once it’s been done – based on audience screenings, studio notes, what will ‘play’ overseas, and blah, blah, blah. And P.J. – and for this I have a huge amount of respect – has just said, I don’t care. This is the movie I want to make and I’m not changing any of it. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but it’s MY film. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s rare that you find people who won’t fold under pressure. The pressure is enormous! But with Mental, you can tell it’s the vision of one person, unlike so many movies now, which have no direction. They float because there’s the voice of 15 people in there, and so the films lack that definitive quality. And to me, the difference between a really good film and mere entertainment is that somebody has had a really strong vision of what they want to do, and they’ve followed through on it. I would rather watch that film – whether it works or not. If it’s a success, that’s great. But if it’s a failure, it’s a grand failure, an honest failure. It’s not a compromised failure that everyone runs away from, saying ‘oh that’s his fault, no it’s his fault’. I want a film where someone’s going to stick up their hand and say this is mine, and no matter what happens, it’s mine.”

Mental is screening in national release and is one of the Feature Films in Competition for the 2nd AACTA Awards.

To read an interview with writer-director P.J. Hogan, click here.

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Peter Templeman: Not Suitable for Children

Letting go of a cherished project is never easy, especially if you’ve been working on it for five years. When director Peter Templeman finished production on his debut feature film Not Suitable for Children in March 2012, he found it rather wrenching to let go. “It was full on,” he recalls. “The same week that I finished the film was the week that my partner and I saw our little six-year-old daughter go off to school for the first time and sent her out into the world… off into the jungle of the primary school – the ruthless school-yard!  I’m ashamed to say that it was actually easier to do that than to let the film go. I could have just kept chiselling away at it.”

Speaking on the phone from Perth just a week before Not Suitable for Children debuted as opening night film at the 2012 Sydney Film Festival, Templeman is obviously excited and “humbled to be playing in a big room like that, and to that particular audience.” But he has the laconic self-effacing manner of the West Australian surfer, musician and physiotherapist that he used to be, way back before his talents drew him into the world of acting, writing and directing.

A graduate of directing and writing degrees at AFTRS (the Australian Film, Television and Radio School), Templeman’s short films made during his student years won numerous national and international awards, most notably an Oscar nomination in 2007 for The Saviour, his thoughtful and humourous tale of a Mormon doorknocker who falls in love with one of his prospective converts. Templeman has also worked as director and writer on a number of television series, including Dead Gorgeous, Bogan Pride and Lockie Leonard, the latter for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award in 2007, for the episode entitled ‘Ladder of Love’.

Not Suitable for Children offers a unique twist on the increasingly popular sub-genre of ‘biological clock’ comedies. Instead of a female lead racing against the clock to conceive a baby before she hits menopause, this story puts an irresponsible Sydney party-boy, Jonah (played by Ryan Kwanten), into the midst of an urgent fertility crisis, spawned by testicular cancer. When his donated sperm samples refuse to freeze, Jonah has just three weeks before ‘ball removal’ in order to impregnate a willing woman, starting off with his disgruntled ex-girlfriend, Ava (Bojana Novakovic). Assisting him in the madcap quest are Jonah’s two housemates – the hedonistic Gus (Ryan Corr), and the sensible, streetwise Stevie (Sarah Snook).

Hedonistic housemates: Gus (Ryan Corr), Stevie (Sarah Snook) and Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) in ‘Not Suitable for Children’.

Produced by Jodi Matterson (Razzle Dazzle) and executive produced by Bruna Papandrea (Milk, Better Than Sex), Not Suitable for Children is written by Michael Lucas, a long-time writing partner of Templeman’s who has honed his script skills in recent years with top writing credits on Offspring and Tangle. Like those television dramas, Not Suitable for Children feels totally contemporary. Believable, humourous and candid Australian dialogue is combined with nimbly handled sex scenes and a confident sense of pace, rhythm and romance. In fact, you may be tempted to call the film a romantic comedy, but director Templeman would prefer that you didn’t.

