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Podcast – Directors Dylan River and Macario De Souza

Mystery Road: Origin director Dylan River talks about moving into longform TV while Macario De Souza makes the shift from documentary features to drama with 6 Festivals.

Macario De Souza and Dylan River

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Directors Dylan River and Macario De Souza were both up for the challenge that their latest projects presented.

For River, it meant moving into directing all six episodes of Mystery Road: Origin, the prequel to the beloved ABC TV series and Ivan Sen films. River is a Kaytetye man based in Mpartnwe (Alice Springs) and previous to Mystery Road: Origin had directed on documentary features including Buckskin and Finke: There and Back, as well as shortform SBS series Robbie Hood

River says he felt the pressure in taking the reins from Sen and season one and two directors Rachel Perkins, Wayne Blair and Warwick Thornton, but that being such a fan was a huge help.

“Six hours of drama is a lot,” he says on the latest episode of the Screen Australia Podcast. “I was mostly nervous about how I was going to undertake the whole story and how I was going to hold that together, but at the same time, I’m not sure if Mystery Road to me would have been as appealing if I was a block director. I really wanted to be able to take a big challenge like this and to own it.”

In Mystery Road: Origin, Mark Coles Smith stars as a young detective Jay Swan in 1999, whose first outback posting is to the mining town where he grew up – and where a series of strange robberies have been taking place.

River says carrying six hours of story in his mind on set was a huge challenge, but one that he was assisted with thanks to collaborations with DOP Tyson Perkins, script supervisor Benedict Paxton-Crick and 1st AD Mark Boskell.

For director Macario De Souza, who moved from documentary to drama features with 6 Festivals, those collaborations were similarly important. 

“Coming from a documentary background, even when I went in to direct a lot of TV commercials, I come in pretty loosely, because that’s what I was used to. I’m not a fan of overplanning,” he says. “It was really a lot of time spent with my DOP and I, and our 1st AD. It was really about setting up parameters.”

He says there were two rules on 6 Festivals: containment and freedom. 6 Festivals follows the friendship of three teenagers, who bucket list six music festivals when one of them is diagnosed with brain cancer. De Souza, who directed documentaries such as Bra Boys, says anytime they were following the teens at a festival, it was a more documentary approach, with handheld cameras and 50mm lenses. If there were scenes between the teenagers and the police or parents, the shots were static and locked off.

“I think without that [documentary background, with] the time pressure we had at festivals and these pressure cooker moments, it wouldn’t have worked with that typical drama approach,” he says.

De Souza also talks to how his live music background influenced the film, getting a wealth of music acts like Ruby Fields, Dune Rats and G Flip to feature and how he aimed to reach a younger audience.

Hear more from De Souza and Rivers on the latest episode of the Screen Australia Podcast.

Watch all episodes of Mystery Road: Origin on ABC iview now, while 6 Festivals is playing at select cinemas and Melbourne International Film Festival ahead of a release on Paramount+ later in 2022.

Subscribe to Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Audio Transcript

[00:00:05] Caris Bizzaca Welcome to the Screen Australia podcast. I'm Caris Bizzaca, a journalist with Screen Australia's online publication Screen News. I'd like to firstly acknowledge the countries on which we meet. Regardless of your geographical location, we are meeting on the unceded lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This podcast has been created on the lands of the Gadigal people of the larger Eora Nation, and I've had the great privilege to be a visitor and be able to work on these lands. Always was, always will be. On this episode of the podcast, we have two guests, both who have recently stepped up with their latest projects. For the case of director Dylan River, it meant moving into long form drama with the six-part ABC TV series Mystery Road: Origin. Meanwhile, director Macario De Souza made his drama feature film debut with 6 Festivals, following a career in documentary and music. Throughout the episode, Macario talks about how this background influenced the film, particularly during the live music sequences, as well as getting a wealth of music acts like Ruby Fields, Dune Rats, and G Flip to feature and how he aimed to reach a younger audience. But first up is the chat with First Nations director and cinematographer Dylan River. A Kaytetye man based in Mpartnwe, also known as Alice Springs, Dylan has directed on documentary features, including Buckskin and Finke: There and Back, as well as short form SBS series Robbie Hood. His latest directing project is the six-part drama series Mystery Road Origin, a prequel to the beloved ABC show and Ivan Sen films. This time it stars Mark Coles Smith as a young detective Jay Swan back in 1999, whose first Outback posting is to the mining town where he grew up and where a series of strange robberies have been taking place. Throughout the episode, Dylan talks about stepping into long form television, how he honoured the original series and shooting in Kalgoorlie and the Goldfields region of Western Australia with cinematographer Tyson Perkins. Before we jump in, remember you can subscribe to the Screen Australia podcast through places like Spotify and iTunes. Feedback can be sent to [email protected] and subscribe to Screen Australia's industry eNews for all the latest from the local industry. Also a shout out to video producer Matthew Jenkin. Both of the interviews in this episode were pulled from video interviews and so thanks to Matt, who recorded the audio for them. Now here's Mystery Road Origin director Dylan River.

