After the Deluge: acticles

Deluge is raining stars

A STAR-STUDDED Australian cast has signed on to a new Channel 10 mini-series produced by the makers of My Brother Jack.

After the Deluge will feature the likes of David Wenham, pictured, Hugo Weaving, Catherine McClements, Aden Young and The Secret Life of Us star Samuel Johnson.

Actors Vince Colosimo, Simon Burke and Kate Beahan will also feature in the two-parter.

Channel 10's network programming general manager David Mott said the station was looking forward "to again working with the talented team (at Cox Knight)" which produced My Brother Jack and SeaChange.

After the Deluge will tell the story of three brothers coming to terms with their roles as husbands, fathers, sons and men.

They also are trying to find appropriate care for their Alzheimer's-affected father who is struggling with memories of World War II.

Shooting on the mini-series will start in Melbourne today and the mini-series is scheduled to screen on Ten in 2003.

By Jennifer Dudley
July 08, 2002
The Courier Mail

Deluge swamps Eureka Towers

MELBOURNE'S yet to be completed residential building, Southbank's Eureka Tower, will feature in a new Australian mini-series.

Filming on After the Deluge, a four-hour Channel Ten drama featuring former SeaChange star David Wenham, began in the partially built structure this week.

While cast and crew set up a location base in the bowels of the tower, cameras were rolling in the third floor offices of architectural firm Fender Katsalidis.

After the Deluge boasts a stellar cast of Australian actors including David Wenham, Hugo Weaving, Aden Young, Catherine McClements, Samuel Johnson, Vince Colosimo, Simon Burke, Marta Dusseldorp, Kate Beahan, Marco Chiappi and Tara Morice. It tells the story of three brothers and their father's battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Producers Andrew Wiseman and Richard Keddie from Apollo Films said casting After the Deluge was an exhaustive process that took several months.

"It took time to find the right balance. We needed to find the right people to tell the story really well," Mr Wiseman said.

"We set our sights high and yes, we absolutely got exactly who we wanted."

Mr Wiseman the production chose to film at Eureka Tower because the Fender Katsalidis office was an "interesting space".

"It is visually engaging. It is a long, deep office and gives great depth and background to the scenes," he said.

"We needed to find an office to film in because this whole shoot is being done on location. There are no studio scenes.

"It is amazingly complex. There are something like 62 locations to be filmed in 55 days, so it is a real challenge."

• After the Deluge is expected to air on Channel Ten next year.

By Fiona Byrne
July 14, 2002
The Herald Sun

The dream team

It's raining men… Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Ray Barrett and Samuel Johnson

Ten's mini-series After the Deluge features possibly the strongest line-up of local talent ever assembled for a TV project. Debi Enker visited the set.

On a crisp August afternoon, Rachel Griffiths and Hugo Weaving are at work in the kitchen of a terrace in Fitzroy. As cafe owner Annie, the single mother of two daughters, Griffiths is warily welcoming Weaving's dissolute rock guitarist, Martin, into her life. She's putting him through a family dinner where the girls grill him about his intentions.

The kitchen is crowded with lights, microphones and cameras. Griffiths moves into action: dishing up curry, pouring drinks, chatting with her girls and sizing-up her guest, who's trying to play it cool. With each take, Griffiths and Weaving provide something subtly different for director Brendan Maher and editor Uri Mizrahi to work with.

Weaving's Martin has seen better days. Once a rock legend, he's now an embittered bad boy. He wears a black leather jacket and strums a guitar to mask his discomfort.

Griffiths moves through a spectrum of responses: tense, relaxed, flirtatious, warm, nervous, guarded. The skill and sensitivity with which the two play off one another is electrifying.

The quality of their work is replicated throughout After the Deluge, Ten's $6.4 million mini-series, which boasts extraordinary talent on both sides of the camera. Written by Andrew Knight (SeaChange), it is a profoundly moving story of men and their battles: in war, at home, at work and in love.

