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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 October 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 OCTOBER 2017 19 FEATURE become integral to the fabric of the film and if you're lucky and open you can capture some real gold. This is your second project exploring the relationship between a father and son. Why does this subject interest you so much that after Father's Day you choose to explore it further? Jason: The family is a source of so many emotional stakes, so for me exploring the nature of fathers and sons is a natural extension of my fascination [with] the emotional ties that bind families together or rip them apart. I was also interested in what constitutes notions of masculinity in today's world. "West of Sunshine is a metaphor for Jim's life. It's a place where the sun never sets, the place in your mind where family is, where love is, where hope and the future resides". This is how you describe your film and it is a description that assigns an optimistic sentiment to the story. The story itself though is about a relationship that is marred by frustration, loss of trust, disillusionment, and addiction. How does optimism manage to come out of such bleak realities? Jason: Part of the narrative at the beginning of the film is about this character not knowing where to put his attention, he has yet to find that ‘place’. It's a notion or a fantasy of where happiness might be, the story of the film is how he finds insight into his past trauma to realise that happiness or contentment could be right in front of him. How does your Greek heritage inform and/ or influence your work and your perspective towards storytelling and filmmaking? Jason: One of the first books ever given to me was a children's version of ancient Greek mythology called Gods, Men & Monsters. I still have that book on my shelf and it completely captured my imagination. I read that book over and over and when I went to Greece for the first time as a nine-year-old, I knew immediately that I was connected to that place. It was on that holiday that I shot my first images through an 8mm camera that my dad had given me. I still have that footage. Do you find it easier or harder to work with other Greek Australians? Jason: As well as my producing partner Alexi and Tony there was also Arthur Angel, Peter Stefanou, Eva Seymour, Ari Mandylaris, and other actors, non-actors and crew with Greek heritage involved in the film, and they were all incredibly generous and fantastic to work with. Alexandros: It makes it all easier rather than difficult. I think we have similar points of reference, similar values. A lot of our parents are working immigrants and I hope that their values have translated to the children and grandchildren of the immigrants. Overall I've always found it to be a rewarding experience. Why did you choose to put your money into West of Sunshine? Alexandros: Jason and I met a few years back at the screening of Father's Day and in 2015 we made a decision that we wanted to work together so we put the wheels in motion to do that. We wanted to make a larger scale production and we were working on some scripts. We essentially got bored of writing all the time and we thought ‘let's go make something!’. We thought his short film Father's Day was a great concept for a feature film as a starting point and basically we just went from there. Also there are two things that play a major role in my decision. The story has to move me on some sort of emotional level because I need to be comfortable when the audience are sitting in a cinema, they are going to be just as moved as I am reading the script and hopefully more so. The second one is certainly the director that I am working with. That's a huge factor in my decisionmaking. I need to be fully confident that the director is able to deliver on their promise, to execute their vision. So I do believe in working with pragmatic directors. I think making a film is like going to a war, you know you are out there working every day with 4050 people and sometimes in tough conditions so you need to be confident that the person you are working with is able to lead that team. (L-R) Alexandros and Jason at the Venice International Film Festival.
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