14 May 2009 - 11:17 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:07 PM


Rachel Perkins' debut film Radiance was a tough one to follow, but she equaled it with the stunning musical drama One Night The Moon. She spoke to FILMINK's Erin Free about the film.

Telling a story through music isn't always easy, especially when it's a tale rich in character, thematic structure and social comment. But with One Night The Moon, director Rachel Perkins has made a film that works on every level. Based on the true story of a young girl lost in the woods and the bigoted father who won't let a black tracker onto his land to help find her, One Night The Moon boasts a wholly different feel from Perkins' debut, the acclaimed Radiance. “Radiance was all dialogue, and with this I stripped all the dialogue out of it, so the transitions between the singing and the dialogue would be less painful,” Perkins says. “We tried to avoid that vibe where someone's talking and then you can see that they're about to start singing. It meant that trying to develop characters and telling a story was really difficult because you usually do that through dialogue. It meant that a lot of the back-story couldn't be there, and that the characters perhaps weren't as developed as they could have been with dialogue. But in the end, the lyrics became the dialogue.”

The experience of filming turned out to be a labour of love as the crew took over the small country town of Hawker. “Holy Smoke was there before us, and they were just throwing money around. And we were the dodgy film crew, and they had all this resentment toward us! But we put on a concert and invited the whole town, and they just loved us! It was a great set, but it was hard too. It was very low budget, and some of the crew had just come off doing big budget American stuff. But they still enjoyed it, I think, even though it was a bit harsh.”

The film's end triumph is even more fascinating for the fact that Rachel Perkins and her musical collaborators come from different worlds. “When I had to talk about a song, I had a bit of trouble,” Perkins says. “When they were talking about notes and keys, I wouldn't know that language. But it was the same for them when I was talking about film and using that language. We had different languages, but we were all very open about not knowing the other's area, and allowing each other the space to be experts in the areas that we were involved in. We all had our say.”