Independent prison film to show at Port Douglas Rugby Club with help of local talent

Thursday February 5 2015, 5:20pm

An independent Australian biopic made with local Mossman talent will have its Far North Queensland premiere at the Port Douglas Rugby Club on Saturday night. 

Rise, a true story based on the life of Gold Coast nurse and prisoner Mack Lindon, will show at the Port Douglas Rugby Club at 7pm. 

The film premiered across independent cinemas in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in October last year, with the Port Douglas session to be its first showing in Far North Queensland.

Local talent contributed to Rise's success: co-producer Maya Weidner, 22, was born and raised in Mossman and graduated from Mossman State High School, where she was school captain, in 2009. 

She originally became involved with Rise as an intern when it was still a pitch trailer and was eventually signed as co-producer. 

Ms Weidner said she hadn't expected the film to become such a major production. 

"It didn't feel this big to start with," Ms Weidner said. 

"It was an internship, then we worked on a ten-minute pitch film that we launched on Pozible - that's a component of how we got funding for the feature.

"I think the film is an important story for young people to see, particularly what implications can come from their actions. It's a good reminder to think twice and have a plan if you're having a big night out."

The true events behind Rise's plot are a cocktail for a great story: a young nurse in his early 20s hits the town, meets a girl who he has a one night stand with resulting in a rape and drink spiking charge. He’s wrongly accused but still serves nearly two years in maximum security prison.

Inspired by the sequence of events, Gold Coast filmmaker, Mack Lindon, turned it into a pitch trailer, ‘Rise of the Underdog’, which took out the gong for ‘Best Trailer’ category at the Hollyshorts Film Festival, in LA in 2013.

He then rallied together more than 300 people including cast, crew and actors to develop the pitch trailer into feature film, ‘RISE’, that will be launched 21 October 2014 at the Palace Cinema Como. The film follows real life events, which is told through the character of a young nurse, Will McIntyre.

“In the beginning, apart from a handful of people, few people knew that the story wasn’t just written by me, it actually happened to me,” Mack explains.

At 25, Mack’s freedom and career was taken from him after a one night stand led to a charge of rape and drink spiking. Following a trial he was found guilty - landing him in a maximum security prison, which he had to endure while fighting to prove his innocence.

“The trial wasn’t just and I couldn’t prove it was consensual. Despite this, the idea to turn it into a film started while I was in my prison cell in 2008. While in jail, I sent Rob Sitch a letter explaining I wanted to turn my story into a film, but I didn’t know how. He actually replied, explaining what I should do. I was yet to prove my innocence, but I knew I wanted share my story through film once I was freed.”

After a retrial in 2011, Mack was able to clear his name and put his days in prison behind him. Driven to share his story through film, he used Rob’s advice and created a storyboard and outline he would use to pitch to investors and actors.

“I approached Martin Sacks’ agent who replied saying Martin wanted to meet me in person. After a few hours in a cafe, Marty was keen to get involved - he would play Jimmy Cove, an inmate I met in prison. I was pretty encouraged,” Mack says.

For Martin, he "immediately" liked Mack.

“I met Mack and immediately liked him. He told me his story and I thought it would make a really engaging film. I was also delighted to be asked to play Jimmy Cove,” Martin explains. He continues: “I felt strongly about Mack and his passion to tell his story. I’ve worked on a few projects where it is the writer/director’s first foray into the business and I’ve found it to be incredibly collaborative - as it was with ‘RISE’ - everyone mucking in to tell the best possible story.”

Responsible for writing, producing and directing ‘RISE’, Mack says the story isn’t about the accuser. “It’s about encouraging people to carry on against all odds. It’s about the injustice that a legal system can find you guilty, then years later not guilty and not be compensated”

“I’ve turned something bad into a blessing, it has allowed me to define my character and I’ve been able to make a film people can be inspired by. Forgiveness is the key to moving forward.”

With no formal qualifications in film or acting, Mack let his passion forge his path in the industry. He’s self-taught and working in the industry he’s learnt that dealing with all types of personalities is the key and to persevere” Mack laughs.

“Ken Duncan official photographer for Mel Gibson’s The Passion told me, “Mack passion brings dream alive”. In 2010, he and wife Emma launched Vision Films Australia. The duo have since created an impressive portfolio of music videos, television series, TV commercials and now a feature film.

“The people who worked on ‘RISE’ shared the passion of bringing the story to life. People that had that ‘X factor’ and who really wanted to do something that wasn’t all for themselves.

“We planned to shoot in eight weeks, but had to shoot it in five. A lot of what we did was very much outside conventional methods. From makeshift lighting, to crowd funding and offering angel investors percentages of the return. The film cost approximately $356,000 including deferred payments but we have been told it’s well and truly at industry standard, with one distributor suggesting it was made for a few million - I think people will be inspired on many levels,” Mack says.

What’s next for Mack and his team? “We are working on something that’s a little different. We’re developing a big budget love story. Set in Australia in the near future.”