When filmmaker, George Basha (The Combination) needed a prison to film his latest movie, Convict, Parramatta Council came to his rescue. Unlocking the gate for him to film his gritty, new work in Parramatta Prison. Basha talks to Klaus Kinski about this new work.
Tell us a little about the story of ‘Convict’
I play Ray an SAS soldier who returns home from war to his fiance to start a new life. Their lives are turned upside down by one unfortunate incident and Ray is sentenced to 18 months in maximum security prison. There he is tested both physically and mentally by the prison Warden and his officers as well as the gang elements that exist inside the prison walls.
After such a great reception for your first film ‘The Combination’ was it easier to get funding to get your new film ‘Convict’ made, and did Screen Australia help?
I don’t think it ever gets easier to get funding for films. It definitely made it easier for me to get investors to listen and meet me. I didn’t approach screen Australia for funding.
How much have you learnt about directing since your first film, did you face the same difficulties with ‘Convict’?
The most important thing I learnt was how to prepare. Another facet of film making is learning how to deal with actors. Every actor needs to be dealt with differently. The biggest difficulties you face when making a film is getting distributors and exhibitors to back the film.
Were Parramatta Council supportive of your endeavour and how hard was it to get permission film in the prison?
Parramatta council were unbelievable. They opened the doors for me and helped me whenever I needed. Parramatta prison was the biggest hurdle for me to get because I was knocked back twice. Then thanks to the help of Parramatta council and NSW State Authority I was able to shoot there.
What’s it like working again with the amazing David Field?
A dream. David Field and I have a great friendship. So I think that friendship really rubs off on us when we work together. We are both very passionate film makers and always wanting to make the best film we can. we have a very mutual and understanding working relationship.
Did you film with RED One this time around?
We used Arri Alexa. We were tossing up whether to use the RED. In the end we decided to go with the Alexa.
There was a call out in the local papers for Auditions for ‘Convict’, you must have been overwhelmed with the response, how did you narrow down the talent and were you surprised with the quality?
Overwhelmed is an understatement. The response was unbelievable we had hundreds of people show up on the day. And the talent and quality was unbelievable. Unfortunately you can’t hire everyone. Picking the talent was easy cause there was so much. But I was also after certain looks for certain roles. Being able to give actors an opportunity to get in the business is a pleasing aspect for me.
You have said before you wanted to make movies because you weren’t being hired for your acting, and this was the only way, has it been easier for you to land roles since the success of ‘The Combination’
My name is more recognized in the industry. so people know of me. But that hasn’t made it any easier for me to get roles.
Have you been pleased with how Claire Bowen has gone on since her star turn in ‘The Combination’?
She has gone on to do very well and I’m over the moon for her knowing she got her start with The Combination. There is also Firass Dirani who has kicked on. There are a few from convict which I believe will go on and do great things in the film industry.
What’s next for George Basha?
I have a new script that I’m looking to raise money for called Caught up. It has lots of action, women and cars.