The Wilding

The Wilding is a film about love in an unlikely place – a relationship between two juvenile inmates in a detention centre. The love between Malcolm and Tye is fragile; a kind of first love that might flourish naturally in the real world. In the detention centre, however, their love can barely survive because of the violence that surrounds them. As an inmate, your primary concern is about protection – protecting oneself from violence, ridicule, or torment. As Malcolm says in the film, “If you can’t fight, you shut up.” The only possible place for love to grow in this kind of place then is the safety of their cell, which means their love is imprisoned too, something Malcolm struggles with.

In approaching the film, I knew the subject matter demanded a raw, imperfect edge to the direction. From the boys we cast, to the design, camerawork and post-production, I aimed for every element of the process to keep polish at bay. We cast non-actors; shot everything hand-held; never made actors hit marks; embraced mistakes and built sequences out of what inspired us on location (the drums in the film were incorporated because we found them). I hoped that this approach focussed attention on the performances, and the story.

We have the perfect cast with Reef Ireland as Malcolm, Frank Sweet as his nemesis Gav, and Luke Mullins as his mentor, Adam; and we’re very excited to discover newcomer Shannon Glowacki, who plays his lover, Tye. Each bring nuance to their characters and take the film to greater heights as a result of their commitment. I loved every minute of working with these amazing performers.

Everyone working on the film – every crew member, all our supporters at Screen Australia – grasped and helped us achieve what we set out to do with this film; that despite its violent conclusion, The Wilding leaves the audience with a positive impression of love and sacrifice. Ultimately what we’re left with is not a story about violence, but allowing ourselves to love and be loved.

Grant Scicluna