OST CD $24.99
Pre-order now! Available 26/06/2015.
The Secret River
OST CD $24.99
Pre-order now! Available 26/06/2015.
Kate Grenville’s Secret River gets the TV treatment on ABC
June 13, 2015 The Weekend Australian, Graeme Blundell, First Watch
Seven years in the making, the television adaptation of Kate Grenville’s best selling and highly celebrated colonial-era “first- contact” novel The Secret River has arrived, and does it full justice. It’s an epic tragedy in which a good man is compelled by forces he cannot control to participate in a crime in which terrible things happen. The tragedy is the inevitable result of what Grenville calls the “total misunderstanding and mutual lack of comprehension, particularly regarding relationship to land”, between the Aboriginal people and the early settlers.
The Booker-nominated novel has been adapted into this seriously good television miniseries by two of Australia’s most talented screenwriters, Jan Sardi (Oscar nominated for Shine) and Mac Gudgeon (Killing Time), and directed by the accomplished Daina Reid (Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo) across two enthralling episodes. It’s a searching exploration of character and the shadow cast by the fear, violence and the individual isolation of the early settlers.
It will leave you moved, if uncomfortable, and like producer Stephen Luby, you might find an urgency to tell the story to as many people as possible if they don’t see it. “I wanted others to experience the insight and empathy that it had evoked in me,” he says of reading the novel in 2006. “An illumination not of historical facts and social issues, but into the profound feelings and pressure faced by all ‘the players’, both indigenous and white, in the early days of European settlement in this country, and which still e choes among us today.”
Beginning in 1805, it follows poverty-stricken Thames waterman William Thornhill (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who begins a life sentence in the penal colony of NSW assigned to his brave if obdurate wife, Sal (Sarah Snook). He finds work as an oarsman on Sydney Harbour while Sal establishes a rum stall, eking out a living in grog, the true currency of the colony.
Australia is no fair princess of a place but born and bred as an ill-favoured by- blow of the squalor and criminality of 18th-century industrial England and the poverty of Ireland. It’s a system dominated by the savagery of the lash, brutalising the community of officers, clergy, officials and settlers, and life for Will and Sal begins as a barren jail in a harsh, strange land.
Six years later, Will is pardoned and as an “emancipist” (a convict given an absolute or conditional pardon, or whose sentence had expired and who could then could own land and assert themselves in the same way as the free) becomes entranced with the idea of actually owning something for himself and his family. For him Australia becomes a miraculous home of great expectations; Sal, though, dreams only of a return to London.
Discovering the rock-and-forest-hidden mouth to the secret river of the title (the Hawkesbury in fact, its course hidden from the first explorers) in the company of another ex-waterman, the soft-voiced bear of a man Thomas Blackwood (Lachy Hulme), he is entranced with the possibility of owning land of his own. He spies a plot he calls Thornhill’s Point, turning to the land to stake a claim for equality in the emerging new social order.
But after the family has sailed north from Sydney, it’s clear that shaping the environment, changing the face of the land, is fraught with difficulties. His attempts to cajole the local Aboriginal people, the Dharug, are clumsy and he seems incapable of understanding how whites might live with blacks. “If you take a little, you have to give a little,” his friend Blackwood constantly impresses upon him. He is equally uncomfortable with the divisive racism of the other settlers along the river.
The production is distinguished by an almost musical interweaving of themes, carried by Burkhard Dallwitz’s great score, all strings, piano, flutes and whistles. It’s as though Reid and her writers have refused to pedestrianly transpose whatever was transposable from the novel but have found daring cinematic equivalents. Bruce Young’s photography is a luscious scenic tapestry of muted colour and light, often verging on the abstract. His cameras capture both the hollowness and openness of space, the oppressive immovableness of the landscape, as well as the illusion of freedom offered by the river.
Reid and her estimable collaborators (the production design of the distinguished veteran Herbert Pinter is especially impressive) gets the spell of the bush just right, that matrix of sentiments and ideals, that almost religious mystique that would in time become a symbol of a distinctive national character.
