Bad Girl | Q&A with Director Fin Edquist
One of six MIFF Premiere Fund films for 2016, Bad Girl will have its world premiere at this year's festival. Written and directed by Blinky Bill: The Movie and House Husbands screenwriter Fin Edquist, the film – a pulse-pounding thriller – stars Samara Weaving (Mystery Road, MIFF 2013) and Sara West (The Daughter, MIFF 2015) and features a moody score from long-time Nick Cave collaborator Warren Ellis.We sat down with Fin and asked him a few questions:
Bad Girl revolves around two strong female roles. What decisions led to casting Samara Weaving and Sara West?
Sara played Amy in the teaser and gave such a strong performance that I was adamant she appear in the film (assuming we got it made before she became too old to play a teenager). We had an exhaustive casting process for the role of Chloe. Sara was often called in to play against the actors auditioning for her. Funnily enough, she never played against Samara until we started rehearsing in WA. Samara was one of the last actors we auditioned, but she was worth the wait: her sense and humour and danger were immediately apparent and we signed her up pretty quickly after seeing her.
Themes of identity, belonging and family are explored in an unusual way – tell us about the thought processes behind the script and its development.
Refocussing the story around the girls really sharpened up the themes of identity and family. At the same time I was going through ructions in my own family and these questions – what is family? Who decides who’s in and who’s out? – were at the forefront of my mind.
The film explores the complexities of mental health and violent behaviour. What decisions did you make around playing up to genre conventions, and wanting to tackle the issues in a genuine way?
It’s definitely a balance. The challenge with any genre film like this is to prevent the plot from dominating completely so that you can make the audience give a damn about the characters. The people in this film do some fairly extreme things and I was worried it might run off the rails into satire/farce.
To counter this, I endeavoured to make both girls empathetic, which meant dealing with their problems in an emotionally honest way, being cognisant of their fears and desires, and refraining from judging them. I was loathe to use the label of any particular mental illness: it felt reductive, limiting my choices as a writer and the actors' choices. At the same time the film is a thriller and I want to entertain the audience: but hopefully by the time things really start getting intense, we understand where all the rage is coming from.
The score comes from Warren Ellis – who must be one of the most in-demand film composers of the moment, as well as being an ex-Melburnian. How did you attract Warren to the project?
Warren and producer Bruno Charlesworth had music industry connections, plus a connection as Australians living in Paris. Bruno got the script to Warren, who responded to the material. I met Warren at his holiday house in Phillip Island, we hit it off and Warren came on board the project. He was terrific to work with: there was a great collaborative back and forth between us.
Bad Girl's world premiere at MIFF 2016 is on Thursday 11 August at 9pm. There will be a second screening on Saturday 13 August at 4.15pm. Fin Edquist will attend both sessions to participate in post-screening Q&As.