The Navigator shows the way for first-timers
If you are an aspiring filmmakers who wants to make your first feature, all you need are a script, a video camera, a tiny crew, actors who are willing to defer their fees and about $6,000.
That’s what it took for Eddie Arya to write, produce, direct and shoot The Navigator, a psychological thriller about a family who are heading off for a vacation when their GPS system diverts them to a scary place.
Filming started in the Blue Mountains in January, shooting at weekends because everyone involved has full-time day jobs. The cast comprising Jamie Vergan, Sarah Bishop, Matthew Grego, Brendan Byrne, Gemma Laurelle and Audrey and Gracie Williams agreed to defer their fees, as did the crew, but had their meals provided.
A mobile technical consultant for Optus, Arya raised enough money to shoot the film by selling his motorcycle and a Jeep Laredo.
He a staged a red carpet premiere at The Chauvel in Paddington in August and is self-distributing the film. He plans to sell DVDs through the major retailers, video stores and online and he is asking Optus to provide funds so he can book the film into selected cinemas for one week.
Apart from Arya the crew comprised Julianne Howell and Rachel Fitzgerald, who shared the tasks of sound, make-up, hair and wardrobe, and occasionally make-up artist Viviana Moet. Phillip J. Faddoul did the music.
“I shot the entire film with a little Sony HVR Z1P video camera that I found on Gumtree,” he tells IF. “It was all shot with mini DV tapes. That's all we could afford but I spent a lot of time and effort to give it that cinematic look through my editing process which at the end I think we achieved. It looked and sounded amazing at the premiere and we had a lot of positive feedback.
“It was my first feature film but I had written, directed and edited a couple short films. I was quite petrified at first, knowing that I was committing to something that normally requires a mountain of knowledge, lots of crew and a ton of money.
“There were even times that I got anxieties just thinking about it but I was quite determined and I knew this concept had to be made and absolutely nothing would've come on my way of making it. With the help and support of my amazing cast and crew I gained more confidence and we made it happen.”
The formula seems to have worked because Arya is now shooting his second feature, The System, in Sydney featuring Jamie Vergan, Nikki Waterhouse, Yasemine B.Plows and Biman Wimalaratne.
The drama follows Martin McMillan, a family man who suddenly finds himself redundant after 15 years’ loyal service to the same company. Losing his home, car and entire savings, Martin faces his biggest challenge, an incident that will change his life forever.
“Once again we have kept it as a weekend project as I am self- funding it,” he says. It’ll be ready to premiere in April.