New Year’s Day viewing is sorted for 2023 as Stan prepare to launch their new and original Australian crime-thriller, Black Snow. Boasting an array of brilliant Australian talent, including Travis Fimmel, Alexander England and Jemmason Power, the story takes place over two different time periods, 1994 and 2019, in a North Queensland based South Sea Islander community.
In 1994, Isabel Baker was murdered, but her killer was never caught. With emotions causing irreparable ripples throughout the community, friends and family become divided, with no one more devastated than Isabel’s sister, Hazel. 25 years later, after a revealing letter from Isabel is discovered in her high school time capsule, the case is reopened by Detective James Cormack, who soon finds out that the web of lies and deceit within this community runs deeper than he initially expected.
With Black Snow being created and filmed in the beautiful state of Queensland, it only made sense for the cast and crew to celebrate it’s launch at a Blue Carpet premiere in Brisbane, Queensland. I was lucky enough to jump on the carpet and chat with the series’ creator, Lucas Taylor, and director of the first three episodes, Sian Davies about their visions for the show and working together to create this murder mystery.
Lucas, can you talk to the inspirations behind the different elements of the show, such as the use of the time capsule and also having it set in North Queensland?
Lucas Taylor: The inspiration actually came from the fact that I was in a small town in central Queensland for winter. I was working a job up there and I heard about a time capsule in the town square there that was due to be opened really soon. And I was struck by the idea of what was within that time capsule. Spice Girls CDs? Old memorabilia? But, that was the spark that made me come up with it being the reopening of a murder investigation, and then the story built from there.
With Black Snow being set in 1994 and 2019, what is your process of piecing together all the pieces of this puzzle? Do you have every intricate detail laid out before writing the script, or do you discover things along the way and have the mystery unravel before your own eyes as you’re writing?
Lucas Taylor: It’s a bit of both. It’s a very complex mystery, taking place over two timelines. Isabel, our lead character in the 90s, is looking into a mystery of her own. And then Cormack, played by Travis Fimmel, is looking into the mystery of the present day.
So, I hard quite a strong idea of Isabel’s arc and where that mystery went. Then it was about getting into a room with the other writers and producers, and we sat down and spent a lot of time road testing and tossing things around to try and smack it all together to make both mysteries aligned and more satisfying.
Sian, having directed the first three episodes, and I suppose, lay down the foundation of the show in those episodes, do you have discussions with the other directors about what vibe and style the show is going for?
Sian Davies: Yeah absolutely! I mean, being a setup director on a television show is more like making a feature film because you determine the visual style. An in consultation with the producers, we put the cast together. One of the things I’m most proud of is the process in which we found twelve South Sea Islander’s who have never acted before. And I hope you’re as blown away as I was with what they brought to the show.
Marie Lewin is the cinematographer, and we had a big visual board that was the inspiration for the show. And that’s essentially what Matthew Saville, who did the last three episodes, was absolutely following. But he also brings his own voice. He’s an amazing director. But it is very much so a consistent style.
As a director, you are dealing with two different actors playing the same character at two points in their life. What’s a key bit of direction that you found was really helpful in getting the actors to sync the continuity between their 1994 and 2019 characters?
Sian Davies: Well, we started production with the younger people before the adult versions. So, you’re obviously casting for physicality and energy that matches. It was really an opportunity to shape the younger actors, then getting them to meet the older actors, and then we just handed it over to them. I wanted them to have the freedom to find out together what was moving the story and their characters.
When we meet the younger characters, they don’t know there is a great tragedy ahead of them. They’re full of hope and optimism and joy. So, it was really interesting watching them explore what the different energies would be for the older characters who have experience trauma and loss. It was a wonderful collaboration.
The scene at the end of the first episode, when the letter is read out gave me chills!
Sian Davies: Oh my god, thank you so much! That’s one of the things that is terrifying about this… is that you are taking it out to the world but being so close to it. I can’t tell you how much it means when people have that reaction!
Thank you to Lucas and Sian for their time, and thank you to Stan Australia, PJ Marketing and Media and Made4Media for giving me the chance to attend the Blue Carpet screening!
Black Snow will premiere all 6 episodes on New Year’s Day, exclusively on Stan.
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