Bedtime antics. Ryan Kwanten in ‘Not Suitable for Children’.

“In terms of it being a ‘rom-com’, I think Screen Australia appreciated the fact that the story in some ways falls into that genre, and quite early in the development process that was an attraction for them to the project,” says Templeman. “But personally, I never like to think of it in those terms. I always thought of the story as more of a coming-of-age comedy, with love as the core theme that emerges by the end. Structurally, it’s quite different to the way rom-coms usually present. In most rom-coms, you usually know who the romantic leads are in the opening scenes. There’s some kind of chemistry or sparks, and then you watch that play out over the course of the film. I hope that the tone and the style of our film does a lot to subvert that genre. I don’t find it helpful to think in terms of genre when you’re making choices based on the story and the characters, and I think Mike (writer Michael Lucas) feels the same way. But in saying that, I’m very much in favour of pitching it however it should be pitched to attract the most people to come and see it, for sure!”

Talking with Templeman, it’s clear he loves working with story and character, nutting out the nuances of personality, motivation and chemistry. It’s evident from the way he talks that the film’s script underwent multiple drafts, with every scene interrogated for its plausibility and its contribution to the audience’s understanding and enjoyment.

Ryan Kwanten and director Peter Templeman on the set of ‘Not Suitable for Children’.

So how did this Perth surfer-musician-physiotherapist turn into an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker? Templeman himself is rather surprised. “If you told me back when I was a kid that I’d end up making films I wouldn’t have believed you,” he says. “I was into movies the same way any other kid was, but actually more interested in sport. I did love drawing and music too. And creative writing. Now that I look back on it, I can see that I was interested in all the elements that make up filmmaking, but I couldn’t see it then.”

Templeman’s trajectory after high school was no more direct. “After I finished school I had a year off, surfed, played guitar and lived in a caravan,” he says. “Then I went and played music full-time for a couple of years, then became a physiotherapist, and went overseas for a bit. When I came back I was into my late twenties, and that was when I fell into writing and acting. I wrote a couple of little one-act plays that got produced, and then a couple of films for other directors.  I started shooting and editing for other people, and directed a bit of theatre. Eventually I directed a little short film and got selected for AFTRS. That was the turning point when I thought, ‘Hang on, this might be more than a hobby,’ because at that time, I think I was doing one day a week as a physio and I was getting bits of work, writing copy for corporate videos and things like that. I’d composed for a set of commercials. I was just doing bits of everything, you know, and never really consolidating anything – just having fun, I guess. Going to AFTRS, I thought: ‘Okay now, focus on directing and maybe I can make a career of it.’”

While he was studying at AFTRS and making short films, Templeman became the only filmmaker to win the prestigious independent US Slamdance Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film two years in a row – first with the devastating drama Splintered in 2005 and then with The Savior in 2006. These awards, combined with the Oscar nomination in 2007, surely must have convinced him he’d taken the right path?

“I was lucky. Yeah I was lucky,” he says diffidently. “It’s nice, that’s for sure. And a great encouragement. If those three short films I’d made at AFTRS had been comprehensively unsuccessful would I have been able to keep going? I used to think when I won the awards, ‘Oh well, that’s just what a panel of judges think, and not necessarily a good indication of what the rest of the people will think.’ But now I realise that awards are the best praise I can get because they come from my peers, and you can only ever make stuff for your own tastes and the people that share those tastes with you, rather than pitching to a broader market.” He pauses and adds with a laugh, “I’m not sure if that makes any sense!” It does.

The casting of Ryan Kwanten in the lead role occurred about six months before the start of the shoot. Templeman, along with writer Lucas and producer Jodi Matterson, traveled to LA to discuss the part with Kwanten. “We got in a room with him for an hour and worked on one of the scenes and chatted about the role,” recalls Templeman. “It was great and I offered the part to him. Between then and the start of the shoot we skyped a few times, talking through the character and the script development. We also had three weeks of full-time rehearsal in the lead-up to shooting.”

