Meet the four Stewart brothers who are currently producing a movie called The Hoarders. Keaton explains how he and three of his siblings are all enjoying the art of film making.
Tell us about your childhood.
Growing up on the land in Inverell, my brothers Gerwood, Brylan, Taphyl and I spent most of our childhood playing outdoors, creating our own adventures. We didn’t have a television until our family moved to Armidale in the early ‘90s, when we were between the ages of 7 and 12. It wasn’t until then that the love affair of creating stories began. We actually had an interest in ‘Westerns’, and most times after watching them at our Gran’s house, we would spend the next day out from dusk to dawn with our horses recreating moments from the film. We all went to Armidale High School.
How did all four brothers become involved in filmmaking?
We had early contact with a VHS camera and enjoyed recording ‘David Attenborough’ style docos a lot of the time. It really all began for all four of us, however, when Stephen Dobson ACS, a cinematographer (renowned for his work on Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge), came to town and started the Armidale Film & Television School through TAFE New England. We all attended at some stage or another and graduated with a Diploma of Screen & Media.
It was a lot of fun learning the many aspects of film, creating short films for almost every category you can think of and working with other students on various projects involving local community groups. We met and filmed a lot of many talented individuals and groups, including musicians and actors – and we haven’t looked back!
Describe the story line to ‘The Hoarders’ film you are currently producing …
The Hoarders plays out as two inseparable friends, Bogart and Griffin, who lose the key to open a box that contains a gift for their friend Lily and in the frantic search that ensues, they come to realise that the manner of giving is more important than the gift itself.
We hear that it will be very artistic?
It is certainly creative. The ‘Hoarders’ are actually goblin like creatures created by using prosthetics, which is a foam or similar that is sculpted, then cast to form a mask, like those of the goblins, orcs, and elves from the Lord of the Rings film. As a genre, our film is a fantasy along the lines of films such as Labyrinth, Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland and at its core has a sense of fun and adventure.
The set, which has taken months to create, is Bogart and Griffins’ home, and it resembles a cavern under a gigantic tree. It is filled with … “chairs, cupboards and a table but piled high in every available space is stuff; you name it – it’s there: newspapers, aprons, rubber duckies, rats, worms, toys etc. and sticking through the roof are scores of roots dangling down like huge arms … “ (from The Hoarders script)
What are your individual roles in the making of ‘The Hoarders’?
Gerwood is a producer and steady voice when it all gets quite frantic and a little out of control, which often happens on such an ambitious project.
I (Keaton) have written the script, and I’m also directing the film.
Brylan is the concept and SFX make-up artist.
Taphyl is the lead on the set construction and has played a major role in its design.
Will you be filming locally?
We are shooting for five days, which is about two days longer than normal short film shoots. The exteriors for the film will be shot in Dorrigo, both in the National Park and adjoining farmland. The remainder of the shoot is in a shed located in the backyard of our home in Armidale, where we have built the amazing and beautiful set representing the hole under a gigantic tree.
Who is funding the film?
The film is self-funded, with support coming from local businesses in the form of discounted or free products and services. These include Armidale Building Supplies, The Community Mutual Group, Universal Fire & Safety Pty. Ltd, Armidale Wholesale Fruit Market, Hubbards Party Hire, and hopefully a few more will come on board in the next week or two.
At the same time, we have, over the past few years, expanded our contacts within the film and television industry – allowing us to pull together an experienced crew who will work for peanuts (if they are lucky). But nevertheless, we are so fortunate to have such a fantastic crew of willing workers, and it is largely because of each and every one of them that this project has come together so well.
They have tirelessly added many hours, days, weeks and months of effort, with some having worked closely with us on it for almost a year.
Are you needing local support?
Yes, always. It is truly the nature of short film, particularly one as ambitious as this one, that you have support from those around you. We made the decision to make the film in Armidale for this very reason. Having grown up in the region, we find that the majority of people are willing to help and give – and with no hidden agendas. The support we have been receiving has been truly amazing so far, and we are very extremely grateful to every single person.
When will the film hit our screens?
The Hoarders will have its premiere in Armidale in early 2012, before heading off to film festivals around the world.