Magazine article Metro Magazine

Making Their Mark: When We First Met in the Mid-1990s Georgina Willis and Kerry Rock Struck Me as Filmmakers with a Fabulously Curious Aesthetic. They Oftens Described Emotions in Surreal Visual Terms. Both Came to Film from Other Areas. Kerry Studied Economics and Geography and Georgina Arts and Economics

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Making Their Mark: When We First Met in the Mid-1990s Georgina Willis and Kerry Rock Struck Me as Filmmakers with a Fabulously Curious Aesthetic. They Oftens Described Emotions in Surreal Visual Terms. Both Came to Film from Other Areas. Kerry Studied Economics and Geography and Georgina Arts and Economics

Article excerpt

Georgina: I started in economics, but was never just interested in that alone. I always combined it with other disciplines. I've done a lot of design, furniture design, sculpture, photography and things like that. And it's that design element that in one way drew me to film. I'm attracted to the mix of design and practicality--the basic elements of film.

Kerry: I love mixing people in their environments, the way people and space interact.

Working as an actor on short films for these two women was a lot of fun. One film involved some exacting bicycle riding over slippery cow-pats on a wet misty hill whilst wearing a cassock. Marvellous fun, and for an actor involved in a 'no budget' short, it felt great to discover later that these films were screening in the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, the 1 Reel Film Festival, Mannheim Heidelberg Film Festival, Grenoble and Bilbao. The effort involved felt rewarded. The films were finding an audience.

Indeed, after working on three short films with them, it was a warm surprise but not an enormous one, to learn that Georgina and Kerry's first feature Watermark (Georgina Willis, 2003) made its debut in Directors' Fortnight at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival When I caught up with them for this interview they took some delight in the fact they'd become known as the 'feral Australians' over in Cannes.

Kerry: When the news came out that we'd got into the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes; that was an interesting time. We had already had a fairly strong feeling that we were going to be in, but you don't know until you get the phone call. I think people usually talk about it more. So when the news came out that this film Watermark got in, there was this stir that went around. People calling each other saying, 'Who the hell are these people?'

Georgina: For a lot of people I think it was fairly exciting because they knew it was a low budget film and I think it was the first time at Cannes that such a really small budget feature from any country had been shown. We only had a crew of five on any one day and it was made for really not very much money. There were people at Cannes going 'Oh wow, this film is so small, and then again it looks so big', you know, it was that sort of thing. It was considered to be very different from the other English language films, which are usually quite large and star driven.

If you passed Georgina and Kerry in the street 'feral' would be the last word that came to mind. They have been developing their work quietly and independently of the local mainstream for a few years. Their short films are individually stylish, and most often have a truly dark emotional core. Using bold images they explore family breakdown, emotional manipulation, passive aggression and environment.

How many short films have you made?

Kerry: Six short films. Trees of the crossing [Georgina Willis, 1995] was a photographic animation mixed with live film; Small Boat on an ocean of promises [Georgina Willis, 1996], which was quite a surreal kind of anti-nuclear, weird, off the planet--

Georgina: It was a film protesting about French nuclear testing--a big issue at the time. Ironically the French liked the film.

Kerry: Harmony [Georgina Willis, 1997] was environmental in its theme, [and] was animation, and then the other three were different types of dramas: When The Sun Falls [Georgina Willis, 1997], Tango In The River [Georgina Willis, 1998], Edge of Town [Georgina Willis, 1999].

Georgina:--all films without words, except for the last one, Edge of Town. That had a few lines in it.

In Edge of Town my character was a garage mechanic who, unable to cope any more, skulked away to shoot himself. Working on the film Georgina guided us through an improvisation several times in preparation for a violent domestic scene. A man and his wife argue. Georgina suggests the image of a door flapping in a storm. …

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