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2014, 92m, drama, romance, thriller
An Arthouse Psychological-Thriller about a patient, Jackson, and a Psychiatrist, Kara. What Kara believes to be another arduous session with her patient quickly becomes false. He decides to tell her his deepest and darkest secrets. As she struggles to remain calm and collected, she must decide if he is in fact telling the truth and how far is she really willing to go to obtain it. However, it is not only Jackson's secrets that come to the surface but Kara's too. What is she hiding? Could she possibly be as lethal and dangerous as the man sitting before her?
Produced by: Tomas McBride
Cast: Dan Lack, Marie Louise Le Brun & Holly Brisley
10 questions with Confessions director, Tomas McBride at the half-way mark.
Friday, September 9th, 2016
1Let's dive right into it: Confessions is a bit of a rabbit hole with a lot of different people telling their version of what happened. We spend the first half of the movie only listening to people explain themselves before we actually see where everything began. Where did the idea of this film come from? I was lying bed, late at night watching a psychological thriller which was about a serial killer and the film dealt with his inner demons from the prospect of his disturbed mental state and questioned whether the events that took place actually happened or did he simply imagine it. In the film, the murders were explicitly shown to the audience and it gave me a random idea of what would happen if the story were told through the descriptions of the murderer? Could it be more terrifying and realistic forcing the audience to picture the scenarios themselves, rather than showing them? How I saw it was, when we watch the news, we hear plenty of reports of murders and suicides and only given description of what occurred, leaving us to picture the rest which I believed was one of the true horrors of knowing that such a crime existed. Then I tried to imagine what it would be like to be the one whom was being told and how confusing and painful it would be if you loved the person who was telling you these things whilst at the same time feeling the rollercoaster emotions one would experience, posing the question, can one ever truly love another unconditionally.
2There are literally only four characters in the movie, one who we never actually see. Was there a challenge in writing a feature that only has a handful of characters that are mostly sitting in a room? Writing the script for Confessions was one of the easiest and hardest I've ever had to write. It came to me rather easily because I knew what the general story was and then it simply took longer trying to create interesting and likeable characters, where regardless of their actions, the audience would still feel sympathy towards them.
It was also the hardest scripts I've written because 95% of the film is based in the one room and I needed to be creative and different while also writing dialogue that wasn't repetative and interesting and engage the audience through the entirety of the film, which was one of the reasons why sections of the script was added during post-production and continuously rewritten throughout pre-production. The scenes where Jackson describes the murders he committed were the most difficult because whilst the script was initially explicitly detailed, entering into ages of the people he murdered and the things he did to them without holding back, I had to find a middle ground that gave perception, without being too abstract and still be powerful with enough detail for the audience to understand what was happening without spoon-feeding them.
3 What were some films and directors that inspired the tone and flavor of this film? A direct inspiration of the film was American Psycho which initiated the very foundations of Confessions. and I wanted to create an Australian film that wasn't depicted as a typical Australian film so I watched films from France and Spain to gain an influence of tone, colour, cinematography and story development and their sense of rawness, especially A Year Without Love, whilst making it my own.
Directors that I admire and certainly took inspiration from was Hitchcock, particularly Psycho where you know everything that's happening but still left questioning because nothing is ever completely revealed. Olivier Dahan was another, I love his sense of character development and the way he tells a story primarily through real human emotions within genuine human events. The third Director whom inspired me and they way I choose to create the film's tone, speed and artful flavour would be Tom Ford and his film A Single Man. The film had such an abstract beauty about it, and Ford's use of colour and angles of the camera, I directly used as a nod to his work but every image and shot tells a singular story which I believed was important for such a film like Confessions.
4What was the productions process for this like? The process was really quite fast. We shot the film in 7 days, all night shoots and doing the shoot days consecutively and I made the conscious decision to shoot it in linear format, which for the actors was an intense journey for them, particularly considering I had 4 months of rehearsals with Dan (Jackson) where he began to consume his character for that entire length of time, living and breathing Jackson without pause until we wrapped. So it was certainly harder and more emotionally draining on the Artists.
Post-Production however, took a year. I knew going into it, how imperative it was to get it right, so that was the most time consuming part, also too I made a conscious decision to edit to the score, so the score was created to the rough cut and I did the final cut with the timing, fluidity and beats to score, really taking my time to make sure I got it right. I did a lot of the grading in camera when we shot and the sound design was also lengthy because I wanted to ensure that the sound design was as emotional as the film's score.
5Was any of it improvised? Only a partial of the film was improvised, which was the scene where Jackson and Kara meet for the first time. We actually shot the scene last minute before we wrapped on one of the nights and I had an idea to shoot it, taking the actors, obviously, by surprise.
So together we worked out what should and shouldn't be said and a structure for the scene. I had complete confidence with Dan and Marie (Kara) because we had such a lengthy rehearsal period so I knew they were up to the task and I wanted to give them the opportunity and freedom to give their characters their substance and an in depth look as to whom they really are and allowing Dan a chance to truly show how weak and vulnerable Jackson is.
6What is your favorite part of the film? This one is really hard, to be honest. If I had to choose, it would be between two different scenes in the film. The first, being Justin's solo scene, where the audience sees him for the first time, at the beginning of the film. What I loved about it, was it's simplicity and Dan's performance was so honest and it sets the tone for the entire film and against the score, I think the scene was a total triumph.
The second would be the scene where Jackson's Dad confesses his secrets. I believe the performances were absolutely sublime and the two artists acted off one another perfectly and allowed me to get the context and emotion of the scene the way I imagined it. Also too, I think what makes it so powerful is it's brutal honesty and how raw it is and depicts how unstable innocence is in the current world we live in and gives to the audience a perfect reasoning behind Jackson's mental and emotional journey throughout the film.
7What do you hope for people to walk away from Confessions to think or feel? The last thing I wanted, going into this project, was to make a statement piece with a message and I wanted to leave it up the audience themselves to figure out how they feel after the conclusion of the project as my simple wish was to entertain them and feel satisfied that their time nor money was wasted. My true goal was what they should feel, during the course of the film such as; fear, suspense, longing and regret as the characters do on their journey.
As the process wore on, I realised that the message behind it was really begging the question, do we truly know the people we love and can we still love them unconditionally regardless of their actions? And when I completed the project, I knew that I wanted people to think about the film; it's plot and story and discussing what the intricacies of the film meant to them. I also want them to feel touched and in shock and awe of what they've seen and walk away feeling like they've gone an incredible emotional journey. Also too, I want them to think "What an incredible and different movie that was!"
8This may seem like an offbeat question but I couldn't help but notice how Jackson has braces and how much that adds to the off-putting nature of his character. Was that intentional or something that just came out of casting? Personally, I was rather shocked when I found out he had braces when he came in for his screen test, because I didn't know about it before hand. But when I saw him play the character I was amazed at how it affected the performance and feel of the character and how well it worked. Looking back at it now, it was sheer luck. Regardless if Dan had braces or not, he would have been cast because he was so brilliant, raw and intense but the braces, I think really finished the character off and it was one of those great random things to come out of casting.
9What advice might you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps and start making their own films? I would firstly say go for it. But they need to believe in the script and what they want to achieve and really want it to be successful at it, which doesn't mean financially successful either. I think that's the best advice to begin with. Secondly, it is important that they know the industry and the people in it, or at least how it works. But the best advice, is never let anyone tell you that it's impossible because it's not. People will tell you this, as they told me. I financed this film with my own money and did everything alone with support from my closest family and friends. But it's no different to what some of the greats did, for example Selznick, when he did Gone With the Wind, Lucas with Star Wars and Warner, the man behind Warner Bros. Pictures. If you believe you can do it then you can but you can only do it, if you truly believe in it and want it bad enough. We all need realism in our lives, but we also need dreams so my advice would be to dream big and go after it with everything you've got.
10What's next? What's next is two projects in development, both major pieces, which i'm currently working on getting financing for. This time, the process is slow because of the size of the scripts, one being 4hr epic love story, told in the fashion of some of the greats. The other, which will be shot first, is a story about five individuals who connect during an event and how their lives had led them to the point of where they are in the present and how they choices and decisions they've made have affected them in different ways.
About the Interviewer: Ericson Just
Ericson is just another straight, white male with delusions of grandeur and an above average god-complex trying to carve out a space for himself in the tough world of show business. His debut feature 'The Burden of My Company' won third place in the Fandependent Films Spring 2016 circuit.
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