Sarah Snook

The casting of  the AACTA Award-winning but still emerging Sarah Snook in the key role of Jonah’s friend and flatmate was a longer and more difficult process.

“It was a long process, casting for that role and a challenging one for me,” says Templeman, “because there are so many brilliant Australian actresses in that age bracket and we auditioned lots of people. Ultimately it came down to a couple of people. We took Sarah to LA and then got her in a room with Ryan working  for about three hours, and we filmed it all. Then I went away and watched it, and that was when I was completely sold.”

Templeman continues. “Apart from being an extraordinary actor with superb comic timing and a natural detail and nuance to her work, it was about the different and opposite energy Sarah brought to working with Ryan. There he was, still in his True Blood gear, all buff and tanned with his hair tipped. And there she was, just in her casual gear looking like the girl next door standing next to the Hollywood guy, and I loved that. But that was the least of it really. It was her ability to convey not only her own character, the Stevie character, but the character of Jonah through her reactions to him – or even to the person reading his part in the initial auditions. It was sort of like how your learn a lot about someone through their friends, and how their friends treat them.”

Director Peter Templeman and Producer Jodi Matterson on set.

Templeman is grateful to producer Jodi Matterson for shielding him from the business side of production. When asked if it was difficult to raise finance for the project (an estimated budget of $4.5 million), Templeman says, “I’m sure it was, but I was lucky I was protected from that stuff because [producer] Jodi [Matterson] was so brilliant at it. I know she did have some different investors on board at one stage who wanted to weigh in more heavily with the casting, and that was really tough for her, managing them and managing me and what I wanted. In the end, she suggested we should part ways with them, and I thought that was a great move. I felt really good about that. She really supported my vision for the film and wanted to have people around who support that as well. I think it’s really hard to raise money for a film in this current climate, so I think she really had her work cut out for her.”

As for what’s next for Templeman, he’s busy working with writer Michael Lucas on their next collaboration. “We’ve forged a pretty tight writing partnership since AFTRS, Mike and I.  I’ve been living in Perth for the last three years so we now do a fair bit of travelling to catch up and work. He comes over here and sleeps on the blow-up mattress in the back room, which is stinking hot in summer and Antarctic in winter and has my kid waking him up at 6am, jumping all over him. And then I go to Melbourne and stay in his family’s stunning log cabin on the Yarra and have my own five-star bedroom and his mum cooks amazing meals for us. It’s broken up between those two! We’re working on a feature project called KARMA – which stands for the ‘Kashmir Association of Revenge Management’ – it’s a black comedy. I’m also working on a feature version of The Saviour and another feature as well.” Sounds busy and industrious – but in a laid-back kind of way. “I hope to just write for the next year,” says Templeman, “and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Not Suitable for Children is in national release from 12 July.

Sharing the Ride, WISH YOU WERE HERE: Kieran Darcy-Smith and Felicity Price

Kieran Darcy-Smith & Felicity Price - their film WISH YOU WERE HERE premiered as opening night selection at Sundance Film Festival 2012.

If you want to be an independent Australian filmmaker, it pays to have allies, friends – and even spouses –  who are working in the industry. All the better if your friends and lovers are able to perform multiple roles in this low-budget environment. Sophie Hyde and Brian Mayson (Life In Movement) and Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond (Mrs Carey’s Concert) come to mind, but there are many others, stretching all the way back to Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell. Kieran Darcy-Smith and Felicity Price are just the latest couple to make a film together, and as they’re keen to point out, the filmmaking life is an adventure, a creative partnership and a wild ride that they want to be on with each other, and with their young family.

Darcy-Smith and Price are the co-writers of the new Australian feature film Wish You Were Here.  Darcy-Smith is also the director, and Price is lead actress, in a career-making performance alongside Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer and Antony Starr. Wish You Were Here, which is produced by Angie Fielder of Aquarius Films, and premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in January, released in Australia this week. It’s a taut contemporary thriller following four 30-something Australians who travel to Cambodia for a carefree holiday. When only three of them return, there’s escalating turmoil, and the secrets surrounding the disappearance are slowly and shockingly revealed.

