It’s every filmmaker’s dream, to make the shift from writing and directing fabulous short films like Drowning to making fabulous feature films like Teenage Kicks. Award-winning Australian Filmmaker Craig Boreham is poised at this threshold right now and the only thing stopping him from making the transition is a shortfall of $67,000. The good news is that a distinctive Pozible campaign closing very soon has Craig and his talented team a little closer to realising that shortfall. You can help Craig too. Writer & Director Craig Boreham chats crowdsourcing and feature film stuff with Paul Andrew.
Craig it is every filmmakers dream isn’t it, moving away from making short films and music clips into the world of feature film making?
Yes, I believe it is. I’ve been working with filmmaking for a bit and this opportunity has been a long time coming. We are planning to shoot in November this year and this is all dependent on the Pozible campaign.
Making a feature, how exciting?
(Craig laughs) Well it’s been great developing a long film project during the last five years, the short film Drowning on which this film is based was always intended as a feature, so it’s been an interesting journey.
Many of the elements are exactly the same as making a short film, but writing a script to sustain audiences for ninety minutes, that’s the challenge. Ninety minutes is a good length for a film like this, and, well there have been loads of drafts since then. I initially wrote a muscle draft of the story – just putting the ideas down in a stream of consciousness way and then we (that is, Producer Annmaree J Bell and I) received support from Screen NSW to develop it further.
We went into serious development mode working with Laurie Webb. Laurie is a US based story advisor who was the development executive for Anthony Mingella and Sydney Pollack. We had regular meetings over Skype and discussed the latest draft to really find the backbone of the story… where the story was truly at, the hidden nuances and details that I as the writer, could explore further.
That must have been immensely challenging and satisfying?
It was and it still is. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary things to come from that was the way in which some of the minor characters either disappeared completely while others ended up taking on a much more vital role. Laurie really understood the story I was telling and it was great to have a second set of eyes to see where things were not quite hitting the mark or were maybe moving too far. Then after all those long chats the story became a lot clearer and I revisited that draft and kept rewriting.
You mention that a minor character took on a more vital role?
Yes, there was a character in the script, the girlfriend of Dan’s brother, Annuska, who in the earlier drafts had a smaller part in the script, started to appear as a major relationship in the story and quickly became a much more important character. Yes she was grieving and experiencing loss, but maybe I never really explored her character much. Anyway, after meeting with an amazing young actor named Bojana Novakovic, well, that meeting changed everything for the Annuska character.
Bojana and I were set to have a brief casting meeting that turned into a long and wonderful chat about life, love, relationships, grief, loss, yearning you name it, and we talked at length about what Bojana believed was Annuska’s world view. And of course, what an actor like Bojana brings to a character, words on a page at the end of a day, is life, she provided flesh for the bones, the back story, the feelings, the words, the gestures, all those physical and emotional things that actors can do so well, of course this is gold for a writer or a director, and gives a lot of fuel that I can play with for the character. I knew a brief way into that meeting that Bojana really understood the character.
Yes, actors are ultimately the embodiment of story, through gestures, stolen glances and non-verbal language etc?
Exactly, actors really do embody story, it’s a part of their training they bring so much to the script, and sometimes writers forget this, no maybe writers forget this all the time, I don’t know. They have this thirst for knowledge about a character and want to be immersed in every detail of their being, their secrets, their hopes, their dreams, their failings, their everything.
Bojana’s understanding of what the character would be feeling, and her language around grief and loss, how she spoke about that so deeply, and about what it does to your head when you want to move forward but feel stuck, when you feel lost. It’s those surprising insights and choices that an actor brings to the story.
And your lead actor Miles Szantos, he has been cast for a while now, and must have a profound sense of Mik’s character?
Yes, true and for Miles, it is his character Mik who feels entirely responsible for his brother’s death. Mik feels he has to fulfil the role of his brother, step into these empty shoes and feels that he is obligated to be there with family while at the same time wanting to move on with his own life and follow his own passion.
Miles has been attached to the project for the five years or so and I have work-shopped the character of Mik with him quite a bit. Focussing on those moments of being lost when you are young, I mean everyone has been young once, and knows how it feels to be alienated by friends, by family and by peers. Miles has a great connection to Mik, who feels disconnected in the family, the youngest, the one who was never a big achiever and who was basically a bit of a fuck up who builds a wall around himself, as young people so often do, to preserve his strength, and to give him a chance to make a break away from his family.
It’s a real privilege as a writer to have the actors around while you are developing the story. Just being able to play with a scene or do a read through of the dialogue really helps polish the story.