The struggle with the recalcitrant land has rarely been dramatised with such resonance: the loneliness of bush life and the way the early settlers who came to change and subdue the land were themselves changed by it in the end, and compelled to submit to its demands.
And the sense of the Aborigine as spiritual superior is palpable through the series, majestically conveyed in the mesmerising performance of Trevor Jamieson as Gumang, or Grey Beard, the most senior elder of the Dharug tribe, all meaning invested in sacred land. All the performances are splendid. Jackson- Cohen’s Will is a man of shy, courteous modesty and he allows us to maintain our empathy for him even when we know of the heinous events that must unfold around him. Snook is an inspired actress; she can turn her face into a dozen different ones: beautiful, pain-riddled, ethereal and earth-motherish.
Hulme flaunts his virtuosity once more with his Blackwood, an enigmatic and surprising figure who has found redemption in a new land, a performance of muted sadness and grace.
And the writer and musician Tim Minchin is brilliant as the bitter and vengeful Smasher Sullivan, driven by his profound hatred of the Hawkesbury Aborigines, wonderfully and disturbingly malevolent. I was reminded of something Mark Twain said about this country, that it does not read like history but like the most beautiful lies: “It is full of surprises, adventures, and incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are all true; they all happened.”
Television previews: The Secret River transcends novel
June 3, 2015 SMH Melinda Houston TV critic
THE SECRET RIVER
New series ★★★★☆ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
Sunday, June 14, 8.30pm, ABC
It has been a long time since Australian television has attempted a big Australian origins story, but it's been worth the wait. It's also one of those cases (like The Slap) where the television adaptation manages to transcend what was already fabulous source material. Things start out ugly – as they do in Kate Grenville's novel – but one of the really lovely things about the screen version is its terrific light and shade. The hardships of first settlement are certainly powerfully evoked, but they're not dwelt on. And we get an equally visceral sense of its excitement and promise. Some scenes in this first instalment (I'm sure not by accident) are straight from the Heidelberg School, as much art as they are television. Indeed, the production values generally are superb. But like everything here, they're also perfectly balanced, never overwhelming or distracting from the story. Then there's the cast. There are certainly plenty of recognisable names but it's the intelligence of the casting that impresses. It's not about pretty faces or marquee names. Every actor absolutely fits the character: Sarah Snook's Sal, positively alight with energy; Trevor Jamieson's statesmanlike Greybeard; the little-known Oliver Jackson-Cohen, passionate and vulnerable as Will; and of course Tim Minchin's mischievously psychopathic Smasher. (And don't worry, Tim. We don't get to see your willy.) Perhaps what's most satisfying, though, is the way all these elements are brought together. Translating a rich, detailed novel – where the writing is as important as the story – is a slightly frightening task but everyone here has paid as much attention to their part in the process as Grenville has to her prose. The result is something that's not strictly factual – but that's an advantage. You're never wondering which bits are "true". Instead we have something that convincingly captures the reality of the period with nuance, a clear-eyed intelligence, and real emotional depth.
The Secret River
☆☆☆☆☆ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
June 11th, 2015 By David Knox
With its spectacular setting on the Hawkesbury River, one could happily turn down the sound on The Secret River and enjoy the landscape scenery: the river, the bush, aerial shots -this is picture postcard stuff.
But then you would be missing the story, crafted by writer Kate Grenville in her book of the same name and adapted here by the formidable duo of Jan Sardi (Shine, Love’s Brother, Mao’s Last Dancer) and Mac Gudgeon (Waterfront, The Petrov Affair, Killing Time). It is a story that strikes at the heart of our collective conscience: the dispossession of land from Indigenous Australians by early settlers.
While Part I is predominantly set-up, Part II is packs a punch.
British actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen as convict William Thornhill arrives in penal New South Wales and is lucky enough to be assigned to his wife, free settler Sal (Sarah Snook). With their two sons and baby, the family struggles with the harsh surrounds: a rundown, makeshift town, drunkards, corporal punishment, snakes. “It’s no place for kids to be growing up.”