The film works so well, in part, because the Australian characters, played by Price and Edgerton in particular, seem like just the kind of attractive middle-class fellow tourists we might run into on a holiday in Asia— the kind who love their kids but are still keen for the odd party drug or night on the town. Alice and Dave are the busy married couple of two young children, with another baby on the way. They leave their two kids at home with granny while they take off  for one last stab at freedom, invited by Alice’s younger sister (Teresa Palmer) who has a charismatic new boyfriend (Antony Starr) with business to conduct in the beautiful and tropical Southern Cambodia.

 

“When we were writing the script we were looking at our own world, our own friends, our own generation who were having kids but still partying, still keeping one foot in that other world,” says Price. “I was interested in exploring responsiblity and how parenthood changes you, and how you can sometimes long to be that person you were before you had kids. As parents you love your kids more than anything, but you still adore freedom. As Gen X-ers I think we’ve kind of paved a different way to parenthood where we want to have our cake and eat it too.”

Price and Darcy-Smith have two young children, who were born as the script took shape. The kids accompanied them on the Cambodian shoot (which Darcy-Smith insists was both hellish and wonderful) and the US promotional trip.

“Felicity fell pregnant not long after we started the first draft,” says Darcy-Smith, “and the whole story of Wish You Were Here became this incredible opportunity for us to expose and express ourselves and what we were going through as a couple. It was like a play-room, in a sense, and we’d come to it to express everything we felt about the human condition, about our place in the world at that point in our lives.”

A getaway gone wrong - Felicity Price and Joel Edgerton in WISH YOU WERE HERE

Price is keen to point out that the story is purely fictional – but that “the world of the characters is very familiar to us, and we poured a lot of our own experiences, and what we’d witnessed with friends, into the film, and we’d constantly ask ourselves and each other, ‘what would you do right now in that situation?’.”

Price is a revelation in the role of Alice, the feisty pregnant wife who’s prepared to fight for her family. She manages to be convincingly loving and angry, yet without being wholly sympathetic. An actress whose credits including playing the young Florence Broadhurst in Gillian Armstrong’s Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst, as well as extensive theatre and television credits, this is arguably the first screen role to fully feature her talent. Of course the fact that she wrote the role for herself, and that she gets to play the wife of long-time friend Edgerton (who was best man at her wedding and godfather of one of her children) certainly helps to add authenticity to the performance.

“Joel and Kieran have been best mates for ages and they went to drama school together,” says Price, “so I’ve known Joel for a long time. Also, he had read more drafts of the script than almost anyone, right back to the first draft. That kind of familiarity was helpful.  Also, as an audience we enter this relationship at a point where these two people are very familiar with each other – it’s not the first flush of love, but a very solid relationship. And Joel’s a very good actor, who’s 100 per cent there emotionally, so it was easy to create this couple.”

Darcy-Smith directs Joel Edgerton on set of WISH YOU WERE HERE in Cambodia.

Darcy-Smith is himself a recognisable actor, appearing in films like SeptemberAnimal Kingdom and the multi-award winning short film Miracle Fish, yet has has always been an actor with a keen interest in working behind the camera as well as in front of it. He is one of the co-founders of the prolific Blue-Tongue Films collective (established in 1995), together with Nash and Joel Edgerton, David Michôd, Luke Doolan and Spencer Susser. Although Wish You Were Here is Darcy-Smith’s first feature film as director, he’s been honing his craft with a number of award-winning short films, as well as curating the short film program of Sydney’s Homebake Festival since 2000.

Now aged in his late forties, Darcy-Smith admits in his director’s notes that he was frustrated to be one of the last of his colleagues to make the jump from short films to features. Yet it was essential that he find the right idea and a script worth fighting for. Luckily this came in the form of his wife’s script, one she was writing in order to create a strong and interesting role for herself. Together, the two of them worked on the screenplay, which was accepted into Screen NSW’s Aurora screenplay development workshop process .

“I really think the screenplay is everything,” Darcy-Smith says. “I decided many, many years ago that that’s what I was going to put my chief investment in. I was going to learn to write, because I recognised it was the greatest commodity you could have in this industry. And it doesn’t matter how good you get with cameras and tricks and blah blah blah. It means nothing if you’re not telling a story that people want to see. And so I think writing is absolutely everything.”

Director Kieran Darcy-Smith (left) and producer Angie Fielder on the set of WISH YOU WERE HERE in Cambodia.

It’s common to hear filmmakers talking about the importance of the script, but Darcy-Smith has invested genuine effort in honing his writing skills, working with acclaimed producer Andrew Mason (The Matrix Trilogy, Tomorrow When the War Began) and writing a number of award-winning screenplays  including the Inside Film Award for Best Unproduced Screenplay for Memorial Day and the Australian Writer’s Guild Mentorship Award for Little Sky Cambodia. (Incidentally, Memorial Day is his next movie, where he’ll collaborate again with Wish You Were Here producer Angie Fielder, with acclaimed US indie producer Ted Hope (21 Grams, Happiness) as executive producer.

Darcy-Smith admits he’s an active, nervy man with a short attention span, and thus it was essential to make a film that held similarly impatient audience members in its thrall. This manifested in a story structure that gradually and thrillingly delivers pieces of its puzzle.

“It was a very delicate dance of delivery of information,” he says. “It was about keeping the audience working. There’s a duality at play. You’ve got an overarching mystery genre thriller element that very early in the piece kicks a ball up in the air. The idea is to keep the audience suspended with the need to know how this is going to play out. What’s going to happen? What’s he going to do? What’s she going to do?  – Which is pretty cool to any kind of story, no matter what it’s about. You need that sense of ‘I need to turn the page’ or ‘I need to sit in my seat and stay here until the very end’. So that was one element of keeping the audience engaged. But more importantly, you had to get them to the end of that and have them really care about the characters and the outcome. So the real story is with the family and what’s taking place in this relationship between a husband and wife.”

A different world on our doorstep in South-East Asia - 'the smells, the sounds, the humidity that just drips off you...'

So why Cambodia? Why did part of the story need to take place there? Price admits that any part of South-East Asia would have fitted with her themes of a getaway gone wrong. Initially the setting was Bali. “The smells, the sounds, the humidity that just drips off you and hits you, we needed it to be this place that is on the doorstep of Australia, but is just a different world.”

“There’s a real heart of darkness, a real underbelly that’s present in Cambodia in particular,” says Darcy-Smith. “And you don’t have to dig too deep to sort witness it, if not participate in it. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling in South-East Asia and had always gravitated gravitated towards that sort of sketchier element of the society there, and had always been attracted to general case studies of people who got into trouble of there. There is a real wildness, a sense of lurking danger there, and a dark history. That presented this environment in which to credibly set up this situation that we were exploring. It needed to be entirely credible and that sense of integrity was critical to the overall telling of this story. It was our intention that people walk out of the cinema thinking or saying to one another: ‘that could so easily have been you or I. What would I have done had I been in that situation? What choices might I have made?’”

As for advice for a first time feature director? Darcy-Smith says he asked a lot of his friends for tips, but the only concrete directive he got was from Gregor Jordan – “to get a really comfortable pair of shoes, because you’re on your feet all day!” As for his own advice for filmmakers? “Apart from the importance of the script, which is almost everything, trust your gut. If it comes down to a choice between A and B, you have to go with your intuition. Test that intuition and inform it, but go with your gut.”

Watch: A great behind-the-scenes clip from the film Wish You Were Here.

