A close knit group of university graduates are left at a crossroads as they are forced to face themselves and wrestle with harsh truths in order to find their way forward.
Long time friends Louise, Nina and Alice celebrate their recent graduation with hectic partying, joined by their friend Kane who is the only friend not to attend university. Louise’s imminent departure for London adds to the underlying tension within the group, and as the boundaries between real and surreal blur, Louise devises an intervention to save their final days together. They embark on a road trip to regional Australia, and upon returning home face the reality of her departure. They are left, a group of suburban animals, on the threshold of their lives.
I grew up not seeing a coming-of-age film told in an Australian voice. We could look to Britain or America, or anywhere else in the world, but were left lacking a film that reflected our experience of reaching adulthood in this hilarious, beautiful and bizarre country. We had Muriel’s Wedding and the relatable banality of Porpoise Spit, or Josie Alibrandi’s adventures in ‘90s Sydney, but that was about it.
So Suburban Wildlife is a coming-of-age film set in an Australia that I recognise. The suburbia of hot tarmac, brick houses, and messages scribbled on footpaths. Spending sweaty summers at public pools, joyriding at night through empty streets, and dreaming of being anywhere else. The feeling of living on the largest nation island, somewhere that feels so far away from the rest of the world. The feeling of being lost and young and scared. Sunburn and stretchmarks and peeling skin and bruised knees.
This film is about seeing real bodies on screen and a cast that reflect the multiculturalism of Australia, as well exploring different sexual relationships, and characters wrestling with depression, anxiety and identity. It is a film about the joys and absurdities of life.
We wanted our first feature to speak loud and be bold. To capture the light in the country, its humour and spirit. This film is about the complexity of simultaneously being young and growing older: reaching a cross roads you weren’t prepared to meet. It’s all part of growing up, of becoming more than just Suburban Wildlife.
Suburban Wildlife is a story very close to my heart. When Imogen and I came together to write this film we both wanted a coming of age film that we would have loved to see growing up in suburban Australia. We had similar ideas that revolved around delayed adulthood, tumultuous friendships, self-discovery and repressed queerness and through the merging of our ideas we came up with Suburban Wildlife.
When I left High School, I felt that the growing pains didn’t stop and life continued being complicated, yet the friendship group stuck around. These four friends in the film have become habitual animals; going to parties, driving around, hanging out it in car parks. Once a key member in their group, Louise – initiator of all plans and the one with the car decides to leave, they realise that maybe they’re only friends because of convenience and habit.
We shot it in the heat of February 2017 and much like the film we spend lots of time in cars with friends, laughing and having fun. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, shooting a feature film with barely enough to feed the cast and crew but I wouldn’t change anything. We all learnt so much on this film and have produced something fantastic.
Watching Suburban Wildlife now, I’m transported not only to the time when we shot the film but also taken to the place I was at when I was sitting in the front seat of my best friend’s car, driving to absolutely nowhere. I really hope that the Australian youth can find something that they can connect to watching this beautiful film.
When Imogen approached me with the idea of producing her feature film I immediately said yes without knowing anything about the story purely because she is one of my favourite people to work with. So I was overjoyed when I then read the script for Suburban Wildlife and fell in love with the story and the characters and knew this was a film I needed to produce.
Growing up in Canberra, I had never seen my version of growing up in Australia represented on screen, the endless suburban streets, the friendships, the Bubble O’Bills, so I had an immediate affinity with Suburban Wildlife as it is the film I have always longed to see. Suburban Wildlife is an achievement not just because of it’s fresh take on the Australian coming of age experience, but also because of how we made it. With less than $5000, completely volunteer cast and crew, long hours, travel all around NSW and a long time spent in the kitchen preparing catering, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved and so excited for the world to see our film.