“A man believes he can travel to an alternate reality under the influence of alcohol, to see the love of his life, who was murdered in his reality two years before.” With a plot synopsis like that, we had to send over questions to Fragmentary creator and star, Jace Pickard, to get to the bottom of this original Australian creation.
You wrote, directed and starred in the film. Was that challenging, deliberate, or do you come cheaply?
I am someone who likes a challenge and boy, did I give myself a challenge. Writing and starring was always on the cards and as we got further into developing and pre-production, it was clear that I was going to be the one to direct the film. I learnt so much over the course of the production. Switching from character to director and then back again was certainly a challenge the first few days in, but it definitely got easier as we went along as we all became a family on set. I am incredibly lucky to have had a cast and crew that trusted me in seeing this film through to the end and I will be forever grateful.
How’s your drinking nowadays? Can you tell us about your personal journey with alcohol, which would inspire the plot for the film?
The Pickards are a family of drinkers. Just ask our friends and neighbours. But it isn’t in a bad way. We are like most Aussie families that love getting together, having a carton or a few bottles of wine and enjoy each other’s company. When I mentioned the storyline to Fragmentary, many of my friends said “Of course you would come up with a story like this.” And I had many people come up to me in the Australian screenings saying that I really captured this country’s love for alcohol and how it related to them. Which surprised me.
I began drinking at thirteen. During high school, at least twice a week, my best friend, Stevie and I would come home from school, drink a goon sack of wine and binge watch Desperate Housewives.
And I have no idea how but SOMEHOW we would rock up to school the next day hungover, do a school test and ace it. One of our school mates would always come 3rd and would get so pissed off because she knew what we had been doing the night before.
I have many stories like that, but we are digging through nearly 15 years of personal drinking history which if you got a few hours, I would be happy to tell you, but for now, I’ll skip to what led to Fragmentary’s creation… I had lost two family members to cancer and I was going through a bit of a toxic relationship and I was keeping so much in, that it all came to a head one night when I drank too much. Basically, my drunken self, solved all my problems for me and I can’t even remember how. That’s the scary part. I had never gotten to a point like that. And it wasn’t healthy. And I knew I just had to go home for a couple weeks just to take a break and reset. Drinking and not remembering the events of the night is something that most of us have gone through. And I wanted to put together a story that begs the question, “Where does our subconscious go when we black out.”
And because I was mourning, I added death into the mix, and it evolved from there. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a loved one that was no longer with us, even if it was just for a little while, but you had to take something to do so? And that is what Fragmentary is. The first draft was completed, and the rest is history. Stumbling back to my previous comment on personal drinking history, at least 4 of my personal stories are loosely told or happen in the film 😉
How did you cast the film, and can you discuss the performances of some your castmates?
A few of the characters are based on my real life family and friends. When I was casting, I was working at the Capitol and Lyric theatre and was also directing in Short and Sweet, so I was constantly watching theatre and some really great performances. Jacinta Moses was in a play where she was mourning the loss of her son and she had such raw emotions that I knew I had to have her as my onscreen mother. I watch Fragmentary back and our scenes together are my absolute favourite. And even off-screen, she is such a Mum. She always made sure we were looking after ourselves on set and was so nurturing to us.
I had worked with Helen Shoobert on a previous film and surprise surprise, during the wrap party for that film, we drank all night and were the last ones standing. She just reminded me of my best friend (who her character is based on) and because I knew Helen was such a natural performer, she was the right choice for this role. And also, the first cast member chosen.
As for my love interest, I went to acting school with Debbie Neilson and I always wanted to work with her again. Even when I was auditioning actresses to play Alison, Debbie was constantly on the back of my mind. I am so happy I chose her. One of the loveliest people you will ever meet.
Those were my leads. But the whole cast were brilliant.
What inspired you to make films? What inspired you to act? Where did you study?
I was writing short stories on my grandparents’ computer since I was eight years old, so the creative bug was always there. My main genre was fantasy and horror even at a young age. I would say reading Harry Potter and watching ‘80s/’90s horror films like Halloween and Scream definitely inspired me to write similar stories. I was filming and forcing my friends to be in them at age 12 and was acting in high school at 16. That eventually led me to audition for Denise Roberts and get into Screenwise for their Diploma of Screen Acting. My fellow class mates (Debbie Neilson, Alannah Robertson and Luke Davis) would go on to play roles in Fragmentary.
I learnt so much from Screenwise but one thing that always stuck with me from a teacher was “Keep working. If roles dry up, create your own.” It’s something I had already been doing since I was a child, writing and filming at a young age, so why not continue doing it!
My production company, We’re The Weirdos Productions has a couple of projects in the works. I have been over the moon with the feedback I have been getting for Fragmentary as the film is currently circulating overseas and I always get the question “are we getting a sequel?” I know where the story goes for those characters so I am not ruling out a sequel but it’s not going to be the next one.
My partner has come up with a great horror short story titled “You Better Run” that we are planning to shoot in November over two days. Like Fragmentary, we have a supernatural monster in the mix, and this will be the first time I’ll be directing children. My phenomenal DOP from Fragmentary, Nicholas Price will be coming on to shoot that (and hopefully he’ll be shooting more films for me in 2021, we’ll discuss soon Nick hehe).
Actress Debbie Neilson has gotten into writing herself and has approached me to direct her feature film. At first, she just wanted me to read it and by the end, I was basically begging her to let me direct it. It is such a good script. Can’t give too much away but the main focus is domestic violence and we are both going through the final drafting stages before we go hunting for a Producer and distributor to acquire funding.
I am also currently adapting a true crime novel that is to be directed by an up and coming female director, but I am tight lipped on that one for now.
Fragmentary is available on Prime Video and iTunes from October 16, 2020