Cinema Australia Original Content:
Help us continue to cover more Australian films by making a donation to Cinema Australia below.
The St Kilda Film Festival kicks off this Friday night, with Riley Sugars’ hilarious comedy short, Hatchback, featuring in the prestigious opening night lineup.
A few weeks ago Cinema Australia caught up with Hatchback director Riley Sugars, so this time we thought we’d switch to the talent in front of the camera and get the skinny on the production from actor Jackson Tozer.
Tozer stars alongside Stephen Curry in the film with the hilarious two-hander following Vince (Curry) as he attempts to dispose of a dead body for the mob, but when he reluctantly enlists the help of his dim-witted brother-in-law Ted (Tozer), things don’t go to plan.
We’ve been keeping an eye of Tozer’s career for years now, and he’s without a doubt one of our favourite actors working in Australia today. If you haven’t seen his performances in the micro-indie Lazybones and hit series Mr. Inbetween you really should check them out. Hatchback adds to an impressive list of acting credits for Tozer.
“It was just mayhem and some of the most fun I’ve had on set. I was a sweaty mess and by the end of it I’m pretty sure I split my pants in the process.”
Interview by Matthew Eeles
Congratulations on Hatchback. It’s a laugh-out-loud short, and I consider yourself, Stephen and Riley to be a dream collaboration. Can you tell us about working with Riley as a filmmaker.
Oh absolutely! It’s every Aussie kids dream to work with Riley Sugars, Curry is just an added bonus. Riley is an incredible filmmaker to work with. He has a level of enthusiasm and “make it happen” attitude that you don’t see much in filmmakers his age. The ceiling of what this man can achieve is limitless. He has a knack for bringing people together and workshopping to get the best out of them. Such a passionate and genuinely good person. As a director he allows so much input from not only his actors but from every department. It creates this very collaborative set which is something I really admire. I promise you this is not the last time we’ll work together.
You have worked with Stephen before, and you two have such a convincing on-screen dynamic in Hatchback. Can you give us an insight into your acting process with Stephen and how you both make it work so well.
Stephen and I met back in 2019 at a table read for the TV series Mr Black. We clicked pretty well in the room and ended up having a beer together afterwards. He’s the sort of person that makes you feel like you’ve been friends forever, even when you’ve just met him. Funny enough though we didn’t actually have any scenes together in that series, so Hatchback is technically our first time working together. I think there’s a shared respect and love for comedy between us, which in turn makes for a great scene partner. The on-screen dynamic was a combination of us having great chemistry in real life, mixed with a child-like willingness to play and have fun when the cameras are rolling. Inbetween takes, we’d sit next to each other joking and giggling like school kids. I’ve found in most cases, if you’re having fun making it, an audience will have fun watching it. Curry is one of Australia’s greats, an actor I’ve always admired, so it’s been a real honour to work with him.
Did Riley, Stephen and yourself spend much time together developing these two characters prior to shooting, or was most of your character straight off the page?
I think it’s important for every actor to bring as much as they can to the role. To go back to what I was saying in regards to Riley as a filmmaker, he not only allows but insists on collaboration. From our very first meeting with Riley and co-writer Chloe Graham, we were all talking about ways to get the most out of the story and characters they created. From the wardrobe, to story beats, to the dialogue, it was all around a very collaborative process.
The scene with Stephen and yourself loading the dead body into the hatchback is genuinely hilarious, and I think I keep returning to it in my head because it looked like the most physically challenging scene to shoot. Can you share a bit about the challenges of shooting that particular scene.
That was one uncut fifteen minute take and not one line was pre-written. The only direction Riley gave us was to put the body in the car. Curry and I had free rein to do whatever we wanted. It was an improvisors dream! The real challenge was trying not to break character. There were a few times where in the process of moving him, I accidentally grabbed the body (played by Andrew Godson) in his swimsuit area and had to apologise. We could also hear the crew trying their hardest to keep it together. It was just mayhem and some of the most fun I’ve had on set. I was a sweaty mess and by the end of it I’m pretty sure I split my pants in the process.
Your character in the film loves to share fun facts. And one fact that caught me off guard was that the average Australian eats up to twelve pies a year. I’m a big pie fan, and I reckon I eat at least 30 annually, if not more. How many pies would you say you eat per year, and what’s your go-to pie when you visit a bakery?
Go to “The Roadhouse”. It’s a petrol station in my hometown, Portland. Don’t let the smell of petroleum deter you though, they genuinely have some of the best pies I’ve had.
Find our more about the St Kilda Film Festival screening of Hatchback here.