Genre-wise, suburban crime has been good to the Australian industry – Two Hands launched Heath Ledger, Animal Kingdom cleaned up at last year's AFI Awards and Underbelly still seems unstoppable after three series.
Now, Gareth Calverley and Joss King have tossed their hat in the ring with Small Time Gangster.
“What I think makes Small Time really stand out,” Calverley tells IF, “is that it's not about good guys and bad guys, it’s really just about working class blue collar guys who are trying to make a living – I think I stole it from Goodfellas.”
In fairness to Calverley, this can’t be the first time that thought has occurred to a content maker.
“There’s a line in it that says ‘our husbands were just blue collar guys' and I just found something really appealing about that because everyone’s got to go to work and juggle their family and sometimes we fail.
"It all comes crashing down, and when it comes crashing down – that’s the drama of our show.”
Shot on the RED ONE camera, the series follows hard-man Tony Piccolo (Steve Le Marquand) – Gary Sweet’s hired muscle – as he struggles with a newfound conscience, his wife’s growing suspicions and pressure from the office.
“I hadn’t shot anything extensive on the RED before and was curious about it and I love the lenses you can use on the RED – they’re beautiful,” says series-director Jeff Walker.
With Sacha Horler (My Year Without Sex), Gia Carides (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Geoff Morrell (Grass Roots) rounding out the cast, Small Time Gangster can boast quite the thespian pedigree.
“The cast were phenomenal; we felt incredibly lucky to have them on board – they were attracted to the project 'cause they liked the material. It was a project that was written in advance of the series… [which] led to a very creative atmosphere on set and everyone was completely encouraged to explore it and try things,” Walker said.
At the other side of the production process the boys have come out with eight-and-half hours of dark comedy on a $3.15 million budget, or maybe it was $3.2 – “I’m a writer they don’t invite me to those meetings,” laughs Calverley who also produced the series.
So who should tune in?
“If it appeals to me and it appeals to my friends than I’m going to assume that it could appeal to anybody, but what I didn’t want to do was make it really, really intensely blokey,” says Calverley. “We weren’t after all that tits and arse stuff that was in Underbelly.”
Small Time Gangster had its premiere on the Movie Channel on April 19 at 8.30pm.