A sardonic Melbourne hitman allows a filmmaker to follow him around as he gets away with murder in this droll, pitch-black mockumentary.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
This should be a case study for making an exceptional low-fi feature for the cost of a clapped-out Japanese import. Aussie helmer Scott Ryan centres his digital feature on a marvelous character and a premise so ridiculous it’s irresistible: a sardonic Melbourne wiseguy allows a filmmaker to follow him around as he carries out his usual routines – debt collecting, putting the fear of God into folks and good old-fashioned bloody murder. Ryan writes, produces, directs, edits and even stars in this droll, pitch-black mockumentary. Imagine Chopper meets Best in Show and you might have some idea how seriously warped his film is. The dialogue between the hitman and some of his victims is priceless, ranging from the sublime – anxieties about sexual identity – to the trivial – did Clint Eastwood star in the Dirty Dozen? As the film segues to a conclusion bristling with genuine pathos you’ll probably find yourself empathising with the charismatic killer. An amazing achievement from a filmmaker clearly destined for great things and bigger budgets. — Ant Timpson
Scott Ryan was a multi-media student at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology when, struck by the number of hitmen who‘d penned autobiographies, he saw the possibilities for a film that rolled solo killer and morbid raconteur into one character. He and his brother shot the opening scene on DV-cam in his garage one afternoon, then, with a rough 40-page script and four RMIT classmates, they began collaborating on a feature-length film. Only Massimiliano Andrighetto, playing the documentary filmmaker – which enabled him to double as cinematographer – has acted before. The film was shot over ten days of intense activity. Having completed a feature, they whittled it down to 30 minutes in order to qualify for the St Kilda Short Film Festival. Writer/director Nash Edgerton was intrigued by what he saw and asked for a copy to show his brother, actor Joel Edgerton, who was checking out mockumentaries at the time. Ryan slipped them the feature version. Both were amazed by his performance. Their conviction that the film should be recut eventually led to the involvement of Chopper producer Michele Bennett and extensive, enhanced post-production. The technically enhanced Magician is now poised for release in Australia, and for film festival fame elsewhere. — producers notes