Meet the cast and crew of Edward & Isabella

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Daniel Barwick and Chloe Hurst in Edward and Isabella.

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Micro-budget indies – we love them!

While on programming duties for the WA Made Film Festival, Cinema Australia came across and absolute beauty – Adam Morris’ Edward & Isabella. A micro-budget indie in every sense, Edward & Isabella is a simple film that hits hard, especially for those coming out of a fragile relationship.

The film follows Edward, played by Daniel Barwick, and Isabella, played by Chloe Hurst, as they head to the great southern region of Western Australia for a weekend away. Little does Edward know, Isabella is planning to end their relationship with her intentions revealed to the audience in a series of flashback scenes with her psychologist, The Doctor, playfully performed by Renato Fabretti.

Cinema Australia reached out to Morris, Barwick, Hurst, Fabretti and the film’s editor, Talarah Pedrocchi Roelofs, and asked them to share their experiences making the film.

Edward and Isabella will next screen at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival on July 16. The film will then screen at The Backlot on August 4, 6 and 7 followed by Luna Cinemas commencing August 11. 

Adam Morris

Writer, director, producer and cinematographer

Edward & Isabella is Adam Morris’ feature film debut. With the film set to warp up its festival run, Morris will soon begin filming his next feature film, Frank and Frank (or The Valley and The Walrus: Ruminations on the Mystery from Soup to Nuts).

There were two quotes ringing in my head when I embarked on the task of making a feature film. One was from Samuel Beckett that goes, “Ever tried, ever failed? No matter, try again, fail again, fail better.” Which basically translates to: “This will all go terribly wrong, Adam, but do it anyway. Things will only improve.” And the other was from Joe Cabot from Reservoir Dogs who said when faced with adversity, “Shit your pants and dive in and swim.”

I remember getting the email from Chloe’s agent who was in Melbourne saying that she was confirmed to be in the film. I was sitting in my car outside the Albany library and could feel myself literally shaking staring at my phone. Things had just gotten very real, very quickly. That email also meant two other things, I had just officially spent all my savings and I possibly needed some new underwear.

What followed during the shoot was a three week baptism of fire, imposter syndrome and miracle after miracle as our preposterously small cast and crew (with a budget so small it would make John Waters giggle) pulled together with everything we collectively had and ended up turning in a picture which won best feature film at the WA Screen Culture Awards the following year and was selected for WA Made Film Festival, CinefestOZ and Revelation Perth International Film Festival all in the same year.

And it is with ongoing astonishment (and with Samuel Beckett and Joe Cabot still whispering in my ear) we all get to watch as the film has been picked up by a distributor (Halo Films Perth), has gotten a legitmate cinema release, will play in theatres across WA, NSW and Victoria, has been officially selected for Film festivals in London, Singapore and Montreal and has along the way picked up best film and best director awards in Japan, Sweden, Chzechoslovakia, France and Italy just to name a few.

Adam Morris

Chloe Hurst

Actor, Isabella

Chloe Hurst is a WA-born actor best known for The Nice Guys opposite Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, Andi Mack and I Feel Pretty.

Judging by the title on the casting site I frequent, I assumed Edward & Isabella was an Australian remake of Twilight set in regional WA. I skeptically asked for the script and was artistically relieved to read an honest, relatable, and vulnerable break-up story instead, without vampires, that leant itself more toward European Fellini-esque storytelling. After being locked in WA during peak Covid border control and eager to sink my teeth into a multilayered character, I auditioned via self-tape and landed the role of Isabella.

This ‘method’ job included a five-hour drive to Albany, living under the same roof together, sharing a car and bathroom, eating every meal, and relying on each other for filmmaking support. Let’s just say this wasn’t the film set I’m used to, but it certainly helped to establish a trust and history with co-star Daniel Barwick. Also, where else could we embrace all the above during a global pandemic?

The skeleton crew, (with most bones missing) included first-time director Adam Morris, alongside Kim Lofts, Lachlan Gillet and Talarah Pedrocchi. All threw every inch of sanity, money, time, and love into making this little gem, with Renato Fabretti and Albany itself offering the cast, crew, and audience the perfect respite. I am incredibly glad the film is getting the recognition it deserves with particular thanks to distributor Ian Hale at HALO films.

None of the others know it yet, but an Edward & Isabella 2 is in the works in Broome. Right, Adam?

