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 cast members Alexander England [2019 Anton], Jemmason Power [2019 Hazel] and Molly Fotnowna [1994 Hazel] about crafting their characters in two different timelines and how Black Snow differs from other crime shows out today!
I just spoke to Sian [Davies, director] about how Molly, you started production before Jemmason and had a bit more time to work out what you wanted to do with the character of Hazel. What was one thing you discovered about Hazel that you felt Jemmason needed to know in order to really understand the nuance of the character you’re both playing?
Molly Fotnowna: Something that was so important to me was the relationship between Isabel [Hazel’s childhood best friend] and Hazel. That was such a strong thing I had to get between myself and Talijah [Blackman-Corowa, ‘Isabel’], because that’s what showed in the older Hazel and what made her affected by grief and guilt as an older person. I felt like telling Jemmason about mine and Isabel’s relationship both on and off set really helped with the character.
Jemmason Power: As you were talking about it, it actually reminded me of filming because their relationship was so close, both on and off screen. I had this longing to be with Talijah as a person, but also as a character, which overflowed into how Hazel felt about the whole situation. It was really heartbreaking because I never actually filmed with Talijah, so we were able to use that sorrow and still feel so close to each other!
Filming a series that is a thematically heavy as Black Snow, is it a process of staying in the mindset of the character at all times to keep that intensity up, or are you able to shut off once the cameras stop rolling?
Jemmason Power: For me, our dramaturg, Nadia Townsend, was able to give us so many helped and beautiful tips on how to wash our character away when we needed to. Especially for me as I was coming in later in the story where I really had to feel the effect of losing a sister. Hazel rarely has any joyful moments, and I’m naturally a joyful, happy, cheery person! So, I had to really embrace that washing off of the character.
How does it feel to have a show of this size and calibre displaying true, authentic representation of South Sea Island culture?
Molly Fotnowna: It was so amazing. I’m so grateful I got the opportunity. It put me in such a position where I know so much more about my culture now. I know so much more family, and what our family has been through, but also to educate other people on it as well if you don’t understand what it is. It was amazing.
Jemmason Power: We had cultural immersion session for everyone that was such a good foundation to set for everyone to know what they were doing and why they’re doing it. Even the lighting and sound departments could really feel it throughout. Whatever was happening off screen was able to translate so well onto the screen. It was beautiful to be able to go on the journey together, not just as a community, but now for the wider community of Australia and the world. It’s insane to think that we’ve been able to achieve this on such a worldwide scale.
Alex, when a script like this comes across your desk and you read the shocking opening scene featuring Travis Fimmel’s character, what is your first reaction?
Alexander England: There’s a few things going on in that first script! First of all, I couldn’t stop reading them. I wanted to find out what happened! I ultimately had the experience of the audience because I got to read the scripts sequentially, and I just needed to figure out what the hell was going on.
The other thing I look for with ‘potential work’ is the level of writing. This has been beautifully written. There are so many layers that it grows and builds upon. And rather than having to fill the gaps in the writing, it is just so strong right away. The characters were fully realised and I got very excited about becoming a part of that world.
Sian [Davies] told us that the younger actors and characters began production first, and were working on their characters. And we asked Jemmason and Molly what their experience was like – so how was it for you working with Josh Macqueen to bring Anton to life, and did he tell you anything he discovered about the character that helped you keep those nuances alive in the 2019 storyline?
Alexander England: There was definitely a shared physical language we needed, like sharing mannerisms to help to that story. But, central to the narrative of Black Snow, we meet Anton at two very different points in his life. Josh has a beautiful, natural exuberance and puppy-dog energy to tell the story of his younger character. And then you meet the salty, seasoned, older, dirty version of him – which is me!
I wasn’t terribly worried because I think we both bought different energies to the character, but we did create a character that’s been through a lot of trauma, and that was me at the other end of it. It was great casting, but I think the story is going to tell itself.
In a streaming era that is inundated with crime stories, whether it’s true-crime or fiction, how do you feel Black Snow is going to stand out from the rest?
Alexander England: I think the most interesting aspect of the show is these two timelines in 1994 and 2019. The 25-year gap, in which both timelines are heading towards different revelations. But also, in this show, you get to see and hear what the characters are doing and saying in the later timeline, their interpretations of what happened, but you also see what actually happened on those nights.
Thank you to Alexander, Jemmason and Molly for their time on the Blue Carpet, and thank you to Stan Australia, PJ Marketing and Media, and Made4Media for giving me the chance to chat with the stars of Black Snow.
Black Snow premieres all 6 episodes on New Year’s Day, exclusively on Stan.
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