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Blurred … is the title of the movie, which also describes the way its characters see life during that crazy dead zone of time called schoolies week, when teenagers finally leave high school. Andrew L. Urban meets the filmmakers and some of the cast.

Blurred is a teen movie. An Australian teen movie set in that chaotic moment of abandon called schoolies week, when year 12 students emerge from the cocoons of their uniforms into death defying party animals. The film’s Australian producer, Chris Brown, was never a fan of teen movies. 

“Some teen movies can be so embarrassing,” says Brown, almost an echo of director Evan Clarry’s attitude to the genre: ”I don’t have much affinity with the shallow, American teen comedies…” Speaking in separate interviews, the two are evidently ‘on the same page’ as far as making Blurred is concerned. 

As the school year ends, 70,000 Year 12 kids around the country escape from school – many head for the Gold Coast, including Lynette (Veronica Sywak), Danny (Kristian Schmid), and Pete (Craig Horner) by bus; Jilian (Jess Gower), Bradley (Tony Brockman) by train; Yolanda (Petra Yared) and Amanda (Charlotte Rees) in a limo driven by Mason (Matthew Newton); Wayne (Travis Cotton) and Calvin (Mark Priestly) in a beat up Holden. Freda (Nathalie Roy) is already there, waiting for Yolanda and Amanda to turn up. Zack (Jamie Croft) is also there – somehow. All they want to do is to go wild and have a party on the Coast, before facing the unknown future of adulthood. But the getting there is just as much fun. And quite a drama. 

The cast won’t ring any bells internationally, but Clarry says it’s his biggest pleasure to have the exact cast he wanted. The youngsters come from a variety of backgrounds, some with significant screen experience (like Matt Newton) and some with very little – but all with a smattering of experience of some kind, ranging from stage and theatre to high profile acting schools. 

"truth and humour"

“Blurred has more truth and humour than most teen comedies,” says Clarry, who wasn’t “overly enthusiastic” about the script he first read. “They encouraged my input and I got more enthusiastic,” he says candidly. It took another year of drafts before Clarry felt ready to roll. “It’s a multi-narrative and some of the stories are touching and some are almost slapstick. It’s like different genres within the film but even the zany elements are based on reality through the performances.”

Jamie Croft, now 20, but playing 17 year old Zack, the youngest character; yet Croft is one of the most experienced of the cast, and is playing his first “grown up sort of role. Zack’s a fun character,” he says, “young, naïve and innocent. He’s sexually inexperienced but pretends he knows it all. There’s a little bit of me in Zack – from back when I was 17.” 

Tony Brockman echoes Croft: “I went to Byron Bay for my schoolies – and this is a chance to re-do it with more action! I know this guy (Bradley, going by train with Jillian, played by Jess Gower). I hate to say it but there’s parts of me a years ago …Naïve! Playing a flawed character like that fees you up in performance.”

It’s his first film, and it’s exhausting work. “You have to have it on tap and make it consistent with what you did two weeks ago or 10 minutes ago.”

The cast are uniformly impressed by and enjoyed working with director Evan Clarry. Says Croft: “I like that he doesn’t sit behind the video split…he actually watches us work, not on the monitor. 

"an unusual process"

The script for Blurred, by Stephen Davis and Kier Shorey, came to producer Chris Brown through an unusual process. When Brown, who likes to set up structures to make a series of projects (like he did in New Zealand a few years ago), moved to Queensland, he found something of a haven. The Pacific Film and Television Office (PFTC) “was interested in creating a local industry to grow out of the infrastructure that services foreign productions, primarily through the Warner Roadshow Studio on the Gold Coast,” says Brown. He was introduced by the PFTC to Chris Fitchett, who Brown describes as “the best script editor in the country”. 

When they sent out a call for feature scripts, they were inundated with 175. “Two of them were good…could be great,” he recalls. Two more needed work and there were two basically good ideas. We spent two and a half years in development – and now have the first one finished.” Brown is an expatriate Englishman and his company, Pictures In Paradise, is based on a two story tugboat moored at Hope Island on the Gold Coast. 

The PFTC has enabled Brown and Fitchett to form a creative base. “Chris and I want to make it like a studio - a structure so we can make two or three films a year, at a price.” To illustrate, he says, “I would not have made Lantana, for example…I would have made Reservoir Dogs. Indie…edgy…accessible.”

Brown says Evan Clarry’s short films had impressed the producers. “He made a film called Mate…it’s hysterically funny and black and is full of very good performances. It told the story very well and it was edgy, too. I liked Evan instantly – I felt he’d put a steeliness into what was a charming script. He hugely enhanced the script – plus he’s so laid back and never panics.”

Published October 31, 2002

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