It’s Christmas, 1999. In the quaint inner ‘burbs of Melbourne, a career crazed journalist is confronted with writing his first exposé on the suspicious disappearance of a local mother-turned-infamous socialite. When his own dark family secret threatens to upturn his career, ambition drives him to get the scoop, no matter the cost.
By Tierney Seccull
The big screen at Deckchair Cinema lights up this month with Slant, the highly anticipated debut feature film by Naarm/Melbourne-based director, James Vinson. With a script penned by Michael Nikou, who also stars as the central character, this darkly comic thriller features a formidable Australian cast including Sigrid Thornton and Pia Miranda. Not bad for Vinson and Nikou’s first feature-length collab.
“It feels great! And it feels great because I think [the actors] had a good experience,” Vinson says.
“It was a big goal of Michael’s to make an ensemble piece where every actor got a lot to chew on. We wanted to make sure every actor earned their keep, and I like to think that that’s why the script was appealing to them.”
Thornton says she was drawn to the project for a range of reasons, but that the combo of director and writer was a big drawcard.
“It’s a testament to James’ persuasiveness and his talent, and Michael’s – Michael has written a very unusual first feature film script – and being a first feature for … many of the key participants, well they’re a class act is all I can say,” she says.
“There’s a lot of meat in the roles, that’s true, and I think that’s an attraction to any actor. But the whole story has to hang together … It’s not just about the roles – it’s about the director, the writer, the producers, the production and costume designers – all of those components come together to make the whole.
“In the case of Slant, the thing that was quite unusual was that … they really were a first-class outfit for what is actually a very small film. And when I say small film, it doesn’t have small ambitions!”
The film itself was made on a low budget, and the creative team had to call in favours from their friends, albeit a very talented group of friends. With a bond forged in drama school, this feature-length debut combo of writer and director is a nod to the films that have inspired them over the years, but with undeniable Australian flavour.
“Slant is a culmination of all of the daydreams I’ve had since I was seven-years-old, you know, growing up with the films of the 90s that shaped me – films like The Matrix or Tim Burton’s Batman, and then American Beauty – these films leave such a lasting impression on someone of my generation,” Vinson says.
“But there is very quintessential Australiana, because even though I’m inspired by American films, it was important to capture the oddness of Australia and not just the international idea of it … Audiences can expect to laugh, to gasp, and hopefully see their own culture on display in a very theatrical and silly kind of way.”
The film screens three times at the Deckie this month, and if you’re keen to hear from the creative team behind it, stick around after the NT premiere screening for a special Q&A with Vinson, who is joined by Thornton and Nikou, as well as producer Monique Fisher.
“I’m so looking forward to coming to Darwin, and the Deckchair Cinema … And there’s an element of nervousness as well, I really want all Australians to connect with this. I’m hoping they can. I’m really excited for Darwin audiences to see Slant, and really genuinely keen to know what they think,” Vinson says.
Likewise, Thornton is champing at the bit to return to the Top End.
“I can’t wait … I’ve said this before, I think Deckchair Cinema has got to be one of the top five cinemas in the world, it’s certainly the most extraordinary cinema I’ve ever seen! I think it’s a wonderful place for Slant to be airing and I’m really looking forward to coming back to Darwin.”
Head along to this special premiere event, and join SLANT’s stars under the stars, at the beautiful iconic Deckchair Cinema.
Slant NT Premiere with Special Guests
WHEN SAT 5 AUG | 7PM
Thumbnail & Header: Photos: Charles Alexander
Inset: James Vinson