We chat to up-and-coming Aussie director Neil McGregor about his feature debut The Little Things, set to screen at the Gold Coast Film Festival.
Boy meets girl. Girl loves boy. Boy realises girl has power to control other people's destinies simply by moving pieces of furniture around the house... Wait, what? Neil McGregor's The Little Thingscertainly doesn't adhere to the format of the typical cinematic love story.
The director describes his feature debut as a deconstruction of the superhero genre in the style of an indie-love story. "With so many films that have jumped on the superhero franchise bandwagon over the last decade, this was a story that hadn't been told in this way before. That's what attracted me, along with these characters who, in some way, had their own lives partly controlled by a greater force. It's rare that a rom-com uses quantum physics as a plot device," he laughs.
Having helmed a number of short films prior to The Little Things, McGregor found the transition to features easier than expected. "I surprisingly had no nerves," he recalls. "Even with the pressure of time constraints I found the transition instinctual. I knew what I wanted and how to tell the story."
Playing the lead couple of Dee and Matt are Kathryn Beck and Chris Hillier, both of whom have starred in a handful of local television shows. McGregor says the pair had a natural chemistry. "On and off set Chris and Kat really connected and had loads of fun. While the crew was setting up for a shot I'd go to talk to the actors and would always find them chatting and laughing about something. They had quite a few little in-jokes between them which were quite amusing during takes."
While the film was unsurprisingly shot on a limited budget, McGregor says it compelled him to think outside the square. "It definitely tests you as a filmmaker, but rather than seeing this as a problem I'd seek to find creative solutions," he explains. "We all called in favours, which is part of making a low budget film. There were a couple of scenes where the crew were used as extras... I think that's just another part of filmmaking in general: hang around a camera long enough and sooner or later, you end up in front of the lens!"
At only 25, McGregor made his mark in the industry by winning the Doritos Make Your Own Ad competition, which paved the way for The Little Things. Before production, the screenplay won McGregor the Monte Miller Award - which recognises emerging talent - at the Writers' Guild Awards in 2007, and now the finished film has been selected to screen at this year's Gold Coast Film Festival.
McGregor is definitely not taking his opportunities for granted. "I sometimes have to pinch myself to have directed a funded feature length film in Australia; it's not something that happens often," he acknowledges. "I've worked hard to get here and still have a long way to go yet, but I'm very privileged to be in the position I am in."
So what's next for the young talent? "I'm looking forward to a well deserved holiday, which will no doubt involve me killing time at airports across Europe making script re-writes," he says with a grin.
The Gold Coast Film Festival runs from November 10-16. For more information, visit the website. For more on Neil McGregor, visit his website here.
Picture caption (L-R): Kathryn Beck, Chris Hillier & Director Neil McGregor.