Tomorrow, When The War Began: A New Era Dawns for Homegrown Cinema

| 20 August , 2010 | 5 Replies

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed by: Stuart Beattie
Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Christopher Pang, Andrew Ryan, Deniz Akdeniz, Ashleigh Cummings, Phoebe Tonkin, Lincoln Lewis

Young, energetic and with plenty of promise, Tomorrow, When the War Began (TWTWB), is an exciting Australian film that will no doubt provide a welcome screen adaptation for the fans of the popular teen books. We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview and catch up with the cast and crew to find out what it was like to work on the first film of this much beloved Tomorrow series.

About the Film:

Based on John Marsden\’s beloved series, and set in the rural town of Wirrawee, TWTWB follows the coming of age of eight Australian teenagers, who leave to go camping as innocent teens and return to find their homes invaded and their lives forever changed. Confronted with the shattering discovery that an unknown military force has captured their town, they must find strength and bravery like never before as they band together to fight for their freedom, and indeed, their lives.

17 year old Ellie leads the pack, along with best friend Corrie, her boyfriend, and five others. They are an endearing bunch, and it would seem that there\’s a character for everybody, from the quiet and thoughtful Lee, to the comedic stoner Chris, teen jock Kevin, beauty queen Fiona, goodie two-shoes Robyn, and bad boy Homer. Together they must navigate their differences and discover their hidden strengths as they take on this unforgiving enemy militia.

Behind the Scenes:

What\’s refreshing about this film is that it offers a fresh take on the action genre and importantly produces a strong female lead as well as supplying intelligent and relatively progressive depictions of race, gender and religion – it\’s a film that many young Aussies will feel included by. As director Stuart Beattie quipped, ‘had this been made in Hollywood, firstly, Ellie would have been changed to Allan.\’

For Beattie, who has written many a Hollywood blockbuster – including the popular Pirates of the Carribean films – ‘writing was a way to learn how to direct\’. In Beattie\’s directorial debut, it seems a rather fitting homage to the source material – John Marsden\’s books – that a fellow writer helms this project.

Working with a young cast, who are perhaps a little more comfortable with naturally speaking as teenagers do, Beattie was willing to let the script evolve under their guidance. ‘They are still finding themselves and their craft, they\’re great to work with, very enthusiastic,\’ he said. Beattie also received the all important stamp of approval from Marsden himself – ‘the film is a pretty faithful adaptation to the novels… John made very few changes to the screenplay.\’

For Christopher Pang, playing Lee Takkam wasn\’t just a lesson in acting on the big screen. ‘I had to learn to play the piano, how to dodge bullets, I had a personal trainer and even had to learn Kung Fu.\’ Weary of being the token Asian kid, Pang was also happy that the director was keen to work against the constraints of stereotyping. With a wry smile he said,  ‘Lee lives and works in a Thai restaurant, is studious, plays the piano and then they wanted him to do Kung Fu – nobody\’s that Asian! Thankfully we both agreed and they took it out.\’

Having travelled Asia in search of opportunities, Pang was quick to see the irony in coming home. ‘I was in Asia and heard about the film, I had to be in it, so I auditioned by videotape.\’ But it wasn\’t all challenging for Pang. Getting to play the love interest of Ellie Linton (Caitlin Stasey) was one of his highlights. ‘She\’s gorgeous, she\’s lovely,\’ he gushed enthusiastically. Like many in the cast, Pang stands out as a promising addition to the pantheon of young Australian actors; onscreen, he brought a mature sense of depth to a character that risked falling into tokenism and parody, and offscreen, he presents as intelligent and light hearted – thankfully, a grounded actor on the rise.

Tackling another of the more challenging roles – the uber religious Robyn – was 16 year old Ashleigh Cummings. Working with a script based on what she considers ‘an iconic piece of Australian literature\’ was quite the thrill for the young actress who was first introduced to the books while living abroad.

Of course, to play a devout and moral character respectfully required some research, but the bigger challenge came when she had to learn how to ride a motorbike. ‘Caitlin and I slammed into a wall and I went flying off the back\’. While Cummings admits that there is a bit more pressure playing a character that fans already know, she wouldn\’t take it back for a moment – ‘it\’s been the best experience of my life\’.

Tomorrow When the War Began is in cinemas from September 2.

Courtesy of Paramount

Keeva

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  1. Sassi Sam says:

    This giveaway is closed, congratulations to: Victoria, Sara, Pamela, Cindy and Angela. You will be contacted via email.
    Sassi
    xoxo

  2. Sassi Sam says:

    Me too, I’m really looking forward to seeing it … so much positive feedback coming out about it.

  3. Genevieve says:

    Wooo! I cannot WAIT for this movie! Thanks for the behind the scenes info. 🙂

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