the lizard of Oz making waves in Hollywood

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The story of Mirrah Foulkes and David Michod’s first kiss is so good it might have been scripted.

The date was late 2004 and the situation Melbourne, the place budding director Christopher Benz wanted two volunteers to play girlfriend and boyfriend in a brief movie being shot, guerrilla-style, throughout a single weekend.

Blue-Tongue filmmaking couple David Michod and Mirrah Foulkes in Bondi.Credit score:James Brickwood

Michod had travelled from Sydney to assist out. Then a 31-year-old editor of Inside Movie Journal, he had been to movie college with Benz on the College of Melbourne’s Victoria School of the Arts. He had taken a job on the journal to maintain engaged with an business he cherished however had no thought easy methods to crack.

Foulkes was a 23-year-old fledgling actor who was by no means alleged to be there. When Benz’s first alternative for the girlfriend function stop, she stepped up.

“It was a rehearsal kiss inside quarter-hour of us assembly, on a mattress on a [living room] flooring,” says Michod, who fell for his co-star “straightaway. I nonetheless name it the best weekend of my life.”

Foulkes took somewhat extra convincing.

“I used to be very younger,” she remembers. “I used to be like: ‘Ah shit I actually like him however it’s too quickly … I had plans, I used to be going to go and dwell in Spain … There have been all these different issues that I needed to do. After which, , life offers you totally different choices.”

Seventeen years on, Foulkes and Michod have emerged as certainly one of Australia’s most intriguing film-making {couples}. Each belong to the powerhouse Blue-Tongue Movies, a collective of creatives who’ve performed a vital function within the alternate of expertise between the US and Australia, offering alternatives for the following technology of Australians in Hollywood and paving the best way for worldwide movies to be made right here.

Mirrah Foulkes directed Judy & Punch starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman.

Mirrah Foulkes directed Judy & Punch starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman.Credit score:Madmen Leisure


Foulkes boasts a heavy-weight performing resume (assume TV classics equivalent to Blue Heelers, All Saints, Prime of the Lake, Hawaii 5-0, Judy & Punch, Harrow and The Crown) however she has additionally written and directed three award-winning quick movies and a film, Judy & Punch, which premiered on the 2019 Sundance Movie Pageant. Judy & Punch is a searing #MeToo revenge story set amidst puppeteers in a seventeenth century English city.

Shot round Melbourne, it stars Hollywood favourites Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman. It generated a slew of Australian Academy Cinema and Tv Arts Award nominations (together with Finest Director and Finest Screenplay for Foulkes) and gained AACTA awards for actor Herriman and the film’s composer François Tetazdebute.

It put Foulkes on the map.

Michod catapulted to international consideration in 2010 together with his explosive debut film Animal Kingdom, a testosterone-drenched, household drama set in Melbourne’s claustrophobic, prison gangland.

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Written and directed by Michod, Animal Kingdom made $2.5 million in its first three weeks, gained 9 AFI Awards, and turbo-charged the Hollywood careers of Ben Mendelssohn, Joel Edgerton and Man Pearce, profitable Jacki Weaver her first Finest Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the function of Smurf and galvanizing a US TV sequence of the identical title (starring Ellen Barkin as Smurf) that’s run to 5 seasons thus far.

Michod has since launched three different motion pictures (The Rover in 2014, Conflict Machine in 2017 and The King in 2019), and been concerned in productions starring everybody from Brad Pitt (who sought Michod out for Conflict Machine) to Robert Pattinson, Laura Dern, George Clooney and Natalie Portman.

“I’ve gotten very, very comfy working on this globally tough price range vary $US20 to $US60 million,” he says.

David Michod and Timothee Chalamet, in The King.

David Michod and Timothee Chalamet, in The King.Credit score:Netflix

Till right now, Foulkes and Michod have refused all requests for joint press interviews. Sitting in the lounge of certainly one of their two Bondi Seaside flats (the primary is the place they dwell and he works; this one, simply throughout the hallway, homes her workplace and his electrical drum-kit), the couple clarify why.

