“I think there’s a definite international appeal to the outback and to areas that people don’t normally see in their own countries or on their own screens. You have this incredible history of films that focus on the outback, and those rural Australian landscapes have their own genre and history.”

Australian actress and sketch comedy artist, Sarah Bishop, sat down with FilmInk to discuss her new thriller, Crushed. Directed by Megan Riakos, Crushed is a whodunit that makes excellent use of its locales, and was shot almost entirely in rural Australia, an increasingly popular option for filmmakers, with decidedly non-urban Aussie dramas like The DaughterStrangerland, and Last Cab To Darwin all premiering in 2015. “We had this incredible location which was a vineyard,” explains Bishop. “The traditional option when you’re offered a vineyard is to do something like a romantic comedy, but Megan was really interested in making a more traditional thriller and mystery, and this whole crushing-of-the-grapes process is actually quite violent. There’s a montage in the film where you see the process of these grapes being picked and crushed, and there’s something about that which really matched the tone of the film that she was trying to make.”

Crushed chronicles Ellia’s (Bishop) return to her home town after the violent death of her father. Reunited with her family after several years in the city, details of her father’s demise and her family’s fraught relationships – strained by the management of their large property and wine business – slowly begin to reveal themselves. “Any audience member that goes in to see Crushed who has seen something like Picnic At Hanging Rock or Wolf Creek will bring that knowledge of those landscapes and those films into the viewing of Crushed. That’s only going to heighten the suspense for them, as they’re already aware that this landscape can have that eerie kind of feel. The vineyards are very isolated, and they can be quite lonely as well. Often we would drive past these vineyards, and there would be maybe one or two people working on these huge properties by themselves. That sort of setting is perfect for a mystery thriller.”

As with Last Cab To Darwin, the production crew went on the road to make Crushed, which will roll out in screenings across Australia in the coming week. “People have really enjoyed it,” Bishop says of the film, which has played at international film festivals including The Montreal World Film Festival, The Miami International Film Festival, and The Napa Valley Film Festival. “People have been surprised at the scope of the film, because it’s a low budget, independent film that was self-financed, and then also crowdfunded through a Kickstarter campaign. One of my favourite parts of working on Crushed was that we all got to live out in Mudgee together, and it was like a big school camp. We would film during the day, and then go back to the accommodation, where we would eat dinner together, and then go over the scenes for the next day. It was a great way for everybody to bond over the film…the more and more that we got to know each other, the more we became invested in the project.”

Crushed will receive its Sydney premiere at Randwick’s The Ritz Cinema on March 15, before it screens nationally on demand via

Glen Falkenstein on FilmInk

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