The culture of mateship among teenage boys is not always a
positive force, as the new Australian drama, Blackrock, suggests.
Andrew L. Urban spoke to the filmmakers of this powerful and
"A lethal mix of sexuality, drugs, alcohol and freedom is
what youth in the developed world have to contend with today,
"and this film is about something that is happening in our
society to ordinary kids, not the no-hopers," says producer
David Elfick on the Sydney set of Blackrock.
Adapted by Nick Enright (Lorenzo’s Oil) from his powerful
stage play, Blackrock germinated in fact: a teenage girl was
raped and murdered at the tail end of a beachside party in an
industrial town just north of Sydney. It was not a premeditated
crime, nor was the perpetrator a ‘bad boy’. Others at
the party knew something of what was going on: some came forward,
some stayed silent.
doesn’t preach: it raises questions the audience must
consider and talk about." Producer David Elfick
They were caught between the rock of loyalty and the hard
place of morality.
The subject is "very relevant and contemporary, and I
believe the film is a mainstream, multiplex movie," says
Elfick. "This film doesn’t preach: it raises questions
the audience must consider and talk about."
"A big mistake often
made in making a reality based film is to make it look like a
cruddy documentary," Director Steve Vidler
First time director Steve Vidler says "The central moral
question is the choice facing a 17 year old boy between loyalty
to his friends and the larger issue." To make his point,
Vidler is emphasising young male bonding in the context of the
group of friends, allowing the audience to identify with all the
characters, and to understand that bond in the context of the
At the same time, Vidler’s approach is cinematic. "A
big mistake often made in making a reality based film is to make
it look like a cruddy documentary," he says. "But if
you’re doing something emotionally challenging, you have to
do everything you can to keep the audience ‘in
"What impressed David
and Steve," says Enright, "is the way the play
involved the audience without being judgemental." Writer Nick Enright
He says the film is in the style of "cinematic realism.
We’re using whatever we can to heighten the emotion and the
Even though the film’s budget is "modest",
Elfick says he "fought hard to raise the money. I had to
convince the Film Finance Corporation that it was viable, but
that’s reasonable. We started with a reasonable deal but
they asked me to improve it - and we did."
Nick Enright, who has taught Vidler at NIDA, developed the
script with cinema in mind, opening up the party scenes and
making the role of the mother more substantial. Her own emotinal
crisis, which takes place parallel to the drama, is a poignant
underscore to the main theme. "What impressed David and
Steve," says Enright, "is the way the play involved the
audience without being judgemental. Steve always discussed the
theme as how a boy becomes a man - his choices would dictate what
sort of man."