top of page




1. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in domestic violence and feminicides worldwide. In Brazil, in 2020, the cases of physical, psychological, and sexual violence reached an absurd number of over 17 million female victims. The film ECDYSIS illustrates very well in its narrative a view of these alarming data. How was the creation of the script, and the source of inspiration to tell Anne's story?

Firstly, thanks for reaching out and interviewing me for your publication. The script was loosely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic short stories, particularly "The Black Cat". In Poe's story, a male protagonist descends into alcoholism and cruelty, committing acts of animal abuse and ultimately murdering his wife. However, for the ECDYSIS script, we felt it would be more appropriate for the victim (Anne) to exact revenge on her tormentor (Paul)

2. As previously stated, violence against women is a calamitous factor worldwide, leading countless victims to hospitals and death yearly. How is this major social issue dealt with in Australia?

I'm not an expert, but based on what I've seen and read in the news, it's clear that violence against women is a devastating issue in Australia, just as it is everywhere. This country has taken steps to tackle the problem by implementing initiatives like the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Some other measures I’ve read about are raising awareness through campaigns and offering assistance through helplines and shelters.

3. Besides being the screenwriter and co-producer, you shared the direction of Ecdysis with filmmaker Roscoe Portelli, who has more than a decade of experience in the audiovisual sector. How did your co-direction work during the shooting of ECDYSIS?

Initially, I was just going to write the script and co-produce, but Roscoe wanted me to also help out with directing since we’re old friends and have collaborated well on creative projects in the past. Roscoe definitely took the lead with directing ECDYSIS, yet I was able to make several (hopefully worthwhile) suggestions in terms of shot composition, actor guidance, etc.

4. You have an extensive background as a writer of literature and with editing as well. How did these experiences help you in your début as a director?

Writing is often a solitary endeavor – unlike directing which involves intense collaboration, people skills, and so on. I think the ability to understand the nuances of storytelling allowed me to approach co-directing with a strong sense of structure, character, and visual aesthetics. At times, I was out of my comfort zone, yet creative decisions when co-directing came somewhat organically since I knew the story and intention of the script. Directing is also a lot more fun/social than writing, which can be tedious at the best of times!

4. Verity Higgins, Dennis Coad, and William Ewing have fantastic on-screen chemistry, bringing a lot of authenticity and power to their characters. How was the casting of this well-matched cast?

William Ewing (who also co-produced the short) came up with the idea to cast Verity and Dennis after meeting them through his acting networks. All three have worked extensively in Australian theater, film, and TV. We did a few table reads of early drafts of the script, and the chemistry between them was excellent from the beginning.

5. Verity Higgins plays the protagonist Anne and brings in her performance an enormous strength without leaving aside her sensibility. How was the process of creating this character between you as a scriptwriter and the actress who gave life to the protagonist?

Verity was a pleasure to work with and brought a lot to the role. We had some discussions about Anne's characterization during the table reads and pre-production; however, Verity seemed to understand the script and her performances required minimal direction from Roscoe and me.

6. ECDYSIS was filmed over 4 days in December 2019. How was the process of filming and producing the movie in such a short period?

Filming over a short period was always part of the plan. We wanted to minimize costs as we were out in Terang, rural Victoria, and had to sleep in motels and other accommodations during production. It was an intense shoot – some very late nights and early mornings – but it was also great spending time with such an awesome group of cast and crew members.

7. Another challenge for the short film was its post-production, which was done during the Lockdown period. Can you tell us more about the editing and finalization of the project?

Post-prod was done almost entirely during the first and second Melbourne Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. Will Ewing, Roscoe, and I had countless group phone calls and email threads. We were able to share edits, feedback, etc. online with the sound designers, editors, and color graders we worked with. Not being able to meet in person was a challenge. Still, we could arrange pretty much everything online, over phone calls, and via text messages.

8. The character Paul, brilliantly played by Dennis Coard, brings from his first interactions a violent and reactionary atmosphere. What were your inspirations for shaping this character with this great actor?

When shaping the character of Paul, I drew inspiration from the darkly funny cinema of the Coen brothers (e.g., Fargo). I aimed to create a menacing character, but I also wanted him to appear human, understanding that even those with extremely negative traits have emotions and motivations. Dennis' exceptional talent and understanding of the character allowed us to delve deep into Paul's warped psyche.

9. The potency of the social and political commentaries embedded in ECDYSIS is evident. How was the reception of your short film by critics and audiences inside and outside Australia?

ECDYSIS had its local premiere at Flickerfest, a renowned short film festival held annually in Australia that showcases a diverse range of works from local and international filmmakers. It was well-received by audiences here, noting that viewers tended to appreciate the nuanced take on a subject as complex and tragic as domestic violence. Our short also got selected and won awards at many festivals internationally, yet – due to Covid-19 – we weren’t able to attend any of these to gauge audience perceptions.

10. Corruption is one of the many matters reactionaries and moralists anchor themselves to justify violent and immediatist political measures; meanwhile, they produce acts of corruption to maintain this status of paranoia and retaliation. An example is the rise of politicians connected to militias that benefit from power games against the working-class population, who become hostages to criminal schemes. How do you evaluate the importance of cinema and fictional narratives to denounce and, in a way, fight against this kind of practice?

