On the Couch with Dean Francis

Dean Francis oncWho is Dean Francis?
Dean Francis is a local filmmaker used to grabbing audiences by the throat, experimenting with visual poetry and being the last to leave a party. He made the feature film Drown, which is screening at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival on Saturday (21 March).

What would you do differently to what you do now? 
Leave the house more – and not just to go to the cinema. Ride a bike. Play tennis. Surf – all the stuff happy people do when they have weekends. And have weekends on which to do these things.

Who inspires you and why?
Art filmmakers who manage to get their work to an audience – Harmony Korine, Larry Clark, Shane Carruth, Todd Solondz. Gus Van Sant on a good day. And others. I love these guys because they seek to transform the minds of their viewers – this is their main object, not making quick money from marketing movies that all say the same thing.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Keep finding subjects no one wants to talk about and force them to by making a film about them. And I have this vision of film graffiti – hidden projectors that pump subversive artful images onto objects and buildings. I tried this in Melbourne with a super 8 projector and some dirty films – it caused car accidents. That made a difference. I’d have to iron out the glitches in the concept.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My basement because it has a projector and great sound and a fridge so I can literally stay there forever. Or LA – its like one gigantic installation art piece full or hilarity and contradictions and amazing characters.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them down to the abandoned underground railway tunnels which run under Sydney and which are full of water. They’re an amazing day out and remind us of all the discarded things no one talks about.

What are you currently reading?
Scripts. So many scripts. Generally just the first few pages. Book-wise I’m reading City of Quartz by Mike Davis. It’s a fascinating chronology of the rise of one of the USAs biggest cities in the most likely of places and circumstances. Beautifully written passages amongst heavy facts and useful information.

What are you currently listening to?
TV On The Radio – Seeds. Such a great album. And I’m going through another Kanye West phase – it started off in as an ironic thing but now I’m in love with him.

Happiness is?
A sunny day where I get to lie in bed and read nonsense then stumble into the garden and care for the plants.

What does the future hold for you?
Traveling with my film Drown to Atlanta, LA, NY, SanFran, Italy and…. Lismore. Hoping to get enough plane time to finally decide which film to do next and then work out how to make it happen.

Dean Francis a multi-award winning director, producer and cinematographer. Francis’ first feature as director, the supernatural thriller Road Train (aka Road Kill) was released in 50 countries and garnered critical acclaim on its 2010 Australian theatrical release including the Special Jury Prize at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.

Francis has directed and shot over a dozen short films which have screened at more than a hundred international film festival and been honoured with awards for direction, cinematography and acting. Vermin which tells the story of an exterminator obsessed with a feral cat-boy was nominated at the Australian Directors Guild Awards and premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Boys Grammar attracted national media attention for its graphic depiction of homophobic sexual violence and generated over a million YouTube views.

Dean holds a Master of Arts in Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) where he won Best Directed Drama Award and where he has also lectured. Dean is the owner of jj splice films which has a diverse development slate of projects in film, television and web.

Dean’s latest film, Drown will screen at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival on Saturday 21 March – 3.00pm. For more information, visit: www.mqff.com.au or www.drownthemovie.com for details.

Image: Dean Francis