[00:02:33] Caris Bizzaca Were you trying to find a balance between honouring the original series and creating something entirely new?

[00:02:41] Dylan River Yeah, I'm a massive fan of what Ivan Sen did in 2013 with Mystery Road and I could see his references to films like No Country for Old Men, which is one of my favourite films of all time. And then the follow up, Goldstone, what Rachel Perkins did in the first season [of Mystery Road TV series], and then what Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair did in the second season. So I'm a huge fan, so taking on this role, I felt there's a lot of pressure, but I feel like I slipped into it quite easily just by being a fan myself. So I guess my job directing Mystery Road is to continue the legacy of First Nations storytelling in the sense that it's really important that our stories are told by our mob and with our mob, and that First Nations stories aren't stereotyped. You know, the characters aren't stereotyped, that they're authentic, you know, from start to finish. And that's what my job is. It's been the job of Ivan Sen, it's been the job of Rachel Perkins, Warwick, Wayne, you know, and now myself to continue that legacy.

[00:03:41] Caris Bizzaca And what kind of ways did you try and honour those original series, the original movies? Was it like certain shots or things like that, or did you try and do something completely different?

[00:03:52] Dylan River No. I mean, there's definitely certain shots that are a complete rip-off of what Ivan did, you know. And I thought, oh, that's okay, because, you know, he's influenced all of this. And then there's also, there's a lot of style and reference to No Country for Old Men, a reference of his, or what I believe is a reference of his. There's actually shots which we completely emulated from No Country for Old Men. And we put a little 'RD' for Roger Deakins in the corner of the frame somewhere in the set design as a sort of like, I salute to him and his amazing work.

[00:04:21] Caris Bizzaca And so, you know, you bring your cinematography background as well, to directing. What's it like kind of shooting in these types of places where, you know, a lot of sun, glare, like dust, things like that - what's it like shooting in these types of places?

[00:04:38] Dylan River Well I was really fortunate to be able to work with Tyson Perkins, who's a great friend of mine and collaborator. And both being, you know, hungry young blackfella filmmakers, I feel like we have a really good relationship and a really good language between each other. You know, I'm a shooter myself, and so I needed someone like him who can really push my abilities and challenge my sensibilities, and he also, you know, there's no sort of egos between us. Sort of somedays I'd just move the camera across the room where I want it, and then he'd come back and move it back the way he wants it. And that's fine. And we that's how we kind of discuss what we're going to do. It's very hands on, you know. But yeah, you know, shooting in Kalgoorlie in WA, for me, cinematography is pointing a lens, but the landscape does a lot of the work. If you pick good locations, good colours on walls in the set design - that does most of the work for you.

[00:05:31] Caris Bizzaca And can you talk - you mentioned Tyson Perkins, who you have worked with before - can you talk a little bit about that collaboration, you know, going back to Robbie Hood days?