Wish You Were Here – Fast Facts

Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith
Writers: Kieran Darcy-Smith & Felicity Price
Producer: Angie Fielder
Duration: 93 minutes
Genre: Pyschological Drama / Mystery
Shoot: Sydney, Australia & Cambodia
Camera & Shoot Format: HD, Arri Alexa HD
Release Format: 35mm and Digital

Key Cast & Crew

Joel Edgerton
Felicity Price
Teresa Palmer
Antony Starr

Cinematographer: Jules O’Loughlin
Editor: Jason Ballantine
Production Designer: Alex Holmes
Costume Designer: Joanna Park
Sound Design: Brooke Trezise
Music: Tim Rogers
Casting Director: Kirsty McGregor
Score: Rosie Chase

Australian release date: 25 April, 2012
Website: www.wishyouwereherethefilm.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WishYouWereHereTheFilm
Twitter: @Wish_UWereHere

Video Interviews with Winners in the Media Room

What a night it was! Whether you watched the broadcast of the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony on the Nine Network on Tuesday 31 January, or whether you were lucky enough to be in attendance at the Sydney Opera House, there was entertainment in abundance – the fabulous spectacle of the red carpet, musical numbers by some of Australia’s finest entertainers, and a terric Afterparty blessed with only an exciting sprinkle of rain.

But of course at the heart of it all, the reason for the Ceremony’s very existence, were the awards themselves – the announcement of this year’s winners. Congratulations again to all the winners of the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards.

Back stage, the winners were escorted to the media room where they spoke to journalists and had their official photographs taken.

These interviews on the media room stage were sometimes breathless (there are a lot of stairs in the Sydney Opera House!), candid, and offered a great chance for the winners to talk in more depth about the characters and shows they brought to our screens in the past year. It’s well worth a visit to our YouTube site to see these interviews with the winners and click through to the ones you’re most interested in. Here’s just a taste, with an interview with Best Lead Actor winner Daniel Henshall, who picked up the AACTA Award for his performance in the grimly impressive Snowtown.

For more interviews, check out the Australian Film Institute | AACTA Youtube site.

AFI Quick Quiz: Harrison Gilbertson

Harrison Gilbertson

For an actor still in his teens, Harrison Gilbertson has already gathered an impressive portfolio of screen work, but then, he did start nearly ten years ago as a child actor, with a role in the 2002 feature film Australian Rules, directed by Paul Goldman. His subsequent performances have included playing the lead in Accidents Happen, as well as appearing in Ana Kokkinos’ Blessed, and playing the young and impressionable soldier Frank Tiffen in Beneath Hill 60. It was for this last role that Gilbertson was awarded with the AFI Young Actor Award in 2010.

Now Harrison Gilbertson is set to star on small screens in the new action drama series Conspiracy 365, which premieres on Foxtel’s Family Movie Channel (FMC) on 14 January 2012.

Harrison Gilbertson plays Cal Ormond, a fugitive on the run in Conspiracy 365.

Based on the series of young adult books written by acclaimed crime writer Gabrielle Lord and published by US publisher Scholastic, Conspiracy 365 is a 12-part series about Cal Ormond,  a 15-year-old boy on the run (played by Gilbertson). Cal is trying to elude sinister forces after the mysterious death of his father and he has just 365 days to solve the mystery or he’ll meet the same fate.

Julia Zemiro plays the villainous Oriana de la Force in Conspiracy 365.

Reported to have cost about $13 million to make, hopes are high for the action drama series. The news that Julia Zemiro and Rob Carlton are playing the baddies – the evocatively named Oriana de la Force and Vulkan Sligo, has certainly made older ears perk up. But youthful  fans of the immensely popular books will be hoping that Gilbertson carries off the role as the ordinary young man forced to become a hero. Chances are, he does just fine.

Here are Harrison Gilbertson’s answers to the AFI Quick Quiz.*

The AFI Quick Quiz:

Q. What is your favorite word? Love.

Q. What is your least favourite word? Hate.

Q. What turns you on? Photography.

Q. What turns you off? Self Indulgence.

Q. What sound or noise do you love? The sounds of the beach.

Q. What sound or noise do you hate? Stomach groans.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Carpentry.

Q. What profession would you not like to do? Dictatorship!

Q. The last film or DVD you watched? The Cider House Rules.

Q. The film that changed you and why? Dead Poet’s Society. because it opened me up to a new way of thinking.

Q. Your guilty television pleasure? Entourage. 

Q. Complete this sentence: The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is… the no-nonsense attitude.

Q. Three key mentors who’ve inspired or helped you?

  • My dad – Brian Gilbertonson.
  • My mum – Julie Sloan.
  • My sister – Bridget Gilbertson.

