Genre-Defining: An Interview with Shane Abbess by Kent Hill

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Like most filmmakers soon learn, the movie business is a catch-22. They’re not going to give you the money to make a film until you’ve proven you can make a film.

So how do you do that? Do you do a Kevin Smith and max out credit cards? Do you buy an iPhone and do a Steven Soderbergh?

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Well what Shane Abbess did was take the “smell of an oily rag” plus the talents and generosity of friends, and made a little film called Gabriel. Thing is though, Gabriel didn’t look and sound like a black and white ode to disgruntled, convenience store attendants. It was slick, bigger than the sum of its parts. In short: impressive.

Impressive enough to cause Shane’s phone to start ringing – and at the end of the line, Hollywood was calling. His big/little movie was not only impressive, but it was also doing good business. So Shane kissed the land down under goodbye and set off for the land of milk and honey. Problem is, when he got there, he found out that the movie business is a lot like major league baseball. They recruit talented players – wine them, dine them, tell them they are going to go far – then the other shoe drops.

Go along and you’ll get along. During his time at the epicenter of the industry, Shane didn’t make any movies – he got close at his turn to bat – but ended up chewing gum in the dugout. He was attached to some films that did eventually get made; one of which being the eventual Duncan Jones directed film Source Code.

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But he made some contacts, and with a new producing partner, he headed back to the great southern land and started making movies again. The first was a film called Infini, the story of an elite ‘search and rescue’ team transport onto an off-world mining-facility to rescue Whit Carmichael, the lone survivor of a biological outbreak. It was a strong return, running tandem with being a kind of testing ground for what was to come.

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The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume 1; a tale set in a future during a time of interplanetary colonization. An unlikely pair race against an impending global crisis and are confronted by the monsters that live inside us all, is a staggering achievement of not only genre, but low-budget filmmaking in a country that has in many ways, turned its back on the type of filmmaking that we used to have down, so cold, that the rest of the world was not only imitating us (thank you, George Miller) but was looking to us as leaders in the field.

Shane Abbess has cast of his shackles and has proven what is possible. After seeing The Osiris Child, I was eager to sit down with him and talk shop. There are big things, once again, on the horizon for Shane. His work is thrilling, he’s a truly top Aussie, an exceptional filmmaker; please enjoy my chat with one of our country’s cinematic rising stars . . . Shane Abbess.

 

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