At the heart of the four-hour drama are Cliff Kirby (Ray Barrett), an elderly man stricken by Alzheimers, and his three estranged sons, drawn together by his illness. As the old man melts into his memories, past and present merge in the same image. It's an inspired depiction of the disease and the way it separates sufferers from the world around them.

The cast reads like a wish list of Australian actors. Weaving, David Wenham and Samuel Johnson play the sons - musician Martin, architect Alex and solicitor Toby - with Aden Young as the young Cliff. Griffiths, Catherine McClements, Essie Davis and Kate Beahan play their wives or prospective partners. Vince Colosimo, Tara Morice, Marta Dusseldorp, Robert Grubb, Simon Burke and Bob Franklin appear in smaller roles.

"Direction with these guys is just trying not to get in the way," says Maher, an award-winning director (The Road from Coorain). "My role with people like this is just to create a good environment for them to do good work. At their level the choices are always interesting and sound and it's probably about giving them feedback on how it fits into the overall piece. This script is so finely tuned, you don't need big discussions."

It's the quality of Knight's script, which he honed over years with SeaChange collaborator Deb Cox, that is credited with attracting such a stand-out cast. "When [actors] read good scripts, they come to the work," Maher says.

While Knight mumbles modestly, "I don't know if in my life I'll ever get a constellation of stars like this again," co-producer Richard Keddie notes, "There's a lot of dignity and humility in the people who worked on Deluge.

Keddie and co-producer Andrew Wiseman spent 10 months casting in consultation with Knight, Cox and Maher. "There were often disagreements," Keddie says, "which is fantastic. No decision was taken lightly."

One decision was to keep the cast Australian. Even before Knight had written the script, Wenham agreed to play Alex, the son who has sacrificed family life for his career. Weaving signed on after reading the script. "Hugo said he would've paid me to do the role," Knight says with pleasure. Griffiths was younger than her character was originally imagined and she worked with Knight to flesh out Annie's past, investing her with a limp and a turbulent history.

Barrett, 76, was preparing to move from his home in Spain and return to Australia to be closer to his own sons when Maher asked him to consider the role. Barrett's initial reaction, he says, was "I don't want to do any more", but Maher persisted. "I read it and I couldn't wait to do it," Barrett says. "Cliff is the most demanding part I've ever been given and the most rewarding. Andrew Knight is a genius."

Maher says "it was really important that we had an actor who was in the age range, that you could see life on his face".

Knight concurs: "You forget how good Ray is. He's a proper actor; he's not someone who's come to it late and plays old people. He's got this amazing craft. I couldn't watch him work; I found it heart-breaking. To get that deadness in your eyes and still get the performance out, that's staggering."

While old Cliff's memories shape some of the drama, the story of his sons is one of men fighting on different fronts.

"There are few, if any, men in the piece who have any control over their lives," Maher says. That is one of the reasons he was drawn to the project and why Knight wanted to write it in the first place. Deluge is about fathers and sons, husbands and lovers, and what Knight calls their "baggage", with the drama driven by emotions rather than an action-packed plot.

"I tried to write it like music," Knight says, "a faster bit here, a slower bit here; we're in this mood, we'll move to this mood now."

Central to the creation of that mood were composer Cezary Skubiszewski's score and the contributions of production designer Jo Ford and director of photography Geoff Burton. Ford's rich palette of browns fits the feel of Melbourne in winter.

The mini-series was shot over 11 weeks at 60 locations around Melbourne, with Ford and Maher opting for busy backgrounds. "We thought that it was an incredibly complex story and heavily textured, but it also had to be told very simply," Maher says. "So we gave the backgrounds lots of texture and made our characters stand very clearly in front of those backgrounds in big, block, cut-out colours."

While Maher and Ford were choosing locations, Burton "was looking for a motif for the series", Maher explains. "He found the motif in the idea of light at the end of the tunnel. We looked for rooms that were long and narrow with a strong light at the end of them so there was a sense of travel, a sense of heading towards the light."

