Naomi Lisner in ‘Heart of Fury.’
Derek Erskine is directing and starring in Heart of Fury, a drama which chronicles the last two years in the life of Lord Byron, the 19th Century English nobleman, poet, politician and leading figure in the Romantic Movement.
Actor-writer Naomi Lisner, who is Erskine’s business partner, is playing Margarita Cogni, the wife of a Venetian baker who had an affair with Byron, famously described by one of his lovers as “mad, bad and dangerous to know.”
Erskine describes his interpretation of the character as headstrong, passionate, often eccentric and at times callous. “Byron was a film I always knew I wanted to make,” he tells IF. “I performed him on stage many years ago and knew I had to get it made while I was still young enough to play him.
“When I wrote the script I wanted to show the last two years of Byron’s life in an exciting and new way. While Byron has been made before, it was never like this.”
The poet, whose most famous works include Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, The Corsair, Don Juan and She Walks in Beauty, died in 1824. The narrative spans the first few years of the Greek War of Independence.
The cast includes Mardi Edge, Albert Goikhman, George Donikian, Nicole Edwards, Vanessa Moltzen, Loraine Fabb, Georgia Chrysostomou, Clara Francesca Pagone, John McCullough, Don Bridges, Antonios Baxevanidis and Jana Wilkes.
It’s shooting in Melbourne, mostly around Sorrento. Lisner and Erskine intend to show the finished film to sales agents and distributors. Given the historical context, they hope to have the premiere in the UK.
This is his sixth feature as director/actor. “I am very comfortable working on set as both actor and director,” he said. “I have been doing this for many years and enjoy the experience. It’s about trusting your instincts but also having a great team around you.
“Naomi and I are passionate about our work and our focus is to produce original, exciting films that capture the imagination and promote the vast and capable talent we have here in Australia.”
Meanwhile his most recent film, psychological thriller Tracy, will have its world premiere at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville on July 18. Co-written by Erskine, Lisner and Cassandra Leopold, the film stars Erskine and Leopold as a married couple who embark on a drug and alcohol-fuelled psychotic rampage.