Will works hard as an oarsman transporting supplies on Sydney Harbour and befriending ex-waterman turned free settler Thomas Blackwood (Lachy Hulme). After six years he earns his emancipation which is all the freedom he needs to pursue Blackwood’s idea of a relocation up the Hawkesbury River. There, a new beginning may await them, if they are prepared to leave civilisation behind.
On his first visit to the Hawkesbury, Will is captivated by the Australian setting, despite odd encounters with naked oyster farmer Smasher Sullivan (Tim Minchin) and the haunting, distant fires of Aboriginal tribes. Blackwood assures, it is possible to co-exist. “Give a little, take a little, otherwise you’re dead as a flea,” he advises.
Will convinces Sal to a relocate the family to a parcel of land on the river under a 5 year plan, although she hopes to return the family to London.
“It’s like something out of a dream, Sal,” he tells her.
As he claims the land “before some other bugger does,” Will encounters local Aboriginals passing through. These are curious, if guarded exchanges by both although the children will be far more unfiltered in their expression. As he builds his farm through grit and determination, he will find his sense of ownership challenged in the extreme.
Whilst these characters are fictitious they serve as a microcosm of a larger Australian history, and one that is steeped in blood and shame. Part II of Secret River is a powderkeg of emotion and brutality that makes it unmissable television.
Oliver Jackson-Cohen is outstanding as an outsider coming to grips with his new world. Protective but fair-minded, he is pushed to the limits as a family man. Sarah Snook delivers another fierce performance as a woman who speaks her mind and shows flashes of reconciliation. On occasions I missed some words of dialogue due to their accuracy with accents, notably when under duress.
Meanwhile Lachy Hulme adds gravitas as a mediator between two cultures. Trevor Jamieson as Indigenous elder Greybeard achieves so much with so little dialogue whilst Tim Minchin is suitably unlikeable as the wild, anarchic villain of the story, in all his nakedness. Other roles are played by Sam Johnson, Genevieve Lemon and Rhys Muldoon.
Yet the Hawkesbury River is an allegory of itself: vast, deep, unforgiving. It is evocatively captured by cinematographer Bruce Young, including with drones, and matched with a score by Burkhard Dallwitz.
Secret River is a complex, challenging tale for us as an audience. Part-action, part-social commentary, it has echoes of the colonial miniseries Australia used to produce in the 1970s and -hands down- it’s also the best thing Daina Reid has ever directed. Hold on for Part II.
The Secret River airs 8:30pm Sunday June 14 and 21 on ABC.
Editing and re-mixing of THE SECRET RIVER score tracks for the soundtrack album which will be released by ABC Classics in 2015.
Recording of the score for THE SECRET RIVER at Oaklands Studios in Melbourne and via 'source connect' in Prague with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The score was recorded and mixed by Christian Scallan.
Orchestrations and score preparation by: Erkki Veltheim
Violin & Mandolin: Erkki Veltheim
Violin: Lizzy Welsh
Viola: Ceridwen Davies
Cello: Charlotte Jacke
Double Bass: Jon Heilbron
Harp: Yinuo Mu
Flutes & Whistles: John Barrett
Bodhran: Rebecca Simpson
Classical Guitar: David Herzog
Piano and Virtual Instruments: Burkhard Dallwitz
Strings performed by: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by: Jan Chalupecký
recorded by: Jan Holzner at Smecky Music Studio, Prague
Session Supervision: James Fitzpatrick for Tadlow Music
Signed on to score the 2 Part ABC Television Mini-Series THE SECRET RIVER produced by Ruby Entertainment.
Currently in post production scoring will take place from November until the end of January 2015.