[00:05:42] Dylan River Yeah, so when we did Robbie Hood, I wanted, you know, it was an opportunity for me to step up, to do something a little bit longer. And I wanted who shot it to kind of be on that journey with me, you know, coming up with me. And, and I knew we weren't going to have-- we didn't have a full crew on Robbie Hood, we sort of camera, lighting, gripping was all just one sort of department you know of a few people and I had two friends that I couldn't say no to one without the other. And that was Tyson Perkins and Drew English. And so they actually co-shot Robbie Hood, that did, kind of, just one was shooting while the other was focus pulling, while the other was lighting. And they just sort of swapped around. And you know, I love working with both of them, and for Mystery Road, it sort of was right to work with Tyson Perkins. But it's amazing to see since Robbie Hood how both of their careers are going. You know, they both, you know Drew English just shot half of the new Heartbreak High and Tyson's onto great things as well.

[00:06:36] Caris Bizzaca And speaking of how you were saying, like going to Robbie Hood you're stepping into something longer, with this you kind of stepping into something longer again with like long form TV drama. How was that experience of directing something that had these longer ep[isode]s, kind of like a six hour movie almost?

[00:06:53] Dylan River Yeah, I mean, six hours of drama is a lot. You know, I think I was mostly nervous about how I was going to undertake the whole story and how I was going to hold that together. But at the same time, I really wanted to you know, I'm not sure if Mystery Road for me would have been as appealing if I was a block director. You know, I really wanted to be able to take something, a big challenge like this and really own it, and own the responsibility that if I stuff it up, it's on me, you know, and not put the blame on anyone else. But at the same time, I like to challenge myself, and this was a massive challenge. I found one of the hardest things, was to hold six hours in my head. I'm not much of a prepper. I like to talk to departments and do a lot of pre[-production], but I'm not really writing fierce notes about scripts and things like that. So to have all the story in your head every day was quite a challenge. But, you know, you're assisted massively by your DOP, Benedict [Paxton-Crick] who was our script supervisor, our first AD, Mark Boskell. You know, they all help out every day.

[00:07:57] Caris Bizzaca And yes, you mentioned one of the challenges there, from kind of like a script perspective and holding all that together. Were there any other big challenges from a shooting perspective on Mystery Road: Origin?

[00:08:09] Dylan River Yeah, look, the flies were a massive challenge. It was apparent from the first day that there's going to be a lot of flies and there's nothing we could do about it. We had, you know, hair and make-up, putting fly spray in Mark Coles Smith's hair all at the back, so they just wouldn't, you know, swarm onto his face. And they just did, and so I told him and all the actors that if a fly lands on you, you just make sure you swat it away because there's nothing worse than watching, you know, a fly crawling into your eye and you're doing your lines. And as an audience, you just want to go and grab it and take it off their face. So the flies were a big challenge. COVID was also a big challenge for us. We shot right kind of during the peak of a new wave. And WA, you know, once we were in, we knew we were safe. You know, we had such strict borders, but it meant that quite a few crew and cast that were initially pictured to be in Mystery Road couldn't make it to the set and couldn't be in it. But it all, you know, once we were off and running and then train left the station, it all worked out.

[00:09:08] Caris Bizzaca And yeah, you mentioned Mark Coles Smith, who is amazing and he really does look like a young Jay Swan and some of the characteristics in his performance and things like that is very reminiscent of Aaron Pedersen. What kind of discussions did you have with Mark about, you know, creating a character that that did feel like a younger version of something that audiences recognise?

[00:09:35] Dylan River Working with Mark Coles Smith, you know, I've never worked with him before. I'm a fan of his work. I think I first really recognised him in Last Cab to Darwin, you know, and just loved the youthful energy that he had in that. And I really wanted Mark to play Jay and I had to call him up and not convince him to do it, but just start to build that relationship. I feel that as a director with actors and especially with a lead, you know, the most important thing is a relationship of trust. And if we have that relationship of trust, which, you know, he trusts me giving direction that he might not have thought about or vice versa. I trust him with how he thinks the scene should be and creating that sense of trust is the most important thing. But with Mark, we talked about Jay being not exactly what Aaron had played. And the beauty of going into an origin story was we were able to explore things that happened to him to make him who we now know how he is. And so we talked about how Jay may be more optimistic, how he might smile. You know, Jay Swan, as Aaron has played him, rarely smiles, if ever. So we knew right from the first episode we want to see Jay smile and yeah, I mean he did his homework. I feel like there's a lot that he did that we didn't discuss that he brought to set that was amazing. And on the first day, you know, there's this special thing when you're shooting films and I've been asked before, what's your favourite part of the process? And I think it's this moment where you first do a rehearsal of a scene on set and you block it through and you see the actors do it for the first time. And, you know, it's movie magic. It gives you goose bumps every time.