Chloe Hurst

Daniel Barwick

Actor, Edward

Edward and Isabella is the first feature film role for Daniel Barwick and boy does he impress. 

At the start of 2020 I had some big travel plans to Asia, and by March Covid had quite dramatically shelved those hopes. After living in Melbourne for the last ten years I found myself back in Perth with my family and not much to do but write and swim (yes, yes, can’t complain there!).

I saw Adam’s casting call for the film and had to send in an audition. Little did I know how strangely prophetic the script was. At the time, I was in a seven year relationship that, in hindsight, was on its last legs. And there I was, reading a script about a writer in a seven year relationship on its last legs. So much of the process of acting in this movie and understanding Edward’s situation helped me to gain clarity on what ultimately needed to happen in my own life, and allowed me to utilize and harness the true feelings that were coming up.

Both Adam and Chloe were immensely helpful and understanding in this regard, and being able to explore and enact this fictional world with them was actually pivotal in moving on with the next chapter of my life. So each time I’m squirming, or overcompensating, or denying, or hurting on camera, it’s about as close to the bone as it can get, and ultimately a testimony to the healing power of filmmaking.

Daniel Barwick on the set of Edward & Isabella

Renato Fabretti

Actor, The Doctor

Renato Fabretti is an actor and casting director, known for OtherLife, Greenfield and The Reckoning.

Working on Edward & Isabella was fun ride! It was, for me, a little different than I think for Dan and Chloe I’d assume, having the chance to pop in and out of set, while they were ‘fully immersed’, for want of a better word! But it was incredibly satisfying because it was clear from the auditions that there would be great freedom to play on set and that really excites me.

I met Adam at the first round of auditions where it might entertain you to know I originally tested for the Edward role. And as it turns out, Dan’s casting was brilliant, as in the long run, it would have been very difficult for me to commit to the time on the shoot with our play with Kate Walsh at Fremantle Theatre Company in production at the same time. Plus, I think Dan was definitely the inspired choice for the role; his charm and that smile light up the screen!

But what was incredibly clear from that audition was how ready Chloe and I, mates and colleagues for many years now, were to improvise and play and test each other out in front of the lens. And that Adam was very open to this, even eager for it. Which we both felt to be quite rare – a film set that lets the artists at the fulcrum lead the momentum and pitch of scenes. It puts me in mind of shows like Succession where the script is of course adhered to and honoured, but once key elements are captured, the cast are given free reign to flex, reinterpret and riff on the main melody – which defines the electric nature of that show!

Quite by accident, I’ve personally found that working environments that trust performers to exploit all they know and allow the space for that to manifest new things, suits me well and seems to turn out interesting and viscerally engaging product. The Office is a good example – you can’t enjoy the fruit of behavioural comedy if you want to stick to the script and the laugh tracks. They offer you security. But there’s nothing ‘great’ or incredibly human there. When they relinquished the desire for overt control and finally let Steve Carrel and Ricky Gervais and their teams lose on those shows, they embraced the sum of their many wonderful parts. And the whole production was better for it. And for me, that’s the majesty and real reward of ensemble work – the multiplying factor of all those brains and minds buzzing in chorus and like an artistic alchemy, wishing something exciting and unexpected into the world, together.

Renato Fabretti

Talarah Pedrocchi Roelofs

Editor

Edward & Isabella is the editing debut for Malgana woman, Talarah Pedrocchi Roelofs.

Adam and I had just started seeing each other a few months before filming began. At the time I was spending most of my time between Albany and Shark Bay concentrating on my pottery and sun tan (in that order).

Adam was telling me how much the editing was going to cost for the film, which was around $30,000, and I thought we could do it together with enough patience, time and snacks, so we decided to jump in and work out the process together.

The shoot itself was extremely full on as we were basically living on set with Chloe and Dan. Setting up for each day’s scenes and then after a full day shooting we would cook dinner for the cast and crew, then everyone would crash for the evening and get back up to do it all again. We did that for three weeks straight.

By some miracle we all emerged three weeks later and after a month or so off, the editing work began. The highlight for me was probably taking the editing suite up to my home country in Shark Bay and editing it on Hamelin Station in the middle of summer. There were some meltdowns (big and small) as we waded through all the footage, as well as all the Youtube tutorials on how to use Adobe Premiere Pro, but again we tumbled out the other side and by a series of miracles found ourselves holding this precious little independent feature film that has somehow found an audience all over the world.

Talarah Pedrocchi Roelofs

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