Wasted On The Young is an interesting Australian film which was just been released in Australian cinemas. I saw it at the Brisbane International Film Festival last November and I was excited to see it get a national cinema release in this country. More than anything, I'm curious to see what the general public will make of it.
The film did leave me with a few questions and so I took the opportunity to speak with the star of the film, Oliver Ackland. Here’s what he had to say…
Matt: I realise that you’ve been in the business for a little while now but how did you get started as an actor?
Oliver: In high school we had a theatre sports competition. I knew a few of the older guys who were in the theatre sports team and basically, they needed more to make up the numbers. I guess I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… or the right place at the right time… depending on how you look at it.
Matt: It almost sounds like an accident?
Oliver: Yeah. It was something that terrified me and that kind of attracted me to it. I needed to explore it because it scared the shit out of me.
Matt: If we go forward a few years, you were also the inaugural winner back in the 2009 of the Heath Ledger Scholarship. Has that really helped you out as an actor?
Oliver: Yeah, it did help. It was a boost at the right time. I was broke and couldn’t afford to get over to Los Angeles. They flew me over, they gave me money and I was able to meet his parents. It instilled a bit of “fearlessness” in me I think.
Matt: Wasted On The Young is the new movie you’re promoting at the moment. How did you land this role?
Oliver: It was just through normal channels. I did an audition and went back in and worked on it with the director. They brought in other people they had in mind for other roles and we worked through a few of the scenes with the guys. You walk away, you get back to day-to-day stuff and then after a while, they let you know if it worked out.
Matt: Because one of the things that surprised me is that you’re much older than the high school teenager that you play in the film. So how did you convince the director that you were able to play the teenager?
Oliver: It’s funny. A lot of the time, you miss out stuff that is your own age because you look a certain way, you look younger. Finally, there was one that went in my favour because I did look younger.
Matt: When I saw this film I realised about half way through that there isn’t a single adult in the entire movie. The story told entirely from the perspective of these teens. Can you share with us – what was the director (Ben Lucas) trying to achieve by leaving out the adult angle of the story?
Oliver: He’s trying to say, well, what’s the point of having adults in the film because they have no bearing on what these kids are doing anyway which is a valid point. They’re in their own bubble. We did shoot one scene with my character’s mum in the film and that was cut out. I think it’s a really brave choice. It leaves some people going “oh, I don’t believe that because there are no parents in the film” but I don’t think Ben ever set out to make a completely realistic kind of film.
Matt: One of the film’s big strengths for me, is that I really hated some of these characters. I mean that in a good way. Your step-brother in the film, Zack (played by Alex Russell) – he really gets under your skin and you want to see him get what he deserves. There’s one scene where you’re beating the living hell out of each other. Did it get really intense on set during those moments?
Oliver: Yeah, it does. It’s hard to maintain your cool when you’re doing those scenes. They yell “action” and you’ve got to go straight into it. With those scenes, there’s definitely more of a hush around the set.
Matt: Did you have to do a lot of shots with those or can you get it done in one take with the intensity of the moment?
Oliver: We didn’t have much time for anything so most of the scenes were done pretty quickly.
Matt: How long did you get to shoot the film?
Oliver: About 28 days.
Matt: The film paints a pretty bleak view of how tough high school can be for some teenagers and the stupid things that they get up to. Do you think the film is a reflection of reality?
Oliver: Definitely. It reflects this “bubble” and this parallel existence that kids live in. At that age, it does seem like things can be really bleak. If you’re having problems, it can be really hard to come out the other side.
Matt: Is there something that you hope people can take away from the film?
Oliver: I think you simply want the film to be thought provoking. You want it to challenge people and for people to go away, taking and arguing.
Matt: A strong theme is the way that the school kids communicate these days through the social networking sites and text messaging. They’re publishing everything for all and sundry to see. They can spread lies, perpetuate rumours and cause trouble. Do you think adults have a full sense of this type of stuff and the way affects some kids today?
Oliver: I don’t think they do because they didn’t grow up with it. While adults are still using Twitter and Facebook, I don’t think they’re as savvy as the kids are these days. They’re also using it for completely different reasons.
Matt: What’s it been like promoting the film? I know you were at the Toronto Film Festival to start with which is pretty cool. It’s the film festival I’d love to go to above any other. Was that fun being over there?
Oliver: It was a lot of fun. It was our first international film festival and it was cool to see the response. We did Sydney before that and people loved it but in the back of your mind you’re thinking it’s a “home town crowd”. So it was great to take it overseas and have a really enthusiastic response. It was a brilliant week with films, bars and restaurants.
Matt: What kind of reaction did you get from the audience over there?
Oliver: Really positive. They all stuck around and asked interesting questions. It had obviously got under their skin because the Q&A went on for a bit.
Matt: I’m finish up by asking what’s next? What have you got in the pipeline Oliver?
Oliver: I did a little bit on Cloudstreet which is coming out soon. I also just finished up working on The Slap (a new TV series) in Melbourne.
Matt: Thanks for speaking with me!
You can read my review of the film by clicking here.
All Rights Reserved. Matthew Toomey. 2012.