[00:11:12] Caris Bizzaca And, you know, you mention the smile there. I really feel like watching Mystery Road: Origin, there's like a levity in this series. Was that something you were kind of conscious about bringing, like a little bit more humour to this series?

[00:11:27] Dylan River Yeah, I think my sensibility is humour. I'm not a funny person, I'm not a comedian, but I think there's a dark comedy that I like to write to. You know, there's this dry, sort of outback, small town blasé-ness, and that can be seen through things that sometimes are politically incorrect. But it's just my experiences of being in a small town growing up in Alice Springs, and it's what I was able to write to. And yes, so I think a bit of the humour comes from me, obviously all the writers added what they could and the actors as well. You know, the amazing Steve Bisley's in this and straightaway he told me 'this is a dark comedy' and I'm like, 'is it?' And he convinced me, so, you know, over the ten week shoot, he convinced me it is a bit of a dark comedy, especially his character, Peter Lovric is quite the comedian.

[00:12:14] Caris Bizzaca And so a bit more of a cinematography question, but what were the cameras and lenses that you shot Mystery Road: Origin on and why did you go with those?

[00:12:23] Dylan River So Panavision supported pretty much all of my work and Tyson's work as well, so we knew we were going with Panavision. We both really love the DXL2, at the moment, which is Panavision's proprietary camera. It's sort of a RED, but it's Panavision's version. But the beauty with Panavision is you get really special lenses and a lot of options with lenses, you know, dating right back through film history, really. If You want the lenses that shot Star Wars: Episode One, you can look them up and get them if you want that. You know we shot large format, it's just something we're really comfortable at the moment - you know the camera's very sensitive - so, you know, shooting at night is quite, not easy, but you can shoot right into that dusk period 'til it's almost dark and then you can turn the lights on for night-time. So yeah, a lot of flexibility.

[00:13:15] Caris Bizzaca That was Dylan River, and remember, you can catch all six episodes of Mystery Road Origin on ABC iview. It's also just been announced that it will make its international premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in September. Up next, we're joined by another filmmaker who made the leap into something different. For Macario De Souza, the director of documentaries including Bra Boys and Fighting Fear, the coming of age film 6 Festivals is his first drama feature. It follows the friendship of three teenagers who bucket list six music festivals when one of them is diagnosed with brain cancer. 6 Festivals is screening in select cinemas and at Melbourne International Film Festival and it will premiere on Paramount Plus later this year. Throughout the chat, Macario talks to everything from music licensing, why shooting at real festivals was non-negotiable and the logistical challenges that then brought, particularly between bushfires, a pandemic and floods. Here's Macario talking about why he wanted the story of 6 Festivals to be his first drama feature and how it came about.

[00:14:16] Macario De Souza The idea of 6 Festivals was really derived from a lot of my life experiences, my background as a touring musician. Well first it started as young ratbag kids from Maroubra who loved music and couldn't afford the tickets and would jump the fence and sneak in a whole bunch of early day festivals. It got a little more serious where we could actually afford tickets and spent the summer watching, you know, just following all the festivals around town. And I just fell in love with the idea of artists commanding like a sea of audience, you know, and so much so that I sort of pursued a music, a career in music for a couple of years. At the same time, I was exploring the idea of being a filmmaker in the documentary sector, and I made a film in 2006 called Bra Boys, and at the same time was recording music. And off the back of the success of The Bra Boys, we were able to sign a record deal and do a lot of touring and it grew from there and just loved everything about festivals, you know, whether it was from the punters side, being there with your friends, feeling of freedom, you know, no one sort of looking over you, it's all at your own pace, at your own rules. And then from the artist perspective, just performing to a sea of people who just given you all that sort of euphoria and love back and just yeah, I wanted to, I've always wanted to make the leap from documentaries to drama. It's been a long journey and definitely a challenging one, but I wanted my first film to be a stamp of my signature and something that really was an extension of my culture, where I was born, what I was about. I wanted something edgy, raw, and so it was all of those kind of conglomerate of anecdotes, experiences, my passion for music, into one. And that's how we birthed 6 Festivals.

