The Tender Dark
What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
I knew in order to receive funding my next film had to be either heavily genre driven or topical. Same sex marriage is an important, politically relevant issue for me, so I naturally steered towards this topic. The inspiration for The Tender Dark came from trying to recollect my first understanding of homosexuality. I wanted to relive that innocent, child-like reaction through screen.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
Our lead character in the film is a 15 year old girl, who is typically coming to terms with puberty and sexual exploration. Even though the film is set in the 1950s, I relate to her transition from child to woman as every female would.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
When I started to workshop the idea with our writer Akos Armont, we decided to step outside of the box. What if not only is Lucy (our lead) ok with same sex couples in a time where it is illegal and largely hidden, but in-fact she is aroused when exposed to her first sexual encounter? This new aspect definitely took our story to another level, and transcended us away from the typical coming of age story it may have otherwise been.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
It was very important to me that a day-dream like feeling resonated through the film. Almost as if Lucy was recollecting a memory of her childhood. Many of the reference photos I collected had sun flares and soft colours. Bill Henson, a famous Australian photographer, was a huge influence in the cinematography style. You can see his direct influence through the night time scenes in The Tender Dark, where our DOP Martin McGrath & Gaffer Stef Fidirikkos had fun recreating moon light.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
The day before shoot day one, our Production Designer, Kitty Taube, contracted shingles due to the amount of stress she was under, recreating the 1950s with a very limited budget! She decided to continue working through it, much to our dismay. We were incredibly grateful!
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
We took a huge risk embarking on this film considering the tight budget. Finding convincing props, costumes and locations with very little money proved incredibly difficult and hugely stressful. Fortunately we think we managed to pull off a pretty convincing 1950s.
What risks does your story take?
The Tender Dark has very little dialogue, which was a conscious decision we made during the development stage. This meant that the storyline was largely left to be carried by the performances and editing. It also meant that the audience were able to draw their own conclusions, which was a potential risk considering the sensitive subjects explored in the story.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
Collaborate and read as much as possible! Share your idea with others you trust, and ask for feedback from as many people as possible. By opening yourself to collaboration, you have more opportunity to create an individual standalone story, one that is layered and intricate.