Making A Short Film - Aden Young
By Dov Kornits
Posted 05/16/99 17:16:37
Last time we spoke to Aden Young, he had just met with George Lucas about the possibility of playing Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. So, he lost out to Ewan McGregor we hear you mutter. Never mind, Aden has spent the last two years working on his own short film, The Order, a 25 minute drama which will premiere at this year's St Kilda Film Festival.
"It's about a soldier who returns from the Vietnam War with the news that his best friend has died during the war and he chooses to inform the man's widow. By doing this onerous task he becomes haunted by an action that happened in his childhood and he believes that it might have started the course towards his friend's death.
"It's a very atmospheric piece that was inspired by a story my father told me. It's not dialogue driven; it's not performance madness. It's very subtle."
Despite Aden's claim that the film is not an actors piece, The Order features two of Australia's best kept acting secrets, Beverly Dunn (Shine) and David Field.
"My producer, Alkinos Tsilimidos had directed David Field in the feature Everynight, Everynight and that's who I had in mind for a short film I wanted to make. He was a close friend with David and it evolved that Al was the perfect choice to produce my film.
"Originally I took a script for an experimental film to Alkinos but at the end of the day he turned to me and said do you really want to make this film? I showed him this other script I'd written a year before and he said let's make this one. I was never going to make The Order first. I was going to work on two other films before this because I knew that logistically it was a huge venture. It required many locations, a large cast and three different periods."
Luckily Alkinos' experience in making Everynight, Everynight happen for $28,000 convinced the AFC to front up with the budget. And the fact that the film's first screening has resulted in an opening night slot at St Kilda fares well. But St Kilda is a short film festival and can program a 25 minute short, whereas feature film fests such as Cannes are renowned for only screening 'short' short films.
"Essentially I think it's unfortunate that festivals or funding bodies view short films with such disdain if they're longer than ten to twelve minutes. I know it's due to practical reasons like programming but essentially it's the only chance in the filmmaker's career where they're going to have 95% say. Once you're a feature you begin to lose and compromise so much.
"The first cut of my film was 40 minutes long, but I always knew it would come down to what it was. We were funded for 15 minutes but I knew that was just independent timing, it wasn't my timing.
"I've travelled with different films to different festivals around the world and have been lucky enough to form good relationships with programmers and festival people. Just for the sake that I find them quite interesting, mad people. I'd love to return to some of the cities with the film, especially Toronto.
"Like you said, at that length where do you go with the film? Hopefully the film will stand up on its own and break through some of those categories. I'm not making a film for an award; I'm making it so people will see it. And if it means that it's out of competition then that's fantastic as well."
Having recently completed a part in his friend Paul Cox's most ambitious project Molokai (aka Father Damien), also starring David Wenham and Peter O'Toole, which way is Aden heading in the future?
"I haven't looked at a script for a long time, and then suddenly a script landed on my door the other day and I've got this terrible fear of going back into that after directing.
"I'd definitely like to continue making films. Paul Cox constantly talks about getting this terrible disease called filmmaking. It takes over your life and destroys every relationship and does all these terrible things to you.
Occasionally there'll be a gem and it's worth it all. I think I've got that hideous disease. Filmmaking is just a different commitment that I love - why just sit on the wings when you can really get in and sculpt something." Dov Kornits