Hounds of Love, a suburban horror set in Perth’s summer of ’87, took last year’s Venice Film Festival by storm – and, less than six months later, saw its maker whisked to the Serbian set of Hollywood-financed Extinction. Ben, an actor-turned-writer and director, made his surprise smash with the help of an AU$750,000 government grant, and had Stephen Curry and Emma Booth star in his powerful – albeit disturbing – debut feature. He’s currently in post-production for Extinction in Los Angeles.
DOING A STUDIO MOVIE IS REALLY DIFFERENT
to doing an independent one in Australia. There’s nine producers, studio executives, their bosses... Whereas with Hounds of Love it was really just me and one producer, Melissa Kelly. It’s much harder to make the film the way you want to make it over here. Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to work with great producers in the US, which really makes a big, big difference.
LOW-BUDGET FILMS NEED TO STAND OUT,
so I wasn’t going to be shy with the themes I wanted to explore [in Hounds of Love]. That was the thing that scared a lot of people off it. It was really difficult to get actors to want to be in it, because they were so confronted by the material… Everybody wants you to make a film that stands out, but they don’t want you to offend anybody.
THE OPPORTUNITIES STARTED COMING WHEN WE WENT TO VENICE.
A few people walked out, but I thought the film played okay. Then we went to a little party, had a few drinks, and [when] I woke up the next day [I] had 97 missed calls on my phone. Every agent [in LA] was chasing me down. It opened the door to the USA for me.
MY ADVICE TO FILMMAKERS IS [TO] JUST KEEP DOING IT.
I made eight short films, 35 music videos, three TV shows and God knows how many commercials, all before I got my first film up, and almost everything stank. But I got so much pleasure out of working on it that I was always going to keep doing it.