Logline: Robert Keyes, successful wild-child of his stockbroking firm is a confident young Australian married to beautiful New Yorker, Jenny. Tired of the frenetic pace of New York, Robert has encouraged his wife to relocate to Australia so they can embrace the free and easy lifestyle of his birthplace. Keen to show Jenny what his childhood weekends were like camping in the great outdoors, Robert eschews all the glamorous trappings his successful career has brought his family and naively proposes a weekend escape from city life, roughing it in the bush. Robert soon discovers that his childhood recollections and city smarts mean nothing in the wilderness. As night falls the family must decide how they’re going to survive.
Current Status: Completed.
Length: 10 mins
Director: Jennifer Ross
Producer: Jennifer Ross
Looking for: Development opportunities for a feature length script.
Funders: Self Funded
Made in association with: Ten Speed Films
Why did you make this film?
European settlers have a longstanding relationship with the Australian bush, which appears to recede with every passing year. It seems to me that despite being at odds with the vast landscape we live in, there aren’t many films made about our connection with the bush and our growing disconnection from it.
I’ve never forgotten the film Lost In The Bush which I saw as a nine year old. The true story of Jane Duff and her brothers stayed with me as a dilemma that any inhabitant of Australia could, and still does have from time to time.
As a child, many of my family holidays were hiking and camping in the wilderness. When I was preparing to write the script, I considered all that could go wrong in that environment and focused on one incident.
Why is the film called The Hardest Night?
The title THE HARDEST NIGHT is inspired by a line from the poem, Lost In The Bush by Stephen Kelen, a chilling composition about a lone cyclist on a bush track at night.
Why do you think the Australian outback is such an ominous place?
From the ill-fated expedition of explorers Burke and Wills to current times where walkers simply go missing, some never to be seen again, the Australian bush is often considered by European settlers to be a vast and unforgiving landscape.
Dane Kowalski, whose ute became bogged south of Coober Pedy, was trying to wedge sticks under the wheels for traction when he was fatally bitten by a snake. The infamous Ivan Milat murders are an unfortunate reminder that being alone in the bush can lead to great misfortune. There are many real life stories that convey how isolated, menacing and brutal the Australian landscape is.
What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
I haven’t screened the film publicly because I am in the process of submitting to film festivals. The trailer can be viewed on the homepage of my website tenspeedfilms.com.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Based on the trailer, some people have thought The Hardest Night is a horror film; however it doesn’t have the classic elements of the horror genre. The Hardest Night is a drama that conveys how average people naively spend time in the bush, possibly aware of potential dangers, but assume (or hope) nothing will go wrong.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
I feel that ultimately The Hardest Night could be developed into a feature length script, but in the meantime I’ll submit the short film to festivals and work towards more exposure on this platform and others.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message and audience?
Once I have completed the film A Common Goal and am further ahead in production with the Hardcore History punk documentary, I would like to work with a producer and a writer to develop this story further and create a feature length script.
What type of impact would you like this film to have in Australia and internationally?
I like the idea of exploring quintessential Australian themes that traverse landscape and cultural identity. I’d like the film to create an awareness of ones own limitations within the confines of the terrain.
Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this issue and film?
In western culture we have developed an overwhelming reliance on technology to help solve our problems; but what do we do when these systems fail us? If your phone runs out of battery in the middle of nowhere, what’s the next plan of action? A tradie friend of mine told me a story of being in the bush with his mate. The battery of their Jeep died for no particular reason and it took hours for them to find it. They eventually located it under the passenger seat…..
Many people run into trouble in the Australian bush every year because of a lack of understanding about the environment and their limitations within it.