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A Quick Trip To The 2015 Australian Men's Amateur

I normally talk film on this website but to preserve the memory, I thought I'd post a quick overview of my trip last week to the 2015 Australian Men's Amateur Championship in Sydney.  For those who don't know me very well, golf is another of my interests (it can be a lot more frustrating than movies though!)

The event sees the best amateur golfers from around the country compete.  There are also international players from countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and Korea.  To even make the 236 man field, you had to play off a handicap of 0.8 or less. 

It was only the 4th time that I've played the event (it's often hard to get time off work) and it was a thrill to get out there and give it a crack.  Part of the lure this year was to play two courses that have both hosted the Australian Open in recent years.

I managed to finish tied 132nd with scores of 80-75-155.  That isn't too bad for someone who doesn't practice and only plays on weekends these days.  It left me 7 shots out of the important 64th place (which got you into the subsequent match play component of the event).  I'm not complaining though.  To make 6 birdies during my 36 holes was more than I was anticipating.  Congratulations to New South Welshman Cameron Davis who went on to claim the trophy.

It's now back to my regular life of work and movies... but I thought I'd share a few photos from the week so that everyone can see how great the game of golf can be!

2015 Australian Men's Amateur
Before I teed it up in the Championship, I pulled some strings to play a social round at New South Wales Golf Club on the Saturday afternoon.  It's ranked the 5th best course in the country by Australian Golf Digest.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
The tough par 3 6th is the signature hole at New South Wales Golf Club.  It's not hard to see why there is a 15 year waiting list to become a member of the Club.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
New South Wales Golf Club was the first time I had the chance to play from "links style" bunkers.  I started with a double bogey on the short 1st hole but was pretty happy with my round of 75 (3 over).

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
A practice round at The Lakes Golf Club before the 2015 Australian Men's Amateur.  This is the 8th hole where Adam Scott made an albatross in the 2011 Australian Open.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
This pretty much explains how The Lakes gets its name.  There are 3 par 5s on the back nine and you have to hit over water on every one of them.  There is currently no waiting list to join... but that's because you'll need to stump up roughly $30,000 as a one-off joining fee.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
Another water carry at The Lakes at the beautiful 14th hole.  How often have you played to a green that is 50 metres wide???  I played my best golf at The Lakes during the Championship with 4 birdies in a round of 75 (3 over).  A shame about the shank and double bogey on 17th!

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
We don't quite have these facilities at Brisbane golf clubs!  The locker room at The Lakes includes a spa and sauna.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
The locker room at The Australian is even better.  It features a bar (installed by the late Kerry Packer) for a number of reasons.  Someone told me a story about how a player heard his name called out during the presentations while he was in the shower.  He promptly walked out nude, accepted the trophy, then went back to finish washing himself.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
A look inside the two storey locker room at The Australian.  Most visitors wouldn't get to see this "members' only" area but I got the chance thanks to a helpful reciprocal member.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
There were plenty of great players in action at the 2015 Australian Men's Amateur including Queensland's Cory Crawford, a member of the Golf Australia national squad.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
He may only be 16 years of age but Ryan Ruffels is a ridiculously talented golfer who finished 2nd in the stroke play phase of the event.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
The Australian is a brutally long golf course that measures roughly 6,700m off the back tees.  I don't think I've played a longer course.  During my competitive round, I hit 3 iron into all but one of the par 3s.  The only exception was the 4th (where I hit 6-iron because the tees had been moved forward!)

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
A good friend, Andrew Anderson, caddied for me during the week and he was kind enough to take this great photo off the 5th tee at The Australian during a practice round.

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
Some have compared The Australian to Augusta and it's easy to see why when you miss the fairways and find the pine straw.  I fought hard at The Australian during my competive round but stumbled with a bogey-bogey-double bogey finish for a final score of 80 (8 over).

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
Having missed out on the match play, I snuck in a quick caddy job for Golf Australia national squad member Lucas Herbert during his first round of match play (thankfully he won).

 

 
2015 Australian Men's Amateur
A look at my scorecard during the 2015 Australian Men's Amateur.  A few ups, a few downs.  It was fun regardless!

