TO say director Rachel Perkins is a little nervous about her new movie Jasper Jones is an understatement.
Her screen adaptation of Fremantle author Craig Silvey’s coming-of-age tale was released Thursday, but at last year’s preview screening at CinéfestOZ she was so nervous she had to bail.
“I had to leave the screening because it was too much for me,” Perkins told the Voice.
“It’s like doing a painting that costs $5 million and inviting 500 people over to give their opinions.”
Since then there have been six Q&A screenings and Silvey’s loyal army of fans seem happy with the way the friendship between bookish Charlie Bucktin and the misunderstood Jasper Jones has been portrayed on the big screen.
“I think the book’s readers are particularly passionate,” says Silvey.
“When you pick up a novel you lend it to the authority of your imagination.
“You evoke images internally and in doing so you make that story yours.
“The people who are coming out to see these advanced screenings have been incredibly supportive.”
The talented cast of young actors who bring these characters to life have impressed audiences the most.
You’d expect nothing less from an ensemble that includes Levi Miller (Pan, Red Dog True Blue) and Angourie Rice, a 16-year-old Perth actress whose rise to fame has been so rapid she’s set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Betty Brandt in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and appear alongside Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.
“These guys embody their characters and then some,” says Silvey.
“Levi and Angourie were both complete professionals.
“To be honest with you, I learnt a lot from them.
“They know their stuff and they know their processes.
“These guys exceeded my high expectations by far.”
Dotted amongst the young characters in the film are a handful of broken, bitter and emotionally-damaged adults who are almost a reflection of the young character’s futures.
Hugo Weaving, who plays Mad Jack, is the most impressive: a key scene involving his character and Jasper Jones is a masterclass in acting and a performance which will go down in history as one of the greats.
“Believe it or not that was done in one take,” says Perkins.
“It was so well crafted and beautifully delivered.
“I felt like there was nothing more to ad and once I had made sure Hugo was happy I almost felt redundant.”
With the exciting news that Perkins and Silvey will be teaming up again for a secret film project, I asked Silvey whether his first experience working within the Australian film industry was a satisfying one.
“I found it incredibly supportive,” he says.
“The spirit that everyone brought to this project was inspiring and there was no way I couldn’t feel grateful or moved by that.
“This was a great environment to work in.”
Silvey will join audiences over the coming weeks at a series of Jasper Jones Q&A screenings, including Luna On SX in Fremantle on March 5.
by MATTHEW EELES