Not including film festivals, I’ve only seen 191 films in 2010.  That may sound like a lot but it’s way down on previous years.  The total was 235 last year.  As per my database, it’s the smallest number of releases we’ve seen in Brisbane since 2002.


The field is a little thinner but there’s always room to find a top 10 and bottom 10 for the year.  It’s one of my favourite tasks.  It’s just a neat way of encapsulating the year of cinema.  Such lists are also fun to debate too.  I like looking at other critics to see which films they ranked highly.


Before I get to the class of 2010, I should quickly reflect on those films which have topped my list over the past 15 years.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this so long.  It seems like only yesterday that I was raving about Romeo & Juliet.  On that note, here we go…


1996 – Romeo & Juliet (runners up: Leaving Las Vegas and Fargo)

1997 – Titanic (runners up: The Ice Storm and The People Vs. Larry Flynt)

1998 – The Sweet Hereafter (runners up: Saving Private Ryan and Mulan)

1999 – Being John Malkovich (runners up: Gods & Monsters and Election)

2000 – Billy Elliot (runners up: Magnolia and American Beauty)

2001 – Requiem For A Dream (runners up: Traffic and The Fellowship Of The Ring)

2002 – Mulholland Drive (runners up: Ghost World and Gosford Park)

2003 – Chicago (runners up: The Quiet American and Spellbound)

2004 – Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (runners up: Elephant and 21 Grams)

2005 – Million Dollar Baby (runners up: Sideways and Good Night & Good Luck).

2006 – Capote (runners up: United 93 and The Departed)

2007 – The Lives Of Others (runners up: No Country For Old Men and Zodiac)

2008 – Juno (runners up: Persepolis and There Will Be Blood)

2009 – The Wrestler (runners up: Avatar and Revolutionary Road)


You can view all of my past top and bottom 10 lists by clicking here.



Worst Films Of 2010


Let’s get rid of the bad stuff first.  We’ll call this a “venting” exercise for me.  It’s healthy to get it off my chest…


10. The Last Airbender was terrible. It's about a young boy who has the power to control air. He will use it as a weapon to defeat an army of "firebenders" who threaten to take over the world. This story is poorly told. It's hard to work out what's going on. Further, the dialogue is laughable. The only positive would be James Newton Howard's film score.


9. The Spy Next Door was a boring family flick starring Jackie Chan as a CIA agent trying to catch bad guys (who all seem to have Russian accents). He has to keep all this a secret though from his girlfriend and her three kids. The stunts were lame (so obvious they're not hitting each other) and the storyline has a "seen it all before" feel. Not my thing.


8. Cop Out was excruciating. Did Kevin Smith really direct this? The same guy behind the brilliant Clerks? Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan play two cops caught up in a ridiculous case. I don't think I laughed once.


7. South Solitary may well be the most boring Australian film ever made. Set in the 1920s, it's about a middle aged woman who goes with her uncle to a small island to help run the lighthouse. Sound appealing? Nothing happens in this movie and I suspect no one is going to see it.


6. Charlie St. Cloud was awful. Zac Efron has potential as an actor but this was horrendous. I didn't feel a single emotion (well, maybe relief on leaving the cinema) during its 99 minutes. I've heard the book is worth a read but it definitely doesn't translate onto the big screen.


5. Heartbreakers was a ludicrous romantic comedy about a French guy who gets paid to seduce women so that they’re break up with their dodgy boyfriends. Two friends help him gather info on his poor victims. I hated the leading characters and this doesn’t have a single shred of believability.


4. Resident Evil: Afterlife was must see viewing... as it meant that I only needed for find 9 more films for my worst of the year list.


3. Vampires Suck well, um, sucked! If you think that joke is lame, wait until you see this pathetic excuse for a movie. You have been warned.


2. The Bounty Hunter was a mess. Gerard Butler plays a bounty hunter with a dream assignment - he has to track down and bring his ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston) into custody for skipping bail. Could the storyline be any dumber?