The sense of forward movement was crucial to Knight, who acknowledges the story is partly autobiographical. "I wanted to bring in as many men's stories as I knew and bunch mine together with other people's."

After the Deluge started life at the ABC, where it was seen by then head of drama Sue Masters as an obvious companion piece to Simone de Beauvoir's Babies, Cox's 1997 mini-series about a group of thirtysomething women. When the project foundered at the ABC during the Shier administration, Masters, who by then had moved to Ten, snapped it up.

While there are some concerns about Deluge screening on a commercial network that has for years been wooing a youth audience, there is praise for Masters for backing the project: "It is terrific that a commercial network will put real money and resources behind this style of drama," Wiseman says.

There are also hopes that Knight's credentials and the calibre of the cast will attract viewers who might not habitually turn to Ten: "Hopefully, quality will out," Wiseman says.

With After the Deluge, there's hope on the screen and behind the scenes. There's deep admiration for Knight's highly original work and pride in the way it has been realised.

"The reason it worked was because everyone loved the show, loved the script and cared about it," Keddie says. "If we'd had a really lousy script for an American telemovie, no way you would've achieved half of what we achieved."

After the Deluge begins on Ten on Sunday at 8.30pm and concludes on Monday.

By Debi Enker
June 10, 2003
Sydney Morning Herald

On for Young and old

IT'S winter, and Aden Young's thoughts have turned to love.

The Canadian-born, Australian-raised actor is holed up in Melbourne's Albert Park, developing a script for a short film.

"It's a wonderful love story," he says. "When you go to the cinema and you see a love story and it grabs you, there's very little that's better in cinema. I think to achieve romance in today's day and age… it's extraordinary to remind people it is possible."

Why, I ask?

"I don't know, I'm no wise-ass," he says. "Look at my love life, shot to pieces, maybe that's why I want to make a film about it."

Young was about to star in the all-time classic love story when he found fame.

In 1990, the 18-year-old Young was due to play Shakespeare's Romeo for the Australian Theatre for Young People in Sydney (Nicole Kidman's training ground), when he was summoned to Canada to screen test for Bruce (Driving Miss Daisy) Beresford.

He won a role in Beresford's 1991 movie Black Robe, and by the late 90s Young was dubbed by some Australia's next big thing in Hollywood.

However, Young has deliberately staked his ground in the art house arena. His closest claim to mainstream recognition was a romantic relationship with Claudia Karvan, and the much-publicised end of the affair soured him even further to the fame game.

It was love of a different kind that attracted him to After the Deluge, Channel 10's two-part mini-series from the makers of SeaChange, in which he plays the young and middle-aged version of the show's central character.

After the Deluge is about Cliff Kirby, played by Young and by Ray Barrett as an old man, whose dementia-wracked mind mirrors the fracturing relationships of his three sons, played by Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and Samuel Johnson.

"I was very touched by the script, and very touched by the relationship that the three boys had at the beginning and the relationship they have at the end of the piece," Young says. "It was very much a tale of men today. Some are lost, some are sure, some are confused, some are desperately stubborn, some are desperately correct and desperately wrong.

"I think Andrew (Knight, the writer) was able to capture a real essence of that world of men today, that isn't white bread SNAG sensibility, it's real life."

Young says he once tried to describe the series to a friend, who replied it sounded "very bourgeois".

"And I said yeah, it is, because we're all f…ing bourgeois, you know," Young says. "Andrew has focused on the subtleties of human living . . . why we get eczema and cancer and the shakes and drink so much and smoke so much and freak out and go to Pilates and get fit . . . we're all fighting all the time to be something that we're not.

"And these are tremendous battles, but they're tiny things that maybe don't get mentioned. It's rare to have it portrayed so quietly and with such honest recognition."

