ADG winner Matthew Saville has three films in planning

This article originally appeared in IF Magazine #147 (June-July 2012).

Director Matthew Saville has three features in development: Dark Victory, an adaptation of David Marr and Marian Wilkinson’s book of the same name about the Tampa crisis; Felony, an original thriller written by and to star Joel Edgerton; and Month of Sundays, a comedy about real estate.

IF Magazine asked Saville about his plans after he won two Australian Directors’ Guild Awards: for the mini-series cloudstreet and for Harry’s episode in The Slap in the category for drama series.

He only answered in terms of features – later suggesting that perhaps he only has the stamina to get to 100 pages – but made it very clear how important television is to him.

“TV has a faster turnaround and gives you the opportunity to have an output, rather than be in development forever,” he said. “It is important for directors to stay match-fit by playing a few games every season.”

Saville is currently in the editing room with a 6 x 30-minute comedy Please Like Me, written by and starring comedian Josh Thomas and produced by Todd Abbott. He also has hopes that Bonny Doon, an unscripted short, might grow into a series. It was filmed in a Toyota Tarago in 45 minutes and stars Stephen Curry and Dave Lawson.

Saville likes to direct a mix of TV comedy and drama, he says, but now that six years have passed since he filmed his debut film Noise, he is keen on doing another feature. One of the things he learned from Noise, he says, was the need to focus on the potential audience from the outset.

“You have to find a balance between indulgent aesthetics and what you want to achieve, and being conscious of how the expense of making a film might be recouped,” he says with a laugh.

His thumbnail sketch of Australian audiences is amusing: “It’s hard to attract young people because of the $200 million blockbusters full of superheroes – people of my age have kids and don’t go out, but there is an audience of older people who are hungry for adult drama, which is a languishing form.”

He sees the issues in Dark Victory as particularly pertinent to a mature audience and, rather modestly, says he’s not so much writing the script as “transposing the text because the book’s so fantastically written”.

The film will contain little or no bad language because something his mum said about the swearing in Noise still echoes in his mind: “I’m so proud of you Matt but I can’t recommend it to the women at the bridge club”.

Month of Sundays – also fondly known as the “untitled Shaun Micallef vehicle” – is about a guy who works in real estate who is disconnected from the world, including from his wife and his mother. It is being produced by Ruby Entertainment.

“I’m the son of a real estate agent but this is an exercise in bespoke tailoring,” says Saville, a reference to Micallef’s involvement. “I just like working, directing. It’s not the mode of dissemination or the genre that attracts me; it’s the scripts. I get sent a lot of scripts and a lot of them are structurally perfect – and Robert McKee would love them – but they lack a world view or philosophy.”