“We each really feel like we’re … forging our personal careers,” says Foulkes, “We’re pretty non-public as properly and … ”

“… and concern of schmaltz,” chips in Michod. “All of it turns into about lavatory habits or one thing.”

“It turns into in regards to the couple relatively than the work, and I assume we wish to preserve issues particular, so that is the primary time we’ve performed it,” clarifies Foulkes.

Deadpans Michod: “I don’t know why we’re doing it now.”

He’s kidding, after all.

Until now Foulkes and Michod have refused requests for joint press interviews.

Till now Foulkes and Michod have refused requests for joint press interviews.Credit score:James Brickwood

They’re doing it for the launch this month of Australians & Hollywood, a landmark exhibition on Australian cinema at Canberra’s Nationwide Movie and Sound Archive, and since Blue-Tongue Movies is a key a part of that image.

Stills from Muriel’s Wedding are part of the Australians in Hollywood exhibition.

Stills from Muriel’s Wedding ceremony are a part of the Australians in Hollywood exhibition.Credit score:Home and Moorhouse Movies

Australians & Hollywood is designed to have a good time the facility and attain of up to date Australian movie and the creatives behind it, in line with curator Tara Marynowsky. It showcases never-before screened footage from Mad Max, and infrequently seen memorabilia from classics equivalent to Crocodile Dundee, Moulin Rouge!, The Nice Gatsby, Muriel’s Wedding ceremony, Adventures of Priscilla, Chopper, The Sapphires and Strictly Ballroom.

Australians in Hollywood are nothing new – high-flying actor Errol Flynn and filmmaker John Farrow have been a part of Hollywood’s golden age from the Nineteen Twenties to the early ’60s. However it was the so-called “New Australian Cinema” of the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, together with Walkabout and The Final Wave, that punched homegrown creatives like Peter Weir and Mel Gibson into Hollywood’s studio orbit.

This exhibition showcases a few of that expertise. George Miller, Baz Lurhmann and Rachel Perkins are simply among the featured administrators, and red-carpet celebs embody Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger.

Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter in the Golden Compass.

Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter within the Golden Compass.Credit score:Nationwide Movie & Sound Archive

“Australians & Hollywood is in regards to the pivotal moments, the enduring motion pictures and the folks that purchased them to life,” says Marynowsky. “It’s about collaboration and camaraderie. We have been searching for the insider perspective.”

Which is the place Blue-Tongue Movies matches in. A free group of display screen creatives, it’s comprised of eight award-winning filmmakers: Michod; Foulkes; author/director/actor Keiran Darcy-Smith; director Luke Doolan, author/director/producer/ stuntman/actor and editor Nash Edgerton; his youthful brother, actor and filmmaker Joel; director of drama, quick movies, commercials and music movies Sean Kruck; and Spencer Susser, the one American, whose work spans options movies, shorts, industrial and music movies.

Jim Broadbent, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, 2001. Part of the Australians in Hollywood exhibition.

Jim Broadbent, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, 2001. A part of the Australians in Hollywood exhibition.

Marynowsky describes Blue-Tongue as “distinctive” and “inspiring” as a result of “at first they’re good pals, they aren’t in competitors with one another … and so they sort out every little thing – stunts, writing, enhancing, every little thing – ”.

Blue-Tongue started in Sydney in 1996 when 4 filmmaker wannabes: stuntmen Nash Edgerton and Tony Lynch (who has since left) plus drama graduates Kieran Darcy-Smith and Nash’s youthful brother Joel made an action-packed, eight-minute movie referred to as Loaded, about some buddies shopping for a gun. They named themselves after the Edgerton brothers’ pet lizard.

By the early 2000s, Blue-Tongue had an workplace in the identical Darlinghurst constructing that housed Michod’s journal. Nash talked him into becoming a member of and he remembers going, “Okay, certain I like hanging out with you guys, it’s enjoyable.”

David Wenham. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in 2016’s Lion.

