Martyn Conterio (@cinemartyn) had an opportunity to chat with David Michôd about his new film, ‘The Rover’ during the U.K. press junket this week. We’ve included a couple excerpts below and you can check out the full interview at Grolsch Film Works. Great read!
GFW: Tell me about your writing process.
David Michôd: I can’t write unless I know where I’m going. I don’t need to know every single little detail and I don’t break it down into every single little scene. I do need to know in pretty fine detail, where I’m starting and where I’m ending. I’ve made that mistake before. You know, sitting down at a blank page and thinking I’ll just free-form it. Within five minutes, I’ve hit a wall and I’m depressed. For me, a big learning curve and a big step in my maturation, as a writer, was learning to embrace those days of not writing. Of letting the stuff stew. Letting the ideas gestate.
There’s a terse quality in your work, that is poetic at the same time, and I just wondered whether it’s there on the page or does it emerge solely on the screen?
I don’t know… I’ve never actually had anybody ask that. It’s a good question. I’m now getting used to having made something and having to steal myself for the opinion of others. But that’s usually criticism of the finished film. Whenever I received feedback or criticism of the screenplay, it’s only ever about how to make it better in order to make the film. It’s never as a literary criticism of it as a piece of writing. I’d love to have that. Whether or not my writing on the page has that literary quality… I don’t know.
A screenplay is really just a blueprint for something that doesn’t exist yet. Having said that, there are writers whose screenwriting is a joy to read – just as a reading experience. Andrew Dominik’s screenplays, for example, are so good.
Let’s get the Mad Max question out of the way. Comparisons have been made between your film and Miller’s classic, but anybody expecting an action thriller is going to be disappointed.
Yeah … if you went into this movie expecting to see Max Max, you’d be pretty disappointed. It’s not an action film and it’s not set in a post-apocalyptic world … that has its own expectations, you know, to do with wild anarchic rewriting-the-laws-of-society type stuff. I shoot myself in the foot by opening the film with a car chase. It’s not an action movie at all and yet I opened it with an action sequence! If the audience is willing to go along for the ride, it’s this lugubrious bromance movie.
The term used in The Rover, to describe the world having gone to hell, is ‘the Collapse’. Watching the movie, I thought it was ambiguous as to whether society was slowly getting back into a semblance of its former self or was descending further into chaos. Can you tell me your thoughts on this and how you see it?
Right… in a way, the world of the movie is the world of a western economic collapse. In a way, it’s also the world of a profound geopolitical shift. It’s one of the reasons why it felt very specific to the Australian desert, this film. You get little indicators, here and there, that there’s still a functioning mining industry and it is feeding China and feeding Chinese mining interests. There are people in this world still making money, and making a lot of it. [The film] is a radical inversion of power dynamics. In short, the world of the movie is Australia as a resource-rich third world-country. In my mind, there is no sense whether it’s getting better or worse for th ese characters. It’s more like Australia as it could become. Australia in the movie isn’t that dissimilar to parts of the world today.