Young had initially been talking to director Brendan Maher about playing the role of Toby—now played by Johnson. Then a European film project came up and Young had to pull out. He went to Paris but the project suddenly died and he found himself sitting in a cafe with no job and four euros.

That afternoon the phone rang and Maher offered him the role of the young Cliff.

"I have never done television, let alone Australian TV," Young says. "I'm ridiculously stubborn and stupid sometimes, I've said 'no' without reading anything. But I just felt this was going to be a quality piece that I shouldn't miss.

"The character very much summoned me. I didn't have to lie in this one."

The story resonated with his own family experience, and had a "simple human poetry", he says.

His love interest in the series is WA's Kate Beahan—"she's wonderful, she has a remarkable dedication and focus and I think she's going to go wherever she wants to go", Young says.

Another focus was the older Cliff, played masterfully by Barrett. "He said to me: 'I'm too old to play you, so you play me'," Young says.

Some scenes were extremely emotionally affecting, even to act.

"I was left completely laid bare," Young says. "I had no function to communicate with a human being, I just said, 'I'm going to walk… that way', there was a road and some traffic so I didn't go too far."

It's not the first time he has lost himself in the moment. He once walked out of a film shoot into the South Australian desert—after an hour and a half the crew had to send out a search party.

With After the Deluge behind him, Young is concentrating on work in Australia—but he still keeps a toe in Hollywood.

"I go and have a look every so often," he says. "But I happen to believe in family, and that's here. And I also believe that with the state of the industry at the moment, with the hot and bothered political landscape, it's a great time for real theatre.

"Why would I want to make a movie about a couple of gangsters shooting up a guy in New York saying 'f… you', it's boring, it doesn't say anything to me, whereas to say something here, with people who are focused about where this country is going to go after this adolescence we're going through, it's extremely exciting."

• After the Deluge, Ten, Sunday and Monday, 8.30pm. It will screen on WIN later this year.

By Nick Miller
June 11, 2003
The West Australian

Musical deluge

He honed his musical skill in a tent in the outback to become one of Australia's leading film composers. Gabriella Coslovich spoke to the disarmingly down-to-earth Cezary Skubiszewski.

He's not as young a dude as Samuel Johnson (although friends say he's just as funky), his face is not as known as Hugo Weaving's (although artists say his mug is just as fascinating), and he has a surname that would test even the likes of "Effie"—Skubiszewski, pronounced "Scoobee-shesky", as he kindly deconstructs it in his curriculum vitae.

Cezary Skubiszewski: Polish migrant, veterinary science graduate turned music composer, winner of two Australian Film Institute awards, bit-part actor who got to squeeze Kerry Fox's bottom in the film The Sound of One Hand Clapping, writer of unforgettable jingles ("Jet Set, get set, let's go!") and the man behind the lush soundtrack to producer Andrew Knight's latest mini-series, After the Deluge, which concludes tonight on Ten.

As viewers will have discovered, music is central to the mini-series's plot. The pivotal character, Cliff Kirby, is a disenchanted World War II veteran, a virtuoso violinist in his youth, whose dreams and spirit were shattered when he was called to the trenches. The old Kirby is played by Ray Barrett, the younger by Aden Young. The two actors are part of a dream-team cast that includes Hugo Weaving, Samuel Johnson, David Wenham, and Rachel Griffiths.

Skubiszewski should also be a household name. His long-time friend, Melbourne painter Chris Grosz, tried to make it so two years ago, entering the man's portrait in the Archibald Prize. It didn't make the finals, but hangs proudly in Skubiszewski's East St Kilda home.

"He wasn't famous enough and he wasn't from Sydney," Grosz says with a laugh.

About the same time that Grosz was trying to immortalise Skubiszewski in paint, Knight who first met the composer during the making of The Sound of One Hand Clapping, was persuading him to work on his nascent mini-series. "I used to bail him up in bookshops and take him out for coffee and try to convince him that what I was doing was art," says Knight, who lives in nearby Elwood.