[00:16:01] Caris Bizzaca And there's obviously a lot of fantastic music artists in 6 Festivals. Can you talk a little bit about getting them on board and then also that music licensing side of it?

[00:16:13] Macario De Souza Yeah, so fortunately for me, I guess, you know, having toured for years with a lot of the bands that are still touring now, had a lot of strong relationships with the artists of production company Hype Republic. We do a lot in the music space, a lot of music videos, a lot of content docos. So we deal with a lot of the labels and publishers and brands and the festivals. So it was really about tapping into my network. I feel like I was in a really unique position to tell this story. I knew it was going to be challenging because my non-negotiable with this film was to shoot it at real festivals, with real bands cameoing themselves. I feel like that was the unique selling point. With music films, it tends to fall short and be somewhat cheesy. It's either people a lot older reminiscing about their younger days or people who weren't really embedded in that culture in the first place. So I feel like tapping into something that I have my finger on the pulse at the time was going to be the best way to get these bands on board. We had a plethora of some of Australia's biggest bands like Lime Cordiale and Dune Rats, G Flip, you know, Bliss n Eso, B-wise, Kobie Dee, Ruby Fields. It's an extensive kind of line up, almost like a festival line-Up and I feel like, you know, a lot of the times making films, particularly pitching them to government bodies and whatnot, it's always also how you're going to get it to the audience. And for me, I sort of pitched the idea that through these bands and their involvement and their buy-in, we would also tap into their audiences if we get their buy-in and they push it. And that was my whole idea with it. And on the flip side of that, obviously there's a lot of challenges, particularly with music licensing. We knew we had to have a decent budget for music. It was a grey area because here we were, most music that we had featured in the film was shot live at the festivals that we recorded. So there was the discretion as to who owned the masters. Was it the label, was it the production? But regardless, before every festival we worked out the line-up and who we wanted to shoot. We then approached the artists and the team - publishers and labels - and we essentially pre-cleared three songs per set and we shot those three songs as a buffer when I already knew the one hero song that for me worked to drive the narrative forward for that scene. And then once it came down to the edit, we at least had the option of a couple of songs per artist. For whatever reason, I wanted to make it real kind of dynamic as far as genres and styles of music, so we didn't go back-to-back same genres. So that really helped in the edit, and then once we started to get a bit of a rough cut together, it really was about going back and like a Rubik's Cube just working out what we could and couldn't afford. How long of a duration of the songs we could use. And so it went down to the wire. We had our premiere at Sydney Film Festival. We were still clearing music a couple of days prior, but it wasn't that they weren't on board, it was just there was a lot of grey areas and a lot of back and forth because of the live performances. There's very minimal studio versions of songs in the film. It's more either remakes of old songs or live performances from bands. So yeah, our music supervisor, Kate Dean, she was brilliant and she had a mountain of a job to achieve and she did a great job.

[00:19:23] Caris Bizzaca And then so, with those live music festivals, just logistically, how did you go about filming at them and achieving that?

