Interview – ‘Bosch and Rockit’ director Tyler Atkins and star Rasmus King on trusting your gut when making your first film

In the late summer along the Australian coast, young father Bosch (Luke Hemsworth) hits the road in a hurry to avoid a run in with the law. In tow is his teenage son Rockit (Rasmus King), who believes he is on a magical holiday with his father. Bosch & Rockit is a journey through boyhood and manhood and an unforgettable true story about love, forgiveness and the powerful bond between a father and son.

To celebrate the feature film debut from Tyler Atkins, Madman Films gave me the chance to chat with the film’s director (Tyler) and star Rasmus King to discuss working on their first films, their inspirations and working with Luke Hemsworth.

Nick: I got a chance to watch the movie yesterday and I thought it was outstanding. I love seeing coming-of-age and family dramas done well on screen and I know how important these stories are to tell. Tyler, when I was reading the press notes for this movie, you have a quote where you said: “I wanted to make something that was meaningful cinema”. What is meaningful cinema to you, and why is Bosch and Rockit that movie for you?

Tyler Atkins: Yeah, I think for me meaningful cinema is films that make you feel something or make you reach back inside and ask questions of yourself in your own life. And I think, you know, cinema is such a powerful platform for that. There’s multiple layers to cinema, whether it’s like, you know, ‘Marvel’ [movies] or whatever, but I love personal stories. I love directors that tell stories from somewhere, because, you know, it makes you challenge yourself.

And I feel with Bosch and Rockit, I designed it that way to really just sort of ask questions saying: “What are the things I’m holding on to?” Or as a parent: “What am I actually doing to my children”? Or as a child, you know: “How do I forgive my parents and the things they do”? Because they just did the best they could, you know, and they don’t know– there’s no textbook on parenting. So yeah, that was really, to me, that was what I was referencing.

Nick: Rasmus [King], your performance is absolutely incredible! What a great way to kick off your acting career! The way you bounce off Luke Hemsworth is fantastic. I’d love to know what that relationship building was like with Luke and how you guys worked together to create that authentic chemistry?

Rasmus King: I was pretty nervous going into it. Not really knowing what to expect being my first film, you know, especially playing an opposite role to Luke Hemsworth. But yeah, as soon as we met, the same as when I met Tyler, there was just that instant connection, that instant bond. We had not that much time, like a week before shooting, but it just gave us time to really, really connect and it just made me really comfortable going into shooting. I don’t even really know how to explain it. I just felt really, really amazing.

Tyler: Yeah, it was incredible. Luke was incredible, because he would come to set every day. Even days wasn’t even shooting just to be there with us. And to have a lead actor do that… it’s just so nice. Because it was a family, you know? We shot through COVID. No one knew anything about the virus at that stage. And it was just incredible. He came on like two weeks before we started shooting. So, the fact that they had that relationship, and it translated on screen is really phenomenal. And it shows a lot of kudos to Luke too, who really bought that with Rasmus.

Nick: I did want to expand on that question for you, Tyler. When the story was sort of coming together before filming, while constructing the screenplay – what were Bosch and Rockit like initially on page, and what did Rasmus and Luke bring to those roles that expanded on those characters that wasn’t initially on the page at first?

Tyler: I mean, you know, that that relationship was so key to me, always. And it was in the script, but as you know, when you bring a human element to words on a page, it totally transforms what’s on that page. I knew Luke was just so incredible, because he’s got three daughters – he’s a softy! But he’s also tough, you know, and I think he has a great balance of masculinity and femininity. He sits right in there, because he’s very soft with his daughters, but he’s also the older brother, you know, he’s sort of the leader, he takes charge.

That was very vital with Bosch because I wanted to show that he wasn’t a bad guy, he just made some bad decisions. And in life, you can make one bad decision and it changes everything, and you can’t blame them. I think it was very vital to show that within Bosch. But also with Rockit, I wanted to show the innocence of a child and, you know, he’s trying to sort of come to terms with what’s going on. And the juxtaposition of that is if Bosch had told him the truth, it would have totally pulled the rug out under Rockit! You can’t really blame Bosch and that was really in my script, but when they bought those human elements to it, it really transformed into a powerful piece.

