5 minutes with Myles Pollard

Concept art from Inheritance which is currently crowdfunding.

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Myles Pollard might be best known for his performances in much-loved television shows like McLeod’s Daughters and Home and Away, but more recently Pollard has proved he’s more than just an actor by directing two short films – Christine and the atmospheric Payne’s Find which he also wrote.

Pollard is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for next directorial effort, Inheritance, an ancestry family drama that explores themes of psychological inheritance and the devastating effects of the coward’s punch.

Co-written by Pollard and fellow McLeod’s Daughters alum Ben Mortley, Inheritance follows John Barker, on parole and trapped in a soul destroying job, who must confront his colonial past and inherited rage in order to be truly free.

Inheritance is a short film that follows the story of a recently paroled prisoner, John Barker, whose dying grandfather gives him a journal containing the story of his convict ancestor, Wilson Barker. Delving into his history, John learns that the turbulent past of his family may have in some way contributed to his own recent troubles. He discovers, that like links in a chain, certain behaviours have been passed down from generation to generation. In order to move forward, John must look back and understand his psychological inheritance.

Inheritance is a drama that centres around the power of understanding, acceptance, persistence, resilience and forgiveness. It also brings to the forefront how a person’s mistakes in life can be reconciled. Inheritance is a celebration of the human condition, its ability to endure all kinds of adversity and the power of positivity in determining a better outcome. The aim is to shoot this film before the end of 2021 and will be co-produced by Jasmine Leivers and Pollard.

Myles has appeared as an actor in many Australian television series including Australia’s most successful TV series McLeod’s Daughters. His feature film credits include Wolverine, Drift, Danger Close and The Turning among others.

We caught up with Pollard for a quick interview to find out more about Inheritance.

I love this idea of psychological inheritance being explored in film as it’s often something we don’t become consciously aware of until adulthood. Why did you want to explore these particular themes in Inheritance?
I’ve always been interested in how I tick as a person and what behaviours I’ve learned or even genetically inherited. I remember chatting with my grandmother when she was alive decades ago and she recounted some of her horrendous experiences during WW2 being in-turned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Horrific experiences that shaped her, her daughter (my mother) and even me. Intergenerational grief is real and being aware of some of your inherited traits can help you understand and manage difficult moments in your life.  As Gandhi said “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”

The coward punch plays a big part in Inheritance. Was there a particular incident that impacted your life that made you want to include it in the film?
I’ve never experience a ‘Coward Punch’ before but I have been exposed to some pretty violent moments. I was beat up in high school by two boys, which was intense and have been forced to defend myself a couple of times over the years when out at night. I’d like to help young men change their relationship to violent behaviour, to control their temperaments and to ultimately take ownership of their actions. 

Incorporating animation into film can be risky as animation styles can be highly subjective. Tell us about the decision to use animation as a narrative tool in Inheritance.
I remember seeing an Aussie film years ago called ‘Look Both ways” written and directed by Sarah Watt (Staring Justine Clarke). The film was beautiful and the simple animation was really emotive and helped the audience visualise each character’s past and present. I agree it can be quite subjective using animation but I think it can be especially effective with the limited time you have to tell a story in the ‘short’ format. By animating the ‘period’ component of ‘Inheritance’ I can focus the story lens directly onto some pivotal narrative moments.

Ben Mortley is great in everything he does, but I remember being impressed by his performance in Payne’s Find which you also directed. Other than an obvious mateship between you two, what is it about Ben that draws you to him as an actor?
I think we have creative short hand as mates but also having had the same training at NIDA. He is an intelligent perfectionist who thinks outside the square with his acting choices. Avoiding cliché, stereotype and predictability is central to both our approaches and Ben has a real passion for the psychological which make his work very nuanced. He is also quite irreverent which make the process enjoyable. It’s nice working with other actors who aren’t precious and enjoy a laugh. 

You’ve co-written Inheritance with Ben. I’m curious to know more about the collaborative writing process between you two. Is it a matter of sharing a space together and banging out the script, or is it a process done in your own individual time?
I think initially we wrote a couple of drafts ‘in person’ together but embraced the ‘online’ model pretty quickly. Because it’s a ‘short’ we would open the collaborative function on ‘Final Draft’ and go through the script line by line together. We did have some good creative battles but generally the process was really smooth. One of the most rewarding stages was bringing in Script consultant Gerald Lillywhite who gave us a masterclass in script writing. Gerald would give us notes, help us disseminate and articulate our ideas and was a huge asset in helping us consolidate and condense the narrative. It was like going to university when Gerald came on board. Ben and I learned a great deal from him and the script is so much better having had him involved.

You can find out more about the Inheritance crowdfunding campaign here. You can follow Inheritance on Facebook here.

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