It says a lot about Australia’s film industry that there are a number of local short films detailing the struggles budding filmmakers go through to get their art to screen. It’s a simplistic argument, sure, but you can’t deny that there are many, many more potential filmmakers in this country than there are financial backers and distributors.
Simon Best and Paul Murphy’s maxi-short film (it’s 46 minutes long) begins with footage from Living Off the Land, an ultra-low budget horror flick they really did attempt to make in their younger years. It was a film that was both deliberately and accidentally shoddy, but the kind of hilarious attempt at horror that aficionados will appreciate. Fast-forward some years and Paul’s love of the film is rekindled, prompting him to attempt to finish the work they began.
Re-Living Off the Land is a documentary come mockumentary that is both sincere and a pisstake. Whilst the interviews are clearly scripted, you get a sense that the frustrations these wannabe filmmakers are facing are real. For anyone who’s ever tried to make their own homemade masterpiece, their experiences are all too familiar.
Filmed on digital, Re-Living Off the Land feels exactly how it should (the film within a film makes for a good get-out-of-jail free card with regards to production values), though it’s let down in its use of technology that’s changed very little in decades – namely the sound and lighting. The performances are great and each character brings something different to the screen. Paul is all bullshit and high hopes, Simon has a wry wit and awesome collection of geeky t-shirts to accompany it, Ben seems eternally positive and Graham is an awkward and immature no-hoper. Musician Gotye also appears, having starred – under his real name, Wally De Backer – in the original film back when they were all younger. The late Richard Franklin also makes an appearance when Paul tries to get him in involved in the project.
Often hilarious, this is a film that can comfortably sit alongside similarly themed The Garth Method and the oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-it’s-real American Movie. There’s a sense of good fun about the whole thing, as well as a happy dose of tall poppy hacking at Gotye’s success in the music industry. The film is masterfully edited with no dull spots and fills its running time perfectly. Recommended.Rating: