Together Dan Macarthur and Melanie Poole are the creative brains behind production company 18 Degrees Entertainment, whose first cab off the rank is the Nice Package movie - a gangster comedy filmed in Queensland starring Dwayne Cameron, Leon Cain, Ashley Lyons and Isabella Tannock. Check out our Q&A with Mel and the film’s first official trailer (warning: coarse language!) after the jump.
So, a gangster comedy about a wannabe professional thief, his gay best friend, a sexy hostage and some thugs… that’s quite a concoction! What else can you tell us?
It has characters that you’ll love and those that you’ll love to hate – but most of all it has so many awesome scenes that will make you laugh. It’s been absolutely hilarious to shoot and to edit – I think people will have their favourite moments and quotes from the film.
We initially sniggered at the thought of naming it Nice Package – but then we thought – well if we can make people smile even before they watch it, that’s a good start! It does make it hard though when you are asked by the little old lady behind the counter of the local shop “what’s the name of your movie?”
This film has already gathered quite an international following, has that been through social media?
Social media has definitely made it easier for us to involve our international audience. Dan has filmed a lot overseas, including as DP for new Bollywood film Go Goa Goa starring Saif Ali Khan (a superstar in India) and as a result we have had a really strong following from Indian fans. There has also been a lot of interest from Brazil – so we are planning to dub the film for those regions. We deliberately made the film with an international audience in mind, so there are few colloquialisms or Aussie-specific dialogue. We want the world to enjoy Nice Package.
Who is 18 Degrees Entertainment? Tell us a bit about your story – what was your journey to this point?
18 Degrees Entertainment is a joint venture between Director/DP Dan Macarthur and I. I have a background as a journo and producer (worked for the Today Show, Channel Nine) and have been running local production company Production Hut for the past seven years. Dan is one of Australia’s top Directors of Photography (recently won Gold as the ACS Awards for Feature Film Blood Money) and he’s filmed all around the world and worked with Academy Award-winners like Russell Crowe and Cuba Gooding Jnr. We have both put in the hard yards and our combined experience meant we could jump into a feature film relatively easily.
You assembled your “dream team” for this film. How hard was that to pull off?
For our actors, it was careful casting. We keep having these moments in the edit suite where we just shake our heads and think “we’re so lucky we picked the actors we did”. With the crew, both Dan and I had a group of people we enjoy working with and who are great at what they do. On set it’s just as much about getting on and having fun, as it is about doing your job well. We like to keep the set as relaxed as possible and have a team who don’t take themselves too seriously. Most of our crew on Nice Package were locals and many have worked with us on other projects so we knew they were brilliant.
Is Brisbane an untapped resource, in terms of shooting feature films?
There is no doubt Brisbane is home to some of the most talented filmmakers in the world – it’s just unfortunate that most of them are not working! We know dozens of people who have scripts ready to go, but they just can’t get that first leg-up. The Australian population influences the number of films we can sustain and fund, which is exactly why we need to be making more films for an international audience.
What were some of your favourite locations used for filming?
We filmed some great scenes at the Maritime Museum with Brisbane city in the background, which is a fairly unique location featuring a large war ship. We also used a number of cool old homes in and around West End. For our bad guy’s house, we shot at a friend’s share house in Highgate Hill which was almost set dressed when we turned up – down to the dirty pots and pans in the sink and beer bottles on every surface!
What are the plans for the company moving ahead?
We want to be unstoppable! We have a slate of scripts and concepts ready to go and we’re looking forward to producing our next feature. In our down time we will be directing and shooting TVCs across South East Asia.
Behind the Scenes
Scroll down for images of cast and crew on the set of NICE PACKAGE!
For more details on the film, here’s the official story from 18 Degrees Entertainment:
A professional thief, his gay best friend and a sexy hostage are at the centre of this new heist comedy written and directed by Dan Macarthur.
Starring Tribe heartthrob Dwayne Cameron, funny man Leon Cain and stunning newcomer Isabella Tannock the film has already accumulated a strong international following during production.
Director Dan Macarthur said the film is big on characters, quirky dialogue and cool music, with influences including Quentin Tarantino and the Cohen Brothers.
“People are going to really enjoy our characters and there are so many classic lines in the film, I’m looking forward to hearing the audience’s favourite parts,” Dan said.
Produced by 18 Degrees Entertainment, the film was shot across Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but already has thousands of fans in India, Brazil, the UK and the US.
Producer Melanie Poole, who co-wrote the film with Dan, said the film was shot on the Arri Alexa camera (used to shoot James Bond) and was set to be released internationally in late 2013.
“The interest we have had in the film so far has been extraordinary, we can’t wait to release the trailer in April,” Melanie said.
“Our leading man Dwayne Cameron, who plays Frostie in the film, has already had multiple offers from impressed LA producers,” she said.
Ms Poole said 18 Degrees Entertainment has “half a dozen” other projects on the slate and is planning to start shooting their next feature film later this year.
“We really have put together a dream team of writers and crew and the success of Nice Package will mean we can now crank some of our other projects,” Melanie said.
Dan Macarthur is already known for his work as Director of Photography on new Bollywood film Go Goa Gone, Cuba Gooding Jnr film Deception and Australian gangster film Blood Money. He has also worked with Russell Crowe filming a world tour and clips for Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts.
Dan also recently won Gold at the Australian Cinematography Society Awards for Best Cinematography on a Feature Film, adding to several other gold awards for his work.
For more info, pics and updates about Nice Package go to facebook.com/nicepackagemovie