Christopher Kenworthy has written two novels, over 30 short stories and extensive visual effects features for numerous publications. But instead of continuing his writing career, he’s moved on to filmmaking.
Last week, Kenworthy completed post-production on his first feature film, a high concept supernatural thriller called The Sculptor.
The film tells the story of a struggling artist who dabbles in black magic to find success, but when he gets everything he’s ever dreamed of, the demons come back to haunt his life, his work and family.
Always having had a strong interest in the occult for over 20 years and written novels on the subject, Kenworthy co-wrote The Sculptor with his wife, Chantal Bourgault, who has a PhD in literature specialising in werewolves.
“I wanted to make this big film about this crazy obsession over black magic that actually goes on in the world,” says Kenworthy. “I’ve seen it practiced around the world by the poorest and the richest and there’s a very weird and real world out there.”
Despite his passion and knowledge on the subject, the British-born filmmaker who now resides in Perth, stumbled on a roadblock while trying to seek out funding for his film from ScreenWest and Screen Australia (then the AFC).
“While I had a lot of support from ScreenWest and the AFC, the whole time we were being pulled back,” explains the one-time WA Screen Award winner. “I was being told, ‘Make the script smaller, the idea smaller. Develop it for seven years.’ But I didn’t believe in long development. I believe in getting the idea then making a film. I think seven years of development just kills the soul of everybody who works on the film.”
So Kenworthy decided to seek other alternatives, and in light of Western Australia’s mining boom, found private investors to finance a new production company.
Skyview Films was officially set up in June 2007 with the intention of “providing significant contributions to a sustainable feature film industry in Western Australia.” Hence, not only was Kenworthy’s The Sculptor on its production slate, the company had lined up two other films for production until 2011.
Yet while the film could finally commence production, Kenworthy stumbled onto more roadblocks. Being set in Perth, he had difficulty casting actors.
“We had trouble getting actors and agents to believe the film was really going be made,” says Kenworthy. “I know for a fact that even with the actors we ended up casting, their agents were like, ‘The film sounds great, they’ve got budget, that’s fantastic. But Perth?!’ It was a really big problem. With some agents, we had to pretty much beg to even get their actors to audition for us. It took six months, but in the end, we found the perfect cast.”
Eventually, the film managed to cast Blue Heelers’ Paul David-Goddard, Melanie Vallejo (Dying Breed), Georgina Andrews (Neighbours) and former Royal Shakespeare Company actor Gordon Honeycombe.
Another issue Kenworthy faced was that Western Australia had no film processing labs. But choosing to shoot on the Red camera easily solved this.
“It was pretty much a prototype when we were using it,” says Kenworthy.” It was not settled, stable and easy to use, but it had its advantages. In the evening, we could cut things together in 2K, 4K and see if the resolution’s in sync. When you live in Perth where there’s no lab, that’s pretty important.”
Then that led Skyview Films to become self-sustainable by starting up its own post-production house to complete the film.