[00:19:33] Macario De Souza Yeah, look, like I said, the non-negotiable for me was shooting it at real festivals, you know, trying to bring my, I guess, documentary flavour to it and making it super raw and organic in order to get that authenticity. That came with its own challenges and I think it scared a lot of producers off when I first tried to bring people on board. Funding agencies were a bit concerned, you know, but I guess with my background in that space gave them the comfort that it could be achieved. Going into it, it was really about a lot of conversations with the festival promoters and the owners, first and foremost. We assured them that we were coming in fairly nimble and documentary-style where we'd be more run and gun. We'd have a home base on the outskirts of the festival. We'd recce our spots a couple of days in the lead up and then we'd go in and shoot our scenes and then go straight back out. So we weren't ruining punters experience and we also weren't attracting too much attention to ourselves. Obviously dealing with drunk punters was going to be a concern, but it was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it was going to be. We found that when we were in the thick of an audience, most people would clock the camera and then quickly look at who they were shooting and focus on the talent, which meant that we didn't have too many people looking down the lens, which would always ruin the shot. So that was good for us and we had a bit of a rule that anyone who tried to jump in the lens and dance and be silly, we would just put them aside and say, 'Look, we're making a film. It's about Australian music and coming of age. If you want to be in it just stand over there and dance, have a good time and you'll be in the film' and everyone listened and everyone kind of got along. And I guess loved the idea that we were finally representing a culture that probably hasn't been represented before. There was obviously a lot of noise bleed from a lot of stages, a lot of dialogue scenes in those environments were kept to a minimum. We'd captured wide shots or shots from behind of our setups of those, and then we'd go and pick up those dialogue scenes, either somewhere else. We ended up setting up what we called our fake festival in Canberra in a paddock for a couple of days, and did all of our pick ups for those other festivals and had different corners represent different festivals we'd already shot. Certain like, art department and props and staging were mimicking what we'd already shot. So going back there it was really about focusing on the sound, good dialogue and close ups and just have that controlled environment to tip us over the edge to make sure we had a cohesive enough rushes to put our scenes together. So certainly it was challenging. It was definitely the most challenging project I've even taken on my career. But when you sit back and see it on the big screen, you can see the authenticity is there and that's everything I worked towards. So the reward far outweighed the challenges when I look back on it now.

[00:22:13] Caris Bizzaca Yeah, speaking of challenges, can you talk through then some of the major challenges that happened in the filming of 6 festivals?

[00:22:22] Macario De Souza Yeah, 6 Festivals started to become the project that everyone was joking that it was the cursed project. You know, this was an idea that was ready to roll about four or five years ago, we finally got some support in funding and we were ready to shoot our first festival. The idea was to shoot the real festivals, get them out of the way, and then do a controlled environment. First festival, it was 2019, December, bushfires hit, festival was cancelled. Then we tried to find something else quickly after, then there was a flood and then we were finally ready to pull the trigger and obviously we got the call that Tom Hanks caught COVID up on set at Elvis and it felt like it was something pretty serious. And of course, for the next two years, we had lockdowns as we did. So we had two lockdowns, in between the two lockdowns, we managed to squeeze in two festivals. The first to run was Big Pineapple up on the Sunny Coast. And then we picked up another one in the Gold Coast called Lunar Electric. And so we had to be super strategic, flexible, and I'm grateful that our team and our stakeholders essentially allowed us to, I guess, rewrite it on the fly. We kind of had to you know, we had-- this film couldn't be a rigid thing because you would just, it would feel rigid on screen. So we had to move things around and change, you know, scenes and characters to the last minute to shoot the festivals first and foremost, capture those even to the last minute where we had everything in the can just before Christmas of 2021. And then we were in the edit. There was one surf scene that we needed to pick up because we were waiting for the swell. Sure enough, a second flood hit in the Northern Rivers in Gold Coast and the water was murky for four months, so we had to wait for the water to clear. It was a lot of underwater scenes that we had to shoot and it needed to be somewhere with swell. So we picked that up on the last, on the eleventh hour and squeezed it in the edit and it turned out great. But people will watch the film now will be none the wiser. But we've been through the ringer for sure for about five years in this film, and I'm just glad we made it to the other end.

[00:24:26] Caris Bizzaca And so you have a documentary background. Can you talk about how that experience maybe has helped when it came to making your first drama feature film?

