Cinema Australia Original Content:
Help us continue to cover more Australian films by making a donation to Cinema Australia below.
by Matthew Eeles
Two guys walk into a bar in Manly, Sydney.
This isn’t the beginning of a joke, but the beginning of a friendship that would lead to the making of new Australian drama, Moon Rock for Monday by writer and director Kurt Martin and producer Jim Robison.
“We met almost a decade ago working in that bar,” Robison tells Cinema Australia.
“We quickly realised our love for film and started making short films, webisodes, music videos, TVC’s and corporate videos, but our love was always scripted content. I think we always knew we would one day make features together.”
“While Moon Rock for Monday marks Kurt Martin’s feature film debut, the talented filmmaker has plenty of experience under his belt including working on low budget Indie features as a first and second assistant director.
Having worked on 37 episodes of Home and Away as a location assistant, Jim Robison has also produced feature films and most recently worked as an executive producer on Kriv Stenders’ critically acclaimed war drama, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
With their desire to make a feature film together growing stronger, Moon Rock for Monday was born.
The 90s-set film follows Monday, a young terminally ill girl played by Ashlyn Louden-Gamble. After an unlikely encounter at a train station, Monday befriends wanted fugitive Tyler, played by George Pullar, and the two embark on a road trip to visit a moon rock that the girl believes will heal her.
“The story stemmed from Kurt’s own personal experiences with an illness he had as a child,” says Robison.
“Kurt and I both grew up in the 1990’s. We both loved nineties grunge music so we wanted to do an Aussie film that really captured that era. Plus it also helped with the storyline of the young terminally ill girl be on the run with the fugitive boy. It was more believable they could evade the cops for so long on the road.”
Casting Monday and Tyler was a long journey which took almost two years. Eventually, Ashlyn Louden-Gamble and George Pullar were cast as the film’s leads.
“Despite having no industry experience, Ashlyn blew us away in the auditions. When we saw George’s audition we knew he had it. He even lost weight and shaved his head as the character he plays is homeless,” said Robison.
Although a natural and perfect for the role, there was always concerns around the rigorous shooting schedule considering Ashlyn’s age. The demanding shoot included a lot of rain, 40+ degree days in Coober Pedy, dust and flies and everything in between.
To ensure a smooth shoot, it was important to director Kurt Martin that Ashlyn and George had chemistry during rehearsals.
“We talked a lot about the two characters connecting,” says Martin.
“It was important that the characters taught each other something. For example, Tyler was haunted by his past, while Monday is constricted by her future. Together they learn to be present and live in the moment.”
As well as the two leads, Moon Rock for Monday also stars industry veterans David Field, Jessica Napier, Nicolas Hope, Alan Dukes and Aaron Jeffery as Monday’s father.
“I met with Aaron and we got along straight away,” says Martin.
“Aaron has a great body of work behind him including Palm Beach, however we wanted to see him tackle a role that is probably the main support role in the film. He is such a lovely person, inside and out.”
To discover some of the locations for the film, Robison and Martin drove around Australia for a couple of weeks carefully selecting the landscape that they wanted to use to create the aesthetics of Moon Rock. As well as Sydney, Moon Rock for Monday is also filmed in Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Cobar, Dubbo and The Flinders Ranges.
According to the filmmakers, Moon Rock for Monday really shows off the beautiful scenery of New South Wales and South Australia including some extraordinary and spectacular shots of The Kanku-Breakaways National Park at Coober Pedy after being granted permission by the land’s Indigenous traditional owners.
Martin and Robison are currently in LA with a rough cut sizzle reel showing the film to International Sales agents and are hoping to deliver the film in March 2020 having only wrapped principal photography three weeks ago.
Moon Rock for Monday is being edited by Babe and Last Cab to Darwin editor Marcus D’Arcy and the film’s score will be composed by AACTA winner Caitlin Yeo who recently scored Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
Pinnacle Films will handle the theatrical and home entertainment distribution of Moon Rock for Monday in Australia and New Zealand.
“We picked Pinnacle Films because they fell in love with the script and they’ve been really supportive of this film,” says Robison. “We really want to put it through the festival circuit internationally before it gets an Australian release, so hopefully it will hit cinemas sometime in the second half of next year.”