“With low budget films you have to really offer people an experience to see it in the cinema – Killing Ground delivers that kind of visceral experience that really gets people talking.”
Aussie filmmaker Damien Power sat down to talk about the upcoming nationwide release of his breakout flick Killing Ground. Shot on the Georges River, NSW, the thriller premiered at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival to strong reviews, followed by sell-out screenings at other Festivals.
“It’s been incredible,” said Power. “We had our world premiere at MIFF which was great, it was really well received, we had full houses and enthusiastic midnight audiences and then we screened at a few smaller Australian Festivals ahead of the international premiere at Sundance.”
A shocker set in the Australian bush and depicted in a non-linear fashion, Killing Ground covers divergent story strands involving a couple, a family and two of the last individuals anyone wants to meet isolated and far from home.
“That (the non-linear narrative) was in the script from the very beginning and came about because of how I first conceived the project – the very kernel of the idea came to me with the image of an orange tent in the middle of nowhere,” said Power. “I don’t know where the image came from but it stayed with me and I started thinking whose tent is this, who were the people who the tent belonged to and what happened to them and that suggested a story of a family and what happened to them and I started thinking, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to them.”
“I started writing those three (strands) as different timelines that begin to converge. From a storytelling and genre point of view, usually survival thrillers are relentlessly linear. For good reason you’re sown into that character’s journey and what I hoped was that by following the different timelines the film starts as more of a mystery; who are these people, what happened here, what are the relationships between these different characters? The audience enjoys working that out.”
Featuring Harriet Dyer, Aaron Glenane and Goldstone star Aaron Pedersen, amongst others, the latter is but one half of a roundly compelling, engaging and altogether frightening duo.
“It was important to me that they not be cartoonish or boogeymen but that they actually be real characters because I find that much more frightening,” said Power. “If you establish them as real people it also makes it more difficult for the audience because they don’t quite know where they are. I think in thrillers, certainly at the beginning of thrillers, films are often driven by the antagonist and part of the pleasure of watching those kinds of films is watching the protagonist catch up; what will they find out, what’s going on – those two things led me to want to make those characters feel very real.”
“I was really conscious that I was making a film in a tradition of Australian cinema that shows white Australians’ unease in their own backyard and those films run all the way from Picnic at Hanging Rock through to Wolf Creek and beyond so I was aware that Killing Ground is part of that tradition. There’s also an element of films about characters from the city who drive out into the country and find it hostile and that they’re unable to cope so I was conscious of all those elements when putting the story together, and hopefully play with them in a way that sets up audience expectations only to challenge those.”
Screening nationally from next week, Power is looking forward to introducing Killing Ground to local audiences.
“I’m incredibly excited,” commented Power. “Coming off the back of the Sundance success and the reviews we’ve had out of that everyone’s excited to unleash it here; its screened here at a few festivals so we know audiences really get into it.”
Killing Ground is in cinemas from August 24