Magazine article Screen International

Fred Schepisi

Magazine article Screen International

Fred Schepisi

Article excerpt

The New York- and Melbourne-based director talks about The Eye of The Storm, his first Australian film in 22 years.

Director Fred Schepisi's family drama/dark comedy The Eye of The Storm is his first film in Australia in 22 years, since he made A Cry In The Dark.

Charlotte Rampling plays a wealthy, and difficult, family matriarch who is visited on her deathbed by her estranged children, played by Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis. The screenplay is adapted from the novel by Nobel Prize-winning Australian novelist Patrick White.

The film shot for 42 days mostly in Melbourne (for 1972-era Sydney), with some scenes also shot in Sydney and some in Fingal Head in northern New South Wales.

Sycamore Entertainment Group has partnered with Gravitas Ventures for the day and date theatrical and video on demand release of the film in the US on Sept 7. Screen spoke to Schepisi at last week's RiverRun International Film Festival, where The Eye of The Storm was the closing film.

For more on Schepisi's upcoming projects, see news story here.

Did this film come together easily?

No, not at all. Antony Waddington initiated the project, as a first-time producer (he's also an actor). It was his dream to get a great Patrick White novel made and he beavered away for quite a while. He came to me four years before we actually made the film. He and Gregory Read and Jonathan Shteinman ratched up a lot of money out of Sydney, the wealthy patrons of the arts there wanted to see something like a Patrick White film be made.

We counted on the 40% rebate and we got got money from Film Victoria, who did everything they could to help us get it made. Screen Australia were not so willing, they stood on bureaucratic reasons for not jumping in with us, some of which I'll never understand. They said the private equity investment didn't reflect on the commerciality of the film, because they were not sophisticated film investors. But the whole charter was to encourage people to invest in film....They [Screen Australia] did come in many weeks after shooting, and after looking at the footage. So I'm glad that they did.

What was it like shooting in Australia again?

It was fantastic. I've got a coterie of people I work with, like Ian Baker the cinematographer, Kate Williams the editor, and Paul Grabowsky the composer. So I've got a comfort zone there, but we don't work in comfort zones we push one another very hard. Every member of the crew just bent over backwards because they were delighted to be working on something of such substance. …

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