Australia has been the stage for a number of recent Hollywood blockbusters, but it also has a burgeoning independent film network. Melbourne filmmaker Nathan Dalton is one of those tenacious local filmmakers that doesn’t have the backing of the behemoth production companies.
Quanta is an independent film shot in Melbourne, directed and written by Dalton. The film follows the clash in ideology between a worn-out physicist and a self-centred grad student with an ego. When they embark on a project centred on dark radiation, they find a signal from the depths of space and the pair clash when their opinions differ on what to do with their discovery. Scandal, controversy and the destruction of careers and relationships spark the question: What is it all for?
Quanta poses the question of legacy – what are we leaving behind when our time on earth is over?
“It’s this idea of a hundred years after we’re dead, is anyone ever going to know us or remember us in any sort of way,” Dalton tells Supanova.
The film is based off a short with the same concept and as assuming the roles of writer and director, Dalton had two very different jobs in the creation of the film.
Aided with his unique background in physics, he wove science with story to create the narrative. As the story developed, the dramatic, sci-fi genres of the film took shape.
“I think I was wrestling with that inside of myself as I wrote it in terms of what am I actually doing with the precious things that I’ve got here on earth,” Dalton says.
“And for my main character, it’s the same sort of questions. He’s a bit further along in his life. He’s facing retirement, he doesn’t have any meaningful relationships. He’s spending his careers working on something that may end up amounting to nothing, and questioning in himself what is he actually leaving behind?”
“So, for me, it was exploring that which was the birth of the idea of Quanta for me.”
Then came the filming. “There are parts that I love and hate in all aspects of the making, whether it’s the writing, shooting, or post,” he says.
Dalton’s highlights had been the first script read-through, sitting with the composer to hear the music tied in with the film, and the moment the film was finally completed.
“Once I was able to say that the film was done and there was no more work to be done on it, it was a very rewarding moment as well.”
Ultimately, the most gratifying thing for Dalton was finishing the film, but not just for himself.
“I love it for the people who have been so generous and hardworking making Quanta come to reality. I’d really love to be able to benefit the other people involved too, if they can get a reward from that, whether it’s being involved in other productions, or whatever it is, I really just want this to lead to bigger and better things for the community involved with the film.”
A significant issue for an independent film is money, and with a micro-budget film, crew must work within some limitations.
Dalton says, “You say, ‘Alright with the available resources I have, what can I do to tell this story, to explore the themes, to get the performances I want?’ It’s creatively achieving what you want with the box you’ve been given to play.”
Quanta didn’t have one set crew as some of the positions changed from day to day based on availabilities.
“It has pros and cons to it,” he tells. “Definitely would have been great to have the same people day in and day out and there’s that continuity and all that, but it was a way we were actually able to get this film made just through people being really generous and donating the time they had available.”
The main team included Jesse O’Brien, Chrisian D’Alessi, Samuel Baulch, and Sasha Dalton. They took on the roles of producers, cinematographers, assistant directors, and production designers for Quanta. They, along with Quanta’s lead actor, Mark Redpath, have collaborated on a number of occasions prior to this film.
As Quanta finds an audience, Dalton looks onward to what’s next for him.
“Like many filmmakers, just being on set, being in production, even though it’s very tiring and exhausting and all-consuming, there’s nothing I’ve experienced that can match that high.”
Dalton has another two movie concepts he’s hoping to have the opportunity to film in the future. Nevertheless, he is already busy working on a documentary which has commenced filming, whilst producing a web-series with Quanta producer Jesse O’Brien called Midnight Zero.
“I consider filmmaking a form of therapy, too. I feel it’s a form of self-expression, exploring the things I’ve got going on in my life. So personally, it’s mentally satisfying.”
Details around an Australian release are yet-to-be-announced, but in the meantime, you can catch Nathan Dalton alongside Jesse O’Brien (Producer/1AD), Mark Redpath (lead actor), Sasha Dalton (production designer) at a Quanta panel at Supanova Adelaide (November 2-3) and Brisbane (November 8-10), with lead actor Mark Redpath also appearing in Queensland.