This month, Stan and Screen Queensland celebrate the release of a milestone production – The Second. As the first feature film project developed for the streaming service, The Second is a shining example of not only an Australian film in its best, unfiltered form, but it’s also a cracking ride.
A sexy psychological thriller featuring a selection of the country’s best known talent, director Mairi Cameron does brilliantly in leading these characters in and out of grounded and alternate fictional realities without losing any chemistry.
Ahead of The Second‘s official release on Stan (it is in cinemas now), we speak with two of the film’s leads, Rachael Blake and Vince Colosimo. On screen, the duo bristle with tension, flirtation and sexual potency – as The Writer and The Publisher respectively, Blake and Colosimo are put, along with third player Susie Porter (The Muse) into a sprawling country estate, where mind games, family secrets and a severe case of writer’s block clash.
Off screen however, Blake and Colosimo are sparked up and funny over lunch, bantering between bites – their dynamic is an effortless and genuine one.
“I must say, you never quite know what you’re going to see with any film,” Blake muses. “It’s always surprising to me. I forget that it can become quite a private thing when you’re shooting, because there’s only a few of you there. It will be really interesting to see how its perceived and what people will say.”
“This film was always going to hinge on the way people talk to each other.” she continues. The way The Second warps the mind of the viewer is masterful technique by the director as much as it can be credited to the cast, something both Blake and Colosimo both praise Cameron on. “Mairi was very good with us in rehearsal in making sure that the chemistry went through on screen.”
On the film’s premiere with Stan, both actors are excited about what the production of The Second can mean for Australian filmmakers and creatives – emerging and established – in getting their ideas off the ground and heard, moving forward.
“It’s a great accomplishment and a new model.” Blake says. “We’re really redesigning what it means to get films made and how to get streaming services involved. This is Screen Queensland and Stan and they’ve come together to make the first Australian feature film (for the service); it’s Australian content, you get two bites of the cherry – you get to see it on the big screen and then in your lounge – then it lives on.”
“For us to be part of it, I feel like we’re the new kids on the block. We’re part of that new vanguard. You want to see a show when you want to see it, we’re used to being able to do that now. You just hop on your computer and you watch what you want whenever you want. No matter where it comes from, from whatever country. It’s great to be part of that; I think that can only invigorate our film and TV landscape.”
Particularly with the surge of Australian filmmakers continuing to work within the horror and thriller genres, making films that are not only impressing on the home front, but making waves internationally, a film like The Second fits the mould of bold and ambitious original filmmaking perfectly.
“I think Australians are just not scared to throw that at audiences and make people feel those things, whereas maybe with the Americans, they’re way too polite at times.” Colosimo says of The Second‘s emotional and provocative tone – a unique style when it comes to Australian film. “With Australian film it can be just [like], ‘Let’s make it as awkward as possible and as uncomfortable as possible’. There’s a reason for all of that, it’s not just because of the obvious, it’s a feeling they want you to take away with you. I think Mairi’s captured that beautifully.”
Risk taking within the narrative works beautifully within the indie realm, but when given a larger platform to flourish, Blake says the artform can really shine.
“With the streaming channels, there can be those risks taken.” she says. “That’s what this film does so well, it straddles the line of being independent cinema that’s risky and that has a good commercial bite, and then it’s got good commercial distribution, good commercial publishing behind it. It’s exciting for us that as we get into supplying content to streaming networks, the range of our stories broadens.”
Where The Second shines and lands its one-two punch is in the stirring undercurrent of dark emotions that never lets up in intensity. The screenplay and Cameron’s direction is never heavy handed or over-indulgent; instead, the use of space and unanswered questions play large parts in pushing this anxiety-driven narrative forward.
Colosimo speaks with pride as we discuss the final result of what was quite the isolated filming experience.
“The second time I saw it, I was on the edge of my seat. I wanted it to end, but I was really enjoying it; I was very uncomfortable. It’s an experience you want to take away with you, it keeps you thinking afterwards.”
The Second is in cinemas now. It will be available on Stan from July 20th.