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VIFF 2015 Interview: INJURY TIME director Jack Sheridan

by Jason Whyte

"INJURY TIME is a real-time thriller that captures a soccer manager's battle to win the game of his life in the dying minutes of a live match. The twist is we never actually see the off-screen match. And it is all filmed in one continuous shot." Director Jack Sheridan on INJURY TIME which screens at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

So was this your first movie in VIFF?

It IS my first VIFF film but I couldn't make the festival. I'm devastated I couldn't make it over from Australia to be a part of this amazing festival. It was to hear our screenings went down really well though, with full houses and people laughing in all the right places! It'd be great to be able to come back with my next project, a feature, and really soak up the experience at Vancouver.

Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got to this point!

I'm a half-Japanese Aussie with a background working in the commercials and music video scene. I started out studying theatre and film in Australia and in the US. After working in camera department on various features and TV shows I was lucky enough to win a large award from the South Australian Film Corporation, the Filmmaker of the Future Prize of $50,000, which validated my work and gave me the confidence to pursue my ambitions as a drama director.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

This was a long process in the making. Or rather, the process of getting to the making! We actually raised the money to make this project a few years ago, but it took a long time for the separate elements of cast, crew and location to line up.

The most crucial element of course, was the cast, namely Aussie star David Field. He's a bit of an icon over here, having started out as the lead in John Hillcoat's unforgettable debut film GHOSTS...OF THE CIVIL DEAD, and having appeared over the years stealing scenes in classic films like CHOPPER and TWO HAND. He's just a legend with the kind of character full face you just want to point a camera at and keep rolling on! Anyway, he is a busy actor so we had to work around his bigger commitments obviously.

But then, it being a one-shot/one-take concept, we also needed a specific location that fit with the exact beats of the story. It could not be a fake set either. Of course, real football stadiums aren't just sitting around empty all the time. So we had to schedule the shoot when there weren't any matches or training, which is tricky in Australia. Everyone seems to be playing sport 24/7 over here. Though I hear Canada is pretty sports crazy too.

The last crucial element was the key crew. I had worked with the DoP Ernie Clark briefly in the past, directing second unit on a feature (HEY, HEY, IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER starring Toni Collette) and have been a fan ever since. He's a feature and commercials director in his own right, and a real artist. And again, a really busy filmmaker. So yes, it took some time for the stars to align, but I'm glad we had the patience, and the fight, to get all the right elements together on this one.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you? How much coffee?

I do like my coffee, but I don't actually need any when I'm making a film. I just get that adrenaline rush because it's such a privilege to be out working with actors and the team, creating magic. Sounds cheesy, but I know every filmmaker feels the same way. I confess I might hit the caffeine in the cutting room, but again, it's so exciting to see all that hard work finally coming together in the edit. I think it's keeping yourself going between projects that is the tricky bit. But I'm sustained with drive to be back in the midst of it making the next one.

So with the single-take concept (which also happened with the feature VICTORIA at VIFF this year, which was my favorite film of the fest), what was your biggest challenge with making it?

This is a high concept film, a kind of pure cinema, in that it's all filmed in one continuously moving shot. So that comes with all the challenges you would expect. We knew we would only get a few takes at most to nail the whole story. So we really prepared the shit out of it before rolling any cameras! I approached the blocking like you would directing theatre. Still, with the drawn out pre-production stage on this, as mentioned, I had been preparing my plan of attack, with the aid of Ernie, for quite some time. I felt like I knew exactly what was required once we came to shoot it. And Fieldsy is so experienced, he was a real help.

In fact, getting all the extras to turn up, and then stick around all freezing night, to be the cheering/booing crowd in the background was probably more of a challenge!

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

Funnily enough, it wasn't when I was shooting the epic one-shot, but when we came to film the brief epilogue scene where I had that moment. In keeping with the main sequence shot, the epilogue was covered in one continuous track back also. But at the end of the last take, I resisted calling 'cut' for what felt like an age, and just let the camera roll on Fieldsy. Of course, he gave me that extra delightful beat which we have at the end of the film. It's my favourite moment. It gives the whole story a weight and context, which I love.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the tech side of the film and how you captured the one take.

I have been talking about the one-take aspect, but I should mention the importance of sound in this production. We kept the entirety of the action of the crucial soccer game off-screen. So we just see the manager and players, and the crowd, reacting to this unseen game being played out off camera. It made sound the final "character" in the film. So, painstakingly mixing the surround sound to give the cast's reactions that plausibility was vital. I was lucky enough to work with James Currie, the location recordist who pioneered the use of binaural sound recording in Rolf De Heer's seriously messed up and excellent movie BAD BOY BUBBY. This helped, because he was great on set, making sure I got all the right audio elements.

Robert Bresson famously said "The eye sees, but the ear imagines" and I couldn't agree more. So I would say to aspiring filmmakers don't ever forget the role sound has to play in your "motion picture".

Where is this movie going to show next? Any theatrical release?

INJURY TIME is showing next at San Diego Film Festival, then a bunch of other international festivals in the US, Korea and the UK.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

I would set David Field's character from our short, Billy 'Basher' Bourke onto them! He wouldn't stand for that kind of disrespect.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on efilmcritic.com. If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

Just keep at it! No matter what don't give up. Also, find like minded colleagues/buddies because you need that support when you doubt yourself. Sometimes it feels like you are all alone, but we are all out here bashing our heads against the same wall. One of these days that wall will collapse. So believe in yourself!

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

Hirokazu Koreeda's NOBODY KNOWS. Utterly devastating. But so utterly beautiful.

Learn more about INJURY TIME on the official site, and on Facebook and Twitter at @lanewaypictures.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 24th to October 9th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.viff.org or use the VIFF app for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=3856
originally posted: 10/15/15 02:35:06
last updated: 10/15/15 02:42:10
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