We welcome one of the top Indigenous filmmakers in Australian Wayne Blair who has had International success with film and TV. In 2013 Variety Magazine had marked Wayne as the top ten directors to watch. In his latest film ‘Top End Wedding’ Wayne captures some of the most cinematic scenery in outback Darwin in a love story with co-writer-producer Miranda Tapsell.
You were born in Taree but later went to Rockhampton with your family and you had a passion for sport. So, when did you become attracted to the creative industry?
I was in a duo with my cousin called Didjeridont - a comedy routine. This act and the work we received inspired me to audition for acting school.
Your first job on screen was "The Tower" before you moved into other TV projects. How challenging was it back then and do you remember your first pay check?
I was surprised when people asked me to act in their films! Maybe I had low confidence. It was challenging as casting Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people back in 1994 in shows was non-existent. It is better today but there’s still a long way to go. My first paycheck was lovely! It went very quickly because living in Sydney is hard - but still it was satisfying.
You received the Mentorship for Metro Screen Indigenous Mentor Scheme. Who were your mentors?
Uncle Leicester Bostock was a big mentor. He shared with me his stories; I was a big fan of his. Their were many people like him but uncle was directly involved with my journey from the beginning therefore his mentorship was personal.
You have worked in stage production and you were directed by late filmmaker Philip Seymour Hoffman in Sydney. What was that like?
Phillip was a brilliant director and human being. His heart was bigger then anyone else’s I have met. His loss to this world affected a lot of people, myself included.
You were in the stage play of The Sapphires in 2005 and then the director of what has been one of the most successful Australian films. Did you ever think that the film would take to the audience so strong back then?
Never in my wildest dreams did I believe we would make a film from the stage show. Tony Briggs, the co-writer, believed this from the start. If it wasn’t for Tony pushing me to direct the film, I never would have been involved.
Your latest film ‘Top End Wedding’ includes co-writer-producer Miranda Tapsell and actor Shari Sebbens…
Yes, we shot the film in 30 days with six different major locations. We were up against it! To be back with Shari and Miranda was lovely - like a family reunion.
How do you go about looking for the next project? Are projects pitched to you or do they come in as film scripts?
My agent Edwina Stuart from LA looks after me in that sense.
What’s on your bucket list?
I would like to shoot a feature in my hometown of Rockhampton.
What are you like to work with as a director?
I work my butt off on set and I sort of expect the crew the cast to do the same thing! I know that can be hard but that is how I was brought up.
What three things can't you live without?
My diary, a pencil and my diary.