Ozploitation massacres the USA!

David Black chats to Nathan Hill about his film career and his compilation dvd, Ozploitation Massacre

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Hi everyone, today I’m going to be chatting to Aussie producer, director and actor, Nathan Hill, about his shocking new dvd compilation “Ozploitation Massacre” which has been released by the American distributor, SRS cinema.

Wikipedia describes Ozploitation as being “a category of low-budget horror, comedy, and action films – made in Australia after the introduction of the R rating in 1971.”  The term itself is attributed to Quentin Tarantino when he spoke of the genre in the 2008 documentary “Not Quite Hollywood”, although he did call it “Aussiesploitation”.

Nathan Hill’s work goes back even earlier than that though.  He is credited on IMDB as producing a short film called “The Hidden” in 1993 and has been extremely active ever since.  Well, today we are going to shed some light on this man.  No more lurking in the shadows for Nathan!

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DB – Hi Nathan.  Thanks for making the time to chat to me today.  It’s amazing that you’ve actually cracked the American market from here by having a compilation dvd released of some of your Ozploitation movies.  You’ve worked hard in the local movie industry for years, so it’s no surprise to see your success.  I was wondering if you could give us a bit of a backgrounder on your career so far?

NH – Hey Dave, great to talk to you again.  Yeah look it’s hard to simplify my career as I’ve pretty much had my hands in all the pies as far as filmmaking is concerned. I won’t go into my film studies but it does amount to 10 years of schooling all up on the subject.  I first worked in television as a professional camera assistant and then as a production manager and then freelance video editor. I’m also a professional actor and have 3 major commercials on air at the moment, including cinema. I’ve just directed my ninth feature film and I’ve lost count how many I’ve acted in.

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DB – Ozploitation Massacre has 3 features and 1 short, all on a 2 disc set.  I know that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the work you’ve done, but it is a good little sampler.  Can we go over each film in turn?  Can you tell us a bit about each one, starting with “Hyde and Seek”?

NH – ‘Hyde and Seek’ was my first professional short film which was released on DVD in AU and NZ in 2004.  It’s my own interpretation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde told from the perspective of Utterson, his best friend and lawyer.  The full length version of the screenplay actually won Shriekfest in L.A.

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This DVD I saw on eBay recently going for a staggering $100.00!  Goes to show it actually has become a true collectors item.  It’s very hard to get as they only pressed 500 copies back then, which sold out in a week, so to have it as part of the Ozploitation Massacre compilation is just wonderful.  I have to thank Ron Brown for seeing my vision and accepting me.  He quoted me recently as being ‘underrated’ and ‘under-seen’.  With the help of SRS I’m hoping to push through some boundaries that I have not been able to do locally, sadly.

It’s funny how much America seems to love me more than my own country, at the best of times, still not sure exactly why.  I’d hate to think that the tall poppy syndrome has actually leaked it’s way into the artistic realm, like film, we’ll have to wait and see.

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DB – OK, one down, three to go.  Now tell us about “Séance”

NH – ‘Seance’ was a more personal type film released in 2011.  It is still the only movie I’ve shot that was never properly entered into a film festival.  After the release of ‘Tomboys’ people were expecting big things.  The truth is I was in the middle of trying to get my occult thriller ‘Black Mass’ funded at the time I was shooting ‘Seance’, that in reality was more of an experimental film whilst I was waiting on funding, that unfortunately crashed for me.

I do like the movie though, the underwater shooting that we did, the slow burning tone, and the themes in it.  I enjoyed making it.  It was also a good bookend for my lead Daniel Rankin, who had come off ‘Tomboys’ pretty emotionally drained and I didn’t want that to be his final experience with me on a set, hence I gave him the role in ‘Seance’ as kind of a gift.

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DB – And now “The Hidden”

NH – Wow!  The Hidden, shot in 1993 for God’s sake.  Now who in the hell would of thought my first ever full length movie SOV could or would have got a release nearly 25 years later, and in America?!

To me that is incredible and must be some kind of a record.  It feels really good to have it on the Bluray compilation along with the other horror films that I’ve made, as that really was my grass roots.  My horror films have become thrillers, and I’ve even moved into action and comedy of late.

