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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 05.16.14]



Last week I had the chance to speak with Wolf Creek 2 (review) writer/director Greg Mclean who took some time from his busy schedule shooting his new thriller 6 Miranda Drive to chat about the process of bringing Wolf Creek 2 to the screen, being a mentor and producer to up-and-coming Australian directors and what it's like shoot his first movie in the U.S..

Wolf Creek 2 is now available VOD and opens in select theatres in the U.S. on Friday, May 16.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. I understand you're calling from a set in LA?

Yeah, I've been finishing a little movie out here.

Can you talk about this little movie?

It's a film called 6 Miranda Drive. It's being produced by Blumhouse Productions and stars Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell and it's really cool.

I was reading that Kevin Bacon is a really big fan of Wolf Creek. Was it at all intimidating when you heard that?

Well we were actually talking about the new film. We did a Skype call and I sent him a link to watch Wolf Creek 2 and I didn't know he was a fan of the first Wolf Creek. He really enjoyed Wolf Creek 2 and that was part of the reason he came on board. He loved the film and he loved the first one and it was great. He's a really big genre fan so he appreciates a good horror movie.

That's a great segue into Wolf Creek 2. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the sequel and I was completely blown away.

Oh thanks!

The thing that really struck me is the look of the movie. In places it feels like an arthouse movie. It's spectacular.

Well I come from a fine arts background. I was a painter for six years so my films tend to be very visual and designed. I tend to storyboard everything and I do a lot of concept art. I kind of see the whole filmmaking process as basically a giant painting with sound and music so it's interesting you say that.

I don't approach them like a horror film. I approach it like I'm making a story about a true thing but it just happens to be a horror story but it should work on various different levels.

And it totally does. I was curious about the look of the movie because it has gorgeous scenery. Did you have the look of the movie in place before you started filming - I noticed you were working with a new cinematographer with Toby Oliver - I'm wondering what he brought to the table.

Essentially I have an idea about the cinematic look of the film, the visual language of the film, and then we talk about why it should look that particular way and then we'll reference lots of other films and you'll see references to other kinds of movies in the film.

It develops as a concept really. We really think about how to make different scenes have different atmospheres, qualities or elements to them. It's a long conversation that goes on about how to achieve that technically and then you have to schedule it to shoot it and make sure that you have the right time of day so that the lighting is right... it's heavily designed right to the last second so that you can achieve the image you want. It's a big design job.

Why you decided to go back to Wolf Creek now, so many years after the original. Was a sequel always the intent or did something happen to spur you on?

We've been toying around with the idea for a number of years. We had a script bouncing around six years ago. The script was good but it wasn't amazing and I think I was kind of held back by the idea... I kind of knew deep down at that point that the script wasn't really there so we kind of had it in soft development rolling around a little bit. I think it was probably my subconscious stopping it from going because I knew we didn't have a great script and that it was never really going to work.

So finally when the script locked to being really good, we were then able to just jump in and do it. Part of it was really just waiting for the script to be right and ensuring we had the right combination of elements before we could make it.

Is that why Aaron Sterns came on to help with the writing? Was that part of finding the magic in the script or had you guys developed this before and it was just a matter of finding the right elements?

We had the first draft of the script years ago and Aaron is a horror novelist and he'd gone through the first draft of the screen play. I think the real thing was finding the thematic center of the story and the first couple of drafts didn't actually have a very thematic point of view, it was just a relatively standard sequel. Then I had a breakthrough myself while I was working on it, about what the real thematic idea of the film should be, and once I had that point of view I then kind of realized the point the film was making. It was really great how things kind of started to fall into place.

One of the things I really love about the movie is the various tones. Sometimes it's an arthouse movie, it's most definitely a horror movie when it wants to be and it's also really funny. Is it difficult to balance all of those different elements to make sure you have the comedy just right because poorly timed comedy can derail a movie so quickly...

It's certainly a challenge to make sure everything is balanced and we spent a lot of time in the writing process and in the editorial trying to craft the right tone to make a balanced film. The editorial process is a long organic process of basically trying to pace and make sequences that work and look right. It just takes time.

It helps when you're able to control the film because it means that you can define the process because it's all about working the right way so that you can ultimately try and craft the right kind of film. It's a bit tricky but I think we did pretty well in terms of getting that balance right.

You certainly do. You've also done a lot of producing and you've produced some really amazing genre pictures. How did you become involved in producing and how do you choose the movies you involve yourself with?

Generally speaking they are first time film makers who are very very talented but who I can see really need... who are kind of in the same position I was in a number of years ago. I had all of these ideas and all of this energy and I really wanted to make something and I just needed a bit of help and support to get going and make my film. So they're all terrific directors and terrific people who people should know about so I lend them support to get the projects going and those directors are now doing huge stuff. I just like seeing talented people have a chance to show how talented they are. It's good for me and good to see other people's processes but really it's all about seeing good movies. I love good movies and I love seeing good movies get made.

I love that you're so supportive of home grown talent. I'm curious about how different the experience of 6 Miranda Drive has been because it's the first time you've worked outside Australia.

In lots of ways it is and in lots of ways it isn't. The shooting of a film is the same anywhere because you're basically just dealing with time and money and getting the material and shooting. That's always the same challenge because it's always tough. But the differences are basically the differences between the industries. The States has a massive film industry with lots of different levels of regulations and rules whereas Australia, while it’s still a really amazing place to make films; it's a little more innocent in lots of ways to the process of filmmaking. I'm having an absolute ball making this movie in the States. The crews here are amazing, the actors are incredible... it's really great making a movie over here.

Are you interested in staying in the U.S. or are you itching to get home?

Once we finish shooting we're going to edit and post produce the film in Australia because I have a great team there that I work with but other than that I really can't say. I'd be happy to go anywhere to make a movie at this point.

If you had to recommend one or two great Australian genre pictures, what would you recommend?


I would recommend Wake in Fright and I'd probably recommend Picnic at Hanging Rock. Those are my two recommendations for Australian genre masterpieces.

Do you have anything else you're working on at the moment or are you strictly focused on 6 Miranda Drive?

I'm really just focusing on making this film at the moment and we'll see what happens after that. I haven't directed for a couple of years so I'm very keen to keep on going and I'm having a great time directing at the moment.

Thank you again for taking the time from your busy shooting scheduling to speak with me. Congratulations on Wolf Creek 2 and all the best with 6 Miranda Drive. It certainly sounds awesome.

It's looking pretty great. Thank you very much.

Wolf Creek 2 is now available VOD and opens in select theatres in the U.S. on Friday, May 16.



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