February 17, 2009
Exciting young Australian actress CLARE BOWEN provides the lone feminine voice in the blistering drama The Combination, debut director David Field’s uncompromising look at racism and violence in Sydney’s west.
This represents your first major role in a feature film. What kind of challenge was that for you?
“An exciting one! The role was completely unexpected. I’ve had no film training so I was learning on the fly. I was very appreciative of the incredible guidance and support of David. I learned a great deal from working with David, he guides you but lets you find your own way in things, so you have an inner understanding of your choices as a character, even if he already knows the answer – which he undoubtedly does, and if he doesn’t, he’s not afraid to say so! He’s an extraordinary person, and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to work with him.”
You’re an Anglo-Aussie in this cultural melting pot of a film – was that an odd feeling? Did it help at all with your characterisation?
“It wasn’t odd at all. Being totally immersed in this beautiful culture I was made to feel very welcome and at home. I spent a lot of time with the Basha family – which is enormous – and was treated like part of it. I found an inroad into characterising Sydney’s [her character] journey through having such an adventure myself!”
Did the film’s themes resonate strongly with you?
“Yes, life, love, family and choices you have to make are part of everyone’s existence I think. Life gets harder when you’re being pulled two different ways by anything. I was able to draw on that from my own experience to attempt to convey the anguish Sydney is going through, choosing between what she knows and what she has come to love.”
You share most of your scenes with George Basha – did it help being in such close proximity to the man who had written the film and your character?
“Working closely with George provided great insight into the two characters, and the whole feel of the environment the film is set in. George is a very genuine person, he’s real, and he made John real. He knew some things that he wanted from Sydney but he gave me a lot of freedom with her. It was great to work with someone who knew the story upside down, inside out and back to front, but still have the wisdom to allow for the creativity and interpretation of others.”
How did you build up the character of Sydney? Did you relate to her?
“Sydney evolved from a mixture of rehearsal and just hanging out in the area, with George, David and the boys. I got into her skin by putting myself in her environment and discovering her. The Parramatta River is her hiding place, her room is her nest. The first scene we shot at the sweet shop in Guildford became the beginning of her adventure. She and I have been through some similar things, being introduced into a completely different culture and falling in love isn’t something that everyone has had the pleasure of experiencing.”
“Being totally immersed in this beautiful culture, I was made to feel very welcome and at home.”
What was the vibe like on set?
“The atmosphere was always marvelously anticipative and exciting, even when we were all buggered. There were a lot of firsts in the film for quite a few of us – we had the brilliant Toby Oliver wielding the RED camera, David Field in his film directing debut, and a whole cast of people who had seen what really is, and who had been in very similar situations to what you see in the film. I was lucky enough to be working with such a talented cast and crew, a combination of seasoned professionals and people who’d never been on a film set, yet had a wealth of experience under their belts. You could never tell what was going to happen next! Their combined ingenuity and spontaneity brought the production together, and made it what it is.”
Source/Credit: Film Ink