“I left the screening irrevocably changed. I got outside and asked my friend why nobody had made a film like it in Melbourne, where characters just talk and act like normal people. So a few years later I decided to do just that.”
Play It Safe, the debut feature film from award-winning Melbourne filmmaker Chris Pahlow, is set to have a global online release on 17 March via Vimeo on Demand.
Following five years of development and a critically acclaimed independent cinema run in September 2015, independent film and music lovers worldwide can now stream Play It Safe from the comfort of their lounge rooms and laptops.
Chris Pahlow is an acclaimed indie director who has spent ten years creating music videos and short films. With a cast including Nicholas Kato (Gallipoli, The Fear), Clayton Jacobson (Kenny, Animal Kingdom), Maya Aleksandra (Neighbours, Winners and Losers, Wilfred) and hip hop MC Mantra, the film’s soundtrack provides an eclectic guide to Melbourne’s music scene.
Play It Safe follows the journey of Jamie (Nicholas Kato), a 26-year-old musician who is out of work and down on his luck. After his band breaks up, Jamie’s left with no music, no career and no girlfriend. Stuck teaching piano at a soul-destroying music school, Jamie must decide whether to take a risk and follow his dreams, or surrender to his unhappiness and play it safe.
Chris’ inspiration for the film came when he watched Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation back in 2006, saying “I left the screening irrevocably changed. I got outside and asked my friend why nobody had made a film like it in Melbourne, where characters just talk and act like normal people. So a few years later I decided to do just that.”
The film was created paying careful attention to the maintenance of authenticity and capturing real moments. A restrained use of cinematic devices, the careful selection of music, and the unusual decision to present the film in black and white has enabled Chris to capture an authentic look at the life, awkwardness, anxiety and humour that is commonplace in the lives of twentysomethings everywhere.
The insightful film explores a generation caught between endless opportunity and the pressures of conformity. It comes from the experiences of the filmmaker and young people everywhere, who must figure out how to pursue their passions and dreams they feel they deserve, while balancing the realities and responsibilities that come with adulthood.
Chris wanted Play It Safe to pay respect to Melbourne’s music scene and hard-working musicians, which are an essential element of the film. The soundtrack features music from over twenty Melbourne acts, ranging in genres from indie rock and pop, hip hop, house, electronica and contemporary jazz.
“The most positive reaction I’ve received is from real Melbourne musicians, who said how real it was to them and how accurately it reflected their lives. Some got quite emotional, one female musician actually cried when she saw the trailer,” says Chris.
Australian film characteristically relies on government and arts funding, and frequently follows similar themes. Play It Safe is unconventional in both its subject matter and production style, with the film being entirely crowd-sourced from conception to post-production, involving over 100 members of the indie film and music community in Melbourne.