I enjoy all genres, and I never want to be pigeon holed.  Hence the reason I’ve made so many different types of movies and had all sorts of distributors around the world.  It’s quite remarkable when you realise they are all shot on micro budgets.  In fact for some of them I never even intended to get a release so it’s really special that all my films, have in one way or another, found a home and are accessible to the public.

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DB – And last, but certainly not least … a favourite of mine that I reviewed in an earlier article – Tomboys!

NH – Tomboys, shot in 2009 and still arguably my best film to date.  I know it’s your favourite of mine too Dave.  It’s the same with my music composer Jamie Murgatroyd, he just loves it.  It really was the benchmark film for the SRS deal and I strongly believe it’s the reason for the Ozploitaiton Massacre Bluray in the first place.

I did offer it to Monster Pictures a while back and they said no.  But I guess I have to thank them now as that instead turned my eye towards America again, who have always been kind to me, and this release is much more exciting than what the locals could have done for me anyway.  

I might also add that both ‘Tomboys’ and ‘The Hidden’ have been released through SRS on VHS as well! As I’m an 80’s baby and I used to work in video stores when VHS was thriving,  I find this just the bomb!  You can even get a poster that comes with the video when you purchase it, I mean these guys really know what they’re doing.  Ron at SRS is also a filmmaker and made the grind house movie ‘She Kills’ that I simply adore.

It’s been great to become partners with these guys. We are already talking about doing a separate worldwide release and special edition of ‘Tomboys’ next Feb. 2018. It’s just incredible, and the support I’ve been craving for a while.

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DB – My head is still spinning that you managed to get a foot hold in the USA with Ozploitation Massacre.  That really is a massive achievement.  I believe that it is only the start though.  Can you tell us about what you have planned next?

NH – Good question. My dealings with SRS has led me to some other very exciting opportunities.  I’ve recently befriended Tony at Body Bag Films and we have collaborated on a short film that is getting a release next year though Troma on a compilation DVD.  I’m over the moon, as Lloyd is on board and ‘The Toxic Avenger’ truly was one of my fav’s as a kid, so I’m stoked to be getting one of my titles on their label.

Tony and I have another one up our sleeve on top of this, but I won’t let that cat out of the bag just yet. Things are firing up I’ll tell you Dave. And with two of my recent films currently available on Amazon Prime, I got a call from Tony the other day telling me I was taking over the globe!  Haha it’s just such an enjoyable time for me as a filmmaker and I’m so glad I have a few more tricks up my sleeve for 2018 and beyond, it’s really exciting.

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DB – Do you have any links so that we can keep up to date with what you are doing, and even get hold of some of these little gems?

NH – http://www.nhp.net.au

https://www.facebook.com/NathanHillMovie/

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Ozploitation-Massacre-Blu-ray/186668/

DB – Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today Nathan.  I’m sure we will be chatting again soon when your next big release comes out.

 

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Tomboys – a blood stained tale of vigilante justice and pathos

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Hi everyone.  This week features my first ever review for Oz Indie Cinema.  I’m covering Nathan Hill’s “Tomboys” from 2009.  For those that haven’t seen it, I’ll do my best not to give away any spoilers.  I will say straight up that Tomboys was difficult to watch, but not for bad reasons.  It’s a relentless story that explores revenge, vigilante justice and peer pressure.  As hard as it is to sit through such a harrowing film, it was even harder to tear myself away.  Just as you think you know where it is going, Nathan throws a curve and you are just forced to keep going to see what happens next.

Before going into the movie further, I want to give a bit of background on Nathan Hill first.  So far, the film makers I’ve interviewed could both be said to be part of the “digital explosion.”  One of the reasons why so many films are coming out nowadays is due editing software and cameras becoming cheaper and therefore more accessible to creative people.  But Nathan’s history with film making goes back way before this, from when it was far more difficult to make a film.  The very first movie listed on his IMDB is “The Hidden” from 1993.

For a backgrounder on Nathan, I’ve decided to borrow his bio from his IMDB listing.

