What an exciting past month and a half it has been for writer/director VICTORIA WHARFE McINTYRE and her cast and team at Wagtail Films.
Down Under has been fortunate to come out from under Covid-19 quarantine & lock-down and Aussies are now able to attend cinema screenings and awards shows. Parts of New South Wales, around Sydney, have had a slight resurgence but the good old digger spirit has kept everyone complying with self-isolation and the virus seems contained – for now. Victoria, her fellow producer Amadeo Marquez-Perez and several cast members have been attending special screenings in key markets across multiple States, presenting post-screening Q&A panels, answering audience questions and chatting with media. THE FLOOD also won Best Australian Film as well as Best Director (for Victoria) and Best Lead Actress (Alexis Lane) at the Sydney Women’s Int’l Film Festival (see below) And at the prestigious AACTA Awards in late November, Aaron Jeffery was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (for playing Wm. “Minto” Minton) shown here with Victoria.The latest high-profile kudos come from David Stratton, columnist for The Australian newspaper, who listed The Flood as one of the best films of 2020:What a great way to end this bastard of a year! Bravo to Victoria, her production team and brilliant, talented cast!! I asked Victoria and some of the cast members to share their experiences and thoughts about working on THE FLOOD now that the public and media have spoken…..
Victoria, congratulations on the success of the special screenings and Q&A panels with yourself and the cast. What has been the audience reaction/feedback to the film so far?
Thanks – it’s been overwhelmingly positive, which is fantastic considering how full on and in your face some scenes in the film are – people say it’s bold and epic and they’ve never seen a film like it and most commonly, people want to watch it again.THE FLOOD is a film that stands up to repeat viewing – there is so much going on and so many shocking moments that the subplots and subtleties are easily overlooked in the first viewing, especially the gentle spirituality of the First Nation people and country as witness to humanity. Watch it again from that perspective and you see a very different film again. It is multilayered in every way – each shot jam packed with visual and aural information and it is just gorgeous to look at.
It appears that your cast is really invested emotionally in your film – how has this helped shaped the promotional campaign with post-screening Q&A panels, festivals & awards events, and their online (social media) support?
We spent 2 months in a heightened spirit and natured-filled ‘hot house’ together, going into the darkness and the light, traversing our nation’s history and the deeply personal aspects of human experience. We forged bonds in fire, through enormous challenges and are wedded with the time spent with our First Nation people through daily ceremony, artistic creation and loving friendship. We all believe that the story we’ve told forms part of our nation’s healing and move towards true reconciliation with our First Nation peoples. We are united in our sense of the importance of that, and our cast are brilliantly doing all they can to share our message of truth-telling that leads to redemption and reconciliation and that is universal both socially and personally.
The Flood is now being released to the public in theatres across the country, just in time for Christmas – how has FanForceTV, NAIDOC and Madman Films supported the film during the time of Covid and into 2021?
It has been a very trying time to bring your first feature into the world, and easy to get into impatience and longing for the old cinema going days. But we’ve had great support and now we’re getting some great reviews, sold out sessions and lots of cinema bookings which has been a pretty good end to an annus horribilis for the arts community – although the beauty, strength and character of artists all around the world has shone through the digital realm and touched a lot of people. THE FLOOD has always made its own way in the world – so I trust in the process.What is your next project…or are you just taking a good long holiday from work until you start thinking of the next production? Ha! This year has been a holiday away from production so I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle in 2021. Got a few projects on the go – have a science fiction film in the works with the ultimate message of don’t destroy the Earth – there is no other planet ‘B’, and a film with a dog…will have to see what takes off.
I also posed a few questions to cast members who were kind enough to share their experiences on-set and their future projects:
Shaka, how has this leading role of Waru impacted your career to date, and as you head off to the stage musical “Hamilton”, are you looking forward to the rehearsal process and nightly performances in front of live audiences?
The leading role in THE FLOOD has had a massive impact on my career. It’s given me the chance and experience to be on set almost every day, which gave me the opportunity to learn my craft and have a better understanding of acting for film and tv. It’s also put me up front for publicity experiences such as radio, tv interviews and public speaking. I’ve become more comfortable in all aspects of the acting industry.
THE FLOOD has only just been released and people are only just seeing it, so the impact it has had on my career when it comes to future work has not yet arrived but I have no doubt it will create many more opportunities in film and tv. To play a strong, beautiful and heroic Indigenous character is something I’m very proud of and grateful to have had the responsibility to portray.I’m definitely looking forward to rehearsals for HAMILTON and being surrounded by talent and incredible artists, and then performing with them to the world. HAMILTON is more than just a musical – it is another life changing experience. I’m very proud to be a part of THE FLOOD and HAMILTON which are two very different and powerful life changing experiences
Alexis, you took on the role of the tough, take-no prisoners Jarah – do you see yourself as an action heroine or are you now looking to take on a less exhausting or a more romantic character in your next film? I had a phenomenal time working on this action-packed, truth revealing film. Victoria is an incredibly giving director, allowing me to constantly grow and explore the depths of Jarah throughout filming. Finding Jarah’s natural resolve which then becomes her weakness… Jarah is unable to let go and grow in forgiveness. Her journey then circles back around and her determination becomes an asset to her character once again. Just like my favourite line in the film from Waru “you’ll grow and change and when you prove yourself you will be forgiven”.It is still a rare opportunity in this industry to find a female lead that is a strong force yet a very human woman, and I’d be happy to continue down this path if it means showcasing women are more than just love interests or damsels.
Dean, you played not one but two roles in THE FLOOD – one a nasty cruel guy and the other, his brother, a much nicer character – do you find portraying “bad guys” more interesting or challenging than playing the good guy?
Playing the guy with bad behaviour can be very emotionally challenging, because his behaviour is so far removed from my core values/self, but at the same time that makes him very interesting in terms of being challenged as an actor.
The “good” twin has core values closer to mine but he also has traits very far removed from me, his inability to follow through with his resistance to the children being taken and being passive and weak enough to have a man take his eye out. If someone tried that on me they’d have a fight in their hands I tell ya, ha ha!!
Saying that, playing Paddy was also triggering for me because as a skinny teen I was incredibly shy and passive and somewhat of a coward, and to sit in that after outgrowing it, with attaining confidence over the years, felt like living through flashbacks in a way.
So my long winded answer (ha ha) is that they are equally interesting, but the twin with “bad” behaviours, the homicidal, racist, barbaric thing in ‘Shamus’ makes it more challenging to be in his shoes. Dean Kyrwood is pictured below (R) with Brendan Bacon (L)Brendan, you’re playing one of the most heinous evil bastards in The Flood yet I hear you’re a very sweet, kind man – as an actor, where do you find such intensity (and nastiness!) for your characterization of Tick?
The most heinous evil bastard in THE FLOOD….why thank you for your kind words ha ha! Finding intensity and nastiness in a character like ‘Tick’ doesn’t come easy but lucky for me I have over the last 20 yrs of my career played nothing but characters of the same realm.
But ‘Tick’ is by far one of the nastiest I’ve played and I thank Victoria for giving me the opportunity. I grew up in a very small region of north Victoria where, unfortunately, the racism towards native Australians was very much within the community, so given that, I was able to tap into some of what I knew and heard growing up. Also, to when looking at the rest of the gang within the film you see I’m working with some pretty big guys (Dean, Socs and Eddie) so given that I’m the smallest in the group it gave me more of a view to make the tiny bad guy seem the worst.
Also, when reading the script for the first time and working on the character’s name ‘Tick’ I looked at using that as giving him ‘Tourette’s’ and knowing that back in the 1940’s it would have been something that wasn’t known by many, and given that it would be something that most people back then would find quite scary, so that, too, also gave the character some more depth.
Even though ‘Tick’ was a nasty guy, it still took a lot to channel but knowing I had Victoria’s backing with taking him as far into the darkness that I could, he was still a very broken little man and one of the characters that will stay with me for a long time!
Aaron, you’ve enjoyed audience popularity on both the big and small screens – do you prefer the challenge of period dramas (The Flood), romance (McLeod’s Daughters) or comedies (Palm Beach), and why?
I’m always most attracted to stories with meaning and heart and characters with depth. THE FLOOD speaks of reconciliation and redemption and elevating First Nation people through an action-packed thrill ride that entertains while it tackles a bunch of social issues. It treats the audience with a lot of respect for their intelligence and I love being a part of telling stories that.
The audiences have had such positive reactions and many shared their thoughts and opinions as they exited the cinemas:
“Best Australian movie I have seen in a long while I am still getting over how emotional it was. It definitely compelling and am finally glad some of the truth telling of our Aboriginal peoples is out there! We just need to get that treaty happening and acknowledge the Statement from the Heart with Integrity compassion and justice !”
“Definitely need to see this movie again…after absorbing the brutal action…ready to follow the softer spiritual depth of this unique film.”
“Highly recommended – watching this movie felt so many emotions very thought provoking”
“The team from The Flood. An Australian story rarely told. Brilliant cast, amazing bushland setting, and great creative cinematic story telling.”
“Congratulations on an amazing, thought-provoking, beautifully brutal masterpiece!”
“It was amazing. So beautifully shot, creative, confronting, sad, but a comforting end. Will watch again!”
“WOW!!!! We loved the film….photography was amazing, great acting, great everything!!!!!”
THE FLOOD is now being released in cinemas to the general public and should hit North America (US and Canada) sometime early 2021, either in cinemas (Covid permitting) or via online streaming platforms. I highly recommend the film to learn about Australia’s recent history…but I might be slightly biased – I grew up in Australia and cannot wait to get home to celebrate with my Flood friends!
Big thanks to FanForceTV, Madman Films, NAIDOC and everyone at Wagtail Films for allowing me access to THE FLOOD.