Luke Rex’s Bonding Set for a St Kilda Film Festival World Premiere

May 16, 2023
The Australian actor/filmmaker now based in LA, will return home with his first film as a director and a doctorate in Psychology.

Short films are often the breeding ground for auteurism, driven largely by genres that don’t necessarily require commercial appeal. This means that short films largely sway towards the dramatic genres.

That’s why Luke Rex’s Bonding will be a must watch at this year’s St Kilda Film Festival. Rex, a Los Angeles based Australian filmmaker, set out to explore his fascination with the spy genre and their compelling characters.

“I’ve always been a fan of the Bond films and grew up with Roger Moore,” says Rex. “I had flirted with a short script about Bond as a young man before he was Mi6, hanging out in bars around London in his university days. I was intrigued at the prospect of how he might have been approached by Mi6, or even how he might have ordered his martinis back then.”

Bonding follows a CIA clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. John Flemington, who is planning to visit his girlfriend in Mexico, when he is pressured by mysterious underground operatives to join them on a secret mission.

“I kept thinking about this scene in a bar with the bartender and I thought, ‘what if the character wasn’t Bond, but it was his son instead’ – this was before I had seen No Time to Die! I thought more specifically, ‘What if Bond had a son and they had never met?’”

Rex has a long history in the film industry, previously working as an actor, but he hedged his bets on this unpredictable career path, earning a doctorate in Psychology.

“I think the experience I gained through my studies in psychology and practical work in clinical psychology working as a therapist helped guide me. My thinking was, if I could get the audience to ask questions like, ‘Who is this person?’, ‘What are they doing?’, ‘Where are they?’, as opposed to handing them the information, the more psychologically invested they would become.”

Bonding is also produced by Rex’s production company, 9 Lives Entertainment.

“9 Lives Entertainment seeks to make high quality cinematic shorts and proof of concept for feature film and TV. One of the goals of 9 Lives Entertainment was to provide a vessel for me to take control and charge of my artistry rather than waiting for someone to come along and notice or hire me,” he explains.

Rex’s drive to take charge of his own artistry drove him to take on a variety of roles on the film, from director and actor to co-composer and writer.

“I loved immersing myself in all of this. For the most part, it was one department at a time, with the exception of the shoot. I would say that this is where my doctorate degree in psychology helped. I loved the collaborative egalitarian approach. I told myself to be humble and to be open to learning something from every person I worked with across departments, from the location manager to the actors, to make up, the DP and Post services.”

That initiative proved fruitful when Bonding was named as one of the Top 100 Australian Short Films at this year’s St Kilda Film Festival. “I was elated to receive the news. It’s so awesome that the film begins its festival run back in my home country of Australia, at a prestigious festival,” says Rex.

Bonding screens at the 2023 St Kilda Film Festival, June 1 – 12, 2023