CURSING THE SKY: Director Marc Furmie on Terminus
Marc Furmie strikes you as someone who remains optimistic about the future of the Australian Film Industry; which is notable if only for the fact that it seems every commentator and their dog these days is rushing to give you their two cents as to why movies made in Australia are failing. It doesn’t take long into our interview for the director to set himself apart from the rest.
He’s young too, particularly for someone who has already achieved so much, carving out a niche for himself with TVCs and music videos that boast a strong visual style and big, honest performances. By his own admission he’s focused on bringing personal stories to the screen that will sate his soul as much as they will delight audiences.
Most of all, Marc Furmie strikes you as the kind of guy you’d like to sit down and just chat movies with, which is convenient because he did just that with Any Camera Will Do recently, and what he had to say is bound to put a fire under the butt of every would-be-filmmaker out there staring at the silver screen and imagining ‘what if?’
The movie around which the discussion revolved is Terminus, Furmie’s first at the helm, and one of two films on the current slate for Storm Vision Entertainment, an ongoing collaboration between Shane Abbess and Sidonie Abbene’s Storm Alley Entertainment and Brett Thornquest’s Eclectik Vision.The team-up seems designed to position the company as the name in creators of high-concept, high-production value sci-fi content in an industry which has, at least for the last decade or so, been timid to dip its toes into the genre pool. Perhaps it’s this timidity from their industry that has given rise to such a capable generation of filmmakers as Furmie, who seem all too eager to ply their skill in changing audiences’ attitudes toward genre cinema in this country.
Furmie began work on Terminus back in 2009, when he had the idea to take a big-budget epic look at the central conflict and themes at play in the biblical story of Noah’s Arc; themes like redemption and obsession, but to ground them in near-future scenarios and real world relationships. After Shane Abbess (with whom Furmie had been in contact since Abbess’ own debut feature, Gabriel) got in contact to float the idea of bringing Terminus to the screen using a modest budget which relied on an innovative profit participation scheme, Furmie was forced to rethink the grand scale of his original idea, and to strip it down to the core concepts.
It was evident from our brief chat that story is very much the core mechanic with which Furmie is interested in his film making, and it’s a good thing too, with audiences starved for engaging narratives led by proactive protagonists. He gave us good insight into the scripting and directing processes he employs; the importance he places on adequate rehearsal time, and detailed what he considers the most important relationship on set; that with the DOP and his own relationship with Terminus’ Kieran Fowler.
Despite what sounds like a hectic production schedule and all the usual ‘low-budget-first-feature’ money concerns one would expect (as well as having to contend with torrential rain and flooding that threatened to wash away their camera vans, an incident during which Furmie found himself cursing the sky), the director’s enthusiasm for the film and the future of the oft troubled local industry never seems to waiver. His philosophy to “do whatever it takes” to get your film made shines through with each of his anecdotes, and makes this writer certain that he is bound for great things in the “Australian Film Industry” … and beyond.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR MARC FURMIE: