INTERVIEW:: ALEX PROYAS DIRECTOR OF GARAGE DAYS
GARAGE DAYS, a coming-of-age comedy about the aspirations of a young Sydney rock ‘n’ roll band, marks the return of Alex Proyas to an all-Australian setting, cast and crew. The script was co-written by Proyas and Dave Warner. Headlining the cast is an ensemble of Australia’s most promising young talent. Kick Gurry (Buffalo Soldiers, Looking for Alibrandi) stars as Freddy, the charmingly naive lead singer of the band. Maya Stange (In A Savage Land) stars opposite him as Kate, the source of his musical inspiration. The film reunites Gurry with AFI award winning actress Pia Miranda (Looking for Alibrandi) who co-stars as the band’s sassy bass player. Newcomers Chris Sadrinna and Brett Stiller round out the band’s line-up as the chemically enhanced drummer and brooding lead guitarist. Previous AFI award winners Russell Dykstra (Soft Fruit) and Andy Anderson (Halifax F.P.) also join the cast as the band’s well-meaning “manager” and a nostalgic rocker from the ’70s. Yvette Duncan (Praise) and Marton Csokas (Lord Of The Rings, xXx) join the ensemble in supporting roles.
Garage Days should be released in the first half of 2002.
Alex Proyas spoke to Dave Warner Online webmaster Stuart O’Connor.
Dave Warner Online: What stage is Garage Days at?
Alex Proyas: We’ve just finished shooting and we’re in the editing mode right now. There’s another week of shooting which we’re doing in December to coincide with Homebake and we’re going to be doing a few other bits and pieces at that stage. We’ve deisgned this project in an interesting fashion. I’ve tried to leave myself a window of opportunity to shoot bits and pieces when you’re editing a film you always find gaps here and there and it’s nice to have the luxury of being able to fill those gaps. We had to construct this production around this whole thing of shooting a scene around the Homebake concert. It also gives us a side-effect of having this chance to augment scenes here and there, so it’s worked out quite nicely.
DWO: Are you happy with the way Garage Days is coming together?
AP: It’s always hard to talk about a film when you’re in the middle of it, but I’m delighted. I think the performances are great and I think it really works.
DWO: Do you think Garage Days will appeal to your established audience?
AP: I hope so. It is different but I think they’ll find a number of elements that are perhaps consistent. People who like my stuff and I’ve had a little bit of contact with them throught my own Web site or through doing the odd screening and talk they all seem to be aspiring filmmakers, a lot of them. I see myself as a young filmmaker in a lot of these people and I know what I liked as a young filmmaker -all the directors that I used to like were ones that were always doing something different and really trying to sort of push their own limits, their own horizons, with each and every project. And so I’ve always looked up to those sorts of filmmakers and I guess I’m trying to do that with my own work, so I feel that my audience, if you can call it that, will hopefully enjoy seeing me push the boundaries a little bit. I think Garage Days has probably the broadest appeal of anything I’ve ever made. Obviously you can never know that until you actually release the film and I could be eating my words, you never know but it seems to have a very broad appeal. We seem to have made a film with a lot sex, drugs and rock and roll that appeals to a wide audience.
We went through a very elaborate rehearsal process on this film. We workshopped it a lot. I actually did somethieng that I’ve never done before, which is I shot the whole movie on video in the last week of the rehearsal process and then changed a whole bunch of stuff based on that. And I think some of the best writing, the most impactful writing, we did on the project was probably in the last two weeks before we started shooting, because that’s when you’ve got your characters in place, you know what’s working and what isn’t working very clearly, you know what’s funny and what isn’t funny and what needs to be improved and changed. And that’s when you really sort of get down and do the real serious work.
DWO: Are you happy with the performances you got from your cast?
AP: I’m very happy, I think they’re a great cast. It was a fantastic process to work under because it’s been a while since I had a young, enthusiastic cast who were actually available for rehearsals. One of the downsides of working with American actors is that they often
come to your project straight off something else and they give you very little time, so you end up with like a week of rehearsals before you start shooting. And during that week wardrobe wants them and makeup wants them for tests, and camera wants them to shoot some lighting tests etc etc, so you end up having them for such a small amount of time. And then doing stuff on the set for the first time, you don’t get a chance to work the material. And then as a director you’re knee-jerking based on that, trying to work out how to film it and capture every moment you want and that makes things very difficult. So on this film I designed it to be this way from the start. I wanted to work with a relatively unknown cast. As it was, we ended up with I think the cream of young Australian actors on this film, who’d had a fair bit of experience but who were available to me when I needed them to be. And I think they brought an unbelievable level of energy to this project, and I think it really does show on the finished product.
DWO: What can you tell us about the Homebake shoot?
AP: I’m still trying to work things out myself and trying to work out how we’re going to do it. Basically our band will be on stage for a period of time. I can’t say too much about what they’re actually going to do beacuse it gives away a little bit about the movie, but they will be on stage in front of the Homebake crowd. Part of the reason I’m doing publicity now, which I very rarely do, is to just get the word out there so that people know that’s the intention; so it’s not too much of a surprise when we appear on stage.
DWO: Were you a fan of Dave’s work before you were involved with him on this project?
AP: I knew of Dave’s music, of course, from years ago. A few years back I started looking for Aussie screenwriters and there was a real lack of established people around, and so I started approaching it in a more lateral way and started reading a lot of local novelists’ work, and playwrights, and just trying to find writers from other areas to try and bring them into the screenwriting world. I picked up one of Dave’s books at the time Big Bad Blood and thoroughly enjoyed it, and gave him a call, or his agent a call, I don’t remember exactly how we first got together … not knowing, of course, that he’s the rennaisance man that he is and that he’d already written screenplays and done just about every other form of writing as well, and was quite pleasantly surprised to see that he’d aleady done a bunch of work in the movie world. So I came to meet him in a totally sort of roundabout way basically.
DWO: You have another of Dave’s screenplays Drill It in development?
AP: Yeah, that’s right, which we are hoping to get up pretty soon.
Interview © 2001 Dave Warner Online & Stuart O’Connor.