Two Filmmakers Tackle Tale of Two Bitter Brothers
(from brinkzine.com 5/12/07)
- Kelly Chapman and Campbell Maynes
“When the Tide Turns” got a lot of people’s attention when New York magazine selected it as one of the five best shorts screened at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Of the 14-½ minute, two-character Australian film, Bilge Ebiri wrote: “Starting off in one register, with brothers Benno and Gill happily heading out on a liberating getaway weekend to the beach, Campbell Maynes gripping little film quickly switches to another, as a freak incident results in a rapidly escalating standoff between man and nature—and then between the two men themselves. Tight, tense, and by the end, surprisingly tender.” With that rave review in mind, I ran into the short’s director Maynes and producer Kelly Chapman at the festival’s Filmmakers Lounge and conducted this brief interview.
Danny Peary: Where are you from in Australia?
Campbell Maynes: I am from Brisbane but currently live in Los Angeles.
Kelly Chapman: I am from Brisbane, too, but still live there.
DP: What had you done before this film?
KC: I started out producing music videos years in Melbourne. I used to want to be an actor when I was a “baby,” and left Melbourne for New York so that I could be discovered. Instead I fell in love and had a child and went to university, and my life went sideways for a while. I picked up producing shorts again a couple of years ago, and documentaries. (I’m working in interactive online narrative as well as the moment.) I’ve tried directing and writing, which I quite like, but I’m a producer.
CM: This was my first opportunity to direct. Prior to this, I did a business degree at university and worked at investment banking for several years, and decided to work at something I was more passionate about. So I pursued filmmaking. I took several courses and spent a few years producing television commercials. Last year I got the chance to make a pitch on this script and Kelly liked what I had to say.
DP: Who originated the idea for When the Tide Turns?
KC: The idea came from the scriptwriter, David A. Fellows. I contacted one of the state funding bodies to tell them that I wanted to produce another short film. They sent me five scripts to choose from and it was the one I picked. I worked a little with David and then got in touch with Campbell, who was definitely the right person to direct it. And then we developed the film together.
DP: Why did you choose this film rather than the others?
KC: It’s not something I can put into words, but I believed it, it rang true to me. It’s even a blokey film, but I have sisters and believe there are things in it that aren’t specific to males.
DP: But would you have thought of hiring a female director?
KC: Not for this film.
DP: How did you know of Campbell?
KC: From a friend of a friend, actually. Brisbane has a quite small film scene so everyone has heard of each other. I knew that he wanted to direct films and I had a sense that this one would work for us together.
DP: Campbell, why did you think you were the right pick for this movie?
CM: For two reasons. One is that I had an older brother and I know about the deep bond brothers share as well as the conflict that exists at any age. My brother and I are competitive people and sometimes that can be serious. I connected with the dynamics between Benno and Gill; and I connected to them individually on a personal level. Gill is in the finance industry and I’ve been there; and Benno is a bit of an outcast, and odd-jobs guy, and strangely enough I’ve done a bit of that over the years. So I related to the two characters. And second, shooting on the beach and in the water excited me a lot.
DP: Where did you film this?
CK: In northern New South Wales, most of it in the water.
DP: On the DVD, beneath the title, is the line, “blood is thicker than water.” I assume that’s the theme of the movie.
CM: It really is. It has a double meaning because the story is about brothers and much of the film is set in water. At the beginning of the film, Benno and Gill are estranged but are going away on a surfing trip for the weekend with the hope that they can work out their differences and things can be good again. Once they get to the beach, though, old resentments and issues start to come between them, and things deteriorate from then on.
KC: They’ve been estranged for quite some time, probably since their early twenties.
DP: Did something happen then that is, literally, “resurfacing?”
CM: The way they each decided to live their lives, day to day and on an ideological level, is quite contrasting and over the years they’ve really grown apart to the point there is quite a chasm between them. At those times they’ve had brief meetings, the same issues have come up. It all comes to a head in the short.
DP: Did you know the two actors before making the short?
KC: I did. Damien Meehan, who plays Benno, actually built a set on a previous short of mine. And the wife of David Cassidy, who plays Gill, acted in a short I produced.
Damien Meehan is a newcomer to acting. He works full time as a carpenter while exploring further acting opportunities. Damien Cassidy is classically trained and works in the theatre regularly. He has had small film roles including one in the Australian feature film “Kokoda.” He supplements any income he makes from his craft as a cinema projectionist. We did an extensive casting session for this film. We’d auditioned a lot of people the actors in pairs to see how they played together. Although Damien Meehan hadn’t had much acting experience, he’s perfect for the role and we were surprised at how well he and Damien Cassidy fit as brothers.
DP: Do you think the two Damiens will be friends after the film?
KC: They’re as different as Benno and Gill are. I wouldn't say they won't be friends, but they are very different types of guys and I doubt their paths will often cross, unless perhaps in another movie.
DP: Do you want to make features?
KC: Cameron, David, and I are actually developing “When the Tide Turns” into a feature.
CM: That’s one of our priorities at the moment. We have an initial treatment written and are hoping to develop a script from it. I also have a couple of other projects in the early stages that I’m developing as well. The goal is to make a feature film.
DP: What was your reaction to be accepted by the Tribeca Film Festival?
KC: To me it was a real dream playing at Tribeca. I’ve lived in New York and it was great coming back to the festival not as a volunteer! That excited me. It was a surprise to us that this little film that we knocked together in the ocean in three days had such legs.
CM: It was a festival we dreamed of getting into. The budget for our film was only $3,000 and we had a lot of great people who helped out for nothing, and there were businesses that supported us. It was a fairly surreal experience getting the phone call telling us that we’d been accepted. And coming to New York has its own excitement.
DP: Where can people see your film?
CM: We have entered several more festivals in the U.S. and Australia. We're screening at the St. Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne in June. We’ve also been accepted for the London Film Festival in October. If people are interested in updates they can contact us via www.whenthetideturns.com