On the verge of forced retirement, a worn-out, ageing shearer, who once rained king of the high country, gets on the gear to keep up his numbers.
When watching ‘Man’ we quickly grasp the overall production value of the film, where the attention to detail are subtly strutted through. The pace is a little tender at first, but hang through and you will be fully rewarded with a rugged and well founded storyline and intense cinematic experience. The story although not unusual, sets place in a setting where the area and people are not often covered by media; the sheep shearing mountain men of Australia.
The idea for the film came to fruition while I was shooting a documentary in the Australian High Country on Mountain Men. While getting to know a few of these cowboys and shearers it became clear that the hardworking industry of shearing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
It became evident to Dave Christison, writer and producer of ‘Man’, that the Mountain Men were abusing drugs, in particular crystal meth. It was clear that the men could shear more sheep in a week on the gear than being completely straight. Richard Hughes directed the film combining the sharp storytelling with an impressive aesthetic and cinematic style that truly speaks out the Australian grindy sheep farmlands.
I really love Australian landscapes, they are forever changing so when we had an opportunity to go wide and show off the land we did. Brad Francis DOP, did an unbelievable job of capturing Australia in this regard. While shooting in the shed, we actually didn’t have to do that much to the space, it was close to 100 years old We focused on keeping the shed quite warm and traditional but when back at Flanagan’s house, somewhere quite lonely, we cooled it down creating a stark, bleak household. I’m a huge fan of Animal Kingdom and drew a lot of visual inspiration out of films like that.
What really surprises us is the amount of suspense build up taken out from a sheep shearing film. Of course the film is so much more than shearing with such provoking values attached to it, and all brought together with a simply formidable cast that gives the film all its grit!