1. Sex & The City 2 was, without a doubt, the worst film of the year. Was there a plot? I couldn't have cared less for these superficial women and their petty problems. It's such a burden having to fly economy instead of first class. Don't forget about the troubles that come with owning two beautiful apartments in New York City. Boo hoo!



Best Films Of 2010


It terms of my top 10, those just missing out (but still getting a certificate of commendation) are Machete, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Winter’s Bone, Toy Story 3, How To Train Your Dragon, Animal Kingdom, Winter’s Bone, Food Inc and Precious.  They were all great films and I wanted to make sure they received some recognition.


For my last show on 612ABC, we went through this list (with one small change) and took feedback from callers.  It was nice to see a lot of love for Inception.  You can download the podcast by clicking here.


On that note, my top 10 films of 2010 are…


10. The Secret In Their Eyes is an Argentinean film which won the Oscar for best foreign language movie. The story of a justice agent trying to solve a long-running case about a murdered woman. With believable twists and some fantastic conversations, this is a must-see for anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller.


9. The King’s Speech is about King George VI and how he overcame a stuttering problem to help unite Great Britain during World War II.  This interesting story is brought to the life thanks for the great performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.  Excellent stuff.


8. I Am Love is a beautiful drama focusing on a wealthy Italian family. This will polarise audiences. Some on the net have called it "pretentious" and "disappointing". I loved it however. The cinematography and film score are stunning. The characters will keep you guessing and I enjoyed the lack of dialogue.


7. Up In The Air is the story of a man who spends almost every day of his life travelling across the country. He's on a quest to chalk up 10 million frequent flyer miles. But what life does he have outside of work? The arrival of two very different women will leave him with this question. Both funny and moving, this is one of the year's best. Plenty to think about.


6. The Stoning Of Soraya M is the powerful true story of an Iranian woman who was stoned to death in 1986 after being falsely accused of adultery. It brutally highlights the oppression of women in Iran. Shohreh Aghdashloo gives an incredible performance. The film finished 3rd in the audience vote at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival (behind Slumdog Millionaire).


5. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a fantastic comedy about a young guy who, to win the heart of a girl, must defeat her 7 evil exes. This is cute, funny and creative. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead) has pulled off a big ask - crafting an original rom-com. Michael Cera is perfect in the lead role. Plenty of legitimate laugh out loud moments. I loved this.


4. A Single Man is about an English professor who is struggling to overcome the sudden death of his long time partner. With less dialogue than you'd expect, director Tom Ford (a fashion designer by trade) lets his camera do the talking. I loved the facial close ups and creative mix of colours. A beautiful movie.


3. The Social Network has been hyped as one of the best films of the year... and I can't help but agree. It's fantastic. I enjoyed learning how Facebook was created but much more interesting is the way in which Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed. Is he a sociopath or is he just misunderstood? Much to think about.


2. Crazy Heart is the story of an alcoholic country 'n' western singer trying to revive his sagging career. A young woman then enters his life, offering a chance at a fresh start. With a brilliant performance by Jeff Bridges, this is a wonderfully told drama with a superb soundtrack.


1. Inception is the most intelligent action film you will ever see. How can I describe the complex storyline? I won't even try. Words do it no justice. This is a film which can only be experienced... multiple times! Writer-director Christopher Nolan has created a remarkable fantasy world. Incredible story, incredible visuals, incredible score.



I hope you find a few films on the above top 10 list worth checking out over the Christmas break.  As I always say though, the only thing more fun that agreeing about a movie… is disagreeing.  I’m always up for a healthy debate.  Name the time and place. :)


The film year is coming to an end and in a few weeks I’ll publish my list of the top 10 and bottom 10 films of the year.  If you’re really keen, you can hear me speak about them on 612ABC with Spencer Howson this Thursday morning 6:50am.  We’re still the highest rated breakfast show in Brisbane (note: shameless plug).


We’ve all got different opinions when it comes to movies and no two lists of favourites will ever be the same.  Part of the fun of top 10 lists is that they generate debate and discussion.


This week, I thought I’d look back at which films were the big winners and losers at the box-office in the United States.  This statistics are often a guide as to what the public felt about these movies as a whole.  A film may be critically loved but if it doesn’t pull in dollars from the public, then it isn’t a good sign.  Let’s get to it…





Toy Story 3


If you’re asked about the highest grossing film of 2010, then the answer is Toy Story 3.  This franchise has been huge.  The original Toy Story was the highest grossing film of 1995 and the sequel was the 3rd highest of 1999.  It may have been more than 10 years since that last film but it didn’t stop the public turning up in masses.  It finished with $415m for the year.  If you want to take into account international ticket sales, it clocked it at just over $1 billion.  Does anyone dare bet that they won’t make another one?


Alice In Wonderland


I didn’t think much of it but Alice In Wonderland was the second highest grossing film of the year with a take of $334m.  It’s easily Tim Burton’s most successful movie.  Also unusual is that the film came out back in March – traditionally a quiet time at the cinema.  I’m sure a lot of people were attracted by the 3D (with all the hype post Avatar) which contributed to its additional ticket sales.


Iron Man 2


Iron Man 2 was the highest grossing film for the year which wasn’t shot in 3D.  That’s worth noting because the ticket prices aren’t as high.  It opened the run of summer blockbusters and finished with a solid $312m.  That’s just a dash under what the original took in back in 2008.  It’s just more proof that Robert Downey Jr is as popular as ever.


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


I have to call this film a success based on the fact it grossed $300m.  It showed a lot more stamina than I thought it would.  Twilight: New Moon opened with a ridiculous $142m over the Thankgiving Day long weekend in 2009 but could only end up with $296m.  Twilight: Eclipse opened with a much smaller $83m but managed to surpass the total of its predecessor.  With the last book to be split into two films (Harry Potter style), this series is set to make a lot, lot, lot more money.




It’s my favourite film of the year so far and I’m glad to see post a healthy total of $292m given there were many people who didn’t like it.  I’m sure it benefited from those who saw it multiple times in an attempt to try to understand it.


Despicable Me


It had an odd premise but Despicable Me was perhaps the surprise animation success of the year.  It cost just $69m and took in $249m.  That’s not a bad return on investment.  In comparison, Shrek 4 made $238m on a $150m budget and How To Train Your Dragon made $217m on a $165m budget. 


The Karate Kid


I’m not often a fan of remakes but I really enjoyed this new version of The Karate Kid.  It seems many others did as well.  It finished with $176m at the box-office.  With a rumoured budget of around $35-$40m, that’s an excellent result.  Also impressive is that it doesn’t feature a big name star (with all due respect to Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith).


Jackass 3D


At a cost of around $20m, Jackass 3D has pulled in around $117m at the box-office.  That’s pretty amazing when you consider their last film made just $18m.





Jonah Hex


We weren’t “treated” to it here in Brisbane but Jonah Hex (starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox) cost a reported $47m but could only manage a meagre $10m at the box-office.  It’s even worse when you consider that it opened on 2,825 screens.  I’d hate to see the per screen average.


Extraordinary Measures


Another film we missed here in Australia was Extraordinary Measures with Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford.  Both of these guys could use a hit but it certainly didn’t come from this flick.  At a cost of just over $30m, it only pulled it $11m from the paying public.  To make matters worse, both actors featured in other underperforming films.  Furry Vengeance (with Fraser) and Morning Glory (with Ford) both failed to recover their costs within the United States.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice


Nicolas Cage.  He can be so good (Leaving Las Vegas) and yet he can be so bad (Ghost Rider).  This one fell into the later category.  The budget was $150m and the take was a dismal $63m.


The A-Team


Television remakes don’t always work.  The A-Team is proof of that.  It cost a hefty $110m but it’s total local take was just $77m.  The good news (since I didn’t like the film) is that there won’t be a sequel.


Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time


This also looks like being another one film series.  The attraction of Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t enough to get bums on seats.  At a ridiculous cost of $200m, it took in a meagre $90m.


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World


It pains me to include Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on this list.  It’s one of my top 10 films of the year but with a $60m budget and a gross in the United States of just $31m, I think I was in the minority with my love.  Sad to see.


The Wolfman


How did this film cost $150m to make?  I have no idea but that’s what the Internet Movie Database is telling me.  It had very few fans and the $61m box-office reflects that.  Not a good one for Universal.


Robin Hood


Australia’s leading actors struggled to find their feet in 2010.  Robin Hood (starring Russell Crowe) could only pull in $105m on a budget of $200m.  Just as poor was Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness (budget of $60m, gross of $43m).  Perhaps Hugh Jackman did the right thing by laying low – he released no films in 2010.


Knight & Day


Once upon a time, if you put Tom Cruise in a movie, it was a guaranteed winner.  It’s kind of like Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr are today.  Times have changed however.  Knight & Day made only $76m against a cost of $117m.  Where will Mr Cruise go from here?



It’s worth pointing out that the profitability of some films can’t necessarily be judged from their box-office.  It’s often a good indicator but there are some films which might do a little better than expected overseas or on video.  Without a neat profit & loss statement sitting in front of me for each film, it’s hard to know for sure what return the investors got on their money.


I should also note that the above costs are usually for the film only – they don’t include marketing costs and studio overheads.  When you look at the size of those budgets, it makes you realise just how expensive some films are.



The festivals have been held.  The screeners have been sent.  The advertisements have been printed.  The critics have reviewed.  The bloggers have speculated.  The 2010 awards season is about to begin.


This Friday morning (Brisbane time), the National Board of Review in the United States will announce their winners.  It will set off a chain of critics awards (Los Angeles and New York being the most significant) which will then lead into the Golden Globes and the many guild awards.  By January 25, the field will have been thinned and the Oscar nominations will be revealed.  We then wait until February 27 to find out who takes home the precious gold statue.


If you’re looking to hear what’s going on during the Oscars race, the sites I check most regularly is Awards Daily -  Also great is the Awards Tracker at the Los Angeles Times -


Each year, I throw my own thoughts into the ring with my pre-season thoughts.  Of the 10 films I predicted last year, 6 went on to earn a best picture nomination at the Oscars.  It can be tricky speculating so early in the game (especially as I haven’t seen many of the films) but I’ll do my best.


Before I get to my thoughts, here’s a look at the films which are currently in contention for one of the coveted 10 slots in the best picture race.  It’s interesting in that many of these films have already been released.  Usually, a flood of “Oscar quality” releases come through at the end of the year – but that doesn’t look to be the case this time.


Here are the contenders already released in Australia (with my grading in brackets)…


The Social Network (A), Inception (A+), Toy Story 3 (A-), The Kids Are All Right (B), Winter’s Bone (A-), The Town (A-).


The films which we can look forward to over the next few months are (with a blurb from the IMBD).  I’ve listed them in their order of release…


The King’s Speech

Release Date In Australia:  26 December 2010

Director:  Tom Hooper

Starring:  Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it..


Black Swan

Release Date In Australia:  13 January 2011

Director:  Darren Aronofsky (The Wrester, Requiem For A Dream)

Starring:  Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Vassel

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A thriller that zeros in on the relationship between a veteran ballet dancer and a rival.


True Grit

Release Date In Australia:  20 January 2011

Director:  Ethan & Joel Coen (No Country For Old Men, Fargo)

Starring:  Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.


The Fighter

Release Date In Australia:  26 January 2011

Director:  David O. Russell (Three Kings)

Starring:  Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.


Another Year

Release Date In Australia:  26 January 2011

Director:  Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy)

Starring:  Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A married couple who have managed to remain blissfully happy into their autumn years, are surrounded over the course of the four seasons of one average year by friends...


127 Hours

Release Date In Australia:  10 February 2011

Director:  Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Starring:  James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.


