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Vincent Giarrusso makes his feature directing debut with a story about a tough subject - kids on the street; without pushing any of the easy buttons, he tells Andrew L. Urban.

Influenced by Ken Loach's 'respectful filmmaking' style, guided by talented Australian directors like Ana Kokinos, Rowan Woods and Fred Schepisi, Vincent Giarrusso's directorial debut, Mallboy, reaches the screen with an impeccable pedigree. Giarrusso, a musician (he composed some of the music) spent time with the directors in mentor relationships to get a crash course in filmmaking, under the guidance of producer Fiona Eagger.

" triggered by personal experience"

The script started out as a long poem with cinematic imagery, triggered by personal experience as a youth worker, where Giarrusso discovered the frustrations of seeing some kids who needed help but no intervention by the system would have much positive impact. Shaun, the central character of Mallboy, is based on one of the kids he met "who had huge potential but ended up following in his father's footsteps into petty crime and drug addiction. Shaun represents a more optimistic view of how such a kid might end up," says the director.

"I wanted to make a film about a 15 year old that was complex, that didn't push the easy buttons, that wasn't undermining and that didn't just view a 15 year old as some moronic consumer product," sasy Giarrusso. "I wanted it to have psychological depth. Shaun is on the cusp between being a boy and being an adult. He can make a choice…." And by sticking to that choice, Shaun finally starts to straighten out his chaotic life.

"On the surface," says Eagger, "Mallboy is a simple story, just three days in this boy's life, but in those three days you're introduced toa world that is incredibly complex and fragile. What appealed to me about the script is that it is not patronising to its characters. It's compassionate, funny but not sentimental. There are moments of real laughter and moments that are absolutely devastating."


The six lead youngsters were cast from Melbourne's pool of young actors: "Largely due to the amount of children's television being produced in Melbourne, the calibre of the young actors was outstanding," says Eagger.

Intensive work in preproduction paid off during the shoot, says Giarrusso. He collaborated closely with DP Brendan Lavelle, the first AD, the editor and the script supervisor in developing a shot list and storyboards to ensure that his intention for each scene was clear. "We wanted the camera subconsciously to reflect that these weren't characters you laughed at and put in a box from a middle class point of view," says Lavelle. "Rather, you are led gently into their stories and they have a status within the story, their own worth within their own world and that's how they saw their lives, too."

Published January 25, 2001

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Selected for Directors Fortnight, Cannes 2000


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