Hails, Lleyton

Lleyton is a young filmmaker from Scone.  He participated in the Blue Heeler Film Festival for three years winning three awards including The Bluey (best short film).  He was a finalist in the 2016 Dungog Festival. Lleyton was recently nominated for a 2018 Upper Hunter Australia Day Award.  

The world premiere of Lleyton’s latest film, My Black Dog will be on 2nd March at Scone Rugby Club and the short film will be released online on Lleyton’s Studios Youtube channel on 3rd March. The trailer for My Black Dog can be viewed at http://lleytonsstudios.wixsite.com/lleytonsstudios


Where did you find the poem My Black Dog by Jim MacCallum and what made you decided to do the short film ‘My Black Dog’?

I was at a stage after I created my last short film Madness that won the 2016 People’s Choice Award at the Blue Heeler Film Festival, that I didn’t know what short film I wanted to make next. At the same time I heard that Where There’s a Will hosted a positive education information night, I couldn’t make it to the event but Where There’s a Will put the whole information evening on Facebook live. I watched the event and I realised that Mental Health was a growing issue in Upper Hunter and I wanted to do something to help out. A few days later, my Mum told me that a local person in Scone Jim MacCallum (author of the poem) released a poem called My Black Dog and after I read it, I knew I wanted to turned poem into a short film.

Was it hard to turn the poem into a short film?

It was very hard to turn the poem into a short film. We spent 5 months in pre-production of My Black Dog and most of our work was on the story. Noah Folpp (Producer, Screenplay writer) and I wrote the screenplay for My Black Dog and it was a challenge to keep the story simple and to make sure we wrote the script true to the sense to the poem. We had 2 different scripts in My Black Dog, one script was the scene descriptions and the other script was the poem that was Phil Charley’s (Stockman) lines in the short film. But we had several of meetings with Jim MacCallum to make sure we were not off track with the story.

Who benefits from the making of this short film?

The purpose of this short film was to help people become more aware of Mental Health and how we can best support the people who are suffering from a mental health problem or illness. I wanted to work with a charity in the community that is helping to promote positive education in all local schools. As we have our World Premiere of My Black Dog on 2nd March, I want to encourage all people including families to come and enjoy a good night out and to learn more about Mental Health and Positive Education.

What was it like to work with the cast and crew on this short film?

We had a cast and crew of 15 people and shot the short film in 2 days. It was a great privilege to work with the best cast and crew. As a director, I knew it was going to be a very hard job to direct everyone on the job but they did it so well. My goal especially when we were shooting was to make everyone feel happy around the set and to treat everyone as family. But I am grateful to have the people that came up the weekend of shooting to Act, to be the Boom Operator, make-up and many more jobs around the set and how they wanted to support me and be part of a worthy cause for our community.

Was it a challenge to shoot this short film especially since the main character in the short film is a dog?

It was a challenge working with animals to make this short film. But we were very lucky to have Jim MacCallum’s dog Ed to be our Black Dog in the short film.  Ed was trained by Jim and his family as a cattle dog. On set, when we are shooting scenes with Ed, we had Jim and one of his family members hiding where they couldn’t be seen by the camera. Whistling and commanding Ed’s movements. He was so well trained that it made my job easy. When we got to Post-Production, we had to edit out all of the whistles and voices shouting “Ed” and this took me a long time to do during that stage and I had Noah Folpp come over a few times for editing sessions to see if there was any whistles or voices that I had missed.

Described in one word how audiences will react to My Black Dog when they see it?

Nm… amazed and changed, but that’s two words. I am going with changed because there is a lot of insight given to viewers about suffering with depression.

I know you were nominated for an Australia Day award for service to the community but also for My Black Dog. How did you feel when you received the nomination?

I was very excited!!, this was my first Australia Day nomination. Later on, I talked to my nominator and I showed him a draft version of the short film. He really loved it and loved the story of the short film.

What’s your favourite part of when you are developing Short films?

Everyone will say the filming part of production, I have to admit it is one of my favourite parts of developing a short film. But for me, it’s writing the screenplay, because when I am writing a story my mind goes into that world and I imagine what that world looks like. What I see in my imagination is that world. This then becomes what I want to show the audiences when they are watching my short films.

What is next after My Black Dog?

I am at the moment in pre-production of two short films I am making for my HSC projects.

World Premiere of My Black Dog will be on 2nd March at Scone Rugby Club and the short film will be released online on Lleyton’s Studios Youtube channel on 3rd March. Read more....

Further information contact Lleyton’s Studios at lleytonsstudios@gmail.com

All content and images are courtesy of Lleyton Hails.


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Current Projects
My Black Dog