The Way Back

Release Date In Australia:  3 March 2011

Director:  Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Master & Commander)

Starring:  Colin Farrell, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris

Plot Overview Per IMDB:  A fact-based story centered on soldiers who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940.


As you can seen, it’s not a very long list.


Given that I’ve had the chance to see around 50% of the contenders, my picks for the best picture category are:


The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Inception, Black Swan, Toy Story 3, The Fighter, True Grit, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right and Another Year.


As for the winner?  I’m going with The King’s Speech at this point in time.  It won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and that’s too hard for me to ignore (as much as I admired Inception and The Social Network).  I can’t wait to see it.


I haven’t analysed the acting races in a lot of detail but here’s the word on the street…


Best Actor


Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) is a much loved actor and this appears to be his year.  I can see the only dangers coming from youngsters – James Franco (127 Hours) or Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network).


Best Actress

This is shaping up as a two horse race – the overdue Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and the always amazing Natalie Portman (Black Swan).  The list of outsiders is headed by Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Lesley Manville (Another Year).


Best Supporting Actor


This race is wide open.  Christian Bale is getting huge raves for The Fighter and seems to have frontrunner status.  It’s hard to believe that he’s never received an Oscar nom before.  On his tale are Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right).  I’m hoping that Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) also makes the cut.


Best Supporting Actress


It would be great to see Aussie Jackier Weaver (Animal Kingdom) make the list and I think she’s a better than 50/50 chance thanks to a strong marketing campaign.  All she needs are a few critics awards.  I can’t find any clear leader in this category but getting raves are Melissa Leo (The Fighter) and Sissy Spacek (Get Low).  Maybe Weaver could do it after all?


I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the Oscars race as soon as they’ve jumped from the barriers.



 Patrick Hughes & Ryan Kwanten With Matthew Toomey


I recently had the chance to speak with actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and director Patrick Hughes about their film True Blood – released in Australian cinemas on November 25.  It’s definitely worth a look and here’s what they had to say…


For an audio version, you can download an abbreviated version of the interview in a special 8-minute podcast.  Just click here to go to my separate podcast page.  You can also check out my full review of the film by clicking here.


Matt:  You’re here in Brisbane for the International Film Festival.  What’s the marketing plan for the film?  Are you heading around Australia over the next few days?


Patrick:  Yeah.  We’re in the midst of the junket at the moment.  Ryan and I both just got back from LA where we opened there last week.


Ryan:  I was in New York doing a week of press.  It was interesting for the film to be released first in America before coming to Australia for what is essentially an Australian film.


Matt:  Pretty tired now?


Patrick:  I think you sort of run on adrenalin.  We’ve been doing festivals since our world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February this year.  Every month I seem to cross paths with Ryan at one of these festivals and I’m trying to get rid of him. (laughs)


Matt:  We’ve spoken a lot this year on 612ABC about social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Do you guys use that to promote the film?


Patrick:  Absolutely.  There’s a Facebook page set up for the film.  One of the first things I did before we even started shooting was to take out the domain name.  I think it’s a really good way to promote films.  You can even play Red Hill Main Street Shoot-Out, an online game.  Ryan’s holding the top score on the game at the moment but we’ll see how the audience goes.


Ryan:  I tracked Jimmy down in 30 seconds!


Matt:  It’s always tough for any first time filmmaker to get a start.  Was it a tough film to get off the ground?


Patrick:  Yeah.  To tell you the truth, it really came from a place of frustration.  I’d tried numerous times to get a film off the ground and I got to a point where I realised that no one’s going to let me make a film until I go out myself and make a film.


I wrote a list of all my famous filmmakers and every one of them mortgaged their house and sold body parts to get their first films made – George Miller, the Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan and Robert Rodriguez.  Those guys had the attitude “let’s just go out there and make it” so that’s exactly how we made Red Hill.  It happened very quickly.  From sitting down and writing a script to its premiere at Berlin was just 11 months.


It was an incredible “stamp of approval” that we received at our world premiere because we sold it to pretty much every territory in the world within 48 hours.


