“I wanted to explore ideas of sexuality, and how it shapes our identity when we’re young,” writer/director Craig Boreham told FilmInk of his debut feature, Teenage Kicks. “When we’re young, our sexuality can feel like an uncontrollable beast that is volatile and unpredictable. Pushing that idea further, I wanted to play with a character who literally feels like he’s a danger to be around.”
Teenage Kicks tells the story Miklos Varga (Miles Szanto), an adolescent painfully punching his way through the dark terrain that exists somewhere between the vague, scratchy signposts marked “Boy” and “Man.” On the verge of his eighteenth birthday, Miklos’ world has come crumbling down. His plans to run away and escape the strangulating hold of his migrant family have been tipped sideways by a family disaster. Only Mik knows the events that led to this tragedy, and he blames just one person: himself. Mik is suddenly torn between his desire to head north and start a new life with his best friend, Dan (Daniel Webber), and the obligation to his broken family. Is Mik a danger to himself and everyone around him, or just a kid caught hopelessly in the tripwires of teen angst?
Though featuring familiar faces like Charlotte Best (Cheryl from Puberty Blues); Shari Sebbens (The Sapphires, Redfern Now); former NRL star turned actor, Ian Roberts (Superman Returns); and Anni Finsterer (Sleeping Beauty, Prime Mover), Teenage Kicks rests squarely on the young shoulders of Miles Szanto, who has appeared in the local TV series, Love My Way and The Elephant Princess, and the 2013 US indie feature film, Bruno And Earline Go To Vegas. He also played the lead role in Boreham’s 2009 short film, Drowning, upon which Teenage Kicks is based.
“Miles is an extremely committed and brave young actor,” says Craig Boreham. “We’ve worked together quite a bit before, and we have a lot of trust in each other. I always knew that I wanted him back for the feature film. He’s based in LA now, but we were in regular contact during the film’s development. Miles loves to write, and in the lead-up to filming, he started a diary in the character’s voice, which helped him discover the way that Mik sees the world. Mik’s journey is a roller coaster ride, and he makes a lot of bad decisions which land him in hot water. That resonated with Miles, but there’s also a great sense of playfulness that he brought to the character that makes you care about what happens to him.”
Shot on a low budget at various locations around Sydney, the shoot for Teenage Kicks was typical of most local productions: namely, there wasn’t enough money, and there wasn’t enough time. “Shooting with a limited budget is always a challenge, but we always knew what we were up against,” Boreham says. “We tried as much as possible to embrace the restrictions. We had to work fast, so I spent a lot of time in pre-production with our cinematographer, Bonnie Elliot, planning our approach. We decided early on to keep things loose, and to let the actors drive the way that we shot the film, rather than trying to over-plan the coverage. We had to do a lot of thinking on our feet, but the upside was that it gave the actors a lot of freedom to explore the scenes. Chasing the winter sun was a big challenge too. We knew that it would be an intense shoot, so we pulled together a tight team of people who were committed to the project. Keeping it lean and mean made the shoot a pleasure, even when everyone was suffering with the flu!”
Teenage Kicks will be released later this year and you can catch the film’s first trailer below.