Last year was huge for Newcastle actor and filmmaker Jace Pickard, with the debut of his first feature film as director and lead actor.
The film, Fragmentary, recently won Best First Time Filmmaker at the Horrorhound Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. The plotline: The film tells the story of a man who 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.
Pickard responded this week to a Q &A from us.
What was the timeline for Fragmentary?
Fragmentary has been four years of my life and a roller-coaster of emotions. I started writing the script in early 2016 and by 2017, we were filming. The biggest hurdle was post production but we got through it and Fragmentary made it's debut in October 2019 when we had the premiere at Dendy Opera Quay in Sydney.
IMDB says the film had a million dollar budget. Is that true? How did you fund it? How much have you made back?
The film was just under the $1million mark. I was very lucky to have support from some significant investors who really believed in the project.
When it came to the release, we started our release in a few key cinemas and had been planning to expand on that but were stopped in our tracks by COVID. We are currently working with local exhibitors to work out when they can re-open and we can start screening again so at this stage we are in the middle of the release strategy so cant really comment on box office results yet. Hopefully there is some real support for local films when we come out of this!
Will the Horrorhound award help get the film screened or sold elsewhere?
HorrorHound was a definite help as it gave the film a more broader audience and for it to be seen worldwide. George and Audery Lane, the directors of Horrorhound are so caring about the horror community and really push to get our films seen. We are currently working with local exhibitors to work out when they can reopen. I believe the trailer was just screened at the Wallis Mainline Drive In in SA so we have plans to hit the screens there in June.
As for where the film will land, keep your eyes peeled for a release onto Amazon Prime and ITunes later this year.
Where did the plot come from?
The start of 2016 was a pretty rough time. I had just lost two family members to cancer and was going through a nasty breakup so I decided to head home for two weeks just to clear my head. On my way home thinking about what was currently happening, I knew I just had to get it out of me. When I'm at my lowest, I will write. And this is how Fragmentary was born.
You've been into acting for a good decade? Do you prefer producing and directing, or acting?
Acting is my passion. I don't think I will ever stop acting. But to write, direct and produce your own work is very rewarding. And to have a cast and crew jump on who believe in your story is just an amazing feeling.
You did both for Fragmentary? What were the most demanding aspects of that?
Making sure everything ran smoothly on the day and then to jump into character was a real challenge. I think having an amazing DOP really helped the process. Nicholas Price and I had great trust in each other to make the film look good. But it did take some getting used to. I remember Day 1 and 2 of filming quite fondly. We were doing my scenes with Renee Lim (recently seen in The Invisible Man) who played my character's therapist. I remember her kindly helping me to channel my character and not me being the director as we were doing some really emotional stuff. It was so great to have her on set and it honestly helped me for the rest of the shoot.
Is horror your preferred genre?
I have always had a love for the horror and thriller genre. My first horror film I watched was Scream when I was six years old and it became my favourite franchise, followed by Halloween and Friday the 13th.
I don't know why the genre is so underrated. There is a lot of emotional work that actors need to use to pull it off and it's just a fun genre. Creating monsters, having fake blood thrown on you, doing crazy stunts. Out of everything though, what makes a horror film good is its characters. I need to care about the people, it makes the stakes much higher.
I recently watched The Invisible Man and what that film puts Elizabeth Moss's character through is gut-wrenching. You just want her character to win! That's what I try to put into my writing. Characters you can get to know and feel for them when they are in peril.