Pawno, written and produced by Kingsville resident Damian Hill, completed shooting in Footscray a few days before Christmas 2014. An entire shop in Barkley Street was rented for the period and dressed as a western suburbs pawnbroker. The design was successful enough that random members of the public walked on set not realising the space was an illusion.
Seeing a film through to the end — i.e. into the cinema — is not even distantly related to the concept “movie magic.” Although it could be said that it is a miracle that any film is even made, such is the collaboration, trust, and finance required.
There is no “fast-forward to flashy premiere” button in the editing suite for maverick filmmakers. Especially when the film is a legitimately independent affair like Pawno. The heart attack between the wrap party and the projector humming is real life. Distribution is not guaranteed.
A filmmaker’s commitment to their creation includes being reasonably prepared for the terrifying truth that their career is not even a juggling act in which they play the juggler. The obstacles are daily, the egos showier than neon peacocks; blowing smoke rings. The obstacles and the peacocks are often aligned. It is one thing to dive through (or avoid) the smoke rings, another to realise perhaps you are about to pin drop into a black hole.
The idea of a charmed life in the film industry is a common one. Film is a spectacle in which a seamless impression of a story is successful when it penetrates the cinema goer in such a way that they lose track of the details of their own lives — their own stories. To bring this seductive, liquid beast before an audience is Herculean.
Pawno was a top ten entrant in the Melbourne International Film Festival 2015 viewer’s choice poll. On the festival circuit it also played Tallinn Black Nights in Estonia, Singapore International Film Festival, and CinéfestOz. Damian Hill and co-producer (and director) Paul Ireland have walked and talked and sweated and grinned and spent sleepless nights navigating Pawno — a love letter to Footscray — past all the peacocks, through all the smoke rings, and to the edge of black holes. Because they made it happen.
Countless films (and potentially brilliant films at that) have gone no further than servile hot air and promised texting in another café circle jerk. To actually make the decision then make the film happen is relentless hard work. It is really exciting to think that Pawno, a local film made with the type of grit traditionally synonymous with the area, will open at The Sun Theatre in Yarraville on April 21.