Writer/director “NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS” (on DVD/Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment)
When did you decide you wanted to make movies, Stuart?
Very early on. I fell in love with film for the first time after seeing Jaws. I think at the time I thought I wanted to be an oceanographer because of how the film affected me. I soon realised I had little interest in the ocean and sharks and more interest in telling stories like that.
Have a lot of support in that decision?
Sure. People around me including family and friends have also supported me. My partner and co-writer of this film Karen actually bought me my first pro camera back in the day, and now we run our own production company together. And yeah, I’m pretty sure most people close to me have been involved in a short film or project of mine at some point.
How does one start though? Do you enroll in film school or just go out there with your camera and shoot something – I imagine it’s different for everyone?
Both really – early on I would make short films with my camcorder. Stop motion movies etc. Then I worked at a cinema when I was 14/15, cleaning up etc. I studied movies there as I would get free tickets and would take in everything. From there I went to film school at RMIT in Melbourne where I made numerous films including a few community TV shows with collaborators I still work with today.
You started out in short films, is that right?
Yep. I produced, directed, edited etc a bunch of short films, some of which can be found on the internet, a lot which never will be lol. A notable short film I did was called Penny, which is a romantic comedy I shot at the local drive-in cinema. It’s on Youtube and worth checking out.
I imagine it’s a really sensible choice doing some shorts before jumping straight into features. What did you learn working on shorts that you later applied to the films you’ve made?
You learn everything. Organizational skills mostly. You can tinker by yourself doing camera tests etc until the cows come home, but without jumping into it you’ll never understand the immense amount of logistics involved behind the scenes. I also learnt a lot about working with actors and getting the most out of people in a compressed amount of time.
To the latest movie. How did you come up with the concept for this film?
I was inspired to write something small in budget and in scope that revolved around just a few characters that I could shoot quickly. Jordan (the producer) showed me a property he owned and optioned potentially shooting something there. This became the main shooting location for the film. After seeing it I went away and began throwing ideas at the wall. Inspired by films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I knew I wanted to explore the ‘crazy family’ concept and the theme of ‘monsters’. Three months later I had a draft.
I imagine you wore a lot of hats on the movies?
Sure. As a writer/director you have to be about 15 other things, especially when you are dealing with a modest budget and scope. What I learnt is that as much as you have to supervise every department and oversee every decision, it’s important to surround yourself with people you can trust to help alleviate the stress. The crew was small too, and it’s fair to say many others were juggling multiple hats.
And for those in the U.S, who are considering checking the film out over the Halloween weekend, what would you want to say to them?
Please check it out! If you are a fan of films like TCM or The Hills Have Eyes, you very well may dig our film. Also any support to indie film-makers you can give is fantastic for the industry. I think also it’s important that audiences expand their spectrum of what they take in. I think a lot of times people expect everything they watch has at least a million dollar budget with all the time and resources in the world – sometimes there are real gems to be found from indie films that were fueled only by passion, caffeine and adrenaline.
DC Fanboy! Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time. Favorite movies are Man of Steel, Goonies, Back To the Future