We’re always fans of Australian films – recently we’ve had fun with all the great Aussie film at Monster Fest, as well as reviewing the unconventionally distributed The Mule. Even more recently, we heard about Play it Safe, an independent Aussie film. Currently fundraising at IndieGogo, Play it Safe is a movie about Jamie, a 26 year old musician whose band has broken up – he takes a soul-crushing job at a school teaching music, and has to decide whether to well, play it safe or go after his dreams.
We had a quick chat with Chris Pahlow, the writer and director of Play it Safe, about the movie, the music and the Aussie film industry.
This film is Chris’ debut feature film and while it isn’t strictly autobiographical, the original idea is heavily based on his friends’ and his own experiences playing in bands in their early twenties. Many of the cast and crew are musicians themselves, which adds to the authentic feel of the film.
“More broadly,” Chris says, “the message of the film is something everyone in the cast and crew connected with, and I think there’s a lot of people out there who will be able to relate to it. Everyone struggles with trying to figure out how they can balance their passions with the realities of growing up and becoming an adult. For musicians, the compromise might be teaching music or doing things like corporate and wedding gigs. I think everyone has their own version of this, and I’ve definitely had to do other work to stay afloat while working on indie projects like Play It Safe. I do things like commercial work and I also teach film at a couple of universities, so in some ways you could say my career arc is not that different from the protagonist’s, just in the film world instead of music.”
As a country, we tend to have lukewarm responses to films that originate from Australia, but recently with films such as Red Dog and The Sapphires, not to mention The Mule, Chris has high hopes for the Australian film industry.
“We’ve got some incredible talent in the Australian film industry, and it feels like things are getting better and better, particularly in TV with great shows like Please Like Me and pretty much everything the guys at Matchbox Pictures work on. However, overall, I would like to see a lot more diversity in the films and TV shows that get made here, both in terms of the types of stories told and also the way they’re made. This was one of my motivations in making Play It Safe, I wanted to see a different kind of “Australian Story” told through film. Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to meet a bunch of other filmmakers on the same path, creating indie features outside the system and interested in telling different kinds of stories. Hopefully we’re just on the cusp of something big.”
Australia is arguably killing it on the international stage in regards to music at the moment, with artists like Tame Impala, Gotye and Vance Joy doing extremely well worldwide, not to mention the thriving local music scene. As a huge fan of the Melbourne music scene, Chris draws on Melbourne’s talent for the film: “We’re lucky enough to have more than twenty local Melbourne artists who have worked on the soundtrack. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to share their amazing work with an international audience.”
Check out the campaign page here, and donate – rewards range from a digital copy of the film to producer credits to tickets to an exclusive screening.