1% (Stephen MacCallum, 2017) wr. Matt Nable; Matt Nable, Ryan Corr, Abbey Lee, Josh McConville, Simone Kessell, Aaron Pedersen; bikies; WA
Jackie Keast, 'Screenwest backs Stephen McCallum’s debut feature 1%', IF, 15 July 2016.
Screenwest has announced that 1%, debut feature of director Stephen McCallum, is the recipient of this year’s $750,000 West Coast Visions funding.
West Coast Visions is one of Screenwest’s largest funds, aimed to “uncover, inspire and develop” local talent and skills.
1%, written by actor Matt Nable (Hacksaw Ridge, Arrow, Barracuda), is a set within the primal underworld of outlaw motorcycle club gangs. It follows the heir to the throne of a motorcycle club who has to betray his president to save his brother’s life.
McCallum, who has previously directed a variety of shorts, music videos and commercials, says he was attracted to the Shakespearean undertones of the story. He calls it one of “father versus son, tradition versus ambition, and brotherhood.”
“The main question that draws me to the script that Matt wrote is: what’s the cost of loyalty when it makes you turn against your own blood?” McCallum tells IF.
1% will be produced by Jamie Hilton (Breath, OtherLife) and Michael Pontin, from production company Ticket to Ride, in partnership with Deluxe Australia's Heart Beat Fund, Head Gear Films, Spectrum Films and Red Apple cameras.
It was Pontin who first introduced Nable’s script to McCallum. They had kept in touch over the years after going to film school together and working on 'It’s Time', a commercial on marriage equality for GetUp.
That ad, which McCallum directed and Pontin co-produced, went viral; garnering over 16 million views on YouTube and was voted AdNews Viral of the Year.
McCallum says it’s kind of funny that in the world of commercials he is known for emotive and warm-hearted work.
“A lot of my dramatic work is pretty dark and uncompromising. I grew up loving the films of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick. My favourite film when I grew up was Romper Stomper,” he says.
Exposing the audience to the machinations of a dark and high octane subculture is part of McCallum’s vision for 1%. “I just want to take an audience on a dive into this forbidden world,” he says.
McCallum says he is grateful to have the opportunity to make his first feature. “I feel like I’ve been around films for a long time, and I’m really excited to take the next step and to actually put my voice onto screen,” he says.
In 2013, McCallum was the recipient of Screen Australia's director's attachment scheme for Tony Ayres' Cut Snake, and in 2014 he was Glendyn Ivin's Director’s Assistant on Channel 9’s Gallipoli, where he directed 2nd Unit.
“A really good way to learn as a director is to watch other directors work, and then take what you like and think what you would maybe do differently,” he says. “I’ve been really privileged to be able to learn from those guys.”
Over the past year, the team on 1% have been refining the script and are now in the process of casting and enlisting crew. Nable will also act in the film as the main antagonist.
“I’m excited by the possibility of bringing it to life. I’m really focused on getting the right people, so we can make the world as visceral as possible. If we get all that, then I’ll be popping champagne,” says McCallum.
1% will commence shooting in the next six months in various locations around WA.
Previous films funded through West Coast Visions include Hounds of Love, Blame, These Final Hours, and Wasted on the Young.
Don Groves, 'Bouquets and brickbats for Stephen McCallum’s crime drama 1% in Toronto', IF, 11 September, 2017.
Critics found a lot to like as well as several faults with Stephen McCallum’s debut feature 1%, which had its world premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Matt Nable’s performance as a former criminal and leader of a violent motorbike gang in the crime drama was highly praised in the first batch of reviews.
However some critics questioned the predictable plot and the under-developed female characters.
Celluloid Dreams is handling the international sales for the film scripted by Nable which co-stars Ryan Corr, Josh McConville, Aaron Pedersen, Abbey Lee and Simone Kessell, produced by Jamie Hilton and Michael Pontin. Icon will release in Australia.
Nable plays Knuck, who resumes his post as president of the Copperheads Motorcycle Club after a three-year stretch in jail. Corr is Paddo, who ran the club in Knuck’s absence, recruiting new members and finding new sources of cash. Lee is Paddo’s girlfriend Katrina and Kessell is Knuck’s wife Hayley.
Trouble erupts when Paddo’s younger brother, the developmentally disabled Skink (McConville), gets caught stealing a heroin stash from rival gang members the Devils. Their leader Sugar (Pedersen) puts a price on Skink’s head.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Justin Lowe described the film as more of a melodrama than a crime drama, but opined: “The subject matter alone is almost enough to assure viewer interest, making continued festival play and even commercial release on some scale appear inevitable.”
Lowe said Nable has the hulking physique and intimidating stare of a career criminal, bringing a palpable menace to Knuck, while Corr clearly has more to offer than what’s revealed by the ill-fated role of Paddo but is held back by the script’s inclination toward martyrisation.
Canadian critic Scene Creek’s Dani Saad found the film a bit heavy on the overt Shakespearean themes that frequent male-dominated gang films but said McCallum creates a vivid world and the characters are layered enough to make the themes, however well-worn, carry weight.
“While the film lacks originality, a taut script and excellent performances make this self-contained story of power, brotherhood, and betrayal a successful debut for Stephen McCallum,” Saad observed.
CineVue’s Chris Machell rated the “hyper-masculine fable” enjoyable and occasionally compelling, but also predictable and lacking the depth to elevate its characters and their relationships above the rote.
Machell praised Nable’s standout performance as he invests Knuck with a “throbbing rage that threatens to bubble over at any second. He’s a bloody-minded mule, openly prepared to cut off his nose to spite his face, and out of sheer stubbornness wrecks a business deal with a rival gang that Paddo set up at great cost.”
Kessell brings an authentic presence to her character, which somewhat obscures the clichés, while Katrina is a paper-thin Lady MacBeth.
The critic also said there’s great deal of fun to be had watching “leather-clad chopper heads knock seven bells of shit out of each other, back lit by enormous bonfires.“
This is one of those dramas that can’t balance its incredibly dark tone with something that feels like the journey into the grimy underbelly is worth taking. It’s the kind of film that makes you want to take a shower when it’s over to wash it off. Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com.
Garry Gillard | New: 7 February, 2017 | Now: 14 December, 2017