Dylan Randall fills us in on his new rock ‘n’ roll romance, Sweet Rhythm

Sweet Rhythm co-director, Dylan Randall.

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“We aim to do what many films before have failed to do, and that is to show honest, fun, queer representation in film.”


by Matthew Eeles

A new feature film is currently in pre-production in Western Australia called Sweet Rhythm, and according to one of the film’s directors, it was inspired by the Eagles hit, Hotel California.

“I wanted to make a feature film, and once again I wanted to push myself by setting my film in 1977, in the decade prior to my last short film, Get the Girl,” Sweet Rhythm co-director Dylan Randall tells Cinema Australia.

“The idea formed from the Eagles song Hotel California and its opening line, “On a dark desert highway.” That is what sparked the idea of our lead character Jennifer walking along a dark road to her place of work, Tiffany’s Diner. From that moment it formed what is currently Sweet Rhythm.”

Sweet Rhythm is described as a 1977 rock n’ roll, jazz and disco inspired musical that follows Jennifer (Prudence Ackrill), Dani (Lainey O’Sullivan) and Stephanie (Hannah Julii Anderson) as they experience the thrills of being in their 20s.

Jennifer, who is a young Jazz enthusiast, is struggling to embrace her love for music while trying to win her mothers approval when she meets the rebellious hippie Stephanie, and the rock’n’roll musician Dani, who flip her world inside out and take her on a disco groovin’, rockin’ rollin’ and jazz swinging adventure across the 70s to save the family diner.

It sounds like a hoot!

“The film is set in a fictional 1977, where the world of Sweet Rhythm takes place,” says Randall.

“This was done as I had a diverse range of actors and actresses interested in the film and with the multicultural accents I decided that it would be awesome to set the film in a place where it didn’t matter where you were from. This gave us a huge challenge in changing all the names of the places and giving our own artistic flare to the world around us. This also requires us to build sets, use CGI to create a fictional city and streets and create a world free of our world, but still shot all locally in Perth.”

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Locations used throughout the film include Ellington Jazz Club in Northbridge as the home of Jasmine and the Jukebox Jazz Club. Subiaco’s Regal Theatre will also feature in the film as a stand-in for the fictional Molière Theatre.

Co-director George Burton tells Cinema Australia that at the heart of Sweet Rhythm is a sapphic love story, but that the team are trying hard to subvert the expectations of what a normal sapphic love story looks like on screen. 

Sweet Rhythm doesn’t follow the route of any overt sexualisation nor does it focus on the traumas of a queer story. It simply wishes to exist to represent a happy queer relationship, to show representation in a kind, respectful and enjoyable way,” Burton told Cinema Australia.

“Queer stories that are at the forefront of media tend to have some sort of traumatic experience behind them, but Sweet Rhythm doesn’t do any of this. It simply tries to show a beautiful, and wholesome, queer love story, that everyone can watch and enjoy. Sometimes people want representation that isn’t the focus of the story, in which the characters have a sapphic relationship but it’s not the be-all-end-all of the plot, and that is Sweet Rhythm. We aim to do what many films before have failed to do, and that is to show honest, fun, queer representation in film.

Music will obviously be a huge part of Sweet Rhythm and original songs have been written and composed by George Burton, Chloe Lockyer, Dylan Randall and Emily Burton who has also written the title song for the films which will be performed by lead character Jennifer, played by Prudence Ackrill

Starring alongside Ackrill, Lainey O’Sullivan and Hannah Julii Anderson in the film will be Ellie Cutbush, Michael Surjan and Carrie McMahon. Sweet Rhythm is co-directed by Randall and Burton and produced by Jessica Canakis.

Sweet Rhythm is expected the be release during the second half of 2023. You can keep up to date with the film via Facebook and Instagram.

 

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