Meet the Filmmaker: Pete Gurbiel – Home
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about the film?
HOME is a dark and beautiful introspection into what it means to be human. The story is universal, exploring the heavier themes of life through the window of a death. Anchored by an incredible cast that includes icon of Australian cinema Jack Thompson (BREAKER MORANT, STAR WARS EpII/III, THE GREAT GATSBY, AUSTRALIA), Nathaniel Dean (ALIEN: COVENANT, THE NIGHTINGALE) and Emilie Cocquerel (LION, Netflix’s THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MONKEY), HOME was lensed by legendary cinematographer David Eggby A.C.S. (MAD MAX, RIDDICK) and produced in Western Australia. HOME is an affecting, immersive narrative that deconstructs the plight of all of us and our inner lives, and challenges the ideas of home and comfort and safety that today are more relevant than ever.
What was your biggest inspiration to make this film/How did you get involved or attached to the project?
HOME was first discovered on the stage as a contemporary adaptation of Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1894 one-act play INTÉRIEUR. Dancing between flourishes of life and the darker recesses of death and the human condition, when I went back to the original play I knew that this was a film that I had to bring to the screen.
As a filmmaker there are many ups and downs in the process, what was your absolute favourite and/or funniest part of making/producing this film?
After a long journey to get there, the first table read was pretty special… Jack Thompson, Nathaniel Dean, Emilie Cocquerel and myself finally together and in a room by ourselves, the words lifting from the page and transforming into something of the real world, chilling and beautiful.
What does a film festival like Byron Bay Film Festival mean to you and your work?
Short films are driven by the passion of their creators, and yet by their nature have limited opportunity to reach their audiences… great festivals like Byron Bay are integral to a film’s journey and bringing these stories to the world.
Byron Bay Film Festival showcases an array of entertaining, inspiring and thought-provoking films. Do you feel that your film helps people ‘Dream With Their Eyes Open’? And if so how?
Yes – HOME unlocks some darker and deeper ideas about who we are and where we have come from, told from a unique perspective that opens a window into the characters’ lives that hopefully inspires the audiences who are watching to explore these themes in their own lives.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to future independent filmmakers?
Don’t wait for permission to make your movies – not from funding bodies, not from those who don’t have the same conviction or confidence in the material, get out there and make it happen because no one else will. And when you are ready, build a team around you full of the people that you want to spend the next few months and years working on the project intimately and intensely with – set yourself up to enjoy the process together, and the many ups and downs on the way.
What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process?
After we lost our original filming location and set construction to massive storms, it would take another year to find a window where everyone’s schedules would line up again… after what felt like being in constant pre-production purgatory, we finally were able to bring the cast and crew together to make our little film.
If some or all of the team is coming to the festival at Byron Bay. Who is coming and what are you looking forward to?
Writer and director Pete Gurbiel will be attending with producer and costume designer Iris Tascon. We can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to our little film, in such a beautiful part of the country, at such a great festival.
Any upcoming projects for you, your team or key creatives involved in your film?
After a year focused on development, we are pushing forward with a slate of projects at Hometown Pictures for production in 2020.
Any upcoming projects for the filmmaking team?
Announcements from Hometown Pictures’ upcoming slate will be soon available including feature films, a factual series and a unique cinematic VR experience.
What drives you as a filmmaker?
Great storytelling, engaging and challenging audiences around the world.
If you have had previous involvement or experience with BBFF how would you say it compares to other festivals or related events?
2019 will be our first BBFF experience – can’t wait!
Anything interesting or unique about the filmmaking process for this film, any hiccups along the way, any happy coincidences that changed the films direction?
We originally intended to shoot HOME on location, and after weeks of location scouting found the perfect, period-correct 1880 farmhouse and stable in York, Western Australia – a decidedly dry and golden farming town in the dusty wheatbelt, which we augmented with some additional production design and would later tweak further digitally in post. With the cast about to fly in for a mid-February 2017 shoot, extreme heavy storms hit the region and the town was flooded, the bridge from our accomodation to the set was under water and the verandah of the property next door was washed away. The next town down the road was evacuated. We had no choice but to postpone production, which was as heartbreaking as it was a logistical nightmare to work through, and it would take a full year and several still-born attempts to find another other window where cast and crew schedules would realign before a new date was finally confirmed for principle photography to begin in early February 2018.
In an attempt to avoid any further issues with the weather, the production team decided to move towards a studio shoot, which gave us control of the filming environment but at the expense of scale and shooting large exterior landscapes. We scheduled a day of second unit photography on location in the Darling Ranges to acquire some of that landscape scale, as well as reference images and assets to be brought back into the film during post-production. We filmed an entire sequence on location that didn’t make it into the final cut, mostly due to the pacing of the film at that crucial moment as well as the specific point of view of the main characters, but it remained a large-scale operation that included extras dressed in period-correct wardrobe and makeup, horses, live fire and fog effects, Irish wolfhounds… cinematographer David Eggby loved it, and is still pushing to find a way to include it in the film! It is some of the most beautiful and haunting imagery that I have been part of creating on a film set, and we’ll find a way to get it out there somehow.
Is anything else you would like to share?
HOME is a tremendous small production, supported by some of the greatest talent in the country both in front of and behind the camera, and is testament to this small team of some of Australia’s brightest emerging filmmakers.