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Is it just stored, or is it hidden? That’s the central question that propels Michael Craft’s debut feature, Storage, a mystery thriller with echoes of the Coen brothers, Hitchcock, Melville et al, as he explains to Andrew L. Urban.

Storage facilities have hundreds of rooms and each one stores an accumulation of possessions, perhaps reflecting the personalities of the respective clients. But are the items really just stored – or are some actually being hidden? Queensland filmmaker Michael Craft decided that this would be an interesting angle to explore for a genre film. “One of the central conceits of the movie is that it is possible to make certain judgements about a persons’ personality or character by what they keep in a storage room. We asked ourselves what would happen if someone had access to these rooms and found evidence of a terrible crime?

“What course of action would they follow to ensure this person was brought to justice? And what happens when the information on which they’ve based their actions turns out to be wrong or misconstrued?”

"appearances can be deceiving – and deadly"

In Storage, 17-year-old Jimmy (Matt Scully) goes to live with his Uncle Leonard (Damien Garvey), an ex SAS officer, who runs a below-ground storage facility in the city, where Zia (Saskia Burmeister) works as receptionist. While exploring the maze of corridors, Jimmy comes across a deeply disturbed man, Francis (Robert Mammone), who seems to be storing evidence of a crime in his storage unit. Jimmy and Leonard are shocked to discover, in a red drum barrel at the back of the unit, evidence that suggests Francis is a murderer. But appearances can be deceiving – and deadly – as Jimmy and Zia discover. The film had its world premiere at the exclusively Australian showcase, the Dungog Film Festival, in May 2009 and was also screened in the Shock Corridor at Brisbane (July 2009).

Storage also delves into the lengths people will go to achieve justice or express their own grief. Not surprisingly the first-time writer/producer/director loves thrillers. “I am a big fan of directors like Hitchcock, Polanski and French director Jean-Pierre Melville, who made a bunch of gangster films in France in the 50s and 60s.” Integral to Craft’s idea for Storage is that he wanted to create a suspenseful, edge of your seat movie. “I love the Coen Brothers’ thrillers as well; Blood Simple is a big reference point in terms of the tone and the feel of the movie. The Coens are very good at creating idiosyncratic characters and at mixing hard as nails suspense with moments of levity.”

Craft had always hoped to make a expensive looking movie with a relatively small budget and one of the biggest challenges was how to create a storage facility that gave the impression that they were in a maze of corridors, without actually building the whole thing. “We were very lucky to have Michelle Sotheren on board as our production designer and Chris Cox as our art director, two incredibly talented and resourceful people, who were able to create what seemed like a massive facility out of only a few corridors,” says Craft.

“We were also lucky enough to work with some very talented actors on this film. Matt Scully is a relative newcomer, with some small roles on H20 and the starter wife, and he was able to make the character of Jimmy engaging and sympathetic. Damien Garvey, who plays Jimmy’s uncle Leonard, is an amazing actor, and was able to cover the breadth of what was quite a difficult character to play, from a benevolent and loving uncle, to someone who makes some bad decisions and becomes quite threatening.

"a gripping, psychological thriller"

“Robert Mammone and Saskia Burmeister are both well known Australian actors from their work on TV and in film and both brought a great deal of complexity and depth to their roles. Our intention was always for Storage to be a gripping, psychological thriller focused on the relationships within the storage facility and how these characters make mistakes and having such great performances hopefully makes that story very compelling.”

Published August 13, 2009


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