Not Suitable For Children very suitable for Sydney
Not Suitable for Children, the debut feature from Academy Award-nominated director, Peter Templeman, has an uncredited star: Sydney itself. The city’s Inner West features heavily in the film about a young party boy, Ryan Kwanten, who sets out to have a child before he becomes infertile.
“I really wanted to try to convey Newtown and Erskineville and the West in the most authentic way possible. That’s a main character in the film for sure,” Templeman said. “It’s such a vibrant, diverse area. There’s the urban, bustling thing but it’s also green and leafy as well. It’s got great energy. Once we knew that we’d be shooting in Sydney there was no other choice. It had to be Newtown and Erskineville.”
This choice proved to be more difficult than anticipated, though, when they had trouble finding a suitable house in the area. In fact, it wasn’t until a day before their deadline when the location manager finally found a house in Newtown. “It’s called ‘The Nunnery’ and it’s quite an iconic party house on Forbes Street. It literally was a nunnery. I don’t think it’s ever been renovated since it was built in the early 1900s. In the last 25 years it’s been a notorious share house with big parties.”
The Nunnery’s reputation as a party house worked well for the film and features predominantly throughout, as the main characters Jonah, Stevie (Sarah Snook) and Gus (Ryan Corr) host weekly parties. The relationship between the three best friends is crucial to the film but, as with the location, could have been very different.
While Kwanten was the first to come on board and Templeman was immediately charmed by Snook – “I think I screen tested her three or four times and from the first one, I was struck by just the level of detail and nuance that she brings” – initially, Corr wasn’t even in competition for the role of Gus. Templeman was trying to choose between two, very different, actors for the role when, by chance, he spotted a five-second clip of Corr at the Logies and had a casting agent call him in.
Corr, who won the 2010 IF Out of the Box award, and Templeman were more familiar with working in television than film so Not Suitable for Children proved a challenge for both.
“In television you carry a character through a long timeline, often a number of years or months, whereas a film just sort of sits on its lonesome and so you’ve very much got a responsibility to tell this arc of this character and share this one-off story,” Corr told IF last year, while Templeman compared directing his first feature to making short films.
“The nuts and bolts of it are the same,” he said. “The process was like returning to the shorts for me because I was afforded the time to conceptualise it on that level, whereas with TV it’s much more organic. You just don’t have the time to be planning on that level and seeing it that clearly. You’re generally flying by the seat of your pants most of the time with TV. So, in that way it was like making a really long short film for me.”
Not Suitable for Children was released in cinemas July 12.