Making Marley, Someone – Ildiko Susany discusses her directorial debut

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Ildiko Susany.

by Matthew Eeles

If you know anything about independent filmmaking, you’ll know it takes many years to get a feature film off the ground and in-front of an audience.

Such is the case for Ildiko Susany who began developing her upcoming film, Marley, Someone, back in 2013 when the writer, producer, director and actor was touring with the Bell Shakespeare Company.

“It’s definitely been a longer journey than I anticipated,” Ildiko tells Cinema Australia. “But I think it’s to be expected with a no-budget, debut indie feature.”

Told with a female lens and featuring a diverse cast of characters, Marley, Someone is loosely based on Ildiko’s own life and her experiences working as an actor.

“I was so ecstatic to work for one of the top theatre companies in Australia, but I was simultaneously reflecting on the tragicomedy of some of the culturally limiting film and television roles for which I was auditioning,” says Ildiko.

In Marley, Someone, Ildiko plays Marley, a listless Eurasian-Australian actor who feels she is destined for something greater. When a big Hollywood blockbuster about Japanese Ronin starts filming in Sydney, Marley’s hopes are raised for a better future and a new chapter for people of colour. That is until she discovers two white men have been cast as leads. 

The first trailer for Marley, Someone dropped this week and some viewers may draw comparisons to Steve Jaggi’s recently released Chocolate Oyster, also set in Sydney and also shot in black and White. Ildiko says there are a few reasons she decided to shoot the film this way.

“Firstly, the colour grade reflects Marley’s state of mind for a lot of the film. Secondly, as this film explores and dissects identity – including cultural identity and racial stereotypes – the black and white complements the understated shooting style to emphasise the story and characters – their inner-thoughts, relationships, emotions, and personal development. Finally, the black and white is an homage to films that are in awe of a city – we don’t often see films set in Sydney, so I wanted to highlight and romanticise these exquisite locations which juxtapose Marley’s personal life and existential struggles.”

With that said, there are a few surprises in store when it comes to how the black and white is used in the film. “You’ll have to watch and find out,” Ildiko teases.

Daniel Monks and Ildiko Susany in Marley, Someone.

Marley, Someone boasts an impressive cast of up-and-coming acting talent including Emily Havea, Jack Starkey-Gill, Gary Clementson, Kimie Tsukakoshi, George Zhao, Catherine Terracini, and Odetta Quinn – a cast with credits onstage for the Bell Shakespeare Company, Donmar Warehouse, Griffin Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company as well as onscreen in shows like Lost in Space, Deadly Class, The Family Law, Wenworth and Home & Away.

“I’m grateful for the truth, insight, and extreme wit they brought to their performances,” says Ildiko. “It’s been very humbling to see how passionate and committed everyone has been to make this film the best it can be – which I think really shines through in the final product. Everyone on our team is exceptional in what they do.”

Ildiko emphasises the importance of working with a culturally-diverse and female-led team in front of and behind the camera including editor Dele “Dizzy” Adereti, production manager Jemma Nickels, Elise Cociuban who was responsible for the film’s music, and members of the films camera, sound, VFX, and soundtrack departments. “Truly, everyone was fantastic, but I can’t name them all here so please keep an eye out for the credits and dedication at the end of the film.”

As with all films planning to release this year, Marley, Someone wasn’t immune to the effects COVID-19 has had on the Australian film industry, especially the film festival circuit which is invaluable to independent films like this one.

“A lot of film festivals are cancelling, postponing, downsizing, or going online this year,” says Ildiko. “It’s been a bit of a disheartening year to debut a feature film. However, we recognise that there are more crucial things happening in the world right now and people dealing with much greater issues than this, so we are keeping positive and continuing to get the work out there.”

Despite the restrictions the team has faced putting the film in front of an audience, Ildiko and her team are more eager than ever to share their film with the world and the new trailer (below) provides a great sneak peak into how the film will play out.

You can keep up to date with Marley, Someone here.

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