Conspiracy 365 premieres on January 14 at 7pm on Foxtel’s FMC.

*The AFI Quick Quiz is a version of the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire. Bernard Pivot is a journalist, interviewer and host of French cultural television programs. He developed a list of questions based on Proust’s famous questionnaire. This then formed the basis of James Lipton’s questions to actors on American cable television program Inside the Actors Studio. Now the AFI has its own version. We hope you enjoy it!

Check out other Quick Quiz respondents. They’ve included:

Geoff Morrell | Hanna Mangan Lawrence | Kestie Morassi | Melissa Bergland | Lincoln Younes | Maeve Dermody and Leon Ford

AFI Quick Quiz: Hanna Mangan-Lawrence

Hanna Mangan-Lawrence makes a striking impression in Jon Hewitt’s latest film ‘X’. In teeny tiny denim shorts and wedge heels, she’s a runaway teen, walking the streets of Sydney’s Kings Cross for her first night on the job. It was always going to be a difficult evening for her, but when she works a threesome with an older world-weary hooker (played by Viva Bianca), the two of them witness a crime and are pursued by some crazy criminal monsters into a night of hell.
In this seedy world of  sex for sale, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence’s performance shines. She maintains a knowing innocence and unspoilt beauty that’s perfect for the role. At just 19 years of age, the young actress already has an impressive list of film and television credits to her name. Starting out in short films, her standout performance was in Sexy Thing, which was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival. She was then cast in the lead role of ‘Chasely’ in Jon Hewitt’s feature Acolytes, and went on to feature in Nash Edgerton’s The Square and star in Kriv Stenders’ Lucky Country.
Hanna is best known for her role in ABC Television’s Bed of Roses, for which she received a 2008 AFI nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and a TV Week Logie nomination for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent in 2009. Next year we’ll see her in Broken Hill-shot feature film Thirst, written and directed by Robert Carter,  and starring alongside Victoria Haralabidou and Myles Pollard.
Here are Hanna Mangan-Lawrence’s answers to the AFI Quick Quiz.*

The AFI Quick Quiz:

Q. What is your favourite word? Holiday!

Q. What is your least favourite word? Pigeons.

Q. What turns you on? People who make me laugh.

Q. What turns you off? Bad tattoos.

Q. What sound or noise do you love? The ocean.

Q. What sound or noise do you hate? LMFAO.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Maybe I’d be a journalist.

Q. What profession would you not like to do? Horse trainer.

Q. The last film or DVD you watched? J. Edgar.

Q. The film that changed you and why? Lost in Translation. It made me excited to see the world.

Q. Your guilty television pleasure? Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Q. Complete this sentence: The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is… It’s like a big family and you’re always running into people you know.

Q. Three key mentors who’ve inspired or helped you?

  • My parents.
  • Kerry Armstrong.
  • Arthur Lawrence.

‘X’ is in limited release from 24 November, 2011.

Viva Bianca and Hanna Mangan-Lawrence in 'X'

Walking the streets of Kings Cross. Viva Bianca and Hanna Mangan-Lawrence in 'X'

*The AFI Quick Quiz is a version of the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire. Bernard Pivot is a journalist, interviewer and host of French cultural television programs. He developed a list of questions based on Proust’s famous questionnaire. This then formed the basis of James Lipton’s questions to actors on American cable television program Inside the Actors Studio. Now the AFI has its own version. We hope you enjoy it!

Check out other Quick Quiz respondents. They’ve included:

Geoff Morrell | Stephen Curry | Tim Ferguson | Frank Lotito | Kestie Morassi | Melissa Bergland | Lincoln Younes | Maeve Dermody and Leon Ford