 

 

Interview - Miyavi Takes A New Path With 'Unbroken'

Miyavi

While he was in Australia for the film’s world premiere, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Japanese-born Miyavi about his strong performance as The Bird.  Here’s what he had to say…

Matt:  You’ve been a successful singer-songwriter for some time now, have you always wanted to give acting a try?

Miyavi:  It actually happened out of the blue.  There was a casting director who came to my office in Tokyo and that was the first time I’d heard about the film.  I was initially hesitant as I had no experience as an actor and the story was quite controversial.

When I first met Angie, she told me that she wanted to make something that could be a “bridge” between not just America and Japan but also countries that have been having similar conflicts.  The message of Louis Zamperini and his life is all about forgiveness and maintaining an unbroken spirit.  The allowed me to make a decision as I realised this wasn’t a typical war movie.

Matt:  The character you play is known as The Bird.  Did you know anything about the guy before you signed on to do the film?

Miyavi:  No, I didn’t know about him.  I didn’t even know about the book as it’s not translated in Japan because the story is so controversial.  Of course I was able to learn a lot over the course of the film.  I even got to see articles that The Bird wrote after the war about how much he wanted to see him mum while he was hiding in the mountains for 7 years.  Angie and I also spoke a lot about the character and about how we believed he was unbalanced and suffering. 

Matt:  Did you get to spend much time with Louis Zamperini before he passed away earlier this year?

Miyavi:  Yes, one time.  He invited me and my family and it was a great time.  He welcomed us, he played with my daughters, and he was cracking jokes.  He also told some stories from the prison camp and I was able to see the strength in the man firsthand.

Matt:  Did he give you any tips as to how to play your character?

Miyavi:  Actually, I wasn’t able to meet him until after the film had finished shooting.  It was still very meaningful though.

Matt:  So many of us are familiar with Angelina Jolie as an actress but what’s she like as a director?  How would you describe her approach to putting this together?  What was she like on set?

Miyavi:  Determined and passionate.  This was her mission.  Everyone wanted to dedicate themselves to achieving this movie and to deliver its message to the whole world.  My family was also able to spend time with her family and we learned many things from each other about how to be a great parent.

Matt:  There are many scenes in this film where you are beating Louis Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell.  How much time does that take to choreograph and rehearse so as to make it look as authentic as possible?

Miyavi:  It’s all thanks to a talented crew.  Before the film was shot, we had no actual rehearsal and so I learned how to behave, how to walk and how to use a bamboo stick from the experts brought onto the set.

Matt:  A lot of people have been raving about Jack O’Connell and saying he could be one of the next big stars in Hollywood so what was he like to work with?

Miyavi:  He was cool and very professional.  The role was a huge challenge for him and I thought he did a great job.

Matt:  It’s great for the Aussie film industry that a film of this magnitude was shot here in Australia.  The scenes in which you appear – can you tell us where they were shot in particular?

Miyavi:  The prison camp scenes were shot on Cockatoo Island but it felt like we were in Japan which really helped me to get into the character.  It was also a beautiful location with all the seagulls and other birds.  I enjoyed every moment of my time in this country.

Matt:  The film had it is world premiere in Sydney.  What was it like sitting in a huge theatre with a packed audience and watching it for first time?

Miyavi:  I wasn’t able to watch the film last night sadly but I had already seen it before.  It was my first time on the red carpet though as an actor and that was great.  Everyone was so welcoming.

Matt:  So now that you’ve had this taste for acting, is it something you’d like to continue? 

Miyavi:  Yeah, if there’s an opportunity I would love to.  I learned so much about conveying emotions and also the similarities that exist between performing live on stage as a musician and acting on a set.  I really did enjoy acting a lot.

 

Brisbane Film Critics Select 'Boyhood' As Best Of 2014


Since 2011, I have been pulling together a list of the best movies of the year according to the Brisbane-based critics who I run into regularly at preview screenings.  Those films to have topped prior year lists have been Drive in 2011, Argo in 2012 and Gravity in 2013.

