Bad Girl is an exciting new Australian film screening at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival. It’s a psychological thriller following Amy (Sara West), a girl moving to the country with her adoptive parents after being released from juvenile detention. They hope the move will be a positive change of scene, and it looks promising when Amy strikes up a friendship with local girl Chloe (Samara Weaving), but as the nature of their friendship develops, things begin to spiral completely out of control.
Despite its exploration of teenage sexual awakening and, ultimately, acts of extreme violence, the film focuses in on familial themes. “At its core it’s a story about families, what they mean and how they are defined,” explains writer and director Fin Edquist. “At the time of writing I was going through a marriage breakdown, so that became the creative well I was drawing from, and these sort of themes were very much front of mind.”
While the film centres on the two teenage girls, the project didn’t start out that way, beginning life as a revenge-thriller with the father as the central character. “While it was a polished script, there wasn’t much interest from backers,” Edquist says. “It was only after we shifted the focus to have the Amy character as the central protagonist that interest was generated.” Funding was soon to follow.
As a first-time feature film director, albeit with years of industry experience, Edquist cites David Lynch as one of his influences. “I love his satire and exploration of sexuality. Twin Peaks as a series was great, the way he used the form of the ‘soap’ and really played with it.” In a similar way, Bad Girl is clearly a thriller and contains many of the genre’s tropes, but, as Edquist points out, “We really lay the groundwork for the characters in the first half, which a lot of thrillers don’t do.”
Edquist struck gold with his cast and crew. Sara West was attached early as Amy and Samara Weaving joined later for the complicated role of Chloe. Both are outstanding. Around these talented actresses Edquist assembled a team of local industry stars, including cinematographer Gavin Head and editor Simon Njoo, and he credits these collaborations with elevating the material beyond what he had imagined.
Warren Ellis (The Proposition,The Road) composes the film’s score, a carefully crafted mood enhancer that culminates in an extremely effective climactic crescendo, which in turns makes you appreciate, in retrospect, the subtleties of his earlier work. A long-time collaborator of Nick Cave, Ellis’ compositions can most recently be heard on Hell or Highwater and the Oscar nominated Mustang; he’s having quite the run and is showing great taste for choosing projects that will benefit from his musical talents. Amusingly, Equist says his working relationship with Ellis was not without its confusions. “Warren would be working all night in his St Kilda studio emailing me tracks and I’d call him back saying, “Where’s the bass?” He’d tell me to take my ear buds out and listen to it properly.” (Sounds like good advice for life, really.)
Although his next project is likely to be in the U.S. (Edquist is developing a series focusing on the Dark Web), he clearly loves the Australian film industry, and offers a few words for those wanting to get a film off the ground. “It’s great to see people investing in the Australian culture, and if that’s where your passion is, you’ve just got to do it, you’ve got to try to get your film made. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.”
For now, Edquist is enjoying the opportunity to view his film in theatres. “It’s been great watching the film with an audience, sitting up the back and seeing them squirm, we even had one lady cry.”
You can find our review of the film HERE.