Interview with producer Jason King: The Lost Sheep, News

Interview with producer Jason King: The Lost Sheep

The Lost Sheep is one of seven films screening on ABC ivew as part of a joint Create NSW and ABC Regional initiative called SEED: Regional Shorts. The Lost Sheep tells the story of a young girl in outback Australia, desperately trying to escape a religious cult. Create NSW chats with the producer Jason King.


Where did the idea for this short film come from?

The director, Nick Crowhurst and I have collaborated on several projects in Broken Hill, and we are always looking for engaging stories to tell around the region. Nick and writer Stephanie Jaclyn hatched the idea, and it was clear the story would be at home in the Australian outback, translate well on the screen, and that it was also contained enough to make with limited resources. I jumped on board straight away and enlisted the help of co-producer (and one of the stars of the film), Jessica Byrne.


The film is a drama and a thriller. What attracted you to tell the story using these genres?

You have to use the resources that you have available. While the outback can also be charming and quirky, there’s a really sinister side to the desert, a sense of foreboding, isolation and unease. Thinking about ‘location-as-character’, I reckon Far West NSW is particularly suited to the thriller genre, especially for low budget films.

Nick and Stephanie had a really strong vision for the story from the start and none of us could have imagined The Lost Sheep being any other genre. Esther’s fear and hopelessness of being lost and exhausted in the outback is exceeded only by her fear and hopelessness of being found and made to go back to the cult.


Why do you think this would make for an intriguing short film?

I believe a good short film in this genre needs to be both entertaining and plausible. Interestingly during pre-production I heard a story about a man who had lost contact with his daughter when she joined a religious group in the area.  His only contact for her was an anonymous post office box in town.

The idea is that anything could happen or be happening right now, and we wouldn’t know about it because the outback is so vast, which sets great parameters for a compelling story - short or long - and has obviously informed many other films over the years. Because of this, I felt that The Lost Sheep would resonate with short film audiences.


As you mention the film is shot in many remote locations. How did you think through the logistics for filming during production and how did it play out during the shoot?

One of the best things about filming in Broken Hill is that we can access really ‘remote’ locations but still only be 30 minutes or less from modern regional city facilities, but there were still some challenges.

Having the support from the team at Create NSW made such a difference at all stages of production. In a practical sense, apart from the financial assistance to help us keep everyone comfortable with catering and other on-set essentials to combat the elements, we were able to take advantage of their combined expertise to make sure we were on the right track with things like scheduling and logistics.

None of that would have mattered, if not for our dynamic team of mostly locally-based, passionate crew, and the strong ‘film-friendly’ support of the Broken Hill and Silverton communities who have been supporting screen projects for the best part of 50 years. It allowed us to make a short film that we would not have been able to produce otherwise.


What made you apply for SEED: Regional Shorts and how did you make your application stand out?

We all wanted to take our filmmaking to the next level and saw the SEED: Regional Shorts initiative as an opportunity to make the film the best it could be with available resources. 

Apart from the funding, we were excited about having a direct line to the Create NSW team for support, and a great opportunity to achieve distribution on one of Australia’s highest-profile digital streaming platforms thanks to a partnership with ABC Regional and ABC iview.

I think the application stood out because of the tight script, relevant locations and characters, and overall it presented a clear and concise vision about the story Nick was planning to tell on screen.

Putting a good team together and creating an easily digestible, engaging visual reference was crucial. Reviewing the treatment and look-book we submitted compared to what we delivered is one of the things I’m proudest of with this project.


What advice would you give to future applicants?

Whatever your situation if you want to boost your filmmaking careers make films with whatever resources you have available. Also, if you could use a hand, make the time to put in an application to SEED: Regional Shorts. Don’t worry about what others may or may not be doing. Focus on the strengths of your project and form collaborative teams. There’s no doubt that if we didn’t all work together on The Lost Sheep, it would not have been successful in this program, and it would still be a promising script sitting in the ‘ideas drawer.'


What’s next for you?

Apart from collaborating with Nick and Stephanie to develop the feature film version of The Lost Sheep, I’m exploring other story ideas that make the most of the locations and other resources we have out here and focussing on making new content, including writing and directing.

To help grow the outback NSW film industry, me and a passionate bunch of local stakeholders have just formed the not-for-profit Screen Broken Hill Inc. including setting up a multi-use media hub with co-working spaces and temporary production offices.

Thanks to Australia Post, Regional Development Australia Far West, West Darling Arts, and Broken Hill City Council, we’ve already started the pop-up version in the disused offices upstairs in the Broken Hill post office, with several productions already booked to use the space. We’re chasing funding to develop something more permanent, and plans for stage two include post-production and data wrangling facilities as well as some basic production gear to make filming out here even easier for small and mid-sized productions and to support growth in locally-produced content.



You can watch The Lost Sheep now on ABC iview:

For more information on The Lost Sheep or Jason Kings work follow these links:

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