Melbourne filmmaker Charlie Ford is halfway through a stellar year in 2012, and he isn’t looking back anytime soon. His graduate film Stone premiered in the Australian Shorts program at Melbourne International Film Festival, and with a number of other projects in the works spanning fashion, feature and short form film works it’s safe to say he’s steadily building a diverse portfolio.
We spoke to Charlie about the premiere, what he’s looking forward to seeing at MIFF and the unique development of this delightful film.
P: How did the story of Stone develop? You wrote it with your brother, how was the collaborative process between you two?
Charlie Ford: Ford and I are always thinking of new ways to tell stories, and as brothers we have a a very similar idea of what will make for an engaging story that offers more than just entertainment. We came up with an idea for a feature film that we thought would allow us to approach story telling in a simple, stripped back way, one that allowed time and space for the audience to engage in internal reflection.
The idea for the narrative was about an elderly indigenous Australian man who had retreated to nature from the city in order to die a natural death. Along his journey he encounters his former self at the different stages of his life which ultimately helps him to realise that he is not in fact dying.
P: What made you decide to shoot the film in addition to directing?
Charlie Ford: As the film is without dialogue and involves minimal movement, the story is very reliant upon composition and camera movement, however after spending so much time developing the script I had a very clear idea of how best to position the camera in order to tell the story.
As for shooting and directing, I was fortunate enough to get Roderick Nathan Diaz on board to co-direct. Nathan is a very talented man. Having worked with him on a his previous short film, Deep Water, we had developed a good working relationship. And as I was keen to be behind the camera on the day I wanted someone who I could trust to bring out performances from the actors. Nathan and I worked very closely with our actors, through extensive rehearsals to develop close relationships between the two.
P: How did you achieve the balance between the strong visuals of the film and creating the story?
Charlie Ford: This was probably the hardest part of the writing process for me. When I got the first draft out it was incredibly wordy and overly descriptive. As the film is slow and involves minimal movement, every action carried an incredible weight of significance, but reading it as it was proved to be laborious and slightly confusing.
So Nathan and I worked hard to simplify it, and attempted a bit of improvisation with our actors Jack and Jy to give them some ownership of their roles. In the end, I think we achieved quite a nice balance.
P: Stone had it’s Melbourne premiere at MIFF. What else did you enjoy seeing at MIFF?
Charlie Ford: The opening night film The Sapphires was a wonderful depiction of an incredible true story. It was a privilege to be sitting with Jack and watching an inspiring story of his people. I also watched the brilliantly bizarre The Legend of Kaspar Hauser, with Vincent Gallo and a kick ass sound track. It really was something else. I’m also really excited to see Amiel Court Wilson’s Hail, particularly as he made the touching and controversial biopic of Jack’s struggle with addiction, Bastardy.
P: What are you working on now?
Charlie Ford: At the moment I’m working with Thom Neal, co-directing his short film Kings. It is ultimately a story of the desperate triumph of youth over oppression, which is funnily enough a similar message to that of Stone, albeit told in a wildly different style. Ford and I are also developing a new script together called Conversations in Elevators.