Michael Sheasby (left) and Peter Skinner on the set of Lost Boy.

The burgeoning creative partnership between director Peter Skinner (Stranger) and actor Michael Sheasby (Hacksaw Ridge, The Nightingale) will be showcased at this month’s Flickerfest, with the pair collaborating on two short films to be featured at the event.

2020’s Lost Boy, which earned Skinner an Australian Director’s Guild (ADG) Award nomination, will screen alongside Staring Contest.

The former has Sheasby as volatile bartender who shows up to work with a fresh black eye and is subsequently challenged by his boss to drop his macho persona.

In Staring Contest, which was made by Skinner during the lockdown, the AACTA-nominated actor plays one half of a former couple whose tea-drinking reunion ends up spanning their entire relationship.

The films form part of a trilogy of projects between the director and actor, who first met in 2015 after Skinner came across one of Sheasby’s audition tapes while casting his short film Brother.

The director told IF he knew immediately that he wanted to work with the young actor.

“Seeing [the tape] was like love at first sight,” he said.

“I looked at this young guy, and creatively and cinematically thought, ‘that’s my guy’.”

(L-R): Michael Sheasby, Peter Skinner and Ben Oxenbould on the set of Lost Boy.

“Once we were in the room together, I remember noticing his dedication to his craft and having the rare confidence of speaking up when something in the script didn’t make sense to him.

“It really pushed me as a writer and a director to tell honest stories that ring true with their emotion and it’s what we’ve been doing ever since.”

After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in 2010, Sheasby began his career on stage before turning his attention to the screen, with roles such as Tex Lewis in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Walter Moody in the BBC’s The Luminaries, and Aidan Carrol in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, for which he was nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He credited Skinner with reigniting his love of acting following a year-long hiatus between stage and screen.

“At that time, I went from being ready to throw in the towel to doing that short film and then going on to doing some television projects, and Hacksaw Ridge,” he said.

“[Skinner] is someone who puts the quality of his work first and foremost and those are the people the absolute easiest to work with.

“If I’m overseas working on something, Pete is still the one I call with questions about the process.

“The leadership he shows on set reflects a skillset above where he is at.”

Skinner’s body of work incorporates a variety of platforms, ranging from sculptural work and video art to television commercials, music videos and short films.

Michael Sheasby being directed by Peter Skinner.

His 2018 short film Stranger premiered in official competition at Flickerfest, screened in official competition at The St Kilda Film Festival and was a winner at the Los Angeles-based Global Shorts Film Festival.

He is also the founder and editor at Australian Zoetrope, an online magazine where Australian filmmakers talk about film. 

Skinner said collaborative partnerships such as the one he shares with Sheasby can help to “take the edge off” when finding your feet in a competitive industry such as film.

“Looking back at our work and the work we have to come, it’s both freeing and reassuring for me to work with someone like Michael as he is my vessel to explore my own emotions in a safe and inspiring way as much as my words and direction is a vehicle for him,” he said.

“Looking to film history and noting the great actor/ director collaborations it’s easy to see why such high-quality work is produced, along with many other talented people, when a collaborative team is at its most complimentary, trusting, and bold.”

Skinner is currently developing on his debut feature, with Michael attached.

Flickerfest will be held from January 22-31 at Bondi Beach in Sydney. Click here for more information.

Click here to view the trailer for Lost Boy.

Click here to view the trailer for Staring Contest.

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