‘Pink’ (2014)

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A lonely man is haunted by a dark desire for a young girl who won’t leave him alone.

The 11-minute drama ‘Pink’ was one of six films selected to screen at the St Kilda Film Festival’s opening night on May 21.

Director Lynne Vincent McCarthy and Producer Nic Hewitt spoke with Maddison McSwain in St Kilda ahead of the film’s world premiere.

On writing Pink

Lynne: ‘Pink’ is based on the short story ‘Butterflies’ by Ian McEwan. I read the story about 10 years ago and found it incredibly powerful and disturbing. As an exercise I played around with adapting the story to screenplay form and thought ‘nobody would want to make this, it’s pretty dark’, so I put it away in a drawer.

Then an opportunity came up through an organisation called Metro Screen in Sydney. They were doing a short film program with a little bit of funding. So I applied for that. I pulled it out of the drawer and started to rework it quite significantly.

I wanted to deviate slightly from the character McEwan explores in his story, which is a man who really doesn’t have much conscience as to what he’s doing or empathy for the child. I wanted to tell the story of somebody in that situation, who does have a conscience, and does have empathy and does know that what he’s doing is actually wrong.

On funding

Nic: We had the grant from Metro Screen, which was a part of their Breaks funding program for emerging filmmakers, and then we crowd funded (through Pozible). It’s amazing. We’ve both supported projects of people we know in our networks and we get a lot of that love back. And we’ve both put in a bit of money…

Lynne: It’s a money sucking machine – film *laughs*

Nic: We had connotations of “we’re going to do this so cheap!” but it cost much more than anticipated. It always does.

Lynne: And that was with everyone working for nothing.

Nic: We had to pay a few key people who you can never get around paying, like grips and gaffs, they’re the kind of people who come with lots of equipment and they often determine the success of your shoot. Their skills are how fast your shoot moves. And we only had three days.

Lynne: It was a scary three days.

On the location

Nic: There were eight different property owners who I had to get permission from, including Sydney Water, National Parks and Wildlife and some private owners. One of our biggest costs was that location. Often we can get locations for free but some of the permissions and fees for the location by the river were complicated and unavoidable.

But it was worth it

Lynne: It had the right feeling of isolation, and grunginess but still a certain beauty.

Nic: We had identified alternatives but none of them were nearly as exciting. And one of the permits came through the day before the shoot!

Lynne: The shoot itself was a little tricky. We were dealing with water and a young girl and there were a few stunts in there.

On the title

Lynne: I didn’t want to call it ‘Butterflies’ because it had deviated a little from the McEwan story. But I wanted something that communicated that delicate quality, that innocent quality. The story is about Leon (played by Brendan Donoghue) being haunted by this little girl (played by Olive FitzGerald), or the idea of her, whether or not she actually existed. I want to leave that up to the audiences to decide for themselves. Without calling it her name, ‘Pink’ was the closest thing that I could think of that would communicate her and have a resonance of her. And then from that the idea came of pink as a motif all the way through.

On audience reaction

Lynne: I want audiences to be haunted by it in the same way that he’s haunted by it – to walk away and have it stay with them. I’m not someone who believes in monsters, I believe life is a lot more complex and people are much more complex than that. We become what we become because of all sorts of experiences.

It’s quite a taboo topic

Lynne: But you’ve got to have a reason for doing it. It’s not something you take on to shock or titillate. I hope that audiences will feel his pain, even if they then disregard it. It’s an extremely complex issue. But the final look between them, that acknowledgement, and how deep it goes, to me, that is the film.

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