Set in late 1960’s Australia, Henry and his father George are two different kinds of men, yet the pressures of an overbearing father divert both their futures.
Photography by Meg Higgs & Charlotte De Pedro
“Rabbits” is the most personal film that I have made to date. Throughout 2018, I was fascinated with the idea of nostalgia and masculinity. These ideas continued to circle in my mind and played right into a film I had wanted to make for a very long time. The inspiration of “Rabbits” is the true story of the relationship between my Grandfather Donald McCraith (who has inspired the Henry character) and Great Grandfather Jack McCraith (who has inspired the George character). This film is a somewhat re-imagining of my family’s history. Throughout my life, I had been told this story many times and from many perspectives, but I wanted nothing more then to put it on the big screen. In my own way, I am being nostalgic in the process of telling this story, in looking back at history. However, I hope that I have not romanticised the past, and showed the real faults and flaws of the film's protagonists. Yet I am lucky in that this story is in the ‘The Rabbit King’, a biography on Jack’s life. This helped me gain an outside perspective from the author, who condensed Jack and Donald's relationship down to 6 pages. I think that the theme of the film be summed up in this one quote from the book, “He worshipped his father and wanted to please him. He was too young to realise the task he was set was impossible.”
I am really proud of the development of the main characters in George and Henry. George uses his flawed masculinity to push his son, yet underneath lies real emotion and humanity. Henry seeks his fathers approval and is a character that you want to grow, yet his father has such a hold on him that it is unable to happen.
This film to me was a very Australian story set in the late 1960’s and I wanted to portray it in that way. Large landscapes and very dated interiors. Tonally, I was inspired by films like ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘The Godfather’, ‘Nebraska’, ‘Shine’, ’The Tree of Life’ and the music of Estonian Composer Arvo Part. This is by far the most refined, well crafted and technically challenging film I have made. In 2017 I completed a short drama romance called ‘For the Love of Cinema’, which I was very proud of, yet I believe this film is more whole. More complete. As Martin Scorsese once said, "The most personal is the most creative." I had always set out to make a film that moved people and told a universal story of father and son, rooted in humanity. Hopefully the film has achieved this and I have done my family proud.
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