Interview: Director Pene Patrick, Playing For Charlie

| 14 May , 2010 | 1 Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

What attracted you to this story?

I was driving through a quarry and saw two boys playing with a footy, and they lined up the ball to kick an imaginary goal; they went through the motions, pretending to kick and score, they celebrated – and it got me thinking about these little children and their big dreams.

You represent struggling Aussie families with dignity – had you had any real experiences that you were drawing from?

I come from a working class family, it’s the world I grew up in, and they really are the wheel of the world. They’re intelligent and caring just like anyone else, yet they’re not depicted that way as often as they should be. When you have money, of course you still suffer from grief, but when you haven’t, that struggle has further obstacles – it makes it more real.

How did you prepare for the film?

We spent a lot of time preparing with the cast. We discussed the backstory, so that when it came time to film the actors were very familiar with the family. When we found the house out there on its own with the old swings and the backyard it was a spine tingling moment.

Even though many people live close to the city, they can live in relative isolation thanks to access to transport – I wanted to tell their story. When Tony has to get on the bus with a pram, or if he misses the bus and has no way to get home, it’s a simple way of expressing these real life obstacles. I didn’t want to over-dramatise these struggles, but just reveal them and their daily presence.

Jared’s role is so central to the piece; how did you find working with such a young actor for such an intense role?

Jared is a very special talent – he’s an intelligent and an intuitive actor. We had a very thorough rehearsal process and that groundwork allowed him to really walk and talk the role. He grasped the complexity really well and was a pleasure to have on set.

It was so important that he was believable as a talented sportsperson as rugby was crucial    to the story and those familiar with the sport would understand that a number 10 needed to be fast on his feet – he needed to be convincing. Thankfully, Jared was a natural. While he plays soccer at school we had some assistance from the Victorian Schoolboys Rugby Union coach who went to his school to watch him play soccer and helped him transfer these skills to rugby. In the end the film has mirrored life, as I think he has become a very good rugby player (laughs).

What were the challenges of making this film?

One of the real challenges was working with a baby. We had an intense five week shoot that involved both day and night filming and Charlie was written into a lot of scenes. Babies have such short moments that they are happy to be on set and this film required quite a few.

What are you hoping that audiences will take out of Playing for Charlie?

I am hoping they will feel uplifted in a real way, to not to be afraid of the dark – this is life, it isn’t perfect. It’s about shining a light on everyday heroism, not about preaching, but I hope it will honour the qualities of sweetness and tenderness that I see in teenage boys, and if it has a message, it would simply be that the real heroic quality is kindness.

Read our film review.


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