Jett star! Dia Taylor discusses her new rock drama

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Dia Taylor with main Jett cast: (L-R) Sienna Stass, Oliver Midson, Raine Alexandra, Adam Boswell, Callum G Gault and Braedy Rickard

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by Matthew Eeles

Back in 2017, Cinema Australia covered the very solid, micro budget, indie drama, Marital Problems.

We shared the trailer and interviewed the film’s talented screenwriter Julian Barbor, and producer Matthew Goldsworthy.

But an interview with the film’s director Dia Taylor was missing from our coverage.

“I always felt like Marital Problems belonged more to Julian and Matthew,” Dia tells Cinema Australia when we ask her why she wasn’t involved in the film’s promotion.

“I was limited creatively, but I was also a very fresh filmmaker. But that was 2015 and I’ve learnt a lot since then. I personally feel that I now have my own identity as a filmmaker and I have my own creative vision.”

Seven short films later and Dia is now mid-shoot on her latest feature film, Jett, which she is directing from a script co-written by herself and Daniel Bugeja.

“I’m working with a few members of the Marital Problems cast and crew on Jett which is exciting,” says Dia.

“We’ve built up a real creative family which I just love. I feel like we’re creating something that feels right. If you don’t have passion, then that will come through on the screen.”

Shot in Melbourne, Jett explores the rise and fall of a dysfunctional band in the seedy, bustling world of the city’s underground music scene.

When Jett Walker, played by first-time feature film actor Adam Boswell, starts a band with his friends, fame lifts the ambitious young group to new heights as the band grows in popularity.

As Jett embraces the rock-star lifestyle, egos begin to clash and relationships start to crack.

When tragedy strikes, the band’s loyalty to the music, and each other, is put to the test. 

Dia Taylor with cinematographer Darby Maxwell and editor Scott David Lister. Photo by Matt Hrkac. 

Dia tells Cinema Australia that the film is loosely based on her own life having performed in multiple bands during high school.

“The bands where hardcore thrash metal mainly. We were pretty terrible. But the relationships within the band and the scene itself always fascinated me. Andy, our drummer, and I the bassist, would sort of sit back a lot and watch our vocalists Lachii and Tom, and guitarist Matt, fight it out,” says Dia.

It was the tumultuous relationships in that particular band that Dia drew inspiration from for Jett, as well as Melbourne’s tight-knit underground music scene.

“Everyone knows everyone, and there’s a real community here. I wanted to show that on screen. We’re so fortunate to have so many great bands support us in the film too. Bands such as In Vanity, Earthbound, Dracorex, Bestowed, Alpha Wolf and Death of Art – just to name a few. 

Raine Alexandra, Adam Boswell and Callum G Gault.

Dia started playing bass guitar when she was 14 and grew up surrounded by music. Dia’s Mum was a drummer, and her grandfather, Ian McCausland, was a well-known rock poster graphic artist who designed tour posters for Daddy Cool, The Who and The Rolling Stones, while working with Mushroom Records.

“I went to a lot of music gigs with my grandfather, which is where my love for music started. Grandad’s also a musician himself and tried to teach me guitar. I never got it, so he ended up teaching me bass guitar instead.”

Of the six lead actors in Jett – Raine Alexandra, Boswell, Callum .G. Gault, Oliver Midson, Braedy Rickard and Sienna Stass – only Oliver is a professional musician. Ironically, Oliver’s character is musically challenged in the film.

“Trying to get Ollie to play poorly when he’s just so damn good is a challenge. But he finds it funny,” laughs Dia.

“The three cast members who are meant to be the band are amazing though and continue to impress me every day. Raine Alexandra has been practicing bass in her spare time, Callum has been practicing the drums, and Adam has just started guitar lessons with Earthbound guitarist, Jake Kershaw. I’m so proud of them all.”

As if making a feature film isn’t challenging enough, Jett will feature original songs performed by the cast and crew including co-producer Dan Bucknell on the bass and rhythm guitar, Jake Kershaw will be lead guitar, and Oliver Midson on drums. Earthbound vocalist Tom Armstrong will dubb Jett’s screaming and vocals.  

“I really hope at the end of this production that everyone comes out with a new set of skills,” says Dia. 

Being an entirely self-funded film, filming on Jett has been sporadic, but the production is nearing the midway point. A crowdfunding campaign is planned to help fund the remainder of the shoot, while producers Amelia Nemet and Glen Cook are busy on the lookout for outside funding.

“I have put my heart and soul in to this film for close to a decade,” says Dia.

“I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

You can keep up to date with the progress of Jett here.

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