[00:24:39] Macario De Souza Yeah, I mean, like coming from a documentary background, you know, even when I went in to direct a lot of TV commercials, I come in pretty loosely because that's what I was used to. You know, I'm not a fan of over planning. We didn't storyboard 6 Festivals. It was really like a lot of time spent between my DOP and I, and our first AD. It was really about setting out parameters. And the one rule that we did come up with was in 6 Festivals, there was essentially two rules: one was containment and one was freedom. So any time we were at a festival and we were representing that idea of freedom and the kids being away from authority and parents, we would shoot it in a more free approach, like a doco hand-held 50mm lens, like, you know, running and moving with them. And any time they were with the police or with parents or in a car, it was more locked off shots. So those more contained worlds, we obviously planned for those and storyboarded a little bit. But I guess if it wasn't for that doco background, particularly with our DOP, Hugh Miller, who also has a doco background and is quick and he's got a great eye, the ability to just shift and change if something is not set up or the sun wasn't where it was supposed to be, because now the stage with the artist wanted to shoot is here. We needed to sort of just move along and make it work and just make sure the coverage is great. So for the most part, we just let a scene play out and then we would do a couple more takes where we just go in and get in textures so we can have enough content to cut around the scene. But I think without that and the time pressure that we had at festivals in these pressure cooker moments, it wouldn't have worked with that typical kind of drama approach. And I guess that's why a lot of our people who got behind the film saw that advantage from our team. And we get that rawness that you get. At times you know, there's a great review that just came out on Time Out talking about how it's a semi documentary-hybrid-drama. And I thought, you know, I didn't even think about it like that. But when you look back at it, it really it is. And it's nice because it's it feels real.

[00:26:44] Caris Bizzaca And what kind of advice would you give to any filmmakers who are making their first drama feature film?

[00:26:52] Macario De Souza I've been trying very hard to get to this position, and I'm very grateful that I'm here. I'm very grateful for Screen Australia's support and all the other government agencies and, you know, my producers, Michael Wrenn, Shannon Wilson-McClinton, Jade van der Lei. And it's one of those things that these kind of, I guess, agencies and people who help make these films happen, just feel like such a world away. For me, it was such a faceless building that you couldn't attain and you couldn't reach. But what I've found throughout it is, you know, if you have a story to tell and you're good at your craft, it's only a matter of time before you find the right team who can help you grow and help you get into those right positions. And again, it's something that I never thought I'd be in this position this early in my career, but it's really about backing yourself. You know, I cut my teeth in documentaries, music videos, TV commercials for years thinking that the leap to drama was such a big one. And sure, I had my moments of doubt and fear on set practically every third hour. But I was comfortable in the fact that I've been doing this for twelve years plus, and it's no different. It's just a bigger army around you and people who protect you to make sure that you're getting quality and you're seeing it through. So, in short, I would say, back yourself. No one can tell your story like you. It's just a matter of getting out there and getting a team behind you to to see it come to life.

[00:28:21] Caris Bizzaca And what do you hope audiences will take away from watching 6 Festivals?

[00:28:27] Macario De Souza For me, I feel like Australia has been missing young stories from the streets, of rawness and a grittiness that resonate with a lower socioeconomic class, of where I'm from. And I feel like the reaction I'm getting from people is it's resonating. They're seeing themselves on screen. There's a lot of bullshit in this industry with box ticking and diversity and all that stuff for the sake of box ticking. I think what we've done with this film is authentically have represented the cultures that we're from, not only in music but diverse cultures of how we grew up. And I feel like that's what I want the audience to get out of this. I want young people to watch this film and feel like their voice is heard, they're represented on screen, that they can set dreams and with a good, solid friendship around them, achieve them. And for older people to watch this and have a sense of nostalgia and take them back to what it is like to be surrounded by a good group of friends and how music can be an escape. So yeah, I sort of wear my heart on my sleeve with everything I do, and I'm passionate about this being something that's going to really resonate with a younger audience and hopefully see a bit of a shift in how we as Australians are telling stories.

[00:29:53] Caris Bizzaca That was Macario De Souza and a reminder that you can watch 6 Festivals at select cinemas now and at Melbourne International Film Festival. Also keep an eye out for it on Paramount Plus later this year. Thanks to Dylan and Macario for chatting about their projects and to keep up to date with all the latest from the local screen industry, don't forget to subscribe to the Screen Australia newsletter where we'll send you news about initiatives, funding, announcements, opportunities, videos, articles and more. Thanks for listening.