Interview with “Lost Gully Road” Filmmaker Donna McRae

“This film is about how women don’t feel safe anywhere”, says Lost Gully Road filmmaker Donna McRae.

-PH: We’re very keen to hear about the film. It’s an exceptionally creepy movie. When did it come together?

-Donna: We decided to make the film mid 2016 after we had the 1st draft of the screenplay. Once we agreed it was full steam ahead to the first week of December when we went into production. It was a 16 day shoot and then took about a year for post production. It didn’t take too long.

-PH: And is the yarn based on something personal or ripped out of the headlines?

-Donna: At the time of writing the screenplay there had been incidents of young women walking home alone at night and being attacked. I wanted to tackle a social issue within the film and my city was very angry about this random violence that was happening to women at the time. The film is about how women don’t feel safe anywhere – and it also overlaps with domestic violence and the enablers that allow this terrible behaviour to keep going.

-PH: How much of some of Australia’s infamous murders, like the Backpacker Murders, influenced the film? Do you have to be careful not to play too close to real-life incidents like that?

-Donna: Australia has some terrible serial killers and many of them have been made into films. There are still some infamous cases that are either too horrific to film or still under dubious influence to go near. My hometown is Adelaide, where I lived through the Snowtown Murders and there are some terrible other ones there that haven’t been filmed. People that aren’t from Adelaide always joke that it is the home of serial killers but I think it’s just because it has a smaller population than the rest of the cities in Australia. However, it is chilling and very hard to forget – so when I see these films being made a shiver goes up my spine.

-PH: Is it hard to ground a horror film?

-Donna: As I operate more in the ghostly realm of material it is hard to ground that. Especially when you deal with psychological ghosts – are they real or are they in the characters head? You have to follow a logic that is truthful to both the ghost and the character and sometimes that is tricky. Will it translate to the audience? Will they get that there is a ghost at play here? My first micro budget feature Johnny Ghost (also available in the USA) the ghosts were psychological, whereas in LGR they are real. Or not.

-PH: Do a lot of the scares happen on the day, in the moment by chance or an impetuous idea, or is everything in the script?

-Donna: For me, everything is scripted. All those moments were written specifically to be scares. However, on the day you may see something that happens organically and I try hard to capture that. It may be how the fading light falls, or a certain way a shadow looks, and I try to pick that up as you never know if you may need it. The tiny glimpse of the ghost materializing was done on the day. There was a particular crew member standing in a particular position so we got it. What I thought would be a quick grab turned out to be more difficult than that, but luckily we had a bit of time. It’s a very subtle shot but glad that I got it – one of my favourite things to do in ghost/horror films is to scrutinize the corners of the frames, to see what comes out of the darkness, so was glad that I could do this with LGR.

-PH: How do you think the film will translate to the US?

-Donna: So far so good. I am thrilled that people have warmed to it. It has been getting great reviews so that’s fantastic. It’s a universal theme so glad that it has been able to translate.

Lost Gully Road is now available on DVD and Digital.

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