Meet multi-AFI-Award-winning writer, director and producer Rob Connolly (The Bank, Three Dollars, Balibo, Underground: The Julian Assange Story and the International Emmy nominated mini series The Slap, plus many more). Rob is one of SWIFF’s special guests, as the executive producer of David Wenham’s directorial debut, Ellipsis – the grande finale to this year’s festival.
Ellipsis is set over one night in Sydney and follows the story of two strangers whose paths collide. The film was conceived, workshopped and shot in just 10 days, with just two main cast and four on-set crew. There was no written script nor rehearsal and the actors worked spontaneously in actual working locations and situations.
We talk to Rob to find out more…
What does condensing a narrative into one night allow you to do with a film?
It allowed us to really focus the story and get right to the heart of it. David Wenham and I were looking at making a film in an innovative way that would give us a lot more freedom than the bigger-scale work that we’ve both done. It really lends itself really nicely to a handful of crew, a short shoot, a real adventure in how we made the film. I guess though, if you make it in an adventurous way does it feel different, and I guess that’s what the audience will get a chance to decide.
What would you like audiences to take away from this story?
That sense of an emotional playful adventure in the cinema. You travel with this couple who are brought together and it’s fun and moving. The other thing David and I would both like for people is a bit of recognition in their own life. Heartfelt moments, some sadness, but overall a lot of joy and humour and mischief. So just recognising something from their own life, whether it’s what they’re experiencing now, or something they’ve experienced in the past, what they hope they might experience. Because this film is a love story in its own simple way, and I think most people at some point in their life have experienced what it’s like to fall in love, fall out of love.
It’s a multicultural and diverse picture of Sydney, and those are themes that you’ve explored a lot over the years in your own work on screen. What are you drawn to about Australia’s multiculturalism and eccentricity?
As a country we’re so many different people brought together, including the people who have lived here for thousands of years. You almost have a responsibility that our creative work reflects that and to be honest and real about who we are. It would be crazy to not attempt to show the balance of the cultural mix that makes up who we are. People have gotten used to a lot of cinema that’s very Anglo and has male protagonists. In this the central character is Emily Barclay’s character, and the people she and Benedict’s character meet are from all aspects of life. Diversity is such a big question that film-makers are thinking of at the moment. There’s gender diversity, cultural diversity, age and demographic diversity, older and younger people, generational… there are just so many aspects of who we are, that we’ve neglected a bit on screen. So I think contemporary film-makers are really trying to be very conscious of that in their work and addresses the imbalance.
Just to bring it back to the Coffs audience who’ll be watching this – there are a lot of people who live here who have made the “tree change” and “sea change” and a of them actually left Sydney. How would Ellipsis maybe give them a little pause for thought in how they think about Sydney – in a positive way?
It is a love letter to city, and to aspects of that city that David really enjoys, that idea of heading out into the night and the infinite possibilities of what could happen if you’re open to it. People who live outside the cities have a wonderful lifestyle and probably enjoy delving into big cities every now and then. If you want your dose, that’s exactly what this film is.
Interview by Louden Up Media