Life on campus: Matt Day and Matthew Dyktynski in Love And Other Catastrophes
Despite a budget of next-to-nothing and a director on the dole, is reckoned to be the sleeper hit of the year. EMMA-KATE CROGHAN knows why.
Words: Trevor Johnston
It’s a dilemma. isn't it‘.’ You just have to pop out of the country for a couple of weeks to attend the world‘s most important film festival. but what on earth do you say to the dole office? Such was the scenario facing 24-year-old Australian writer-director Emma-Kate Crogban when Love And Other C(1I(I.S‘II'()/)/I(’.S‘ — the jolly. low-budget. student life romance she‘d made with a group of friends — was due to play Cannes.
‘The woman behind the desk just gave me this look and said “sure”.‘ recalls the Melbourne film school graduate. thrust into the international limelight when 20th Century Fox bought the distribution rights for twice the film‘s entire budget the day before the festival opened. ‘A day later. and l was on a yacht in the south of France. chatting with Al Pacino. It was definitely a what-is-happening-here expenence.
It goes without saying that it could have been very different. Crogban. producer Stavros Andonis Efthymiou. plus co—writers Yael Bergman and Helen Brandis got together and made a pact. Without any prior experience of feature film production. they vowed to give themselves only six weeks to write a script and raise the money for their debut feature. Astonishingly. they prised 45.000 Australian dollars (about £22000) from a variety of investors. kept writing while they were in pre-production. and started shooting knowing they only had enough stock to
22 mausr is. 29 May 199/
‘A lot of Australian films look backwards at the foibles of youth, because there are so many coming-of-age movies done by older directors. This was young people making a film about young people.’ 1“
cover their first week. The rest of the funds they scraped up as they went along. filming on Super 16mm with the intention of blowing it up to cinema format 35mm later.
‘lt was a conscious decision to make a screwball
comedy.’ says Crogban of the story outline. a saga of
romance and misunderstanding spanning the divide of sexual orientation on an Australian university campus. where finding a soulmate is very nearly tougher than finding a liatmate you actually get along with. ‘lt worked for the low budget. it worked for controlling the casting. and it worked for writing very fast. The actors got used to getting new pages all the time. but I think that sense of spontaneity actually comes across in the finished film.
‘Having said that. the structure of the piece is shamelessly classical — it's cribbed directly from the Hollywood screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s — but what we did was to set it in the student subculture we know. We walk and talk like these characters. even though it‘s in no way autobiographical.‘
It is refreshing to see a film which is on easy terms with the twentysomething lifestyle without turning it into The Young ()nm and which. within admittedly modest terms of reference. has such a firm grasp on its characters it doesn‘t have
resort to cruelty or grotesquerie to get its laughs.
‘We were making a film that wasn‘t at the expense of anyone.’ affirms Crogban. who is commendany modest and head-screwed-on about last year‘s whirlwind trip. ‘The humour here‘s about human interaction and misadventure. about the play of language rather than putting anybody down. A lot of Australian films look backwards at the foibles of youth. because there are so many coming-of-age movies done by older directors. This was young people making a film about young people. We were incredibly naive going into it. but I think it worked in our favour. You‘ve got to take a chance. haven‘t you‘.’ After all. where can you go from nowhere‘."
Selected release from Fri 23 May. See review.
The column that thrives on popcorn.
EWAN McGREGOR, that one-man film industry, has put his name to yet another project. This time it's an indie thriller to be shot in America by Australian director Stephan Elliot (The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert). Based on Marc Behm's novel of the same name, Eye Of The Beholder follows the obsessive, cross-continent hunt for a female murderer by a high-tech detective. McGregor, currently in London shooting Todd Haynes's glam rock movie Velvet Goldmine, will begin work on the film towards the end of the year.
ALAN SHARP, the veteran Scottish screenwriter behind Rob Roy, has been commissioned to write a four- part, four-hour version of Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles for the BBC. It will be the channel's first major costume drama since Pride And Prejudice.
TIM ROTH, who stole the show in Rob Roy, will be tickling the ivories in Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore’s new film, The Legend Of The Pianist On The Ocean. The $9 million film, due to shoot in Rome this summer, concerns a gifted concert pianist who is now on a cruise ship. It will be in English, but Roth will have to stretch his talents to the keyboard - although he claims that he'll outdo Geoffrey Rush's spot-on miming in Shine. In a feature in the next issue of The List, Roth will be discussing his move to Hollywood and the street comedy Gridlock’d, co- starring the late Tupac Shakur.
THE AULD ALLIANCE could take an unexpected direction if a new Scottish Film Festival goes ahead in Paris this autumn. A companion piece to the annual French Film Festival - which runs consecutively at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse each November — was suggested by Les Miserables director Claude Lelouch. The plan is to screen ten new films over ten days - a major feat of production which the industry in Scotland can be justly proud of.
Tim Roth: new film is music to his ears