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Nathan Hill is an Australian actor, writer, producer and director who specializes in making multi-genre pictures for a global audience. His debut to the stage was playing Peter Pan as a youngster. Nathan pioneered the 4-year Advanced Diploma of the Screen at Footscray Film Dept., Victoria, Australia. During film school he landed a lead role in the feature film Radio Samurai (2002) and also played a vampire in Queen of the Damned (2002). His graduation piece The Strange Game of Hyde and Seek (2004), a 30 minute film that screened at Shriekfest in Los Angeles, was a finalist the following year for the full-length version of the movie for the Shriekfest screenplay competition.

Returning home he shot his first feature Tomboys (2009) and further acted in the mockumentary How to Be a SexStar (2010) that opened the Australian Film Festival in year one. Gloom with a View (2008) in which he played the lead, won Best Pilot at Comedy Gold Channel 2009. Model Behaviour (2013), in which he acted, produced & directed won the California Film Awards in 2013, the DV Awards and was a finalist at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. Nathan has continued to act in all mediums of the entertainment world. He has won awards for his filmmaking across the globe. His interest lies mainly in directing horror and thriller style genre movies.

And now, back to the review.   Despite Tomboys being from 2009, the themes explored are very timely.  The media is constantly covering stories where the general public is screaming out about law and order, and how the courts are letting us down by letting convicted rapists off on bail, only to see them reoffend.  Social media is rife with people calling out for vigilante justice.  And this is exactly the topic that Nathan has explored in Tomboys.  And what really gets me is that he explores it from so many more angles than I have seen touched in the myriad of op eds and current affairs stories that have been coming out.  The movie goes well beyond a cheap revenge flick though due to the excellent writing.  You can see that the writer has delved deeply into the emotions of each character and how the group will interact.

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The opening of this film is nicely stylised and it builds the tension so that you have no doubt whatsoever of what you will be getting into.   Asher Pope is credited with the music and it works in perfect synchronicity with the editing.  Imagine your heart beating.  How slow is it when you are relaxed and how fast when you are tense, and how ballistic it goes when you are ready to jump out of your skin! Well, Nathan’s editing of shots and Asher’s choice in music work together to control the next hour and 20 mins of your life …. And it’s an experience that you will never forget.

The choice of camera angles and composition are pure art.  In one shot, Kat is simply looking into a mirror.  We are drawn into the moment by Candice Day’s brilliant acting and probably would have just sat there, drinking in this reflective moment, when we see Naomi behind her, in the reflection.  While Kat is looking straight into the mirror, Naomi is standing sideways and looking toward the victim, who is off camera.  It’s a beautifully set up to draw us into the next shot.

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But a brooding moment can often be the technique to relax you and have you off guard before you are assaulted and knocked off your seat by the most emasculating and painful scenes imaginable.  Yes, this film has something for the gore hounds, but it isn’t simply a shock and splatter movie.

We have 5 female characters, portrayed by Candice Day, Naomi Davis, Sash Milne, Allie Hall and Sarah Hill.  Each is very different and quite believable.  Throughout this entire nightmare ride, we journey through seething tension to blood stained action, then back again.  This is carried by realistic interactions between the girls.  All do a spectacular job of acting and bringing this story to life.

The dialogue they deliver forces you to think about issues such taking the law into your own hands when you have been wronged and you just know that the justice system will fail you.  If you did take things into your own hands, then what is the right balance and how far is too far?  Can one person pay the price for another person’s actions, if that person is also guilty of the same crimes?  Whatever the answer is, I found a perverse delight in seeing the ordeal that Daniel Rankin was put through as Kyle.  Sorry, but Daniel did a superb job of playing an arrogant bogan and I have always wanted to see this type get their comeuppance.

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At many times during this movie, I thought I knew where it was going, but this is no clichéd piece.  It always twists a tiny bit away from where you expect.  Even right up to the end.  Obviously I can’t give that away, but I know what I would have done in that situation.  What does happen however, is still very believable.  But, if you really want to know what I am talking about, then you are just going to have to watch the movie, aren’t you?

You can get Tomboys at – https://www.ozflix.tv/#!/browse/film/2633/tomboys

It is also obtainable at – http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Tomboys-Blu-ray/14123/

And if you would like to see more movies by Nathan Hill – http://www.nhp.net.au/content/shop.html