Kiss or Kill - Rated - HOT HOT HOT!

I saw Kiss or Kill at the 1997 Sydney Film Festival. Here's what I wrote about it:

"I think this Bill Bennett film is the best Australian feature film of the festival. It is a taut and stylish thriller that keeps you guessing right to the end. It is visually fascinating and it is technically inventive as well. It is also very funny in parts. The South Australian landscape looks both beautiful and menacing. The 2 stars, Frances O'Connor and Matt Day, do well with good material, but you can't help wondering how great the film might have been if there had been stars who were anywhere near as good as Chris Haywood and Andrew S Gilbert were in support. A well crafted and well-thought-out film that should do well on release. "

There was a Q & A session with Bill Bennett. My notes of the session follow.

Bill Bennett's Q & A

This is a version of the Q & A, which I recreated from my notes. It is not always verbatim, and is often condensed, but it shows the thrust of the discussion.

Q Can you explain something about your cutting style?

A I used it for 2, no, 3 reasons:
(a) it is emotionally appropriate
(b) we were short of money - the film was shot in 36 days
(c) I wanted to have fun, to play with cinema.

Q Chris Haywood mentioned in his introduction that there was a lot of improvisation by the actors. Can you tell us more about it?

A There was always a clear framework, and the finished result is very close to that script. Clever actors know the characters really well, or respond to the location.

This is the only film I've done without doing any homework at all. Usually I've worked out all my shots in advance. But here Iwas determined to let the environment guide me, and be spontaneous. The cutting style is a result of very careful planning. You have to shoot in a very particular way to do that cutting style.

Q Was the 'bacon' scene written or improvised?

A The bacon scene is my favourite scene. It was my idea. I wrote this screenplay in 3 weeks. After I'd finished a draft, I realised it needed something eliptical, something which said something about what the film was all about. I was inspired by the shouting man in Paris Texas, because that's what Paris Texas is all about. I love that scene.

Q What's next?

A Jennifer [Bennett, his wife and co-producer] & I are working on something that needs more money. A big period piece. I don't like to talk about stuff until it's definite.

Q Can you describe the specific shooting style for the cutting in "Kiss or Kill"?

A I looked at a lot of films to see how you do it. You shoot down a particular axis and then go again slightly off that axis. Or you can use a slightly diferent focal length, or choreograph the action slightly differently to achieve the same result.

Q What was the budget?

A The budget was $2.6million. The editing style didn't make it any more or less expensive. But the decision to throw out the whole soundtrack and start from scratch was a really expensive process. It was enormously physically and emotionally taxing, to post-synch the whole thing, bring the actors back, and do all the performances over again.

Q Has the film been classified?

A It is classified 'medium levels of course language'. Contractually, I had to deliver an MA film. I didn't want to make a particularly violent film - I struggled with that in the script. Of course the scene with the woman being burned is very shocking. It attracted a lot of interest from distributors, and that disturbed me.