After filming mostly at night and weekends over six months, Michael Booth has finished Mr Pillow – his self-proclaimed “love letter to Sydney” – and is getting ready to share it with the world.
The filmmaker/playwright/actor was inspired to make the psychological romantic drama by Stephen Graham’s short story of the same name, a first-person fable about a troubled man caught in a love triangle between his new girlfriend and her favourite pillow.
He funded the film for less than $50,000 partly from the money he earned playing Harry in three seasons of Network 10’s Wonderland, with cameras and other gear donated through his association with TV crews.
Andrew Henry plays Sean, a young guy who is terrified of talking to women. When he finally musters the courage, he meets Sarah (Gemma Atkinson), a seemingly happy young woman who is charmed by Sean’s awkwardness.
They embark on an intensely sexual romance but as Sean learns more about Sarah’s past he begins to struggle with his confidence. It is the omnipresent inanimate object that turns the heated affair into a bizarre love triangle.
Georgia Scott and Megan McGlinchey play American girls and Ewen Leslie has a cameo as a stage actor. The crew included production designer Sophie Thé, DOPs Alex Serafini and Pete Wells and editor Benjamin Nunney.
Booth plans to live stream the film for free on May 2, with a “pay what you can” option to purchase a ticket. All proceeds will go towards the final sound mix, colour grade and song licensing.
He is figuring out whether to use Vimeo live, Facebook Live, or YouTube. It will also be accessible via Facebook.com/mrpillowmovie.
“This film is a love letter to my home town,” he says. “I’d always wanted to capture on screen the beauty of Sydney, especially at night. It baffles me that more films aren’t made in that city.”
Asked why he opted to stream the film, he says: “With the world in lockdown, this is an opportunity to share a new Australian film, and perhaps to inspire people to make their own stuff.”
Actually this is his second feature as a director. He shot a screen adaptation of Thirty-Three, his play which was staged at London’s Leicester Square Theatre, in Sydney in late 2017.
Financed mostly through crowdfunding, the family drama follows a primary school teacher who invites a group of friends to her new apartment for a birthday dinner party; things go awry when her estranged brother turns up.
Starring Jessica Wren, Georgia Scott and Ben Dalton, the film is in the final stages of post. Booth aims to launch it on the festival circuit and find a distributor.
In 2016 he appeared in Pandemic, a prescient five-part drama about a deadly virus and the people at the front line of fighting bio-terrorism. It was commissioned by the University of NSW for its counter-terrorism law course.
Professor Raina MacIntyre of the UNSW’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine, today one of the most quoted experts on COVID-19, conceived the series, which was shortlisted for four awards at Melbourne WebFest.