// you’re reading...

Interview

Romi Trower p2

Screenwriter and director Romi Trower talks about casting What if it Works?, a romantic comedy about a man with obsessive compulsive disorder and a woman with dissociative identity disorder and their struggle to overcome their problems and get together…

Romi Trower talked about the process of making an independent feature length movie. She said she had to find the right producer (Tristram Miall, producer of Strictly Ballroom and other movies).
Tristram Miall “sort of served as another editor” attacking the script with a red pen, deleting unnecessary lines. It was absolutely key to give the script to a set of fresh eyes, Ms Trower said: someone whose instincts you trusted. So it wasn’t absolutely devastating if they removed characters and scenes. In addition, a script editor is helpful, she said.
She made a couple of short films along the way while organising the feature film, she said. And she had to get a distributor on board, too.
Ms Trower knew the actors she wanted for What if it Works? as soon as she saw them.
Romi Trower had seen Luke Ford, who plays Adrian, in The Black Balloon, for which he won an AFI award for playing a teen with autism. “It blew my mind,” she said. She said she’d seen him in other roles and he nailed every one.
Other movies include Animal Kingdom and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer. He put on 20kg to portray the role of Kerry Packer in the mini series Power Games: The Packer Murdoch story.
He was on board for a couple of years before the film got off the ground, Ms Trower said.
She said he was very much a method actor, and sometimes didn’t want to rehearse and she respected that. She said he added layers to the character, like the way Adrian didn’t want to touch objects he picked up and so covered his hands with clothing.
For Grace, the street artist with dissociative identity disorder, the director held a wide casting call in Sydney and Melbourne and found Anna Samson. “Anna’s test came on and I was like, Wow,” she said. She tried to remain open to the next 48 tests, she said. “It always came back to Anna.”
She got Anna and Luke in a room together and it worked, she said. The other main actors are Brooke Satchwell, who plays Melinda, Adrian’s helpful ex-girlfriend. Wade Briggs plays Sledgehammer, Grace’s jealous artist boyfriend.
“I knew I connected with them,” Ms Trower said of the actors. She said you trust your instincts and pick an actor you connect with, someone you can get along with, and it wasn’t based on awards or resumes.
She had the same approach to selecting other crew. Of her production designer, she said: “I liked her vibe: smart. I think she can do it.”
She had a line producer who found other crew, and the producer consulted them on that, too.

-continued next page
-copyright Simon Sandall.