When high impact Australian bikie drama 1% premiered at Toronto Film Festival last year in the discovery section for emerging filmmakers, the audience was set alight. Renowned distributors A24 acquired it for US 2019 release but locally, it’s in cinemas now. Screenwriter, actor, rugby league caller, novelist, Sydney resident Matt Nable has been to Hollywood and back with no signs of slowing down.
A reappearance in DC superhero series Arrow didn’t eventuate but that one season he appeared in is one of the best. An overview of his already distinguished career is top notch. From page to screen has been a long journey for 1% that may cause ripples for all who see it.
What’s your association with bikies, if any?
Matt Nable – No it was just something I am fascinated by culturally. I had written it some time ago feeling very lucky to be made into something.
Why the title, 1%?
Matt – A term used by motorcycle clubs around the world, they are the 1% outside conventional society. They are the atticus, not following social structure. Every outlaw biker will have a 1% tattoo on them somewhere.
Fact, fiction, or a bit of both?
Matt – No it’s all fiction. Fairly evident Shakespearean tones of tale centered around two brothers, their journey of one brother choosing the other brother over me or The Club basically. It’s a polarising, affective movie not for everyone, quite confronting in parts. What I tried to do as a writer was gain a memorable reaction from audiences, the filmmakers have obliged putting that in force on the screen.
What can audiences expect going in?
MN – They will be affected, liking or enjoying may not be a word associated with watching 1%. Similar to Once Were Warriors (1994) or Manchester by the Sea (2016) – amazing films you’re not coming out of doing backflips of joy. It is emotive, tragic, art is defined by the way it makes one feel so if people walk out talking about it immediately or three days later, I’m appreciative. Not in a gratuitous way, although the objective is to apply a subject to think about.
Did you have a say who directed?
Matt – Yes Stephen McCallum worked with me on the Gallipoli series (2015) and he’s done a great job on a debut feature.
Do you ever want to direct?
Matt – Essentially I’m a writer-actor, not a director. But maybe one day if the right project with the right people comes along, at the moment no. It’s all a bit too consuming, too busy writing to be honest.
Did you get mistaken as actual gang members whilst filming?
MN – Weird looks early on going into restaurants. However frequenting the same places, people put it together we were actors. We weren’t hindered by anything, permits sorted and the jail location was not in use.
How do you differentiate as writer when acting in your own work?
Matt – To walk away, learn to let it go when handed over is the only way it’s worked for me. Although I’ve certainly had input on a daily basis to what’s happening on set. You should be in a position to happily let it go if one has collaborated intently with the director. There’s so many hats to wear as a filmmaker. If I do direct, it will be something I write to begin with. Then I can only muck up my own work (laughs).
How excited are you that 1% is finally releasing?
MN – Extremely gratifying, it’s so hard to get any film up and made. Then a release in cinemas, an achievement with an abundance of other platforms to view films now. It will be hard to tell what box office may be. Quite honestly, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever, it may be discovered over time. Box office is a bonus, I doubt audiences will go out in numbers like they did other Australian films like Ladies in Black, Dressmaker, Breath.
Did you feel pressure to be authentic to the 1% motorcycle community?
MN – We had people around us who understood the subculture well. During filming, collaboration including writing process plus casting the right talent
Any heated emotions or scuffles on set?
MN – Not really, we were all very naturally kind to each other like family when cameras stopped. There’s plenty of high testosterone moments, I am nothing like Knuck, although occasionally I did spend time alone to prepare.
You wrote a couple of strong female characters that stand-out.
MN – Important they had a voice amongst that masculine dominated society. Ultimately they drive their men to action when neither are willing to go that way. They are as strong as any of the male characters. Those ladies exist in real life, that’s important. Perhaps one day I will write an entirely female driven story. Writing female characters is a huge appeal, they infuriate and fascinate (laughs).
Sexuality is explored which may surprise a few, or should it?
MN – Absolutely fact, homosexuality is throughout every organisation in the world, bikie clubs no different. My character Knuck completely ambiguous to what he thinks he is, it’s an exploration of power that goes along with it. Suppressed desire lives within him, that’s the story. It’s up to interpretation what complexities he deals with. As rough as he is, there’s confusion inside.
Outstanding footy calling (Fox Sports NRL) this year.
Matt – Thank you Shane. Doing the voice-over work for Fox League, I was actively looking for more work to keep me at home and knowing a footy season is around six months so I took it. Contractually I can go overseas for one project if needed. Loved every moment but plenty of practice runs with time to get names phonetically correct. Breath of fresh air honestly, turned down a few acting parts recently due to concentrating on this to come out while allowing opportunity to write more in between NRL.
Can Newcastle Knights make the eight in 2019?
MN – Shoe in to make Top 8, opportunity for Top 4. Talking to Mitchell Pearce about new recruits at start of season. If relatively injury free, Kalyn Ponga is another year older, a champion of the future. That club will soar I am sure.
A decade since SIS (Special Investigation Squad) with the great Keith David.
MN – I look back at that with fond memories, not expecting a role as cool and big as that to happen for me so quickly, not knowing my arse from my elbow. A baptism of fire experience (laughs), met a lot of wonderful people through that production. Keith was a big practical joker or telling jokes constantly, I was pinching myself being on set alongside him. A good man.
1% (Rated MA)
IN CINEMAS NOW
Shane A. Bassett