The DEEP SHIT Interview

 

Recorded in 1997: Morgan Evans (ME) John Weeks (JW)

 

JW: Weíre here with Morgan Evans, creator of Deep Shit.

ME: Hello.

JW: Uh, you were a student at RMIT? (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)

ME: Victorian College of the Arts.

JW: And Deep Shit is a student film, from what I gather, which has received pretty good acclaim.

ME: Yeah, itís done reasonably well, I sort of aimed to make a film that the audience would appreciate and, um, it seems to have worked....itís played in Melbourne quite a few times, itís played in Sydney, itís played in Canberra, itís playing again there soon...um, it went around New South Wales as a part of the Best of the Sydney Film Festival, played in Bendigo, played on TV, quite a few times, on the local channels...

JW: Some of the film festivals itís played for?

ME: Okay, it was in the St. Kilda Film Festival, it was in the Sydney Film Festival, as part of the Salon de Refusee, and it played in The Best of in Canberra, itís played at the Bendigo Youth Arts Festival, itís been playing as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and the Youth Fringe Festival, itís been on Channel 31 (public access) as part of that show, canít remember what itís called...

JW: "Half a Doughnut".

ME: "Half a Doughnut", what else, I havenít had any international luck yet...but then again Iíve only really entered it into two festivals...

JW: What was the reaction to you naming your film Deep Shit?

ME: Ah! Thatís funny...the initial title....I named it Deep Shit at the start, out of a whole host of possible titles....one of which was "By George, Weíve Got Rapists."

JW: Ha ha! Pull quote!

ME: ĎCause weíve got the advertising campaign for the pokies here, which was "by george, weíve got pokies" And theyíve got people singing along (sings) "By George, weíve got pokies" on TV ads...it was about the casino security guards sexually harassing this woman that was sort of like the basis of what was seen on the security video seen at the start of the film.

JW: And for folks who may not be familiar with Victorian culture or politics, can you, uh, break that down a little?

ME: Right. Premier Kennett is an asshole, (laughs), and...yeah, basically in an effort to try and boost the stateís economic viability, heís given the okay to open the largest casino in the southern hemisphere.

JW: That big.

ME: That big, and itís bloody enormous, and theyíve dug a hole in the ground thatís big enough to actually make a building twice as large just in case they ever get future planning permits that say "Yeah, go ahead..."

JW: "Just in case!"

ME: Yeah, just in case. And they had a projected first yearís profits of something like $A30 million; but after the first year it added up to being about $A300 million.

And bankruptcies have gone up 25%.

JW: In Victoria?

ME: Yeah, in Victoria, and itís pretty much casino related...and basically I think the casinoís just absolutely disgusting and filthy and the Premierís a corrupt fucker and

JW: And everybodyís afraid of him!

ME: I canít believe that!  For the first, six years, when he was in the Opposition party, before he got elected in, he kept making a fool of himself in the biggest possible ways, and then for some reason, the Victorians just decided, "Well, he says heís gonna give us more money, so weíll vote for him." And thatís what it came down to: people started feeling the pinch in their wallets because they were told that there was a pinch in their wallets. And so they voted him in to try and take care of this so-called bad economic situation that weíre in...

JW: Right. So now the hospitals are in shambles, but boy, weíre in great shape!

ME: The hospitals are in shambles, the schools are in shambles, everything else is in great shape...

JW:...the business community.

ME: Profits are up, and everythingís dandy. Well, public transportís still pretty shit...

I dunno, anyway, there was a bit of a brief poke at the Premier and the Casino at the start of the film...and if you listen really carefully to the opening dialogue, each word is chosen very carefully! (Laughs) So itís extremely efficient, you have to actually listen to it, every single word, and think about it hard, if you want to understand the plot because I just wanted to get that over and done with and then just "Okay now, letís get on with the action."

JW: It actually might be the most political short film Iíve seen in Victoria, even if it wasnít intended to be, just Ďcause of the subtext.

    Well, that covers the political landscape of Victoria...I noticed you also covered quite a chunk of the city too.

ME: Yeah.

JW: How did you get permission to do all that filming, for a student film, covering all that turf? Parliament Station...

ME: Well, Parliament Station whereís it starts, pretty much. The stuff that we filmed on the footpath is okay, we called the council and we said, "Look, we wanna film" and they said, "People do it all the time just as long as you donít get in anyoneís way, as long as you donít screw anyone up, or make it dangerous for traffic, then weíll leave you alone." So pretty much, we could just go ahead and film. Um, Parliament Station was a different matter, Ďcause first of all we wanted to slide down the escalators--

JW: Ha ha!

ME: --which I always wanted to put into a film Ďcause I love doing it. I wanted to jump off the tracks into the underground tunnels, which was a big one... my best friendís dad was manager of customer relations at the Metropolitan Trains and so he put me in contact with the right people, and I went and had a meeting with him and this guy and I said, "Look, weíll have a stunt coordinator there and weíll do everything by the letter...weíll be safe" and, they were actually really cool about it, "Yeah, do whatever you want..."

JW: Thatís great! So there was a lot of enthusiasm then...

