A MIXTURE of “stubbornness, tenacity and stupidity” has seen a movie shot and produced in Swan View take home a raft of international film awards.
The Xrossing, written and directed by Swan View’s Steven Mihaljevic, had its world premiere at the Toronto Independent Film Festival where it took home best film in the micro-budget category for films budgeted below $250,000.
Last Friday, the film won Best Feature Film at the London Independent Film Awards as well.
Shot in September and December 2018, The Xrossing is a coming-of-age story that focuses on three boys who harass a reclusive Aboriginal man, Bobby (Kelton Pell).
One of the boys, Chris, apologises to Bobby and forms a unique bond with the man long-suspected of a murder in Swan View.
Mihaljevic said the story was based on what he has seen as a drama teacher for over 10 years.
“One of the drawbacks to education, I love it don’t get me wrong, but one of the drawbacks is you sometimes see kids that you’ve taught come out of school after they’ve graduated and they look like they’ve lost their way,” he said.
“They’ve become misguided and misled and they’re maybe mixing with the wrong people, they get caught in these negative cycles and I see this a bit and it’s sad.
“They have all these dreams in high school and it seems like they’re going down a different path.
“That’s the basis of the story, the premise, three boys coming out of high school getting caught in these negative cycles.
“One of the boys wants to break free but he doesn’t have a positive role model to help him get there.”
Shot entirely in locations around Swan View and the Hills, Mihaljevic describes the location as an absolute dream – which is not to say getting the film shot was in any way easy, mainly due to finances.
“It’s incredibly convenient as a start, and the main set of the film, Bobby’s place, is actually my house,” he said.
“The Swan View tunnel is utilised in a big way, it’s an iconic landmark in the film and we’ve got a number of scenes in Swan View, the Bellevue Railway, John Forrest and the bush trails.
“Location is incredibly important and if you have these landmarks in your backyard it doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else.
“We shot half the film, we ran out of money, we had a break, we got some more money and then we shot the second half.
“You rely on the money and, I guess it was a mixture between stubbornness, tenacity and stupidity I think, going in.
“I did the first half not knowing if we were going to be able to make the second half.”
Now ready for its Australian debut screening at Revelations Film Festival in December, Mihaljevic hopes to capitalise on the success of The Xrossing.
“I try not to think ‘oh, is it going to get into a festival, is it going to win an award’, the fact is that I don’t have an expectation, I take it more as a pleasant surprise, even though I know we have something of substance, a quality film.
“If you go into any form of arts with the goal to win awards you’re setting yourself up for failure, you have to focus on the art, that’s what’s important.
“The really interesting thing is I was working on a screenplay with my writing partner Carl for a year, we thought that was the one but we didn’t have the budget at the time.
“With the success of The Xrossing we hope we can get back to that one and people will take us seriously now.
“If that doesn’t gravitate with people, we’ve got a few other scripts we’ve got in the pipes.
“I’m excited about what’s to come.”