Nick: I love coming of age films, and, Rasmus, you are an actor who is ultimately coming of age yourself, while playing a character who is coming of age. So, I’m interested to find out whether there anything you discovered or learned about yourself personally, while preparing to play Rocket?

Rasmus: It kind of still doesn’t feel real, but I’m still doing it. I mean, I’ve never thought in a million years that I would be acting right now. And to be, yeah, on my third film now is kind of crazy, to be honest. And I guess it just kind of shows you that, you know, anything can happen. You can do anything in life, and you just gotta go for it.

Nick: Like you said, you’re fresh to the film scene, but you’re a surfer by trade I guess you could say! How long have you been surfing for, and was that one of the attractions to working on this film? The fact that you get to be out in the water and use that as an element of your character?

Rasmus: I’ve been surfing since literally, like, I was 17 months old! And my dad was just holding me up on this little board. Yeah, that was definitely something that we [Rasmus and Rockit] have in common, you know, something that we can go to when we’re down or happy. It’s just something that’s kind of there for us. So that was something that was really awesome about shooting.

Nick: This film is centered around a beautiful, but somewhat dysfunctional relationship that lives off blind admiration and love no matter their flaws. Who was that person for you growing up? Who was that person that you had that blind and admiration and love for, who I guess for you, Tyler, inspired creating of the film, and then for you Rasmus, for your performance?

Tyler: I didn’t really have any inspirations growing up, because I was always like a little smart-arse. I didn’t really have any heroes or anything growing up, you know… Kelly Slater was a big one for me, because he was a world champion surfer. We’d have posters of him on our wall. But, I’m quite religious, and I’d always pray to God, and even back then you’re always checking in with Him, even at such a young age. And I’d always just make sure I was trying to do the right thing. It was quite interesting, because now I’m very close to God. I never grew up in a religious family or anything. So, it’s quite interesting, but I’d say Kelly Slater was a huge influence on me growing up.

Rasmus: I’ve been surfing, you know, my whole life. So, there’s definitely some surfers that really inspired me. I like a lot of the kind of older surfers too , you know, like Michael Peterson and Matt Archibald, and all those guys really inspired me  with that real raw talent that I just really liked. And also, Daniel Jones from Silverchair is someone that I’ve always looked up to. Just seeing him you know, as a 15 year old kid, just kind of conquering the world in one of the biggest bands in the 90s really inspired me and made me think that I could just… you put your mind to anything, you can do it.

Nick: Tyler, this is your first feature film, if I’m not mistaken. I’d love to get a little nugget of wisdom for any upcoming filmmakers – what is something you have taken from this experience in making Bosch and Rockit that you are going to take into every other project you do from now on?

Tyler: I studied under quite a lot of famous filmmakers for about six years in Hollywood. So, you know, I learned from some really amazing people, but that doesn’t change when you take the training wheels off, it’s like you don’t know anything. For me the biggest lesson is trusting my gut and listening to notes. But always trust your gut because it’s your vision. You have 60 people telling you a different thing, and you get confused. If you’re telling a story, it’s your vision, but you have to steer this ship with the help of all the cast and crew. I’d rather wake up knowing I failed with the mistakes I made, than wake up failing with the mistakes that I listened to from other people. So, you know, if that makes sense. That initial feeling where you have a big decision, trust it.

Nick: And how about for you, Rasmus? What did you take from this experience that you will use in your acting career?

Rasmus: I think definitely one of the things that really helped me out was just knowing my lines, like inside out. It being my first film, you know, being really nervous about if I don’t know my lines! Knowing my lines to the point where I’ve got them down pretty much and then I’m not focusing on them and that I’m just more focusing on the performance, for sure. And like Tyler was saying, just trust your gut. I mean, going into it, I was so nervous, I just thought movies were so hectic and so gnarly, and that you’d get on set and there’d be people running around going crazy. I think not being so nervous and just knowing that everyone’s there to support you and just help you out.

Thank you so much to Madman Entertainment and ThinkTank Communications for giving me the chance to chat with Tyler Atkins and Rasmus King!

Bosch and Rockit is in Australian cinemas August 18.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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