Article from SMH by Andrew Taylor, 22 September 2016
She is venomous, eats her partner after sex and weaves a tangled web.
With such a reputation, it is little wonder the Australian redback spider has inspired two of Australia’s greatest artists – Cate Blanchett and Del Kathryn Barton – to create a short film that will premiere at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of the 2017 Adelaide Festival.
RED is billed as a surreal, savage tale of female power inspired by the mating rituals of the redback spider, which stars Blanchett, actor Alex Russell and the Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap.
“In essence, the narrative in RED illuminates the unusual mating rituals of the Australian red-back spider,” Barton said. “Here, our brave little male after copulating with the monumental female gently somersaults into her mouth, offering himself as a meal postcoital. If she is not hungry she will store his bound, dying body on her web for later consumption.”
In a Q&A with the gallery, Barton said the mating habits evoked what she described as “the poetics of female power as an inherent and indeed, elemental force in the universe”.
“By intercutting human protagonists with extraordinary macro footage, RED has evolved into what I now consider to be an uncompromising celebration of female power.”
The dual-screen work delve into themes of passion, sex and death, drawing on the symbolism of the female redback spider. Barton’s portrait of Blanchett and her children, Mother (a portrait of Cate), was a finalist in the 2011 Archibald Prize.
Blanchett, a two-time Academy Award winner, can currently be seen in German artist Julian Rosefeldt art film Manifesto at the Art Gallery of NSW. The versatile actor will also make her debut on Broadway in December in the Sydney Theatre Company production ‘The Present’, Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Platonov’, which also stars Richard Roxburgh.
Barton said she screamed out loud when Blanchett agreed to appear in the short film.
“On shoot day, she nailed the long cutting performance on the first take,” she said. “Her energy exploded off the monitor. We were all blown away. Cate is mother. At that point I knew that the stakes on RED had just gone to another level. I was actually shitting myself just a little bit.”
Barton embarked on the film after winning a $50,000 creative fellowship from the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2015. A two-time Archibald Prize winner, Barton’s art often examines fertility and the psychology of relationships. Her previous films include the human dress (2012) and last year’s The Nightingale and the Rose.
The short film will be screened at AGSA and become part of the gallery’s collection. AGSA director Nick Mitzevich said the short film would take Barton’s “career to a new level and to new audiences”.
RED runs from January 26 to April 30 at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Australia’s Nicholas Verso Talks U.S. Influences on His ‘Boys in the Trees’ and Yoko Ono Song Rights
Australian writer/director Nicholas Verso’s gender-bending Boys in the Trees world-premiered late last week in the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section, which is dedicated to cutting-edge fare, before segueing to Toronto. Verso talked to Variety about the influence of American movies on his first work and also how he managed to secure rights to its impressive ’90s song list.
“Boys” is a supernatural coming-of-age film set in suburbia on Halloween with skater culture, steeped in a ’90s soundtrack. It all seems pretty unusual for Australian cinema. What’s it born from?
In Australia we grow up watching a lot of American movies. I spent the 1980s and ’90s watching Spielberg, Joe Dante, and things like [Andrew Fleming’s] “The Craft.” What happens when you reach the end of your adolescence in Australia is you kind of look back and it feels a bit hollow because it’s nothing at all like the experience you grew up seeing on screen. So I just found there was a lack of films celebrating the Australian teen experience, and what that magic is like in our suburbia. It’s true, we [Australians] tend not to do that; we tend to make movies realistically. But I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I’ve read a lot of Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman; they are my favorite writers, besides the directors I already mentioned. So when I was growing up I would always look at things through that lens, and wonder why I couldn’t find an Australian film that showed them that way.
Why did you set it in 1997?
When I started writing the film, it was set in modern day, but all the modern technology kept getting in the way. YouTube and mobile phones and Instagram. I just found them very undramatic; so I went back in my head to when the last time would be that teenagers could really be alone in the night, without contrivance.
The film has a distinctive nighttime look and plenty of visual panache. What was it like working with your cinematographer, Marden Dean?
We didn’t have a lot of time, it was actually a very fast shoot, so Marden and I went to each location and just thought very practically about how we could create that look of magic suburbia that you are now seeing in things like [Netflix sci-fi series] “Stranger Things.” We wanted it to look like a film; we didn’t want it to look too realistic. We wanted it to be stylized and heightened. Bill Henson, the Australian photographer, is a huge influence, and also Gregory Crewdson.
The impressive song list on the soundtrack includes Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” and Yoko Ono’s “Death of Samantha.” Was getting those rights tough?
