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Lawrence Murphy and Oscar Miller are two WAAPA graduates who have made four short films together since graduating in 2020.
Their latest short film, Immortal, produced under their Lazy Films banner, follows a young beaten down scientist who’s given a new lust for life in a quest to defeat death to save his grandmother and create immortality.
“We are indeed very new to the film industry, but are doing our best to make quality films utilising all WA cast, crew and post-production companies,” Miller tells Cinema Australia.
“We also did this in the midst of so many COVID delays, whilst also doing our best to give back to the industry and the community.”
Millar and Murphy hope their work can inspire other actors and creators to take a chance and make their own works, further strengthening the local film industry.
“We believe ours is a great story of not just how to tackle life beyond university but also adapt to the current struggles faced due to COVID. Our belief as actors is instead of waiting for the work to come, make the work you want to be in and then get to work.”
Cinema Australia recently caught up with Millar and Murphy to discuss Lazy Films, their hopes for the WA screen industry, and their new sci-fi short, Immortal.
“At the end of the day we are just two really good mates who love what we do and love doing it together. That’s what makes Lazy Films work.”
Interview by Matthew Eeles
How did you two meet?
We both attended Myles Pollard’s Audition Workshop for The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2016. We were fortunate enough to be accepted into the Bachelor of Performance Making at WAAPA, and spent the next three years training together. Ultimately, our mutual love for film lead us to creating our first short film in the final year of WAAPA. It was in the making of Valuable that Lazy Films was born.
Tell us about your working relationship. How do you both complement each other professionally?
Sharing the same style of film and vision, our focus is very much aligned, for the most part (as for the other part we happily argue at length). We both love acting, writing, directing and this forms the foundation of us being on the same page. The producing front is a love/hate relationship; extremely challenging but at the same time extremely rewarding. It is our ability to share energy, motivation and outlook which allows us to keep pushing to get things done. Although we sit in the edit together throughout the entire process, Lawrence edits our films, whilst myself, Oscar, scores the music. When we can’t do things ourselves we work together in sourcing those who can and share the collaboration work load. Our team work is much the same in acting. We always help each other self-tape for auditions and discuss the direction of our careers. At the end of the day we are just two really good mates who love what we do and love doing it together. That’s what makes Lazy Films work.
Who are some of your filmmaking influences?
Leigh Whannell inspires us not only as an Australian filmmaker but as someone who has been able to create incredibly ambitious films such as Saw, Upgrade and The Invisible Man with relatively low budgets. Brit Marling is another powerhouse who proves you can not only write and produce your own works at a high level but act in them as well (The OA also just blows our mind and is right up our ally). We are both heavily influenced by Christopher Nolan, the way his mind works, the complex topics he attempts to face and the realities he warps. Momento, Inception, Interstellar and Tenet are perfect examples of the future films we’d like to make. In our films so far we have loved playing with time, whether it be by morphing time (BALE), simultaneously intersecting timelines (DESCENT) or playing with the idea of endless time (IMMORTAL).
What inspired the Immortal story?
Early in 2020, Oscar found out that his Grandma had cancer, Lymphoma to be exact. That of course was pretty devastating to his family and him after living with her for a good 5 years while in Primary school. That strong relationship and tragic event manifested itself into Immortal. From there, we dedicated ourselves to getting this film made, and it’s dedicated to her. Thankfully she is in the clear now and we are so pumped for her to see it.
How did you assemble your filmmaking team for Immortal?
