I’m sure there are many filmmakers like me who cant watch their own work back more than once. Who see the final result and feel it best to move on and start a new project ASAP. Its easy to just walk away ashamed, defeated and self deprecating to the point of existential despair, then pick up a pen or flick open a mac-book pro and write about that despair like its the only thing that may fix it.
How many short films can there be about existential despair and does this feeling end when the big bux roll in? When the script is over one hundred pages long does this despair work itself out into something greater? Well I hope so, because once again I’m making a short film, once again I’m spending all my hard earn’t money as a part time pizza guy on a nihilistic, self reflexive, pondering-wandering picture that probably no one will ever see.
Wait, shouldn’t I be talking this thing up now?
My name is Lucas Stanton and after ten years of making/studying film I’m ready to be proud of something I’ve created. This short film is called Last Day on Earth, written by my close friend and roommate Reilly Johnson, about himself for himself to be in. Sounds crazy right? Well that’s the name of the game! Actually the name of the game is ‘realism’ and that’s what drew me to Johnson’s script as a director. But, at thirty pages plus, the script needed some serious work. The first thing I said to Johnson was “if you cant put a staple through it, its not a short film.” So we got to work.
During my film theory studies at Sydney University I was drawn to the Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin and how honest his films felt. I love the way he allows the geography of city to shape a narrative and its characters especially in films like Soul Kitchen (2009) and Head On (2004). This, I see, is a return to traditional social realism from the 30’s, much like the recent Florida Project (2017).
As an Australian living in the beautiful city of Sydney I want to see drama about where I live. As a filmmaker I want to showcase its streets, suburbs and the kind of people who call this place home – for better or for worse. What I saw in Johnson’s script was a chance to shape it into a story depicting a dichotomy between the city (Sydney) and the country (Rural N.S.W).
Set in 2011, the film is about a guy (the most cliche way to begin to describe a film ever by the way) who has come to the city from the country to either stay and make a new life for himself, or move back and pick up where he left off. His name is Tone, who has just broken up with his girlfriend, Esther, because they did not see eye to eye when it came to the existence of god; him an atheist and her a Christian.
After being told that the world will end the next day by an evangelical sign waver at Circular Quay (Sydney’s most popular tourist destination) he starts to reflect on the past in a darkly lit hotel room – talk about despair right! An intimate flashback sequence shows how their disagreements about the existence of god were always solved through the love they had for each others own existence. Despite this, it still drives them apart. So, should he go back to the love he longs for? OR just move on and start a new life? OR does the world in fact end?
Essentially, Johnson had just experienced a breakup (back in 2011) and felt the need to reflect on his own despair regarding the reasons why the relationship didn’t work and the relentless feeling of missing love. I was overwhelmed with how personal it felt and was impressed by how he had held onto this piece of writing for so many years. Some may consider this to be obsessive, that people should learn to move on… and they wouldn’t be wrong.
I feel by making this film as true to its source as possible I could help my friend in his own life let go of the past. At the same time get to delve into a filmmaking style I have a particular interest in. I really feel that is a part of what film realism is all about; using real people to help those people (or people like them) face the problems the film is covering. Last Day on Earth will be shot in Johnson’s home town (Cowra N.S.W) where the breakup took place using real locations such as the local church and employing real locals as extras.
People may watch this film and think that its protagonist is just some privileged white middle class male who’s mediocre problems pale in comparison to real world problems… again, they wouldn’t be wrong, but I hope people understand what the film says without using words. Mainly, at least to me, Its about irrationality, the metaphysical and mostly distance, be it geographical or ideological.
Last Day on Earth gets its title from the Marilyn Manson song Last Day on Earth. Funded entirely by Reilly Johnson and Lucas Stanton. Starring Reilly Johnson as Tone, Belinda Mckenzie as Esther and controversial Australian comedian Shayne Hunter as the evangelical sign waver of doom that sets the film in motion. Soundtrack by The Grinning Bellhops. Shooting takes place mid April and we hope, like all independent artists, that its worth all the hype. To follow our production add @lastdayonearthfilm on Instagram or to watch any of my (Lucas Stanton) previous vids go to https://www.youtube.com/
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