Breakable : Script Alive!

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Breakable : Script Alive!


Catapult focuses on getting promising scripts from new writers out of the desktop folder and out under peoples’ noses.

Brett Cousins seems somewhat starry-eyed, and that’s not a bad thing. The seasoned actor – and one of the founders of established theatre company Red Stitch – was feeling fed up with the general drought of good scripts circulating the scene, until his own virgin script Breakable was selected from eighty candidates for Film Victoria’s Catapult program.

Catapult focuses on getting promising scripts from new writers out of the desktop folder and out under peoples’ noses. A live reading of Breakable is open to the public this week through Cinema Nova’s Script Alive! project.

“I got in there and they just grilled me,” Cousins says of the Film Victoria interview process, “Grilled me. And after I got the grant I got to read the notes they wrote, and they were basically along the lines of ‘It’s taut,’ ‘It’s dynamic,’ ‘I’m fascinated,’ ‘There’s a lot here that’s good.’ Then there was the second half of the notes which was ‘He’s misogynistic,’ ‘This is full of predictable characters,’ ‘You started off good and then you went kind of down.’ And so I went to bootcamp with three other people for four days, and we just got our minds blown. Well I did.”

The Film Victoria bootcamp intimately explored each script, laying it bare for critique and development. Genre, narrative structure, and script marketability are discussed with experienced screenwriters and script editors. Following this intensive session, $8000 is granted to the writer with an extra $5000 to employ a script editor. Cousins got Andy Cox, the writer behind last year’s Lucky Country, “The script editor’s just so…” Cousins falters for an adequate adjective, “I mean, you can just use them up for six months. It’s incredible. It’s more important than the money. The script editor and those four days were just so valuable. I would have given up all the money just for those two things.”

Breakable is a psychological thriller. It revolves around a couple on the very edge of relationship disintegration who are trying to patch things up in a remote country manor. Things get worse and worse with the arrival of a jealous and narcissistic sister and her psychopathically obsessed boyfriend, until – despite being under such extreme duress – the couple must piece their relationship back together in order to save their skins.

“It often takes a disaster to bring a couple really close together, like profoundly close,” Cousins says, musing on the subject matter, “And it’s a shame that we as human beings have to go through that to really understand what we mean to each other.”

Cousins plans to take one of the roles in Breakable, but apart from himself the script has thus far been faceless and voiceless, “It’s nice to talk about casting,” he enthuses about the upcoming Script Alive! event, “I’m really enjoying the idea that this is actually happening. It’s breathing life into something that’s been fairly academic up ‘til now.” Script Alive! involves yet-to-be produced scripts being read out by actors on the stage, live at Cinema Nova. Visually, the event foreshadows what could be projected on the screen months (or years) later. The occasion allows the writer to harness a little democratic potential of sorts, and Cousins says he is looking forward to audience feedback, “This is only a second draft of the script, on average there are about seven drafts, so it’s early days. There’ll be handouts of ‘What did you think’ forms, so if you’ve got an opinion… I’d certainly welcome the contribution or the criticism.”

Cousins’ makes it clear he’s new to making films outside of acting in them, “When you’re an actor you’re the last one to call. We just sit at the end of the food chain,” he laughs. Now that he’s jumped to the top of Breakable’s chain, he comes across as downright paternal: “It’s a little baby movie about to be born,” he says fondly, referring to the imminent reading “You are yet to be witness to the birth. But sometimes that birth can be bloody and uncomfortable and kind of awkward. You’re [as an audience member] bringing the wet towels and you’re giving some parental advice.”

Brett Cousins will read his unproduced screenplay, Breakable at Cinema Nova at Script Alive on Thursday November 11 at 7pm.