ByJessica Harmon, writer at
The ultimate fangirl - spends most nights watching back-to-back old Buffy episosdes and complaining about being tired for work the next day.
Jessica Harmon

Watch the Sunset, directed by Australians Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden, is a powerful, intimate drama about a man that comes to grips with the power of his past, when his estranged family become entangled in it's web.It's a movie you have to see...

... but filmmakers Barr and Gosden need your help.

The duo, who also co-wrote the pic, just launched it's crowdfunding campaign which will help fund post-production costs and get the film onto the international stage at festivals around the world.

We caught up with the twosome to talk about the film, the campaign and their plans for the film some are tipping as the next big film from downunder.

The film is very reminiscent of another recent classic Australian film, Animal Kingdom. Are you at all worried Australia might soon find itself stereotyped as a place of “crooks” and addicts?

Mick: Not at all. The underworld is something that most Australian’s don’t exist in and barely understand at all. We wanted to avoid any sensationalizing of the underworld and come from a place of empathy.

Tristan: I don’t think we’ll ever lose the Crocodile Dundee stereotype.

How big is the problem - with ICE, and other drugs – downunder?

Mick: The problem most drugs have is that they can move faster around the country than the law can. When it comes to ICE, a drug that can be created in a house, shed or the trunk of a car, it’s incredibly difficult to fight against.

The issue with ICE in Australia, is that a lot of regular drug users are switching to ICE as a cheaper and more powerful high.

Tristan: The Aussie media are having a debate over whether it’s an epidemic or not. I think regardless, it’s destroying people’s lives.

What was the appeal of telling this particular story?

Tristan: The story was based on true events and the characters on real people whom I have personal experience with which stirred me to write the concept. So the biggest appeal or motivation was bringing light to their story that is a very raw reality in regional Australia. The theme of an underdog seeking redemption along with the technical challenges of shooting the film in a single take was thrilling. It was a great opportunity to work with some talented actors like Chelsea Zeller, Aaron Walton, Zia Zantis- Vinycomb, the young Annabelle Williamson, and Mick who had no choice but to live the roles for the duration of the film and an equally visionary crew behind the camera led by the Cinematographer Damien Lipp.

Mick: How this story seemed to resonate so deeply with so many people from all walks of life. This film is just one of the thousands of stories that exist for people on a daily basis. The more we researched, the more we realized the sad truth that we didn’t need to invent scenarios, there were already so many out there and they eventually became the inspiration for this film.

 Plus I knew that with the cast and crew that came on board, we would be able to achieve something special. The opportunity to work with everyone involved was a privilege.

Where did you find your actors?

Mick: Tristan and I trained as actors together at the Victorian College of the Arts. So pretty much the Actors are our mates whose work we admire. The VCA as we call it, is primarily a theatre-based training and we brought a lot of those elements into the film, especially how the one shot undertaking we achieved.

Tristan: Annabelle Williamson who plays my daughter in the film is a local. We auditioned her and about 20 other kids out where the films set in Kerang at the ST Joseph’s Primary school. There are some talented kids in that community and it was a tough choice, but Annabelle was incredible, I have never seen a seven year old show so much focus. She taught me a thing or two about acting and she dove so far into her role she was even throwing abuse towards Mick off camera. Catherine Dawson and Dennis Robertson, more Kerang locals, were friends who we knew from a regional theatre tour we had collaborated with them on the previous year. The producer Damien Lipp who grew up in Kerang arranged the rest of the locals. He managed to get about 80 or so people for extra’s every day. It felt like the whole town was helping us out. It was an experience I won’t forget.

How hard is it to co-direct? Do you agree on everything? Any compromises have to be made?

Mick: Yes and no. Yes, when we had to decide about something that both felt passionate about, but couldn’t find the middle ground that would work best for the overall film. No, when we did find that middle ground…which happened every time. To have a co-direction happening meant that we never had to struggle through a challenging situation alone and when we were stuck on an idea, or a line, or a particular shot, or whatever come our way we always found a creative solution to the problems. So there were a lot of compromises and disagreements that occurred, but they were always overcome with a better solution and the overall story in mind.

Tristan: I disagree… haha no, exactly my thoughts too. I think the process of filmmaking is about collaboration, yes there is a hierarchy, but that’s just to assist the process. You don’t have to have that hierarchy. The most important thing as Mick has said, is the story.

How hard is it to get an indie film off the ground in Australia?

Tristan: Financial Support from the film institutions is pretty slim pickings. So financially it is hard. But the more I work in the industry the more I come to realize money isn’t the be all and end all. It does make some aspects easier, however I’m starting to encounter the flip side where money is coming in for projects and it starts to squash creativity with expectations. So you always have a battle on your hands no matter what film your making. I think I’m getting better at dealing with the battles though.

I believe you’re looking for extra funds before trying to secure distribution. What’s the impetus there?

Mick: Essentially the crowd-funding campaign is for us to finish the post-production of the film properly. It also will help us enormously in getting a solid launch at what we hope to be the top tier festivals around the world.

What kind of release are you hoping for the film? How big are you shooting?

Tristan: As long as our Mum’s watch it I think we’ll be happy.

Mick: If our Mum’s like it though, that’s another thing entirely.



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