"He's a composer on a grand scale. If he commits to something it's 150 per cent. He just thinks it and breathes it and rings you up all the time, and plays bits of music over the phone receiver and drops off 30 tapes for you to listen to, and it's all brilliant."

Skubiszewski's rich, sweeping score for the Deluge series ranges from the achingly beautiful, to the sweet and melodious, and draws on styles as diverse as Irish airs, '40s jazz, reggae, classic and contemporary tunes—he's a huge fan of Massive Attack, and has worked with the likes of Killing Heidi and Jebediah.

Although Knight didn't offer the 54-year-old Skubiszewski the chance to reprise his scene-stealing, butt-pinching role, he did require the composer to be on set at the crack of dawn, to ensure that the show's cast handled their violins, electric guitars and other instruments with utmost realism.

"That's, for a musician, a big ask, to wake up at 5.30am and be on the set at 6.30. It's not my scene," Skubiszewksi says, in his heavy, utterly beguiling Polish accent.

He may be a composer on a grand scale, but in the flesh, Skubiszewski is disarmingly down-to-earth, constantly worrying whether he's talking too fast, whether he's boring, whether the reporter needs a blanket on her bare knees to guard against the cold.

"He's a complete European gentleman, coupled with being extraordinarily talented," Knight says. "He gets melancholic, he can't help it, being Polish. But he combines humor and melancholy beautifully."

There's another Grosz painting that holds prime position in the Skubiszewski home. A huge, Van Gogh-esque portrait of blues legend Robert Johnson, sits above the piano. The piano and portrait form a shrine of sorts.

Even though Skubiszewski has a small recording studio out back, filled with hi-tech machines, the piano is still the instrument on which he is most likely to conceive his melodies. The portrait, meanwhile, is symbolic of the music that first blew his mind—the blues. He was a 12-year-old, in Warsaw, when he was plonked on to the stage by a friend, within spitting distance of Howling Wolf.

"I never forget … I was only few metres from the band and they were all sort of middle-age guys, but they played so hard, actually the sweat was nearly landing on me. It just electrify me, maybe for rest of my life, because it was something so honest, so true."

But it would take another 20 years, and the death of his father, before Skubiszewski was true to his own desire to make music.

"Look, I always wanted to be musician, and I suppose maybe (that) partly coincided with the death of my father … you know, I loved him, but I always felt pressured."

Skubiszewski, who left his family in Poland and migrated to Australia in 1974, completed veterinary science at Melbourne University, then packed up and moved to Campsie, in outback New South Wales, a piano among his few belongings.

"I lived in army tent with a piano and I practise all the time, and I had a job one day a week just to support myself. That's when I made really decision that I wanted to dedicate myself to music and I suddenly felt strength of ideas." He later moved to Sydney with Lee, a teacher and painter—now his wife and greatest supporter—with whom he fell in love at first sight.

Skubiszewski's first big break was being asked to compose the music for the film Lilian's Story, directed by fellow Pole Jerzy Domaradzki. He has since worked with many Australian directors, including Gregor Jordan (Two Hands), Richard Flanagan (The Sound of One Hand Clapping), and, most recently, Tony McNamara (The Rage in Placid Lake, premiering in August).

Only Flanagan gave Skubiszewski an on-screen as well as off-screen role—a brief performance which he performed with aplomb. It involved sitting around in a bar with his hard-drinking buddies from the Snowy River scheme, and groping the lead character Bojan's daughter, Sonja, played by Kerry Fox.

"I did things which I practised for quite a few years in my life. I was drinking vodka, so that was well-rehearsed. And also I had to actually grab (Fox) by the bottom, and why I did this is because she chose me, because she felt comfortable with me. She had three people to choose from, and she chose me."

After the Deluge finishes tonight at 8.30pm, on Ten. The soundtrack is available on Move Records.

By Gabriella Coslovich
June 16, 2003
The Age