To come up with an overall top 10, I’ve used a simple points system and applied it to the list of each critic. It is as follows:
  3 points – the top film on each list.
  2 points – the films ranked between 2nd and 5th on each list.
  1 point – the films ranked between 6th and 10th on each list.

If two films finished on the same score, the film that appeared on the most number of top 10 lists is ranked higher (as an indication of wider approval).

It was a close contest between several films but it was Boyhood who finished on top. It's the current Oscars frontrunner and 4 different Brisbane critics named it as their favourite film of 2014.

Rounding out the places were two films from very different genres. The runner-up spot was claimed by Under The Skin, the unusual sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson. Finishing third was Calvary,
the dark drama featuring Brendan Gleeson.

The only other films to appear on more than 50% of the critics' lists were Nightcrawler (4th place) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (7th place).

No Australian film made the overall top 10 but those featuring most prominently among the critics were The Babadook and Tracks. The Lego Movie was the clear favourite in terms of animated features.

On that note, here are the top 10 movies of 2014 according to Brisbane critics…
 
Brisbane Film Critics - Top 10 Of 2014
  1. Boyhood
2. Under The Skin
3. Calvary
4. Nightcrawler
5. 12 Years A Slave
6. Inside Llewyn Davis
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Whiplash
9. Her
10. The Wolf Of Wall Street

You can view a table of all the votes and final scores by clicking here.

A big thanks to all the critics who were able to contribute. Hopefully we'll do it again next year!

You can check out information on all the Brisbane critics (along with their choices for the best and worst of 2014) below.

 

 

Matthew ToomeyMatthew Toomey

Born in Brisbane, Matt Toomey was introduced to the world of cinema when he landed a job at a video store fresh out of high school in 1995. A few years later, he started his own website and reviewed movies regularly on a community radio station. In 2005, he joined the team at 612ABC and can be heard reviewing the latest releases every Thursday on Brisbane’s highest rated breakfast program with Spencer Howson. He can also be heard nationally every second Sunday at 1:30pm on ABC Digital.

Website: www.thefilmpie.com
Twitter: @ToomeyMatt

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Boyhood
2. Still Life
3. 12 Years A Slave
4. Nebraska
5. Edge Of Tomorrow
6. A Most Wanted Man
7. The Raid 2
8. Whiplash
9. The Maze Runner
10. The Wolf Of Wall Street
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Rover
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
All This Mayhem
Best Performance:
Eddie Marsan (Still Life)
Worst Film:
A Winter's Tale
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Chef
Boyhood

 

Sarah WardSarah Ward

Sarah Ward is a freelance film critic, writer and festival devotee. She is a film reviewer and feature writer for artsHub, editor of Trespass Magazine, contributor to Concrete Playground, FilmInk, Metro Magazine, and Screen Education, and can be heard talking film on ABC Digital each Sunday with Matthew Toomey. Her work has been published across a range of cinema, culture and festival outlets, such as KOFFIA, the Spanish Film Festival, SBS Film’s Social Review and the World Film Locations book series. In addition, she has worked for a number of entertainment and arts organisations and film festivals, including as a jury member and programming committee member.

Websites: www.artshub.com.au
www.trespassmag.com
www.concreteplayground.com
www.filmink.com.au
www.playslashpause.com

Twitter: @swardplay

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Two Days, One Night
3. Force Majeure
4. Nightcrawler
5. Under The Skin
6. Her
7. The Wolf Of Wall Street
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
9. Ida
10. What We Do In The Shadows
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
2. Hill Of Freedom
3. '71
4. The Strange Little Cat
5. Listen Up Philip
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Babadook
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
All This Mayhem
Best Performance:
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night & The Immigrant)
Worst Film:
The Little Death
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
John Wick
Inside Llewyn Davis

 

Laurence BarberLaurence Barber

Laurence Barber is a film and television critic and freelance writer based in Brisbane. His reviews appear regularly at The 500 Club and Graffiti with Punctuation, and his work has been published at The Guardian, The Age, Metro Magazine, Senses of Cinema, News.com.au and Crikey.

