Six human batteries rise up against their troubled tyrant.
Interview with Director Ande Cunningham and Producer Sarah-Jane McAllan
Congratulations! Why did you make a film called “Oranges Don’t Grow On Trees”?
The film is set in a world where oranges are both food and currency… so the main character runs into trouble when oranges stop growing on his tree.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
To watch what happened when we trapped our wonderful cast in a pile of sand for an entire day. Orange peels are genuinely munched and real sand is chewed.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The main character experiences his art being rejected… I’ll leave it at that regarding personal themes! We spoke about Hitler who was rejected from art school. If his career as a painter had flourished perhaps his passion might never have distorted into forming the Nazi party?
When Ande wrote the story we had just been traveling in Cuba and we were taken aback at how the revolutionary government had to sacrifice so many of the ideas of the revolution in order to protect the idea of revolution itself. The film is a satirical exploration of the old adage - that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Political systems are flawed by nature, not necessarily because of the ideas themselves but because the people who implement them are flawed.
How has the script and film evolved over the course of its development and production?
The script stayed tight from its first incarnation, though there were lots of dialogue rewrites, for example the tongue-twisting monologue delivered brilliantly by Sarah Snook who only received her locked off lines a week before shooting. What evolved most through pre-production was the way we were going to shoot everything.
Originally we planned to shoot on location including a real beach. Then we became interested in the idea that we were exploring a human construct, and so we wanted to construct our characters’ environments as representative of reality in a heightened way. In the end we shot five studio sets over four days, built in three different warehouses across Sydney.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
That it's weird. Good weird. People have loved the performances. Our lead actor James Elliott was so dedicated despite becoming a father for the first time just days before shooting his most challenging scene, and he just channeled it all and nailed it. He even read Mein Kampf.
We’ve had a great response to the design. This has been nice because the director and I who co-designed the film had a lot of help, but we spent many hours late at night in our cramped garage where we built the sets by hand (neither of us can build), tearing our hair out… sometimes each others… wondering if we could pull it off. The film, not our hair.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Even when it’s hard to hear, critical feedback is one of the best parts of making a short film because you feel like you’re becoming equipped to make less mistakes next time.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Any chance to let people know that the film exists makes us happy so thanks for having us! We can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/orangesdontgrowontrees and our website www.fivelipfilms.com/films
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We would love to be part of a few more festivals, and then look at playing on platforms like Short of the Week, Vimeo Staff Pick, and Nowness. I watch films from these sites every day and it’s so great that the internet has given shorts a way to find audiences like this.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
This is a parable-esque satire, so ideally: 1 - laugh a bit, and 2 - at some stage go “Aha!” a bit.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can any political system succeed when people are innately flawed?
Would you like to add anything else?
If you hire a 4.5 tonne truck, it refers to the weight of the truck itself. You need to check how much weight it can actually carry. 4.5 tonnes of sand in a 4.5 tonne truck is too much. it will lift some of its wheels off the ground and nearly slide out of control when you go around corners. Try and avoid a manual transmission as the director who is driving a 4.5 tonne truck for the first time will have enough to deal with. It may be worth considering paying for delivery.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We have a feature documentary, The Animal Condition, about to be released (www.theanimalcondition.com).
I’ve been focusing on script development, and I’m also developing a documentary in Saigon, about the fascinating tailoring tradition and emerging fashion design scene there.
Ande is writing and directing television for Screentime in New Zealand at the moment, while developing a new short film about a boy who is having trouble accepting his father’s attempts to atone.
Interview: May 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Oranges Don't Grown On Trees
Six human batteries rise up against their troubled tyrant.
Length: 16mins 51secs
Director: Ande Cunningham
Producer: Sarah-Jane McAllan
About the director and producer: We met as students at NIDA, Ande an actor and myself a designer, and we have been collaborating for nearly six years. Ande now works as a writer and director, with a bit of acting here and there. I later studied screenwriting and work as as a writer and producer, with a bit of designing here and there.
Looking for: sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists
Funders: Privately funded by the filmmakers and executive producers
Made in association with: Five Lip Films www.fivelipfilms.com
Release date: March 2016 (Cinequest Film Festival), May 2016 (St Kilda Film Festival)