I have a very personal connection to every song in the film. Luckily [the film’s producer] Mushroom Pictures has a big music arm. The attraction they had to the script was that I was embracing the music. I think if I was with any other producer in Australia I would not have had those songs. Still, there were certain nuts that were tough to crack. I had to write a long personal letter to Marilyn Manson begging him for his song. The one I was most worried about was Yoko Ono but she was very supportive, which was amazing. Until she said yes I was very nervous because I didn’t know how else to finish the film. For all the other songs I had other options. But for that one I had no backup plan.
Congratulations to the Cameron’s Clients that will have their work or appear on stage next year!
Belvoir St Theatre
Mark Colvin’s Kidney by Tommy Murphy
Darlinghurst Theatre Company
Hysteria designed by Anna Gardiner
I Love You Now directed by Kim Hardwick
Odd Man Out by David Williamson and designed by Anna Gardiner
The Rasputin Affair by Kate Mulvany
Lip Service designed by Anna Gardiner
Taking Steps designed by Anna Gardiner
Griffin Theatre Company
A Strategic Plan by Ross Mueller
Testament of Mary composed and sound designed by Max Lyandvert
Black is the New White starring Anthony Taufa
Dinner composed and sound designed by Max Lyandvert
From a Sydney Theatre Company commission, Melissa Bubnic has written a no-holds-barred, biting satire on what it takes to get ahead. With an all-female cast, in-your-face dialogue and a healthy bump of cabaret, Boys Will Be Boys is a ferocious and unapologetic look at misogyny and who’s got the power.
First performed at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2015, Boys Will Be Boys has since travelled to The Bush Theatre, London and now arrives to Auckland’s Silo Theatre until September 24. For more information and how to book, click here.
Congratulations to our client Nikki McWatters who has won the 2016 Moth Short Story Prize, judged by John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. John Boyne said he chose Nikki’s story, entitled Yellow Belly, ‘for its careful juxtaposition of childhood innocence with the darker sides of family life’. ‘The language and descriptive powers of the author suggest a great talent.’ The article in the link below appeared in The Irish Times yesterday.
Nikki’s third book, Hexenhaus, is publishing in November and has been endorsed by internationally bestselling novelist Kate Forsyth as ‘[a] riveting novel inspired by the true history of witchcraft and witch-hunts. Unputdownable.’
Congratulations to director, Shannon Murphy, and actor, Ivan Donato, for their premiere of Mary Anne Butler’s Broken at Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Broken wrestles with matters of chance, choice, hope and fate, posing the question: When you find yourself empty, how do you start again?
“Director Shannon Murphy’s production is as crafted and economical as the text it presents.” – Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Hick, Donato and Enright… exercise exquisite control as Broken shifts back and forth in time and between locations.” – Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald
Broken is on at the Eternity Playhouse until August 28. For more information and how to book, click here.
We’d love to congratulate the Cameron’s clients on their AWGIES nominations, some of which are co-written:
Television: Miniseries – Adaptation
Barracuda – Blake Ayshford and Belinda Chayko
Jack Irish – Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron and Andrew Anastasios
The Beautiful Lie – Alice Bell
Television: Miniseries – Original
Glitch – Louise Fox, Kris Mrksa and Giula Sandler
Television – Series
Rake: Season 4, Episode 407 – Andrew Knight
Comedy – Situation or Narrative
Please Like Me: Season 3, ‘Pancakes with Faces’ – Josh Thomas and Liz Doran
Please Like Me: Season 3, ‘Simple Carbohydrates’ – Josh Thomas, Liz Doran and Thomas Ward
Feature Film – Original
Ali’s Wedding – Andrew Knight and Osamah Sami
Radio – Original
The History of the Single Girl – Noelle Janaczewska
Beat Bugs: ‘Hey Bulldog’ – Kate Mulvany
Children’s Television – C Classification
Ready for This: ‘The Crocodile’ – Josh Mapleston
Shannon Murphy’s first of two Offspring episodes airs tonight with her second airing next Wednesday night. You should also look out for her short film Eaglehawk as part of MIFF’s Accelerator program.
Eaglehawk hits MIFF’s screens August 6 and 8, for more information and how to book, click here.
Shannon’s episode 3 of Offspring airs tonight at 8:30pm on channel 10 or catch-up on Ten Play.
Congratulations to Cameron’s clients writer Blake Ayshford and production designer Elizabeth Mary Moore on Matchbox’s Barracuda, which goes to air on the ABC this Sunday night. The 4-part series is the adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel of the same name, an unflinching look at Australia’s national obsession with sporting heroes. It’s a brutal clash of cultures, dreams and expectations and the relentless demands we place on our young athletes, their families, schools, friends and coaches.
Congratulations to Max Lyandvert (composer) and Andrew Knight (writer) with the premiere of The Ketting Incident on July 4. The Porchlight Films production, screens on Foxtel’s Showcase channel Monday’s at 8:30pm.