“They say it takes a village to raise a child, so it also takes a community to make an independent film.”
Jenny Stokes, Justice Squad producer.
First, my wife Andrea and I spent last weekend in my hometown of Adelaide. We were down for the private screening of the final cut of Justice Squad at the Capri Theatre. On the Saturday morning, Chadwick Ashby and I stopped in at the Oz ComicCon just down the street from the screening in order to hear a panel with artists Freddie Williams and Nichola Scott. We were late, but the remainder was erudite and hilarious (Freddie’s site features practical tutorials on sequential storytelling. Chad can’t recommend them enough). Now again, if you haven’t already, go ‘like’ this film’s FB page and check it out on IMDb
The final cut of Justice Squad was screened for cast, crew and friends on April 1st, and penning the script seven years ago, the prospect of viewing the film on the big screen at last did indeed seem like a prank. But screen it did, and while it was no prank, there was thankfully enough laughter to alleviate a crushing case of nerves.
The private screening was held at the Capri Theatre, an art deco movie-house of bevelled mirrors and club lounges. I can’t open its doors without finding the redolent moments of movies I saw there as a film student, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dial M for Murder or Flesh for Frankenstein. So to see the film I co-wrote appear behind its parting curtains was as surreal as an Escher, and also a relief seeing as the cinema ominously exploded last year.
Director Daniel Lawrance and producer Jenny Stokes thanked all involved, then the film screened. And it was good. The crowd cheered and gasped and laughed. Frankly, the limitations of the budget were clear, but still outmatched by the sheer creativity of all involved. Each element of scripting, shooting and post-production came together gleefully and best of all, it was funny.
Hundreds filled the seats, each having given something to the production at some point. While Daniel, Jenny and Chad each laboured to bring this film to term over the years, countless others lent their talents, loose change and happy thoughts along the way. Justice Squad has a big family.
Now Justice Squad has entered the world, an official premiere will occur later, then the film will find its feet on the festival circuit. As with any young thing, it may stumble and stink at times, but there’ll be many who fall in love with its naïve tenacity. I believe Chad may have said it best…
“It’s like we’ve all been in labor for eight years. Now the child is born, it’s ugly, beautiful, brutal and hilarious…”