NFSA Publicity Coordinator Jemma Pietrus spoke with filmmaker Heath Davis ahead of our exclusive Canberra season of his new film Broke.
Filmmaker Heath Davis talks about his latest project
BY JEMMA PIETRUS
Jemma Pietrus: Where did the inspiration for the film come from? Are you a big rugby league fan yourself?
Heath Davis: Yeah, I’m a footy diehard. I grew up in Penrith in western Sydney, which is a rugby league heartland. The story stemmed from my experiences growing up out there and seeing famous players and friends struggle with gambling addiction. Flash forward a few decades and the issue is more pertinent than ever.
BK’s story could be one of thousands of former or aspiring sporting stars, not just in Australia but also around the world. What has been the reaction from the sports community?
The reaction from those who have seen it and ex-athletes is overwhelming. They are genuinely moved and really identify with it. Some sporting organisations haven’t been as supportive as it no doubt hits home, perhaps too hard. People often struggle with truth.
Have you encountered audiences or members of the public facing similar issues and what have their response been like?
I have, at every screening, and it’s perhaps the most satisfying element. I just hope it inspires people and maybe helps in some capacity, even if it’s just creating a dialogue.
I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop between BK (Steve Le Marquand) and Cec (Max Cullen). How was it working with Australian talents like Le Marquand, Cullen, Claire Van Der Boom, Steve Bastoni and Brendan Cowell?
I was blessed to have these guys – whom I admire – take such a leap of faith in me and my vision, especially on the tiny budget we had. They really took ownership of their roles and invested so much. The performances are the strength of the movie and I have nothing but praise for them. All are passionate, consummate professionals and just genuine human beings.
The film has great comedic timing and then also moments when you feel a sense of real raw vulnerability. Do you have a favourite scene?
It’s a hard one to answer. I like lots of moments. However I could perhaps say it’s the GA [Gamblers Anonymous] scene, as we get to see most of the main characters going at it. That’s a very dynamic yet comic scene; it kind of encapsulates the tone of the whole movie.
You’re travelling around the country with the film screening it from city to city. How has that experience been so far, and what do you think are the benefits of this release strategy?
It’s almost like grassroots campaigning for votes. You get to establish a relationship with the audience and build word of mouth, which is integral to the success of an indie film with zero marketing budget. It’s a lot of hard work, however it gives your film a chance of finding an audience and having a life at the cinema.
You made Broke on quite a small budget. How does that influence your filmmaking?
It forces you to back yourself and make decisions. By limiting options you’re forced to have a specific vision, which brings a confidence in you and those around you. You also get to take risks and go against convention, which is very liberating.
What do you hope audiences take away from Broke?
Hopefully they stop and take stock of their lives and those around them. Maybe it will inspire them to help or reach out to someone in need. At least that’s the dream.
What is your next project?
It’s a comedy-drama called Book Week with Brendan Cowell in the lead. We are about to launch another crowdfunding campaign in three weeks and I’m scared! This time we are hoping to encourage kids and adults to get off their phone and pick up a book and read. I also work as an English teacher, so literacy is something I’m very passionate about. People can read more here.