Art & Design

   

The Long And The Short Of It: Matt Day

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Since getting his break on A Country Practice over twenty years ago, Matt Day has starred in everything from Muriel’s Wedding to Underbelly. Recently returned from living in the UK, where he appeared in a Woody Allen’s Scoop and worked with Kenneth Branagh, Day’s recently turned his hand to writing and directing.

His second short film, Beat, is appearing in this year’s St. Kilda Film Festival. We caught up with Matt to talk about directing, what goes on in his head and the state of Australian TV.

Beat is your second short. What’s it like being on the other side of the camera?
I’ve always had an ambition to do film making, but only started doing something about it in the last few years. With digital cameras now shooting beautiful images, there were less excuses for me not to do it. Making a short is great fun because allows you to challenge expectations, throw in as many twists and turns as you can, then turn them all around.

Both Beat and Wish, your first film, deal with sombre, even melancholy themes. Are you attracted to different projects as a film maker than as an actor?
Part of  writing and directing is discovering what your aesthetic is, and mine seems to be quite dark. Living in Europe for nearly a decade really influenced me, though sometimes I wonder what’s going on in my head to think up these scenarios. I guess at the end of the day you make the type of films you want to see.

Does being an actor help you as a director?
I suppose I have an advantage, having spent a lot of time on sets. It’s a very familiar world. You also know what language and techniques other directors have used that have worked for you, so I try to bring that do my actors, I hope!

How do you see the quality Australian TV now, compared to when you started?
It’s a lot better now than what it was. People in power seem to be more willing to put more interesting things on air. I think HBO has had an influence of that, and the British stuff, which tends to be more edgy. Given the budget and time restrictions we’ll always have over here, I think the industry’s doing pretty well.

What’s next?
I’m hoping to shoot Retail, a longer short, where I might get a bit more experimental. My characters might actually go outside and meet other people. Otherwise, I’ve got a busy year of acting and am working on a feature project.

Beat stars Peter O’Brien and shows Wednesday, May 25.
The St. Kilda Film Festival runs from May 24 – 29.
For full event listings and tickets visit: www.stkildafilmfestival.com.au/2011
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