The unwavering belief that things will work out isn’t easy to nurture in these uncertain times, but it can prove powerful when it comes to making a micro-budget movie, according to Darius Devas.
The Byron Bay filmmaker has started production on his second feature film, Unravel, in Northern Rivers this week, more than a decade after making his directorial debut with 2009’s Further, we are looking for.
Written by Devas, in collaboration with lead actors Cazz Bainbridge and Duncan Ragg, the film follows the path of a young couple who leave town to live the dream in the Byron area while undergoing personal, creative and psychological tests that begin to undermine the relationship. The cast also includes Christopher James Baker (Eden).
The self-funded production will run over three weeks in the Byron Bay area, with arts-focused membership club The Local Kollective hosting a project launch party last Thursday, where the cast and creators were introduced to the local community. So far, no distributor has been selected.
Devas, who co-produces with Julie Green, said if there was one lesson he learned from his first foray into feature filmmaking, it was the knowledge that films like this could be made.
“Basically I wanted to do my second by the book and go through the screen funding process, but I recognized it was going to take a lot longer,” he told IF.
“Having done this before and having shot other projects since, I understand that things work out on their own, even when it seems impossible.
“There were definitely some hairy moments through various blockages, as well as a bunch of other stuff, but there was also a calm of ‘We’ll find out and make it work’. So far, so good.”
Since her feature film debut, Devas has spent time directing in the documentary space, with projects such as short documentary series like Hippie tribe of Goa, which won the SXSW Interactive Award in 2012, and short documentaries Speak through color and Spirit Walker – Clinton March for Justice.
He has also used his work to discuss social issues, traveling across Australia to interview young people about mental health as part of the 2019 documentary series, A common thread.
With Unravel, Devas said he wanted to offer a similar snapshot of how relationships can affect individuals.
“The story is about this feeling that you are the only one struggling in a relationship and that everyone is right; that you and your partner don’t understand how to do that relationship, ”he said.
“I wanted to make a film that explores this with real honesty and openness with the intention of making audiences who may have had very similar experiences feel less alone when it comes to its shortcomings.”
Devas was able to draw on Kim Farrant’s experience to move the project forward, having mentored him through the Director Pathways program of Screenworks and the Australian Directors Guild.
Farrant is best known for the 2015 mystery drama Foreign, starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving, as well as the 2019 psychological thriller my angel, with Noomi Rapace, Yvonne Strahovski and Luke Evans.
Devas said Farrant had been an “incredible lawyer” throughout the process.
“As soon as I suggested that I could shoot my movie, she came back and said, ‘No, you will shoot your film, ”he said.
“Kim really encouraged me to do this and not let things get in my way.
“That and my own motivation really got to the point where we were able to start production this week.
“She was also instrumental in redefining my approach as a director and how I bring myself and my own vulnerabilities to the process, especially when it comes to working with actors. “
The production comes at a time when there is increased interest in the Byron Bay area, which forms the setting for the controversial Netflix influencer series. Byron Baes.
The announcement of the project follows an increase in celebrity activity in the region, driven mainly by high profile residents, such as Zac Efron and Chris Hemsworth.
Devas was philosophical when asked about the impact of his hometown’s growing profile on the independent film industry,
“I don’t feel like I’ve been pushed aside, but I think there is potentially too much emphasis on what’s happening on a larger scale,” he said.
“At the same time, it’s understandable because it’s happened so quickly and suddenly there’s this machine moving through our area with huge Hollywood actors and previously unfathomable amounts of money being used to produce film projects and television.
“It has changed but I don’t necessarily think that [independent practitioners] are set aside; it’s just a different climate.