I think cinema (and art in general) can hold up a mirror to real life. With subtext, cinema/fiction can explore ideas that ordinary people might avoid articulating due to fear of persecution. In Australia, it’s generally acceptable to voice one's opinions regarding perceived corruption among politicians (for example) without the fear of retaliation. However, I acknowledge that in some countries, similar actions would carry a higher risk.

11. Heteropatriarchy and sexism take different faces and forms in art and real life. In your film, Paul's manifestations of violence and oppression are punctual and sometimes even subtle, but without losing their visual and audio power at any moment. How did cinematographer Marcus John Cropp, sound designer Ryan Granger, and editor Florence Holmes and their teams work to bring this strong narrative from the script to the screen?

Marcus has a long history of working on commercials, short films, and other media projects. He was able to understand the character motivations and emphasize this in his composition, for example choosing to shoot some of the “kitchen sink” scenes from down low to illustrate Anne’s rare/fleeting opportunities for power over Paul. Ryan and Florence are both professionals and brought some great ideas to the table, specifically when it came to building tension.

12. Art director Jon Colman and makeup/ costume designer Savannah Oskorep and their teams did an exceptional job in ECDYSIS. Can you tell us more about the creation and development of the production design for your short film?

Jon works extensively in the Australian film industry, and many of the ECDYSIS props and dressings were borrowed from professional sound stages he was working on around the same time. Savannah joined us last minute as a makeup artist/costume designer. Back in 2019, she was still very new to the industry, yet she did an excellent job and brought a lot of dedication and hard work to the project – especially at such short notice.

13. With so many talented professionals leading this project, ECDYSIS proves that cinema is a collective art. Another way to bring talented artists into films is through references inside and outside the 7th Art. Can you tell us more about the artists who inspire you as a filmmaker and storyteller?

It's hard to pick a single source of inspiration. I started – like many – being inspired by U.S. filmmakers, including Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch, and the Coen brothers, among others. I've watched a fair bit of European cinema and have been particularly affected by the dark, psychological works of filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Lars von Trier. In more recent times, I've looked closer to home, at writers/filmmakers based in Australia. Some notable directors here include Justin Kurzel and Cate Shortland.

14. The violence suffered by Anne escalates throughout her story; until its cathartic conclusion, when she finally rebels against her perpetrator. How was the construction of that powerful scene with the actors and crew?

This was probably one of the most difficult scenes to shoot, as it required very dramatic and emotional performances from Verity and Will Ewing. If we’d had more time in preproduction and production, I would’ve aimed to stretch out the final act of ECDYSIS to give this moment a bit more room to build. Yet we worked with the time/resources available to us.

15. The film's soundtrack is very interesting, with songs that constantly dialogue with the narrative. How were these songs chosen to compose the movie?

Roscoe, Will Ewing, and I thought the music in the film should represent some kind of escape for Anne. We wanted it to contrast with Paul’s brutality/viciousness and wanted to reflect a different age and time – one that perhaps Anne yearned for. The tracks we used were suggested by our editor, Florence after we’d explained our intention with the music.

16. Australia is the homeland of renowned filmmakers such as George Miller (Mad Max, 1979), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook, 2014), Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, 1989), and Shannon Murphy (Babyteeth, 2019). Can you tell us more about what the Australian independent filmmaking scene is like?

I moved to Melbourne in my early twenties and have found the independent filmmaking scene here to be fairly supportive/inclusive. I studied screenwriting at the Victorian College of the Arts almost ten years ago and recall there being no shortage of people looking to make and help out on films/creative projects. One of the main challenges here (and anywhere) is financing a film with little hope of a return. That said, some of the costs involved with producing and distributing films are decreasing with advances in technology (e.g., high-res camera technology, online film festivals, etc.) So hopefully Australian independent films can continue to find audiences despite the costs.

17. ECDYSIS is the process of an insect molting its exoskeleton. This natural action is necessary because, since the exoskeleton is inflexible, the arthropod must get rid of its previous shell to grow larger. This occasion is the most vulnerable and critical moment in the insect's life. Somehow this happens with Anne during this little time frame of a couple of days of her life we see in the short film. What would you like to say and also advice for women suffering from domestic acts of violence of any kind?

Again, I’m no expert on this and I’m not sure what my opinion is worth. All I’d say is that anyone suffering from domestic acts of violence of any kind should speak out and seek help as soon as possible. No one deserves to live in an environment of violence and abuse.

18. ECDYSIS is your first and most recent project as a filmmaker, even though it was released in 2020. What are your future projects? Do you have any films or screenplays on the way as well?

I’ve actually been writing a novel since 2019. I’m in the late drafting stages and hoping my agent will be happy to share it with publishers at the end of this year. It’s a Gothic/psychological horror about a young couple who move to a remote Australian island. While this is my main focus, I’m also aiming to get another short film going this year – perhaps even with the help of some of the cast/crew from ECDYSIS. Thanks again for reaching out and taking the time to interview me!


bottom of page