ME: Yeah! Itís just a matter of talking sensibly to them and saying "Weíre not gonna be dickheads". And then proving that youíre not. Like when we were there everything was on time, we were out exactly when they wanted us to leave at the end of the night, we did everything by the book, we didnít interfere with any of the other passengers. And thatís really important, Ďcause thatíll keep you in good standing later. Turned out later that actually the staff crews that were working with the station wanted to see it Ďcause theyíd been watching the security cameras and seeing all the fight sequences! "Oh, we wanna see what this is." And it was so popular that they were having lunchtime screenings seven days a week for a couple of weeks for all the different shifts, and then--

JW: Were these the rushes or were they -

ME: --the actual film, and the crews from the other underground stations heard about it through the grapevine, and they said "Hey, we wanna see what these guys were doing in Parliament Station", and so Iím a bit of a legend there, I can wave to the guys behind the counter and they recognize me..

JW: Get in free...good deal...

ME: Yeah, itís good. Um, the Victorian Market in Melbourne Central was reasonably easy, we just got in touch with them and said, "When can we do it", and "We wonít be long", and "Weíll be really good", and Vic Market was okay because we were filming when it was closed. Melbourne Central was a bit of a bitch because they said the only time we could have was from six thirty to eleven on a Sunday morning, I wanted it full of customers! I organized all these extras, hordes of people to show up, including like this big group of people who were supposed to come dressed in armor as Vikings --theyíre called "the Viking Guard" --

     Theyíre one of those historical re-enactment groups that dress up on the weekend and play Dungeons-and-Dragons-for-real type people....and ONE guy showed up and heís like "Uh, Iíve got a shield and a helmet..." (laughs ) and Iím just going, "Donít worry Ďbout it..." had about four friends and I put about half the crew in, and it sort of looks....really quiet.

JW: Speaking of actors,  you recruited a bunch of martial arts folks for that, I believe--

ME: Yeah, yeah. None of us are actors. Um, Iím the one with the biggest acting experience...which was why I took the central role, basically. Um, and...yeah...my acting isnít particularly good, thatís because I forgot my SCRIPT, every day in the shoot, and I was making up the lines about thirty seconds before we were shooting...

JW: Great!

ME: And whatís more, I was virtually my own production manager, I was recruiting my brother to do all the typing and stuff, I was doing everything, and I just didnít have time to think about the acting side of it. We were rehearsing five hours a night, five days a week for a month-and-a-half before the...

JW: This was the choreography...

ME: This was for the fight sequences, and they were some guys I train with in a martial arts stunt team called Action Image, who I do Wushu with, which is Chinese Martial Arts, like the national sport of China. I got in touch with a guy whoís an Australasian Karate Champion--heís been on Gladiators--you Americans will know what that is -and a couple of friends of other friends. As long as they knew a little bit about martial arts and they could do a move then yeah, it was okay.

Most of the guys were very experienced and a few of them ended up on the Jackie Chan film...

JW: Wow.

ME: That little bald guy who does the one-and-a half flip onto his face on the concrete?

JW: Oh yeah, that guy--

ME: Heís dandy...heís probably one of the best martial arts stunt guys in Australia. You wonít find qualified stunt actors who can do the shit that he can do.

JW: Unbelievable. And Iím not just talking about the punches and all that--

ME: No...

JW: Actually catching them and making them look real.

ME: Yeah, heís incredible, he moves so well, his flips and his breakfalls and everything else, theyíre on a par with Hong Kong stuntmen. He can hold his own against the Jackie Chan crew.

JW: While weíre on the Jackie Chan riff, um, whatís this I hear about you being involved in a commercial with him or something?

ME: Oh, right. The guy who was the stunt coordinator on my film, heís a professional stunt coordinator, heís reasonably well known around Australia, a guy called George Novak, and, he got the job as a stunt coordinator on a Jackie Chan TV commercial that they were filming while they were having a break from the feature, and that was out at Essendon Airport. Yeah, he gave me a call and told me when the audition was, and said "You should go for it." So me, and a couple of guys in my stunt team, went to the audition, and two of us got in. There was me, and the bald guy with the glasses and the sideburns. Thatís Scott. So yeah, we got to go out to Essendon airport and got paid $400 dollars a day--

JW: To meet The Man?

ME:--to have a beautiful free lunch, I got a meeting with Jackie Chan, I got my photo taken with him, a big, fucking eleven-by-fourteen inch glossy photo, I was just like, "YES!" I didnít even have to work the second day, but they paid me anyway Ďcause they didnít give me 48 hours notice. So: $800 to meet my hero, muck around on a mintram with his personal stunt team for a little while, chase him down the tarmac, get a free lunch and then go home... "Yeah, yeah, I could handle that!"

   I think all my dreams came true that day, basically...

JW: What plans do you have down the line, now that youíve 'fulfilled your dreams'? Whatís in the future?

ME: Ahh...I wanna make sure that my martial arts stuntwork is improved a lot more, Ďcause Iím nowhere near as good as the other guys, my tumbling, my breakfalls, my kicks...so I wanna get to a very good stage.... I wanna become qualified as a stunt actor, and Iím writing a feature film with my brother at the moment, which weíll hopefully get up and running next year.

JW: Great!

ME: And thatís gonna be a martial arts action film.

 

2003 Update: Mr. Evans has gone on to direct music videos for Australian bands such as Sonic Animation, Frontside and The Living End. Other film work has included '28 Days' and miscellaneous freelance editing. 

    His stunt skills have been showcased in films such as "'The Lord of the Rings trilogy', 'Scooby Doo', 'Queen of the Damned', 'Darkness Falls', 'The Hard Word', 'Ned Kelly' and 'Subterano'. 

 

Catch him at lieut_morgy@ains.net.au 

 

 

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