Burke and Wills
Photos and Video
At first, Burke and Wills presents itself as a simple study of opposites, but it quickly expands to encompass the tragic disintegration of an unlikely friendship. Wills, easygoing and charming, has just been kicked out of his girlfriend's apartment. Jobless and on the dole, he manages to find a share house in Sydney with stern, reticent Burke. The film unfolds through a series of coyly revelatory set pieces, as the new housemates slowly get to know each other and aspects of their personalities are laid bare for the audience. Wills is clearly the dreamer, obsessed with romantic notions of taking on new personas, shrugging off his mundane existence, and traveling through Spain and France. Meanwhile, Burke hardly says a word, seemingly caught up in some kind of dark internal struggle. The narrative hinges on two events: For Burke, it is the death of his grandmother, which nets him a sizable inheritance but only serves to intensify his withdrawal from society. For Wills, a break with his girlfriend of four years pushes him towards the responsibility of a steady job and the relentless self-examination that usually accompanies the end of an affair. Interwoven between these two events are fragmentary vignettes that are acted with superb naturalism by Australian directors Oliver Torr and Matthew Zeremes, who also wrote, produced, and starred in the film as the title characters.
Director's Statement Collapse
Burke and Wills is our first feature film. It came about relatively organically. Originally, the story of Burke and Wills was intended to be a stage play. But then one day we started toying around with the idea of making it into a feature film. This was, after all, one of the things we had aimed to achieve together in 2003, our first year out of acting school. We discovered that if we attacked the film in a slightly unconventional way then we could afford to make it. Six weeks after the initial talks, we had assembled a small crew, cast the film, organized the equipment and film stock, and commenced shooting. The film was made entirely off our own backs. We wrote, produced, acted, directed, and funded the entire thing. Burke and Wills was shot in nine long days, on a budget of 20,000 Australian dollars. A lot of the scenes were done in one take and the majority of the scenes were one continuous shot. The environment we created on set was entirely geared towards the actor. The story of Burke and Wills is a dramatization of experiences that we have been through. We aimed to accurately depict issues surrounding young people growing up in a tough city. Burke and Wills are two guys who are struggling through life. Their story is not a glamorized one. The leads are not bronzed Adonises who strut around with their shirts off. Things do not work out for Burke and Wills in the end. We have created a realistic and at times confrontational look at what it takes for real people to get through life.
We aimed to make Burke and Wills as realistic as possible, not only in the acting but also in the way we shot the film and put it together. The actors improvised around a rough script. We did this to try to capture their natural impulses and because we believe that "informed improvisation," if executed well, can create an ultrarealistic product. As filmmakers, we set out to make a film that was unique, unconventional, thought-provoking, and incredibly honest. Burke and Wills is a raw example of some of the tougher times life can serve up.
Film Information Collapse
[BURKE] | 2006 | 74 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Matthew Zeremes
Foreign Title: (Burke and Wills)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Burke and Wills is Matthew Zeremes' and Oliver Torr's directorial debut feature. For the past three years, both worked as stage and screen actors in Australia. Zeremes and Torr both earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Acting from Queensland University of Technology in 2002. The duo is currently drafting their next film project, Parasite.