Based on Kate Grenville’s meticulously researched, Booker nominated bestselling novel of the same title, The Secret River has been adapted into a landmark television mini-series by two of Australia’s most talented and internationally successful screenwriters Jan Sardi (Oscar nominated for Shine)and Mac Gudgeon. Through the deeply personal story of William and Sal Thornhill, early convict colonists in New South Wales, The Secret River dramatises the British colonisation of Australia in microcosm. The dispossession of Indigenous Australians is made comprehensible and ultimately heart-breaking as William Thornhill’s claim over a piece of land he titles ‘Thornhill’s Point’ on the Hawkesbury River brings his family and neighbours into a fight for survival with the traditional custodians of the land they are stealing. William Thornhill is driven by a poverty-fuelled life and a desperate need to provide a safe home for his beloved family in a strange, foreboding land. The Secret River is an epic tragedy in which a good man is compelled by desperation, fear, ambition and love for his family to participate in a crime of inhuman savagery. It allows an audience, two hundred years later, to have a personal insight into the dark heart of this nation’s foundation story. Directed by Daina Reid and produced by Stephen Luby, The Secret River is sure to be a landmark television event.
Cast Starring Oliver Jackson Cohen (Mr Selfridge, Raven, Dracula) and AACTA award winner Sarah Snook (Sisters of War, Not Suitable for Children (with Ryan Kwanten) and the upcoming films Predestination (with Ethan Hawke) and Ghosts. Supported by Tim Minchin, Lachy Hulme, Genevieve Lemon and Trevor Jamieson.
Received the 2014 APRA/AGSC Screen Music Award 'Best Television Theme' for the Title Theme FAT TONY & CO
The awards were held in Sydney on the 12th of November.
The Title Theme for the TV Series Fat Tony & Co has been nominated in the category of Best Television Theme
in this years Screen Music Awards. The awards will be presented on Wednesday 12 November at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.
Will be presenting a score composing masterclass at The Big Screen Symposium which takes place in Auckland,
New Zealand on the 27th and 28th of September 2014. For more information click on the link below.
2014 St Kilda Film Festival
The Director-Composer Relationship: A Creative Collaboration
Thursday 29 May, 6.30pm
One of the most significant and very interesting relationships in the film world is the one shared by a director and composer. Long time collaborators who have both worked together on Felony, Please Like Me and Noise; Matt Saville and Bryony Marks talk about the secret of their success what works and what doesn’t. Included in this panel are 2014 SKFF entrants, director Katrina Mathers (The Gallant Captain) and composer Michael Allen (Can You See Them?) who will give us their take on this all-important relationship.
Moderated by Burkhard Dallwitz (The Truman Show, Red Obsession).
Presented by APRA AMCOS
Sony releases the soundtrack to FAT TONY & CO on the 14th of March.
FAT TONY & CO premieres on the Nine Network on Sunday the 23rd of February.
First Watch: Graeme Blundell, The Australian
"ONE could hardly call Nine’s Fat Tony & Co restrained, understated or unassuming. This nine-hour series, overlapping with the original Underbelly, tells the real-life story of Australia’s most successful drug dealer, Tony Mokbel. Like Underbelly, it is a corrosive fable of avarice, hubris and violence tracing the rise and fall of a vicious, lethally charming gangster. Its powerful evocation of the sordid world of drug merchants, armed robbers and murderers, while electric to watch, makes Melbourne seem like the most primitive of Darwinian jungles. As one of the pursuing cops said in last week’s feature length opener, “There are no mates in Tony Mokbel’s world.”
As it was with the first Underbelly — still the most effective storytelling of that chronicle — it is still hard to believe that such clear boundaries between criminality and respectability actually existed, and that the transgressive energies of life at the margins were so segregated from mainstream Melbourne. How did these dumb suburban criminals of such medieval ferocity get away with it for so long? In its urgent way, the series does what the best crime fiction does — describes the limits of democracy, the crisis of the judicial system, and the shadowy borders between those who police us and those in the underworld.
The action in the setup episode last week, written by Peter Gawler, who also produces, was skilfully mounted by director Peter Andrikidis and photographed by his long-time collaborator Joe Pickering. It was gracefully choreographed, vividly edited and the burnished photography full of mean-streets visuals worthy of Scorsese’s Goodfellas, vividly setting the style for the series. Fat Tony & Co is mesmerising, not only for the almost brutish displays of Italian and Greek machismo but also the complexity of its convergent style.