Websites: www.the500club.org
www.graffitiwithpunctuation.net
www.letterboxd.com/laurence
Twitter: @bortlb

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. 12 Years A Slave
3. The Selfish Giant
4. Wadjda
5. Gloria
6. Only Lovers Left Alive
7. The Great Beauty
8. Snowpiercer
9. The Double
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him/Her
2. Mommy
3. La Ultima Pelicula
4. Listen Up Philip
5. The Salt Of The Earth
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Tracks
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
The Missing Picture
Best Performance:
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Worst Film:
A Million Ways To Die In The West
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Fury
Inside Llewyn Davis

 

Baz McAlisterBaz McAlister

Baz McAlister is a blow-in from the wilds of Northern Ireland who now works as a journalist and editor in Brisbane. He started watching horror films at the age of ten. He never fully recovered.

Website: bazmcalister.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bazmcalister

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy
2. Nightcrawler
3. Calvary
4. The Drop
5. Under The Skin
6. Whiplash
7. Fury
8. Snowpiercer
9. The Trip To Italy
10. X-Men: Days Of Future Past
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Babadook
Best Animated Film:
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Best Documentary:
Deepsea Challenge
Best Performance:
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
Worst Film:
Lucy
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
22 Jump Street
Guardians Of The Galaxy

 

Garry WilliamsGarry Williams

Garry Williams is a reviewer for the 4ZZZ-FM Film Club broadcast each Thursdays from 6-7pm on 102.1FM.

Website: 4zzzfm.org.au/program/film-club
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Under The Skin
2. Boyhood
3. Calvary
4. Interstellar
5. 12 Years A Slave
6. Dallas Buyers Club
7. Hannah Arendt
8. Robocop
9. Nightcrawler
10. Her
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Terror Live
2. Jodorowsky's Dune
3. Search For Weng Weng
4. Face Of An Angel
5. Geronimo
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Healing
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
Jodorowsky's Dune
Best Performance:
Sarah Snook (Predestination)
Worst Film:
Endless Love
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Under The Skin

 

David EdwardsDavid Edwards

David Edwards is the editor and film critic for The Blurb, a website that provides the latest news and reviews for arts entertainment in Australia.

Website: www.theblurb.com.au
Twitter: @TheBlurbMag

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Gone Girl
2. Whiplash
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Nightcrawler
5. The Two Faces Of January
6. Calvary
7. Nebraska
8. Two Days, One Night
9. Edge Of Tomorrow
10. Chef
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Birdman
2. The Imitation Game
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Babadook
Best Animated Film:
The Boxtrolls
Best Performance:
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Worst Film:
Fat Pizza Vs. Housos
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Edge Of Tomorrow
Gone Girl

 

Michael DaltonMichael Dalton

Michael Dalton is the editor and film critic for the "Screen" section of M/C Reviews.

Website: reviews.media-culture.org.au
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Nightcrawler
2. Whiplash
3. Force Majeure
4. The Wind Rises
5. Predestination
6. The Babadook
7. Under The Skin
8. The Two Faces Of January
9. Calvary
10. The Great Beauty
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Enemy
2. Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead
3. Locke
4. The Imitation Game
5. Birdman
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Babadook
Best Animated Film:
The Wind Rises
Best Documentary:
The Last Impresario
Best Performance:
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
Worst Film:
Tusk
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
John Wick
Nightcrawler

 

Peter GrayPeter Gray

Peter Gray is a Brisbane based freelance entertainment writer specialising in film. Currently the entertainment reporter/film reviewer for QNews, Queensland’s largest LGBT publication, and regular contributor to M/C Reviews and Hush Hush Biz.

Website: hushhushbiz.com
qnews.com.au
Twitter: @ratedPDG

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Whiplash
3. Gone Girl
4. The Lego Movie
5. The Wolf Of Wall Street
6. Calvary
7. Predestination
8. Her
9. Nightcrawler
10. Under The Skin
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Kingsman: The Secret Service
2. The Imitation Game
3. Unbroken
4. Into The Woods
5. The Theory Of Everything
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Predestination
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
Citizenfour
Best Performance:
Sarah Snook (Predestination)
Worst Film:
Tusk
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
John Wick
The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Gary McDonaldGary McDonald

35 years ago Gary’s movie career began as Publicist in film distribution in Australia and later Internationally.  He moved onto journalism, television production and freelance film work.  His 1st reviews were published late 70’s in full gloss colour street mag ‘Me’.  Over 3 decades reviewing film and tv, he is now with Fairfax Media 4BC and ABC.  His philosophy is ‘Don’t talk about it unless you have seen it’. Gary has current film and television production underway in the UK and USA.  Remember: ‘A good movie reminds us to feel’.

Website: n/a
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Boyhood
2. Dallas Buyers Club
3. Calvary
4. Pride
5. 12 Years A Slave
6. Nightcrawler
7. The Lunchbox
8. All Is Lost
9. Nebraska
10. The Dark Horse
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Birdman
2. The Imitation Game
3. Unbroken
4. The Theory Of Everything
5. The Lost Aviator
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Tracks
Best Animated Film:
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Best Documentary:
Finding Vivian Maier
Best Performance:
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Worst Film:
Tammy
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Paddington
Boyhood

 

Dave CreweDave Crewe

Dave is a fulltime teacher and life-long film fan who came to cinephilia and criticism late, founding the website ccpopculture.com in November 2012. In addition to writing for this site, he’s a regular contributor to The 500 Club and The Essential. He’s also been published by Film Ink, Screen Education and Peephole Journal (amongst others). He’s spent his 2014 watching way too many movies (over 500 at last count) and writing way too many articles, but doesn’t regret a minute of it.

Website: ccpopculture.com
Twitter: @ccpopculture

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
2. Whiplash
3. Calvary
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Under The Skin
6. Her
7. 52 Tuesdays
8. Two Days, One Night
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel
10. Boyhood
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Tokyo Tribe
2. Enemy
3. National Gallery
4. Journey To The West
5. Oculus
 
 
Best Australian Film:
52 Tuesdays
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Documentary:
The Last Impresario & National Gallery
Best Performance:
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
Worst Film:
Tusk
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Dracula Untold
The Wolf Of Wall Street

 

Jesse ThompsonJesse Thompson

Jesse Thompson is an award winning journalism student.  He edits the Brisbane-based film reviewing website The 500 Club and expresses opinions on new release movies each Thursday from 6pm on 4ZzZ’s Film Club.

Website: The500club.org
Twitter: @jethom17

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Under The Skin
2. Two Days, One Night
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
4. Gloria
5. Her
6. The Babadook
7. Ida
8. Force Majeure
9. Boyhood
10. The Great Beauty
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. It Follows
2. Journey To The West
3. Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem
4. Hard To Be A God
5. Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Babadook
Best Animated Film:
The Wind Rises
Best Documentary:
The Missing Picture
Best Performance:
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Worst Film:
Blended
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The Lunchbox
Under The Skin

 

Ella DonaldElla Donald

Ella Donald is a journalism and PR student who discusses all things film on her blog Monumental Pictures.  She likes films with spontaneous dance numbers and disagreeing with award shows.  Her writing can also be found at This Is Film.

Website: monumentalpictures.wordpress.com
www.thisisfilm.com
Twitter: @_pingus

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Boyhood
2. Gone Girl
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
4. Short Term 12
5. 12 Years A Slave
6. The Wolf Of Wall Street
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Only Lovers Left Alive
9. Blue Is The Warmest Colour
10. Snowpiercer
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby
2. God Help The Girl
3. What We Did On Our Holiday
4. Birdman
5. Tom At The Farm
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Tracks
Best Animated Film:
The Lego Movie
Best Performance:
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Worst Film:
Winter's Tale
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Edge Of Tomorrow
Boyhood

 

Damian StaveleyDamian Staveley

Damian Staveley is a journalism and law student at he Queensland University of Technology, whose writings include film reveiws for a local news outlet.

