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Seventeen-year-old Jesse (Lachlan Buchanan) lives in Newcastle, the center of Australia's booming coal industry and home to some of the country's most beautiful surfing beaches. The stark contrast of these surroundings encapsulates Jesse's choices in life: will he become the champion surfer his older brother Victor (Reshad Strik) failed to be, or will he follow in Victor's footsteps toward bitterness and self-destruction? As Jesse grapples with his own self-sabotaging tendencies, his twin brother Fergus (Xavier Samuel) struggles with his own sexuality while trying to fit in with Jesse's surfing crowd, and Victor strives to overcome rage over his failed dreams. When Jesse and Fergus decide to sneak away for a weekend to camp out and surf with a group of friends, they set off a chain of events that could change their lives forever. After Victor unexpectedly arrives on the scene, new relationships are formed, friendships are altered, and the brothers may never see each other in the same way again. Writer and director Dan Castle crafts an impressive feature debut-combining the ravishing elements of surfing movies with a compelling family drama. The cast is an incredible ensemble of up-and-comers that make both the visceral surfing sequences and tender emotional scenes seem effortless. While the brothers' complicated relationship forms the crux of the film, the waves and the beaches of Newcastle can also rightly claim a starring role.
Director's Statement Collapse
Newcastle the town inspired Newcastle the movie. As I drove through the streets on my first visit to Newcastle in October 2001, I knew I was in a very special place. The town, the beaches, the seaside pools, the community of surfers, and the nearby Stockton Dunes all resonated with me and inspired the story and script that became Newcastle. The town of Newcastle is as much a character in the film as it is the location. The story rotates around a group of teenagers going through huge identity issues and life-changing experiences that mirror in many ways what the town and community of Newcastle are going through. The lead character, Jesse, has dreams of breaking out onto the world stage as a pro surfer, yet his insecurities and past get the better of him as circumstances beyond his control challenge his belief in himself and force him to question what his dreams really are.
Cinematically, Newcastle the place is a dream come true. The countless coal barges that line the horizon represent the wall of resistance Jesse faces every day as he bounds out to the surf, trying to perfect his technique in the days approaching the Junior Pro Surf Championship. If Jesse doesn't make it as a surfer, his fate is certain to be like his older brother Victor and his father Reggie, working on the dry dock that sits in Newcastle harbor servicing the coal industry. Jesse's pal, Andy, sees Newcastle as a surfer's paradise: great beaches, great surf, mates, and skate parks. What more could you ask for? But Jesse sees the town at the end of a rail line as a trap and a dead end. Fergus, Jesse's geeky, fraternal twin brother is not sure where he fits in or even who he is yet. But Fergus manages to overcome his fears and mix in with Jesse's surf mates and girlfriends on an overnight trip to the Stockton Dunes. The wide-open space and abandonment of the dunes and the surf near the famous 'Shipwreck' just off the beach represent the detachment the characters feel in themselves as they move through a weekend trip where virginity is lost, fears are conquered, acceptance is granted and a tragedy unfolds.
Newcastle features a young cast of stars in the making as well as veteran actors Shane Jacobson (Reggie, Jesse's Dad), Anthony Hayes (Danny), and Barry Otto (‘Gramps’). Given the subject matter and setting of the film, it was crucial that strong actors who were also great surfers play the characters of Jesse, Andy, Scotty, Nathan, Billy, Jake, and Victor. At all times the audience will know they are watching real surfers in real waves and real situations. The goal was to create a film that audience members—both young and old—would identify with and experience as true and real to what they feel they are going through or did when they were teenagers.
Film Information Collapse
[NEWCA] | 2007 | 107 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Dan Castle
Foreign Title: (Newcastle)
Cast & Credits Collapse
Principal Cast Lachlan Buchanan, Xavier Samuel, Reshad Strik, Kirk Jenkins, Israel Cannan, Ben Milliken
Screenplay Dan Castle
Producer Naomi Wenck
Executive Producer Charles Hannah
Editor Rodrigo Balart
Music Michael Yezerski
Director of Photography Richard Michalak ACS
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Dan Castle makes his eagerly anticipated feature debut with Newcastle. The award-winning writer and director has helmed a number of critically acclaimed short films, including The Visitor, which received awards at national and international festivals, including an AFI (Australian Film Institute) nomination for best short fiction film in 2003.