Andrikidis’s aesthetic reminded me of Stefano Sollima’s Romanzo Criminale, (on Foxtel’s Showcase), which aesthetically exploits film noir, prison movies, true crime and melodrama; pays homage to The Sopranos; and imaginatively ses the stylistic tropes of the subgenre of early 1970s “tough guy” Italian crime and action movies known as poliziottesco.
As in Goodfellas and Romanzo Criminale the violence is gross, shocking and animalistic but never arbitrary, simply reflecting the corrosive nihilism that infects these characters.
Burkhard Dallwitz’s musical score, eerily echoing Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti westerns for Sergio Leone, works virtually as a Greek chorus. And Gawler again uses the convention of narrator, which will irritate those critics of the Underbellystyle of storytelling who disdain its use — here it’s Stephen Curry’s young cop Jim Coghlan who is integral to the investigation — suggesting it’s a fallback trick for lesser writers, a device to trot out when other more classically visual narrative devices fail.
The narration may be called the informed voiceover: it offers a first-hand view to the inner workings of Mokbel’s psychology, fleshing out his behaviour. It’s cleverly worked here by Curry, his vocal inflections suggesting conversation rather than a written monologue.
I’m locked into the black humour and thrilling visual style of the show. If Gawler and co can be accused of glamorising such despoiled and sociopathic characters, better this than trying to understand them."
RED OBSESSION wins the AACTA award for BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
Receive 2 nominations for the 2013 Screen Music Awards:
Best Music for a Television Series for UNDERBELLY BADNESS
Best Music for a Documentary for RED OBSESSION
Receive an AACTA nomination for RED OBSESSION (best sound for a documentary)
September 2013 – February 2014
Compose the score for the new 9 part TV drama series FAT TONY & CO. Recording and mixing the score will be Chris Scallan @ THE SOFT CENTRE in Melbourne. Musicians will include Achilles Yiangoulli on Bouzouki and Tzoura and Dave Herzog on electric and acoustic guitars.
July 2013 – August 2013
Compose and record the new Title Theme for FAT TONY & CO.
Sony releases the soundtrack for UNDERBELLY SQUIZZY on JULY 5th.
UNDERBELLY SQUIZZY premiers on the Nine Network on July 28th
Sign on to compose the score to the new 9 part TV drama series FAT TONY & CO for Screentime and the Nine Network.
"From Screentime, the producers of the top rating Underbelly franchise, the nine-part drama Fat Tony & Co will uncover the true story of one of Australia’s most notorious criminals, Tony Mokbel.
On March 19, 2006, Mokbel, said to be Australia’s richest gangster, became Australia’s most wanted man. What followed was an intense manhunt that lasted 18 months and dismantled a drug empire.
A miraculous tip-off to the Australian police revealed that Mokbel was living in Athens, Greece under a false name and documents. But how do you find one man in a population of four million? Fat Tony & Co follows Mokbel from his early beginnings in Melbourne’s underworld to his eventual discovery and arrest in a cafe in Athens.
Other original members of the Underbelly cast set to reprise their roles in the new series include Vince Colosimo as Alphonse Gangitano, Gyton Grantley as Carl Williams, Les Hill as Jason Moran, Madeleine West as Danielle McGuire, Simon Westaway as Mick Gatto, Gerard Kennedy as Graham Kinniburgh, and Kevin Harrington as Lewis Moran.
Fat Tony & Co will also feature Shane Jacobson, Stephen Curry, Debra Byrne, Steve Bastoni, Richard Cawthorne, Simone Kessell, Nicholas Bishop and Hollie Andrew.
Screentime’s Executive Chairman, Des Monaghan, and Head of Drama, Greg Haddrick, will be Executive Producers along with Channel Nine’s joint Heads of Drama, Jo Rooney and Andy Ryan, with Peter Gawler and Elisa Argenzio producing the series. Peter Andrikidis, Andrew Prowse and Karl Zwicky will direct the nine episodes, which will be written by Peter Gawler, Adam Todd, Jeff Truman and Michaeley O’Brien."