It’s been a week already since we launched our new feature, Sunday Shorts to overwhelming support from new and regular readers of Cinema Australia.
In Sunday Shorts #2 we take a look at writer/director Roderick MacKay’s epic Western Australian short FACTORY293.
In a remote part of Stalin’s war-torn Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic, Grigor, Manager of munitions FACTORY-293, faces the realities of his existence. Despite the infatuation of his female factory workforce, he is drawn to increasingly melancholic thoughts; Stalin has abandoned him. With a howling blizzard outside, the factory’s power is suddenly cut, interrupting Grigor’s intent to take decisive action. In a flurry to restore the power before the inspectors arrive, Grigor directs two of his female machinists into the raging blizzard to investigate.
Staring Myles Pollard, Lizzie Schebesta, Ben O’Toole, Nicola Bartlett and Christie Sistrunk.
Written and directed by Roderick MacKay
Produced by Justin McArdle and Roderick MacKay
Executive Producer Kurt Mauritz
Cinematography by Andrew Gordon
Typically, films made in Western Australia are set in Western Australia. Then there’s FACTORY 293, set in a Russian snow-swept munitions factory. Filmed at the Midland Railway Workshops, the story begins when a fierce blizzard cuts the factory’s power, prompting factory manager, Grigori, to send two of his female machinists into the cold to investigate.
Written and directed by Roderick MacKay and made by an entirely local crew, the story’s frosty setting was brought to life entirely in sunny Western Australia via strategic location scouting and production design, married with extensive CGI. Roderick along with producer, Justin McArdle, and co-producer, Michael Searle, designed the project to demonstrate to their local industry how in this digital day and age, physical geography should not limit the sort of stories emergent filmmakers can tell. “As an Australian filmmaker I can genuinely say I love Australian stories, but variety is the spice of life. So we wanted to broaden our narrative pallet and try telling global stories for the world. Thus, why not Russia?” said Roderick.
Staring Myles Pollard (Drift, Wolverine Origins, McCloud’s Daughters) Lizzie Schebesta (Underbelly Razor, Sleeping Beauty) Ben O’Toole (Love Child, The Water Diviner), Nicola Bartlett (Little Sparrows) and Christie Sistrunk (Lockie Leonard) the 26 minute film focuses on a day in the lives of a ragtag group of women munitions machinists and their despondent factory manager, Grigori (Pollard).
The story explores how when people are forced to function like machines and ‘fall in line’ for a perceived greater good, malfunctions occur.
Roderick MacKay – Writer, Director, Producer, Editor
Trained in visual arts and graphic design, Roderick’s passion for filmmaking stems from its capacity to unify so many mediums for the common cause of telling stories and transporting audiences into immersive worlds.
His first short film, ‘TRIGGER’ co-directed with Dave Stephens, was set in 1970’s southern Italy, but filmed entirely in Perth, Western Australia. The project drew on extensive digital visual effects, strategic location scouting and production design to bring the story’s exotic world to life. TRIGGER was released online in 2011 and has received millions of international plays, gaining 1.3 million plays on Vimeo alone where it was also selected for Vimeo ‘Staff Picks’ and ‘Short of the Week’.
Set in 1940’s blizzard-swept Russia, FACTORY293 represents a natural but significant progression of the skills bases he and his production team first built on TRIGGER. As a passionate advocate for the Western Australia screen industry, Roderick is driven to demonstrate that physical geography should not limit the kinds of stories emergent filmmakers choose to tell and that the raw creative talent and technical skills to tell stories set in anytime or place for global audiences are within Western Australia.
“As a 2nd generation Australian, I wanted to interrogate what constitutes the notion of an ‘Australian’ story? As a young country built on immigration, I believe the real answer is as diverse as the population of the nation. For example, it is a quantifiable truth that if it were not for Hitler or Stalin, I simply wouldn’t exist – now allow me to explain before anyone frowns upon such a loaded comment! If it were not for WWII, my Grandfather would never have fled Poland and never have met my Grandmother in Scotland. They would have never moved to Australia.
My Mother would never have been born. She would have never met my Father. I would never have been born. This film would never have been made. This story would never have been told… Now can you imagine how many similar instances there are like this across Australia, or any other nation built on immigration?
It really is a small world and perhaps all our stories are far more connected than we realise at first glance.”
Myles Pollard – Highlights from the shoot
“FACTORY293 was an incredible experience with and incredible team. It was one of the most complete cinema experiences of my career so far. Roderick and his team are one of the classiest, creative and professional teams I have ever worked with. Loved every minute of it!”
FACTORY293 will be released online along with a suite of Behind The Scenes content in 2014 after a short festival run. Visit http://www.factory293.com.