Interview: Michael Jones and Caitlin Farrugia (Lazybones)

L-R: Caitlin Farrugia (writer/producer), Michael Jones (writer/director), Fabiana Weiner (actor), Jackson Tozer (actor), Marty Gubbins (Director of Photography).

L-R: Caitlin Farrugia (writer/producer), Michael Jones (writer/director), Fabiana Weiner (actor), Jackson Tozer (actor), Marty Gubbins (Director of Photography).

It’s only fitting Lazybones has it’s first screening at one of Melbourne’s major new film festivals. The sharp new Australian film captures the city it’s set in with beautiful simplicity – from it’s busting night markets to its sleepy outer suburbs.

We caught up with the film’s creators Caitlin Farrugia (writer/producer) and Michael Jones (writer/director) ahead of tomorrow night’s world premiere at the Made in Melbourne Film Festival.

“I feel there’s this sense of parenthood that I share with Mike.”

by Matthew Eeles

You both co-wrote and co-produced the film. How did this collaboration come about?

Michael Jones: We’d worked together previously and when the idea was talked about for Lazybones it was a no-brainer. Collaboration with Caite is incredibly easy throughout all stages of production and it makes the process so much nicer when you’re working with someone on the same page as yourself.

Caitlin Farrugia: We share the same sense of humour and work ethic so it was a natural progression to create in this way together. And for this reason I was pretty eager to write with Mike. He had the original concept and we decided to just make it. Also, I feel there’s this sense of parenthood that I share with Mike. As in, we created this together and throughout the production there was never any personal claim for ideas. Just two people feeding this project in attempts for it to be a living thing.

It’s a very simple yet sharply effective story. Where did the idea for Lazybones come from?

MJ: I’d always enjoyed films that were very naturalistic, simple and character driven. Lazybones started as a story where we would follow a stand up comic around for a few weeks and observe his life and relationships. Our main purpose was to make a film that we would enjoy watching, that was entertaining and hopefully honest. And thinking about those three things while writing helped form the idea. Early on the stand up comedy aspect of the film was a lot more prominent but eventually as we developed the idea, the film became more about Ben’s relationships with the people around him.

CF: One day Mike said, “I want to make this film about a standup and the opening should be the main character trimming his pubes.” And I said, “Yes please.” Of course the opening is now different which shows how much effort went into giving the story more substance. We put together a bunch of scenarios we found amusing and then suddenly there was Ben and Lucy and Troy and Sam and Jean. When we started fleshing the idea out in its infancy it suddenly became about our generation, modernity, social culture and the line between injustice and laziness that people seem to hover over when analysing young people. We always just wanted to make a piece about real people from experiences we had heard and as soon as that was the underpinning intention, the characters lives and the story unfolded pretty naturally.

Stand up comedy plays an important role in Lazybones during the ups and downs of Ben’s lifeHow much of Ben’s comedy was written in the script and how much was improvised by Jackson Tozer?

MJ: Each routine had to be about what had been happening in his life so we just gave Jackson notes on what the stand up routine had to be about, he then wrote the jokes himself.

By the looks of it most of the other stand up comedy in the film was performed by real comedians during live gigs. Is this right?

MJ: Kind of. We were originally going to shoot at a comedy night but that fell through so we decided to get a few comedians together and just film them performing to a crowd of extras. Since they were good comedians we didn’t have to ask the extras to laugh or anything, we just let them do a five minute set each and filmed it all on multiple cameras. The comedians featured were Kimberley Lisle, Roland Hoffmann and Rohan Ganju.

Tegan Crowley and Jackson Tozer in Lazybones.

Tegan Crowley and Jackson Tozer in Lazybones.

You’ve assembled an incredible cast. Tell us about the casting process for your characters?

MJ: We wanted actors to bring a lot of their own lives to the characters so when we were casting we looked for actors who were good with improvisation and could find a good balance between the comedy and drama of the film. We had worked with Jackson, Troy and Tegan on a previous film and knew that they were all actors with great intuition and were able to perform incredibly naturally on screen. With the other characters we found it was best to have a brief idea of who they were but wanted to keep an open mind while we were casting. Fab and Eva are both incredibly talented actors and we knew straight away that we needed them. It was actually a really easy process when I think about it, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.

CF: Every time I watch Lazybones I think how incredibly lucky we are. Our main five cast are incredibly intuitive. We hunted for people who were natural, who could improvise, who could play with the dialogue. People who were close to or had essences of their characters. We’d written fairly detailed snippets from characters lives for auditioning actors to read rather than just ‘Woman, 25-27, lawyer’. I just want to give the cast as much public praise as possible because they were all simply brilliant and without them Lazybones wouldn’t exist in a way in which we feel great pride. Jackson Tozer, Fabiana Weiner, Troy Larkin, Tegan Crowley, Eva Seymour, Maude Davey and Francis Greenslade.

There’s this very surreal yet very real scene between Ben and Sam which plays out while Ben is ‘taking a dump’. Tell us how this scene came about?

CF: This is one of my favourite scenes. We needed a way to show how close Ben and Lucy are – this is probably the closest relationship they both experience. When we were writing the scene, the bathroom just felt right. We wanted to convey that they’ve seen each other in private places before, seen each other at their best and worst, familiar enough to share a deep, existential conversation whilst Ben is on the toilet. Staying true to the feel of the film, what they are talking about is actually quite serious but in a comedic setting. Everything in Lazybones needed to have that balance of comedy and reality.

What was your overall experience like making your first feature film? 

MJ: It is a lot of hard work but working with and meeting all different types of actors and crew makes it all very worthwhile. We’ve actually just finished shooting our second film so that shows that we definitely enjoy it!

CF: The reward of having a finished product is sensational. Though when you are in the moment of production, you think, mama mia, how are we going to pull this off? And then somehow even though working with x locations, x actors and no money it just works. I think collaboration and having the opportunity to work with amazing artists completely blinds all the heavy work.

Lazybones is having it’s premiere at the Made in Melbourne Film Festival this week. What are you hoping audiences take away from the film.

MJ: It is a style of film that we love but a lot of people aren’t used to watching so I hope the audience leave and feel like they have experienced a film that tells a story differently. On a more simple level I would like the audience to walk out of the cinema and have had fun watching the film.

CF: Lazybones is all about the characters and what happens to them. It’s not about the characters’ conclusions. Real life is ongoing. It’s all the ugly bits in life: offending others, locked out and needing a shower, struggling to find a proper jobs, un-romance, indecision. Our intention was to portray a relatable little piece of life. In this instance, the audience can begin to question the craft of filmmaking and question the diverse ways in which films can be made and stories can be told.

When can a wider audience expect to see the film?

MJ: Hopefully soon! We’ll have updates on that a bit later on down the line.

Lazybones is screening at the Made in Melbourne Film Festival on Saturday, 10 December. Details here.

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