Jindabyne's Ray Lawrence

Origins of the Film

After I finished “Bliss,” I was reading purely for pleasure and there was a story I thought would make a good film. I ran into Paul Kelly. We had common interests. We didnt become fast friends then, just interested in similar things. I started to tell him about the story, and he introduced me to the writings of Raymond Carver. One of these stories was So Much Water, So Close to Home, which had at its heart the most fantastic moral dilemma. I thought maybe that would be better than the one I was planning. That was almost 20 years ago.

Story's Appeal

I tried to do other things. It sort of came and went. It was the same with Lantana. Theres just one little thing in a story you like and sometimes you forget everything else. Its just that one little piece, like a hook, it catches you. With “So Much Water, So Close to Home,” it was the difference of opinion that promoted very strong discussion between men and women.

There was a time when it wasnt politically correct to talk about men and women being different. Whereas now, especially with this film, theyre really the only dynamics there are. Politics, the sexes, even if theyre the same sex, its still somebody playing a male or female role. I dont know who it was, but somebody said there are only three stories: man, woman and Godwhichever God that may be. Im fascinated by how people stay together, why they break up and when they choose to or not, why some people have kids. There doesnt seem to be much else.

First Visits to the Jindabyne Area

I used to go there all the time to fish, fly-fish, so I knew the area. That was part of the fascination with the story, the outdoors. I really wanted to do a film outside. So when Beatrix Christian (the screenwriter) and I decided we were going ahead I said, Lets do what Raymond Carver did. Lets go where we want to set it and see what happens. Theres a story about the lake. It was starting with a germ, like a short story writer. We just walked around, saw a river and wrote about the river. Years later when we brought the key crew to the location they said, Its very similar to the script isnt it So, that was the script. We knew where we were going.

Expectations of the Audience

The root of all this is to confirm peoples lives. I dont like the aspirational thing. Ive said it before. Its odd, having spent so much time in advertising. In the stuff that I do, I always try to take the aspirational dimension out of it, and put in some sort of confirmation. Aspirational is just a way of controlling people. Its okay to be human. You look at some of the magazines, and some of the shows, and some of the products you seenot very average is it Its hard to feel sympathetic for somebody who gets out of a Porsche.

Filming at Yarrangobilly

The logistical problem of the film was that everything was at least 45 minutes away. So, 45 minutes there and 45 minutes backit cuts down on your shooting time. When we started we were shooting in daylight-saving time so that was good, but we were still only working with a ten-hour day. Having daylight-saving just meant I didnt have to get up so early. Our head grip Dave Nichols has done all sorts of big films and he said Yarrangobilly is probably the hardest location hes ever worked in. You can drive to the area but then youve basically got to walk in and its quite dangerous. It took forever to get the stuff and the people in. And we had to get them out before dark, so we had to light the path. It was about two or three kilometres in on a winding track.

Shooting there was really beautiful, and the beauty of the place made the logistical problems facing us all seem a lot easier. It was slow walking in the water, a lot like fishing except I didnt have a rod. We spent all day in the water. I think everyone really enjoyed it. It was the desire to embrace the landscape. The challenge for me was the beautytheres so much of it, and there are so many meanings in this landscape that I was always tense about whether I could capture it.

Use of Natural Light

It radiates out of my desire and hope to get as natural a performance as possible. I think its easier to get good performances without lights. Light introduces a style to the film. The cinematographer has a style. Things he likes, even if theyre subconscious, get imposed onto a film. On this film, except for the night sequences, where its pitch black, we havent used one film light. Theyve all been domestic bulbs or daylight. I turn more lights off than I turn on. I think the actors subconsciously react to it in a good way. So its not a style thing, its a practical choice that Ive made to try and get rid of the paraphernalia that goes with making a film. Im not the only one who does it, its just that I really do push it.

Talk with Actors about How it's O.K. to Stumble

It is. Ultimately, thats what theyre trying to do, just be there. Its like giving them permission to work towards a particular goal a particular way. In the main Ive chosen actors that embrace that particular style.

The Cast

I always seem to end up with ensemble casts. Its difficult because, even though theyre all working basically the same way, they all have their needs. I dont like seeing anybodys work. I dont like hearing these words, I dont want to know someone has written them. I want the words to sound like theyve just fallen out of their mouths. I dont want anybody to see my work either. I much prefer to be like wallpaper. And they wonder what Im doing. Thats good. It takes away a lot of the pressure that I think is fake on a film. After a while the film starts to make itself. The notion of that happening, in the three times that Ive done it, has never let me down.

Working with the Same People

I go to the same restaurant, sit in the same chair and order the same meal. I find it very comforting not having to explain things. I think I work in an unusual way, or Im told I do. When I find that I work with people that arent used to working my way, its just slower, because then Ive got to get them up to speed and they dont always like it. So, all the people that I work with, in the main, are ones that Ive worked with for years.