[EXCLUSIVE]: Hannah brings Joy to Christmess

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Hannah Joy in Christmess. Photo by Sie Kitts.

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By Matthew Eeles

Production on Heath Davis’ latest feature film Christmess has officially wrapped. And I can’t promise that that will be the last pun I use throughout this article.

Filmed in Campbelltown in Greater Western Sydney, Christmess is written and directed by Davis (Book Week, Broke) who was gifted (ok, I’ll stop) an incredible cast including Steve Le Marquand (Last Train to Freo), Darren Gilshenan (No Activity) and Hannah Joy of alternative indie rock band, Middle Kids.

Christmess was a wonderful creative experience for me,” Hannah tells Cinema Australia about her debut acting gig.

“It was very stretching in many ways. This is all new to me as I have never had any intention to act. But I loved it and there was a lot to draw from being a musician; staying present, being open and seeking to tell a story.”

Steve Le Marquand, Darren Gilshenan and Hannah Joy in Christmess. Photo by Sie Kitts.

In the film, Hannah plays Joy, a young, sharp tongued, gay musician in recovery who befriends a desperate, once famous actor, Chris Flint (Steve Le Marquand). Fresh out of rehab, Chris takes a job as a Santa Claus in a suburban strip mall where he unexpectedly encounters his long-estranged daughter played by Nicole Pastor and infant grandson.

With the love and support of his sponsor, Nick (Darren Gilshenan), and Joy, Chris sets about staying sober in order to win his daughter’s forgiveness for Christmas.

“Joy is a beautiful and broken person,” Hannah says of her character.

“She is a recovering addict that has been wounded by life but is doing her best to live well. I was immediately drawn to her as there are parallels between her story and my own. Particularly her relationship with pain and music.”

Darren Gilshenan, Steve Le Marquand and Hannah Joy on the set of Christmess. Photo by Sie Kitts.

Hannah enters into a tight director/actor partnership with long-time friends Steve Le Marquand and Heath Davis having made three films together over the years – Book Week, Broke and Locusts. But Hannah says she quickly felt part of the filmmaking family.

“Heath and I spent a lot of time together leading up to the making of the movie which was really helpful,” says Hannah.

“Because I had no acting experience it felt really important that I just immersed myself in the story and my character so that when it came time to shoot I would feel so familiar with Joy and my ability to perform would flow from that place. It was great to be able to hear in depth Heath’s vision of Joy and aligning mine with his.”

As well as working with a world-class director on her first feature film, Hannah was thrilled to learn her new craft from local acting greats like Gilshenan and Steve Le Marquand, arguably one of Australia’s best actors.

“I am really grateful to have been able to act with, and learn from, Steve and Darren. Honestly they are so amazing I just watched them and then responded to whatever they were putting out there. They were really encouraging and supportive. Acting, like Christmas itself is a communal moment. Christmas is a very meaningful time for me and the birth of Jesus is significant for me. It’s a celebration of hope and all that I have.”

Christmess is now in post-production. Keep an eye on cinemaaustralia.com.au for updates.

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