I’ll admit, prior to this Q&A Session at Supanova Sydney 2014, I was intimidated by John Jarratt. If you’ve seen Wolf Creek, how could you not be?! I completely disregarded the fact that he had worked on Better Homes and Gardens…this man is a killer! Okay, not in real life, but still! The panel even began with the trailer for Wolf Creek 2 just to remind us of how sinister this guy is! Okay, he lambasted some parents for bringing their 8 and 13 year olds, to the panel after realizing it may have been their first time hearing the “F word”, so the jig is up.
As the panel progressed, that murderous facade was further stripped away, helped by early reminders that there actually is a funny bone is his body. His next film, StalkHer, is a dark comedy that is somewhat reminiscent of Misery in its premise, but is tonally your signature Aussie comedy. Pending a distribution deal agreement, we could be seeing StalkHer in cinemas this September, but if not, definitely in January of 2015. John, however, was gracious in treating us to three early footage clips from the movie, which also marks his directorial debut. The first showed a battle of glassware in the kitchen of Emily (Kaarin Fairfax), who is Jack’s (Jarratt) object of desire. He incurs her ire by being a filthy bugger (had to channel Mick Taylor there), which results in her throwing glasses and plates at a pot-shield wielding Jack, who then grabs a stool and wrestles her against the wall with it; it’s all playful to him, but she’s not as entertained. The next scene shows him tied to a chair, needing to “take a piss”. The tag line – along with the aforementioned nod to Misery – should tell you all you need to know about StalkHer: “He chased her… until she caught him.”
The movie will certainly be rated MA 15+, as the second scene involved some suggestive language as Jack insists Emily must aid him in urinating. She grabs an empty bottle, and then an oven mitt to…handle…the instrument. Was that PG enough? The final clip sees Jack experiencing a dream sequence in the hospital where Emily works as a nurse. It’s a quite humorous and light-hearted take on the captive-captor relationship, although she certainly doesn’t want him developing Stockholm Syndrome. Moving on to the audience questions, John equated his hosting gig on Better Homes and Gardens to putting in little effort, and earning a big paycheck, as opposed putting in maximum effort and earning a small paycheck in the Australian film industry, which is why it was very financially wise for him to take it and continue hosting for the four seasons he did. John’s cameo at the end of Django Unchained was then brought up. Jarratt joked that he’s the one who taught Quentin Tarantino how to do a completely “rubbish Australian accent”, but actually learnt a little bit about direction from the legendary filmmaker…not while on the set, but by watching interviews online!
He was stressing himself out about his directorial debut, putting all the responsibility on his own shoulders and worrying about how he would nail down the technical aspects of shooting a film, when he realized through said interviews that there are experts on the crew whose job it is to handle those tasks, and he simply needed to trust them, with the safety in knowledge that they would execute them to his desires and directives. He stated that Tarantino knows more about Australian film, and the entire industry in general, than probably any other man on Earth. Jarratt also famously played Ned Kelly in the TV mini-series The Last Outlaw in 1979. The role was a big deal for him, with the subject being an Australian icon that he needed to do justice to. He actually has a Kelly in the family, but never checked the ancestry to see if they are directly related. Interestingly enough, Jarratt was considered a better choice at the time than Mel Gibson, who had just come off of filming Mad Max. Mel was apparently upset about not landing the role, but ended up doing Gallipoli instead, which Jarratt was also offered, but had to turn down after signing on for The Last Outlaw.
Jarratt touched on the big piracy numbers that Australians seem to like to flaunt. He surmised that the reason Australian cinema in particular isn’t overly successful is partly because of quality, and partly a lack of effective marketing. He slyly implored everyone to actually pay for his movies, at the very least. Finally, before closing out the panel, Jarratt obliged to a request for his trademark Mick Taylor laugh, which is more akin to a wry, gruff grunt, and then spoke on the character himself. He said that the only thing that would force him to commit similar acts would be if someone harmed his kids/family. Then came a candid admission that we all can relate to; Jarratt said the difference between those kinds of people and “normal” human beings is that we don’t act upon our dark thoughts and that even he has thought about grabbing his son and cracking him over the head…so, well done Mr. Jarratt, I warmed up to you during the Q&A, but by the end, returned to an untenable state of fear….