It does sound like a huge paradigm shift from making short films, a ninety minute script must feel like a such an opus compared to a nine minute script?
Well, often a short film is based on a single idea or even a single line of dialogue, and in a long form project, it is all about sustaining story for ninety minutes or longer. It’s longer on the page and on the job, a lengthier shooting schedule, a bigger story to have in your head while you are directing the film etc. That’s really the main difference. You have a much bigger story world to maintain and to keep moving dramatically. The production process is similar but just for a longer period and a bigger challenge to maintain the story world consistently over that time.
You mention locations just now, so many variables with locations while making a film, are all the film locations locked in now?
No, not yet. Right now there are a couple of options for the key location and is really influenced by financing. Location has a big impact on the shooting budget in terms of moving people around and housing them while we are in production. We will most likely shoot in Queensland or New South Wales later this year.
Where are the story locations in Teenage Kicks?
The story has three key locations. The outer suburbs where the boys live with their families, a wealthier beachside suburbs for the scenes with Dan’s new girlfriend Paedra and the vivid inner city areas like Kings Cross where Annuska lives.
Is $200,000 AUS the actual amount needed now to get the film across the line?
Yes, but we decided for our Pozible campaign to be more realistic and have asked for one third of the required across the line budget, the idea being that we are true believers in Pozible and now how many people love the way in which they can be involved in the filmmaking process these days.
It’s true, while there are many filmmakers out there lamenting the loss of old school filmmaking techniques to the digital age your crew are embracing it all; the hands on, shared and relational approach to filmmaking that is so much a part of this developing digital age?
Yes, we have been mindful about the way in which people, who are the future audiences for this film, can be involved and share in the excitement of making a feature film like this actually happen. So alongside the Pozible site we have a Facebook page and our website too, so people can engage with us at a number of levels, there are people just a bit younger than Mile’s seventeen year old character Mik, who don’t have credit cards yet, but they are keen to be involved and to offer their own stories, the amazing artworks they have made in honour of the project, photographs, dedications and so on.
For me this is such an exciting part of making this film, and it is the type of support that keeps reminding us why we’re telling this story and who we are telling it for.
Yes, and maybe we are only just witnessing the beginnings of – and potential for - this type of interactivity with feature film development. Tell me Craig who is the perceived audience for the film?
Well as you know Mik is aged seventeen, it’s an Australian summer and hope of a new future is in the air, but darker things prevail, and the story is about how he deals with these darker forces like grief and loss. So the film is actually for people a little bit older, perhaps those in their late teens, early twenties and much older still, everyone has experienced youth, and wanted to move forward but felt it is the most impossible thing in the world to achieve despite being young and feeling impervious or invincible.
The other great thing about Pozible you have noticed so far?
Perhaps the most exciting thing is the ability to speak to people who are young and may be living a life very much like this story we are developing for our film, and the people who live in absolute isolation and who really want to be a part of something like this too, the internet is an amazing tool to connect with your audience.
Of course managing a triple threat social media campaign like this must present big challenges, most of all I imagine being mindful of leaking spoilers?
Yes, people don’t want to hear the whole story or the back story, what we don’t need are spoilers. Perhaps the other thing that is exciting about what we are doing here with Teenage Kicks, is that audiences who have seen our short Drowning at festivals over the last five years and our newer supporters have always known this project is a part if something bigger, that a feature was always intended and it is no surprise for them, and they do want to know more about what happens with each of the characters about what unfolds during one very difficult summer.
To make Teenage Kicks an awesome POZIBLITY.... nd btw please feel free to share this link with friends and peers who may also like to contribute, thanks Paul Andrew:
Pozible - http://www.pozible.com/
Photo (Above): Bojana
NEWS UPDATE 16 May 2013 - NB: only 11 days to go to raise the remaining 35 percent of the budhget- can you help?
Hope your week is going well. I am writing to let you know what's happening with our new film project Teenage Kicks.
We are trying to raise the rest of the money we need to make the movie by reaching out for support from the people we think might want to see this film made and support Australian film. So far we have raised 65% of our $67000 target but we still have a way to go and only 11 days left to get there. If we don't hit the target in the time left we lose everything we have raised so far and the time is running out.
Making independent film in Australia is challenging and we are relying on the generosity of people like you who may be able to help support the project. We know it is an important story to tell and we are committed to getting good local stories onto our screens and out into the world.
If you can help us with a donation or by sharing the page link with people you think would like to help it would be a big help.
You can visit our Pozible page to see our video, find out about the movie and check out the rewards for becoming a supporter by following the link below:
For more deets see:
Visit Teenage Kicks the movie -- http://www.