Matt:  So how’d you get Ryan involved?


Patrick:  Just from the script.  The only thing you have as a first time filmmaker is your script.


Ryan:  And your word.


Patrick:  And your passion.  You’ve got to try to sell your vision over the phone which is sometimes difficult.  It’s easier to be in the same room with them.  But I got the script in front of Ryan and he was my first choice.  I was looking for an actor which a physical presence but also an innocence and vulnerability.  Ryan is one of those actors who is capable of doing both.


It felt like the role of Shane Cooper needed that.  We got the script in front of Ryan and the next day he called and we hit it off over the phone.  That was it.  A done deal.


Matt:  Ryan, how do you find the time to squeeze this in?  I know you’re in True Blood which is incredibly popular and must take up a lot of your time.  How much time do you get to devote to other interests and films like this?


Ryan:  Half a year.  I shoot True Blood for six months of the year.  The other six months is dedicated to projects like this that I absolutely believe in.  I’ve spent four years of my tenure in the States doing the jobs and getting my foot in the door to get myself financially set up to be in a position where I am now.  To be able to make films like Red Hill that I’m not doing for the money.  I’m doing it for the fact that they inspire me and I get to work with amazing filmmakers like Patrick.


Matt:  So how do you handle the accent?  You’ve been doing True Blood for many years with an American accent.  Is it easy to transition back?


Ryan:  It’s part and parcel of what we do.  It’s what I get paid for.  Having said that, there was an adjustment period.  I’m so used to hearing the word “action” and putting on a version of the American accent.


Patrick:  And literally, from you being in front of the camera doing the second season of True Blood to you being in front of the camera in Omeo, Victoria for Red Hill was something like 48 hours.


Ryan:  And that was pure travel time.  I met Patrick, shook his hand and he said “now, go in and shoot the most emotional scene in the film – you’ve got two takes to nail it.”


Patrick:  In minus 7 degree temperatures under a rain machine with lightning strikes!


Ryan:  Welcome to Omeo (laughs).


Matt:  Talking about the film and its setting.  It’s shot mostly at night.  Is that easier as a filmmaker because you can control the lighting or does it make it much more difficult?


Patrick:  No (laughs).  This film was everything you should never do if you have a challenging budget.  We had an incredible crew, a really dedicated crew.  We had all the bells and whistles up there but we didn’t have a load of time – which is the biggest asset on a film shoot.  We had 4 weeks to shoot the movie and it felt like every second set up we were doing was a difficult – a car chase, a shoot out, horses, rain machines, prosthetics, setting fire to hours, to barns…  I’d stop half way through a shot and say “why the hell are we doing shooting this.  What nutbag wrote this?” 


Ryan:  It was a budget that felt like $20m.  When you’re capturing breath, James Cameron paid $20,000 per breath in Titanic.


Patrick:  We got it for free!


Ryan:  We had at least $5m worth of breath in there.


Matt:  I noticed that.  I was wondering if it was special effects or it actually was that cold?


Patrick:  It literally was minus 7.  Like you said, half the film is shot at night and it’s all shot in one day.  The first time we used the rain machine it was so cold that it turned to black ice.  The next day we had to put witches hats on the main street to stop cars crashing through shop windows.


Matt:  Ryan, for you it’s a very physical role.  You’re walking down streams, trekking across the countryside.  You’re bloody, you’re bruised.  Was it really like that or were the make up artists doing a great job?


Ryan:  It really was.  I did do a couple of trips to the hospital too.  Patrick mortgaged his house, I shed a bit of blood and our crew worked in sub zero temperatures. It was four weeks of pure, unadulterated adrenalin.


Matt:  Is there much in the way of special effects in the film?  Or are all the action scenes just well choreographed?


Patrick:  Ultimately, you’re trying to capture as much as you can physically on the camera.  You look at a town like Omeo – it used to be a real boom town.  Back in the 1890s the population was 40,000 and now there are just 120 there.


