Damian Hussey: Lost and Found

November 21, 2021
With his first feature as director, The Lost One, Gold Coast indie filmmaker Damian Hussey has made a solid thriller with real-world reverberations for a measly $30,000.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

“The original idea was a reaction towards Jeffrey Epstein and other prominent figures who were able to get away with horrific crimes. How were these people able to keep offending for so long? And I wondered what an average person would do if they had the opportunity to do something about it. I see the film as an origins story of how someone could become a vigilante.

“It’s a complete work of fiction, but there’s obvious connections to real life. People were trying to expose Epstein, Weinstein and others for years. Articles were written and buried, and the Riley character represents the frustration of those journalists.”

What filmmakers inspire you?

“I admire filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Brit Marling who forged their own careers. They didn’t follow the traditional path and have found success in the industry.”

What’s your background, in terms of where you grew up, what did you do prior to filmmaking?

“Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. I joined the Australian Army at 21 and backpacked for a year after I got out. After that, I found myself making home movies with my friends in my spare time. I then tried to figure out if I could make a living doing something I enjoyed. I ended up going to film school and have been building my skills ever since.”

You have made a number of shorts, how did you find the challenge of a feature length feature film?

“I approached the feature film as if it was just a bunch of individual scenes that all tie together. This helped with not getting overwhelmed by the idea of shooting a feature. But it still took months and months of planning. That’s where the hard work is done.”

Are you able to disclose the budget, but either way, how did you raise it?

“We had a budget of $30K AUD. Half of that was from a private investor and I put in the other half. Most of the cast and crew worked on deferred payments, so hopefully we can sell the film and eventually pay everyone for their time.”

Did you consider/try to work within the system, be it through the tax offsets, or some sort of funding from Screen Australia or Screen Queensland?

“We did investigate other support options, but our low budget limited what was available. We’d also set the filming date, which meant we were filming with or without any extra funding. Support through the funding bodies is very competitive so in the end we went it alone.”

You’ve collaborated with a number of cast/crew previously. How is that in terms of creating networks and the team effort required to make films?

“Filmmaking is a collaboration, and you can’t do it without a strong team. I’ve worked with so many talented people over the years, so it was great that so many were willing to get involved with the film. Some of the characters were written with specific actors in mind, such as Emily Rowbottom and Daniel Nelson, as I knew they could easily bring the characters to life. On top of being an actor, Daniel’s experience as a stunt performer allowed him to choreograph the fights.”

Emily Rowbottom, Daniel Nelson, Stephanie Ranty, Stunt Performer Garreth Hadfied on the set of The Lost One

You’ve been cinematographer yourself on a number of productions, how was it to have someone else do that for you?

“Initially, I planned to be the cinematographer on The Lost One. I’d created the storyboards, shotlists, camera maps etc and then our original director unfortunately had to drop out. I stepped across to direct and my gaffer, Nathan Jermyn stepped up to be the cinematographer. So, he had a good idea of what I wanted, but he also brought his own experience to the film.”

Gold Coast isn’t really renowned for a healthy arts scene – is that a misconception, and is the arts scene bolstered by all the offshore productions that shoot there?

“Right now is a great time to be in the industry on the Gold Coast because of all the large productions taking place. There’s a lot more opportunities to get on the big sets, but there is still a thriving indie scene. There’s always going to be people who just want to be creative and make films, so it would be great to see more support for the local industry.”

Beyond the festival circuit, what do you hope in terms of the film’s future life?

“I’d love for the film to be available to a local audience on a streaming platform such as Stan. I’m currently in talks with a sales agent so fingers crossed we can make it happen.”

What’s next?

“I recently wrapped as cinematographer on an indie horror called Bliss of Evil, and in a few weeks, I’m directing the bts mockumentary for the stunt film Hitched, directed by Keir Beck.

“I’ve also been busy this year writing with the plan to direct another feature film next year.”

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