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Zak Hilditch Interview

Can you tell us how you got to make your first feature film?

[Laughs] Who let me do that exactly?  How it happened I guess, was putting myself in the right place at the right time, and having chiselled away at the last ten years or so before it, with a few backyard features, a few self funded shorts, a few funded shorts.  Constantly trying to develop my craft as a writer/director and I think that there were other projects that I thought were maybe gonna be my first funded feature film that fell by the wayside.  I am a believer that everything happens for a reason and I kind of look back at the disappointment I had in those projects falling over but I really felt like they deserved to fall over, and this one withstood the fire and brimstone of development because there was enough meat on the bone, enough of a cool central idea and enough of an emotional journey that the main character was going to go on.  Just all the right elements and at the end of the day just a really interesting story and a very basic premise of ‘what would you do on the last day on earth?’.  I think all those planets aligned just in the right way.  Ever since we put the first draft, which I call the vomit draft, that I just vomited out of my system into the inaugural Springboard that Screen Australia were running, with my producer Liz Kearney.  Ever since we put that in, literally it felt like the right people read it, the right people gave me the right encouragement and told me to really stick at it.  It wasn’t great on the page, but there was enough there for people to really tell me to “stick with this one Zak” and “you might have something here”.  It was getting into that in 2009/2010 and in being able to make a short film through that development scheme, called Transmission, where I just felt like I was working at a higher level than I ever had before, with the most experienced crew we could get, great actors and everyone getting paid the right way.  Doing a film properly.  It really solidified Liz and my relationship as a director-producer.  I feel making the short and chipping away at the feature, and then the right people then saying “yes” to the feature to get the bit of funding we needed from ScreenWest, followed up by Screen Australia, followed up by MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival), everything just sort of came together, with just enough money to pull it off.  

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