“Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man is my first film without any violence. Three years ago, I could never have imagined making a movie without violence.”
Dicky Tanuwidjaya’s Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man will hit Sydney’s Chauvel Cinema on July 18. Cinema Australia’s Matthew Eeles spoke with the Australian filmmaker recently to discuss his original, unique and very funny mockumentary.
Interview by Matthew Eeles
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’ve always been fascinated by cinema since I was a little kid. The excitement that you can tell a story from your point of view by creating your own universe and your own characters is something that draws me into filmmaking.
I started making short films from my late teens. After I made several shorts, I did my first feature film in 2010. Up to that point, all my works were heavily influenced by Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino. However, in the last few years, my taste has changed quite radically. Nowadays, I’m more drawn to quirky independent dramedies. Films made by Spike Jonze, Richard Linklater and John Carney inspire me.
Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man is my first film without any violence. This surprised my frequent collaborators and even myself. Three years ago, I could never have imagined making a movie without violence.
Did you always have Felino Dolloso in mind for the lead character?
For this particular one, yes. We worked well together in my first feature film, The Devil’s 6 Commandments. Aside from possessing a great talent in acting, he’s very down-to-earth and very easy to work with. There’s also a little bit of his personality in Rafael.
Tell us about some of the challenges you faced making the film on such a low budget…
This is where experience counts. I learned a lot from my first feature film, The Devil’s 6 Commandments. Due to budget constraint, my first feature film was an action/thriller shot over 19 shooting days within 4 weeks, with as many 3 different locations a day. I believe we did quite well on that one, especially in the visual style, considering the budget and time. But I also felt that one was uneven. There were scenes that came out as planned, but there were also scenes that were done in a rush because we didn’t have enough time and money.
Learning from that experience, in Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man, I wrote a script that could be filmed with our limited resources; a story that focuses more on the emotional journey of the characters, rather than a story that relies heavily on visual style.
Since the script and the style of filming for this one did not require much budget, our main challenge was scheduling the shoots. Since everyone was busy, we were only able to film about 3 days/nights a month. I had to constantly reschedule. Shooting took 6 months. However, since we had long gaps between shooting days, we were able to plan things to the tiniest details, and everyone’s always fresh and in high spirit on set, resulting in great performances all around.
What was one of the more interesting experiences you had making the film?
I wanted the film to look and feel as closely to a documentary as possible. There was a scene where Rafael held up “Free Kisses” sign on a busy street. We only needed several seconds of this, but we kept the camera rolling for 5 minutes. There was a young couple walked pass, and the girl joked around telling Rafael that her boyfriend wanted a free kiss from him. There were also a couple of guys cheekily asked Rafael for free kisses. There were people taking photos of him. They thought he was for real, and they thought myself and the crew were really making a documentary about him.
What, if anything, do you want audiences to take away from the film most once they’ve seen it?
The outer most layer of the film is a comedy, so I want the audience to enjoy the film. However, if they dig deeper, there are layers of heartfelt drama underneath the comedy layer. I want the audience to think. Many of the characters in the film have emotional dilemma that the audience can relate to.
There’s Gus (Nathan Bowen) who’s frustrated in a well-paid job that he dislikes, but he worries about losing the security that his job offers. There’s Felicia (Aleksandra Voronina), whose marital problems caused by lack of time spent between her and her husband, because they’re both busy working long hours to pay for house mortgage. There’s Denise (Iwona Abramowicz), who takes a lot of risk to do what she really wants. I think the audience can relate to these characters. There are many more characters in the movie that seem simple but actually complex.
Has the film opened many doors for you in terms of future film work?
We’ll have to wait and see after the film’s out. But I have received many emails from actors, writers, musicians, etc wanting to collaborate on new projects.
What’s next for you as a filmmaker?
There are 3 projects that are in development: a psychological thriller, a feel-good sports drama and vampire movie. We’ll see which one gets made first.
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