Like most low budget films, you have to call in a lot of favours and reach out to third parties in the hope they’ll support your journey. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible people along the way. Having previously acted for Christian Kennedy our DOP, he was our first choice. He’s not only a work horse but he gave us so much of his knowledge and directed us along the way. Bryan Chance, Tam Glover and Rhys Pottinger were people we’d worked with before as well. So often it’s the people you work with on one set that you want to work with again on the next. You also have to think outside the box. We approached Rhys, who typically deals in theatre lighting design, and he turned out to be a really talented gaffer. Our moto is very much ‘if you don’t ask the answer is always no’, so we call, email and meet as many people as we can, and more often than not if they can’t help they know someone who can. The team at Cinemachine, Raz Media and Location Equipment helped us getting our equipment sorted and in our eyes they are just as much a part of the team as the cast and crew. We also needed a lot of post-production assistance. Boogie Monster, Double Barrell and Cue Sound went above and beyond for us, and were the result of word of mouth as well as previous working relationships. We hope to be able to give them as much support as they gave us into the future. Then there’s the aspiring people you meet along the way like Lauren Melina, an actor and director who’s recently begun her career after a very successful career in tattooing. She’s always been happy to invest her time in us. Those are the people you don’t forget, the people you want on the next project and they form our community.
Immortal is a sci-fi film and going by the trailer there are a few special effects involved. Tell us about the post-production process to achieve the SFX in the film.
We knew from the get go we’d need some special effects but we also tried to be smart about it, we wrote the script with SFX in mind, keeping the amount of shots and complexity required to a manageable level considering our modest budget. We planned so as to only utilize SFX vital to the narrative. Cars flying into buildings can wait for the next film. We also can’t thank Stuart and Nathan (Double Barrell) enough for spending extra time to discuss with us our options and working within our budget to give the best they could to our project. SFX can be very tricky and expensive, but shouldn’t be consider out of the question, it’s all about planning.
As newcomers to the industry, how do you see the WA screen industry at the moment?
We are actually quite blown away by how supportive the community is, and we believe that that supportive frame work is what strengthens the WA screen industry. We can’t keep up with the number of projects coming together here, ranging from small to large. There’s people working everywhere and as far as we’ve seen generally everyone wants to help each other. We had 10 locations for Immortal to be shot over just 4 days, and behind all those of locations were people stepping up to support us. The Court, Tiki As Fk, Johnny Ma’s Studio and the list goes on. It’s not just those in the WA screen industry but the greater community that want to support further bringing WA to life and that’s really exciting and inspiring for us. You’ve got Callan Durlik and Josh Horneman from Rookie’s Ambush currently filming It Only Takes a Night here and bringing all that comes with it to our industry. WA films like The Xrossing by Steven Mihaljevich and Carl Maiorana in collaboration with Ian Hale from Halo Films, to us is so inspiring because it’s not just a “great WA film”, it’s a “great film”, period. We believe COVID has really tested our industry as a whole but there is light for WA because we’ve been fortunate enough to be so safe here and that’s helped highlight WA as a place to film. You’ve even got the likes of Kate Walsh, an international star coming to WA and supporting the performing arts and screen community. On top of that, the plans for a studio in Fremantle has us buzzing, even more so because we work out of Fremantle and the thought of our office being near a mutli-million dollar studio is something very exciting for us and the WA Screen industry as whole.
How important is it to build a network of filmmaking friends you can rely on for future projects?
It’s as important as the project is, we want to make great films but most of all we want to enjoy our time in making them. The people you work with can so greatly affect not only the end product but how you feel every day when tackling something that is for the most part, very challenging. Strong relationships not only increase the likelihood it gets done but it also helps the potential of the future. You start to really believe you can make bigger and better things as your filmmaking circle increases. You realise there are so many people out there that love what you love and it makes the road a lot easier to travel. Giving time to others and seeing their dreams come to life is also just as rewarding as getting your own up. A quote we resonate with is, “when you’ve reached the top, send the elevator back down for the others”. However, we’d like to think “why not all go up in the same elevator?”. Keeping that in mind on every project for us is very important.
What’s the plan for Immortal? When can audiences expect to see it?
We’d love to release it to the public tomorrow if we could. We can’t wait to show people what we’ve done but we know the value in film festivals for not only Immortal but for Lazy Films as well. We’d love to see it received well both locally and internationally, and play our part in the WA Screen Industry narrative. We’re really proud of Immortal and we’d definitely be open to using it as a proof of concept to get the feature version off the ground. If nothing else we really want Immortal to show what can be made on a low budget with support of the WA screen industry and community. For us Immortal is one of the stepping stones towards getting support and funding for our feature film Transition, which we aim to have filmed in November this year.