Crushed director reveals production insights ahead of premiere

08 January, 2016 by Harry Windsor

A still from Megan Riakos' directorial debut, Crushed.

It's a sign of the times.


When Megan Riakos, whose debut Crushed premieres in March, is asked about some of the film's influences, she nominates three TV shows.

The young filmmaker recalls seeing Jane Campion present the first two episodes of Top of the Lake at the Cremorne Orpheum and being blown away. 

She cites, too, the influence of the original Danish The Killing, and in particularThe Staircase, the 2004 documentary series chronicling the case of a man accused of killing his wife by deliberately pushing her down the stairs. 

As the case progresses, the woman's daughter comes to believe that her mother was indeed murdered.

"The really interesting thing about The Staircase to me was the children's perspective", Riakos said. "Imagine going through your life, trusting your parents with everything you have, and next thing you know you have to question everything about them. I really liked that concept."

Crushed is the story of a young woman (played by Sarah Bishop, doing double-duty as a producer alongside Full Clips's Robbie Miles) who returns home to the family vineyard after her father dies in an accident. 

A UTS and AFTRS grad, Riakos more recently completed the Professional Screenwriting program at UCLA, where she wrote two feature scripts over the course of a year, one of which was Crushed.

After returning home the director enlisted Bishop, with whom she'd made the short film Blue Bird in 2013, in addition to a group of old AFTRS pals, many of whom served as her HODs. 

The vineyard showcased in the film is owned by an old high school friend's father, who happily agreed to let Riakos shoot on his Mudgee property. 

The 19-day shoot was financed by a combination of the director's own savings, private investment, and creative fundraising, like packaging up the vineyard's product with Crushed labels.


On the first day, Riakos remembers thinking "'gee, I really hope I like directing'. If you've only made short films, you don't really know how you're going to be under pressure for three straight weeks". 

The production began shooting on the Sony F55.

"We'd broken the shoot down into a two-week block before Christmas and then a two-week block after," Riakos said.

"The first week of shooting we just had one camera.  But by the end of the first week we all very quickly agreed that we needed a second camera for the entire second shoot in order to be able to get the quality that we felt the film deserved."

The rental house was out of the F55, so the production ended up with an Alexa.

"We did a few camera tests to see in the grade how we could match the two cameras. There were a few things that we did during the shoot in order to enable that, but we realised we really needed to get a very good grader on board in order to match it in post". 

Post has been crowdfunded via Kickstarter, and the film will receive a release via FanForce in March: a four-week roadshow beginning at the Randwick Ritz on March 15 and continuing through major cities – as well as wine regions. 

"That's the really good things is about making a film about wine", laughs Riakos, "you really get to enjoy the release of the film!"