Website: www.damianstaveley.wordpress.com
Twitter: @damianprobably

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Boyhood
2. 12 Years A Slave
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Her
5. Only Lovers Left Alive
6. Calvary
7. Blue Is The Warmest Colour
8. A Most Wanted Man
9. Interstellar
10. Pride
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Tracks
Best Animated Film:
The Wind Rises
Best Documentary:
20,000 Days On Earth
Best Performance:
Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Worst Film:
The Inbetweeners 2
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
22 Jump Street
Boyhood

Interview - Olga Kurylenko On 'The Water Diviner'

Olga Kurylenko

The Water Diviner marks the directorial debut of Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe.  I caught up with one of the film’s co-stars, Olga Kurylenko, to find out what went on behind the scenes. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.

Matt:  When did you first get a chance to read the script for The Water Diviner?  What was it that stood out for you?

Olga:  I think I read it in July 2013.  I liked that it was based on a historical event and also the fact it was a period film.  I also liked my character which was really important.  I’ve always been an admirer of Russell’s work and so it was great to be part of something that he both directed and starred in.  When he offered me the part, I was very excited.

Matt:   Most of us in Australia know Russell Crowe the actor but you’re one of the first people in the world to get know to Russell Crowe the director.  How would you describe his approach to the film in contrast to other directors you’ve worked with?

Olga:  He was a terrific director and I think a lot of that is because he has been an actor.  He knows how to talk to actors and tell us exactly what we need to hear.  He knows what atmosphere is required on set in order for an actor to feel great and wanting to give.  He understands all of that because he has been on the other side.  I remember waking up each morning and being really excited about what was going to happen that day.

Matt:  Most of the film was shot here in Australia.  The scenes that you were involved in… where were they shot in particular?

Olga:  All of my scenes were shot in Sydney.  After that, the rest of the cast and crew moved on to different locations to shoot parts of the war that didn’t involve my character.  Oh, there were also a couple of days in Istanbul where we did some of the exterior work.

Matt:  Did you get to do any touristy things while you were here in Australia?

Olga:  Yeah, I got here well before the shoot started as part of my preparation.  I got to spend a whole day at the zoo which was actually my birthday.  I was feeding kangaroos and wallabies and hugging koalas and I wished that was how I could spend every birthday.  While in Sydney, I was walking in parks and going to the beaches.  It was a real delight.

Matt:  How much preparation did you have to go through to get yourself ready for a role like this?

Olga:  It took me a while.  I’d never spoken Turkish before and so I wanted to make sure that the accent was right.  I also wanted to understand what I was saying and not just learning phonetically.  I got a Rosetta Stone for Turkish and started learning the language.  I didn’t really need to but it was a big help I think.  After that, I worked with language coaches who trained me how to speak for about two weeks. 

I surprised myself when there was a moment on set when the character who played my Dad, who is Turkish, started improvising a scene.  I knew what he was saying and so I started improvising along with him.  When Russell said “cut”, everyone started applauding and were asking me how I did it.  It wasn’t like I said anything complicated but I was really excited that I knew what he was saying and that I knew how to answer. 

Matt:  You’re son in the film is played by Dylan Georgiades who is a 12-year-old Melbourne kid with no prior acting experience.  His performance was so great.  What can you tell us about him?

Olga:  I fell in love with him.  He’s such a lovely, lovely boy with a beautiful energy.  He was exciting and willing to do things.  He was always talking to Russell and listening to him and I could see how he wanted to do his best.  It’s surprising for a child because they can get tired.  I’ve seen that.  That didn’t happen here.  I hope he gets more work after this because he really deserves it.

Matt:  War films are often about big battles and heroic acts but here you play a widower trying to raise a curious son while facing pressure to remarry.  Were there books you could read or people you could speak with to give you a clearer perspective of your character and this piece of World War I history?

Olga:  I actually went to Turkey for research about a month before the shoot.  I met with a Turkish woman who was in a similar position to my character except hers was a current day setting.  She was being pressured to remarry following the death of her husband and she was standing up against it.  It was a very rare thing for a woman to do even today.  I had a long talk and really admired her because she was strong.  Her choice was to not obey the rules and do what she felt in heart would be better for her and her children. 

Matt:  I’ll finish up by asking if you’d like to direct your own film one day like Russell?

Olga:  I don’t think so but you never know.  I’m much more interested in writing films which I’ve been doing.  I may write my own film and then hand it over to a director who can carry it through from there.