David Wenham. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in 2016’s Lion.Credit score:Nationwide Movie and Sound Archive

The core was friendship fuelled by a shared ardour for cinema. Blue-Tongue’s members bounced script concepts off one another, badgered one another into launching initiatives and helped out the place they might to get issues completed.

“We have been frightened,” says Michod, who started writing Animal Kingdom. “We didn’t know easy methods to have a profession. We thought there was security in numbers and that if all of us simply mucked in collectively, we’d work one thing out. After which it took on an influence of its personal.”

That second arrived on the 2008 Sundance Movie Pageant.

“I used to be [there] with a brief movie that I’d made referred to as Crossbow, Nash was there with a brief movie referred to as Spider that I had co-written with him, and Spencer Susser [was there] with a brief movie referred to as I really like Sarah Jane, that I co-wrote with him, too,” remembers Michod.

“Individuals have been speaking about us like we have been a motion after we have been only a bunch of pals. We got here to recognise … there was an influence in milking the model somewhat bit. As cynical as that sounds … it was good for all of us.” Not least when The New York Instances’ arts part profiled the Australian trio in a front-page story.

“On the again of three quick movies,“Michod laughs.

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Michod saved engaged on Animal Kingdom (“10 years of writing and writing and rewriting and ranging from scratch about 4 occasions”) till the screenplay “felt good, which occurred to coincide with me hanging out with these guys and having champions in them”.

“Joel was a serious a part of that, [he] was changing into a well-known actor on the time and actually needed to assist me get this factor made. He connected his title to it early, helped me make the [2007] quick Crossbow, which performed at Sundance … all with the goal of getting Animal Kingdom made.

Joel and Nash Edgerton, both part of the Blue-Tongue collective which they named after their pet lizard,  with actress Claire van der Boom at the Sydney Film Festival.

Joel and Nash Edgerton, each a part of the Blue-Tongue collective which they named after their pet lizard, with actress Claire van der Increase on the Sydney Movie Pageant.Credit score:Edwina Pickles

“It’s simple sufficient to put in writing one thing at house by your self however taking the following step to really making it’s gigantic, and also you solely actually do this if your folks are forcing you to.”

Foulkes is nodding in settlement. “Yeah, yeah,” she says. “Shaming you into it.”

Foulkes identifies Nash Edgerton because the glue that retains Blue-Tongue collectively. With out the assist of the Blue-Tongue gang, Foulkes doubts she would ever have directed.

“It’s like all group of pals which can be pushing and inspiring one another,” she says. “It simply occurred to have a reputation and … fall below the banner of a collective. We by no means channelled it into any type of enterprise mannequin, which I feel has been a saving grace.”

Michod says he by no means needed to: “My idea has all the time been that the factor will collapse if we do this – that its power is its friendship and its generosity … We’re all bizarre, moody creatures, and it wants flexibility.”

A part of that, as of late, means permitting Blue-Tongue to splinter.

“It was a lot simpler [to stay connected] when all of us have been semi-unemployed and solely engaged on small issues,” says Michod. “Because the initiatives began getting greater it sort of pressured us off down our personal tributaries.”

Foulkes disagrees. “It’s nonetheless alive and powerful. Spencer and I are engaged on one thing in the meanwhile … and also you and Joel are into your third or fourth writing challenge.”

“True,” concedes Michod. “Nash has a brief that’s the third in our trilogy. There was Spider, Bear and now Shark that has simply performed at Sydney and Toronto [film festivals].”

Foulkes has simply begun directing the brand new season of Upright, Tim Minchin’s critically-acclaimed black comedy. Michod is blissful, for the second, “simply floating round and writing”.

“My recommendation to aspiring filmmakers is all the time the identical,” he says. “Discover your friends, discover your folks, seize those who really feel the identical means you do after which simply make stuff collectively.

“Discover your Blue-Tongue.”

Australians & Hollywood: a story of craft, expertise, and ambition runs from January 21 to July 17, on the Nationwide Movie and Sound Archive of Australia in Canberra.

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