It felt like we were shooting in the backlot of a studio.  The whole town came out to help us and we basically had the whole town to ourselves.  We literally had shootouts on Main Street with 250 rounds going off on a Saturday night.


Ryan:  And if you wanted something done, you paid them in beer.


Patrick:  When you go to these small country towns, they really say what they mean.  They’re men of their word.  We’d say “oh, it’d be lovely if we could have a truck driving through the frame carrying some cattle to add a bit of scale” and a guy at the local pub would put his hand up and say “I’ll do it, what time do you want me there?”.  We’d ask how much he’d want and he’d say “a slab of Crownies and that’d be fine.  That became the currency down there in Omeo.


Matt:  Ryan, let’s talk about your character, Shane Cooper.  One of my favourite scenes in the film is where he meets his boss, played by Steve Bisley, for the first time.  The interaction between you too… it’s as if he’s trying to dominate you.  Did you have a lot of fun shooting those scenes?


Ryan:  Steve and I worked pretty hard establishing the arc for the two characters.  We didn’t want to come in at the same point and end at that same point.  There had to be a genesis of those two.  Shane had to be the young man who turns into a cowboy.


We had a tonne of fun.  You couldn’t get two characters who are more polar opposites.  You’ve got the totalitarian, regimented type.  And you’ve got this “by the book” city cop coming in who is thrown into this world where all hell as broken loose.


Patrick:  We like to say it’s Die Hard in the high country – that’s our little pitch (laughs).


Matt:  One of the themes running through the film is that your character when it comes to shooting the gun, he can’t do it.  Have you shot a gun yourself prior to shooting the movie?


Ryan:  Yeah, I’ve had a little gun training but not an extensive amount.  A really intriguing thing for me was to play the so called hero of this film and yet he was fallible.  He wasn’t a John Wayne or a Clint Eastwood where it doesn’t matter what he comes up against.  You thought he was going to be ok even if he got shot 1,600 times.  He’d still walk into the sunset.  With Cooper, you just weren’t sure.  He had to find that courage himself and the ability to get back up.


Matt:  One question that I know a lot of people are going to be asking is about the panther.  Is that there to symbolise something?


Patrick:  It’s a huge mythology that’s been going for over 100 years in Victoria.  It’s this sort of urban legend.  I felt like it was an interesting parallel to draw – that one day death stalks into this town.  It’s a representation of your past coming back to haunt you.


The essence of this film is that it’s about a town that is dying.  It’s an old boom that’s hanging on to its former glory days.  What I was drawn to in the western genre is that sense of a “moral code”.  All my favourite westerns are about these thriving boom towns.  I was interested to know what happens to that boom town 100 years later when all the industries that built it have run out and all the people have left.


For me, that was really interesting.  You have these stoic characters like Old Bill who are hanging onto the past.  And then you place a young, new constable into that situation and you create a “changing of the guard”.


Matt:  I’ll finish up by asking what’s next for you guys?  What projects have you got on the go?


Patrick:  This film has opened up every door imaginable for me.  After selling around the world and having Sony pick it up here and in the States, it has enabled me to get some amazing representation over there.  I’ve moved over to L.A. and I’m now based there.  There are a lot of things on the go and it’s an exciting time.


Ryan:  He’s got people like Quentin Tarantino who turned up to the screening and told him how much he loved it.  He’s got the world at his feet.


That’s what I knew that he was capable of when we had a conversation for the first time.  I really think that he’s Australia’s answer to a Robert Rodriguez.  That’s why the studio execs are so hungry to get a piece of him.  He can do it all and he can do it a lot cheaper than most other Hollywood types.


Patrick:  I won’t be more mortgaging my house to make the next one (laughs).


Matt:  So what have you got coming up Ryan?


Ryan:  I’ve got series 4 of True Blood and then three films.  One’s playing Charles Manson and another is playing a South African guy with Bruce Beresford directing.


Matt:  Wow.  It looks like we’ll be hearing a lot about both of you over the next few years.  Thanks guys!