SEE RAMPAGE ELECTRA AT THE WA MADE FILM FESTIVAL on FEBRUARY 24. TICKETS HERE
Fremantle Prison has seen some horrors down the years and that continues when it takes centre stage in the gripping action thriller Rampage Electra.
Written and directed by Hassibullah Kushkaki, the film was shot extensively in WA with locations ranging from East Perth to Lancelin dunes and the 23,000sqm AMCAP Warehouse in Welshpool.
Rampage Electra stars Mikayla Levy as Hannah Electra, who has been expelled from five schools and labelled “dangerous”. She can’t really work out why, until she unearths a dark family secret that changes her life forever.
Kushkaki thought the gritty, old prison cells at Fremantle jail would be the perfect setting for a twisted psychiatric ward, so in late June he filmed for three days at the world heritage site.
“I had four scheduled tour meetings with Fremantle Prison where I was able to scout locations for specific scenes and work on the daily orchestration,” he says.
“The process of receiving permission was very thorough. We presented a clear plan on how we were going to orchestrate the three days of filming.
“Over the course of three days we captured 30 minutes of actual run time. We averaged 10 pages per day which was a very ambitious attempt.”
Rampage Electra is Kushkaki’s debut feature film and will premiere at the WA Made Film Festival in Perth on February 24.
It’s a far cry from 2019 when Kushkaki, then in his late twenties, arrived in Australia on a work and holiday visa and was picking cherries in Taggerty, Victoria.
He was into moviemaking in his youth, but concedes he lacked the discipline at that age to do “professional films”, but that all changed when he got a student VISA and enrolled in film school at TAFE in Perth, where he quickly teamed up with James Dudefield, director of photography on Rampage Electra.
“We filmed 15 short films in that first 15 weeks and by the end of the semester we decided to book the Luna Cinemas and have our own little premiere,” Kushkaki says.
“Fast forward three years and we produced 28 short films, hosted three screenings at the Luna Cinemas and have our first feature coming up.”
Born in Germany, Kushkaki grew up in Tucson, Arizona and spent most of his twenties in South Florida. His grandparents have been living in Perth since the 1980s and his parents moved here just over a decade ago to take care of his great grandmother, who has since sadly passed away.
He says his first big cinema experience was going to see Titanic aged about nine, and growing up he was really into comedies like Zoolander, Super Trooper, Hot Fuzz and Nacho Libre.
But when he watched the intense epic drama There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, it “changed his life forever” and sent him on a darker cinematic path.
He says playing around with samurai swords and blood splatters on a previous short film inspired the fast pacing and action in Rampage Electra: “That was one of the first moments where the team simultaneously felt a certain level of tempo that we were creating. That was an inspiring moment where I knew which style to commit to for our first feature length film.”
Rampage Electra is just one of the great home-grown movies showing at the WA Made Film Festival from February 17-26 at Palace Cinemas Raine Square in Perth.
Now in its fourth year, the festival is the biggest celebration of local screen culture with 14 feature and 57 short films made in WA, one web series, two masterclasses, multiple filmmaker discussion panels and 17 smartphone films made exclusively for the festival.
Highlights include the Perth premiere of Sweet As, by Nyul Nyul and Yawuru writer and director Jub Clerc, a highly-regarded WA filmmaker.
“Sweet As is the first Western Australian feature film to be written and directed by a female Indigenous person, which is just incredible,” says festival director Matthew Eeles. “We couldn’t think of a better film, by a better filmmaker, to open this year’s festival.”
The festival will also host the world premieres of Arnold Luke Carter’s whimsical feature film Sun Moon & Thalia, Sanja Katic’s complete web series Love Me Lex, and Lincoln James Cook’s observational political doco Elect Lincoln. As well as masterclasses by two of WA’s most successful and respected screen practitioners, actor Myles Pollard (Wolverine, Drift), and writer and director Ben Young (Hounds of Love, Where All Light Tends to Go).
For more info and tickets see wamadefilmfestival.com.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK