Meet the Director – Peter Andrikidis (ALEX AND EVE)
DECKCHAIR CINEMA (DC): What inspired you to make ALEX AND EVE?
PETER ANDRIKIDIS (PA): We wanted to tell a story about positive cultural diversity. At times when one culture migrates to Australia (the Greeks) and is accepted over the years the next culture that migrates (the Lebanese) can feel like a threat to the previous migrates. When these cultures start to mix on neutral soil ‘Australia’ then things change – they see the strengths and likeness in each other and the similarity in their fears for their children. Those children who are born in Australia help the family break down those barriers as they mix with many cultures and form friendships with each other in culturally diverse schools. To me an Australian has a genuine respect for all cultures and all religions. We hope that this movie will start conversation, open up discussion about multi-cultural marriages and have the parents laughing about their concerns, realising that everyone is really the same in the end, regardless of their cultural diversities.
DC: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced when filming ALEX AND EVE?
PA: It was opening up the play* visually with a limited budget, to make Sydney a character in the film. We tried to be authentic in placing and filming our characters in the suburbs they would be living in.
Also keeping the performances in the film truthful. Even though our tone is comedy I wanted the film to have actors who were equally good at drama and comedy. Our comedy comes from the situation, not the ‘hamminess’ of over-acting. It was important that our story shift into drama in the middle of the film so the stakes and relationship for the two lead actors in ALEX AND EVE were in real jeopardy.
It was also important the actors playing ALEX AND EVE had real chemistry. That said, we cast Andrea Demetriades as Eve first as I had previously worked with her on a drama, but I knew she had a twinkle in her eye for comedy. We then tested her with six potential Alex’s – Richard Brancatisano had the best chemistry with Andrea.
*ALEX AND EVE is based on a play of the same name by Alex Lykos
DC: Who (or what) has inspired you as a filmmaker?
PA: I went to AFTRS** in Sydney for 3 years (1978 -1981) and we watched many great films of that 70’s period like THE GODFATHER, CHINATOWN, ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN and TAXI DRIVER. Films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Alan J. Pakula and Martin Scorsese. All these directors have influenced me.
Woody Allen was also an inspiration to me, especially his films ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN. In fact the scene where Alex and Eve sit on a park bench under the Sydney Harbour Bridge discussing their relationship is a homage to a scene in MANHATTAN when Woody Allen and Diane Keaton sit on a park bench under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York discussing their relationship.
I was also inspired by the Greek comedies of the 1960’s and 70’s (with characters like VENGOS) which my mother and father took me to watch in a cinema in Ashfield NSW. These influenced my way of directing comedy and I also learnt to speak Greek watching those films. I am also a big fan of the Greek director Costa Gravas – especially his film ‘Z’ a brilliant film that stands up today!
**Australian Film Television and Radio School
DC: What new or upcoming films are you really excited to see and why?
PA: Any film that is directed by Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Costa Gravas.
DC: With the advent of home theatres and streaming, do you feel cinema is still relevant?
PA: Cinema will never die – I think a film like ALEX AND EVE needs to be experienced in a cinema with an audience. Laughter is a contagious and a communal experience. Watching a comedy at home on your own, or with your family, is a limiting experience – there is nothing like being in an audience where you are a part of that spontaneous gasp of laughter.
I was at the premiere screening of ALEX AND EVE at Norton St Leichardt, Sydney and it was amazing – so much laughter – I had watched the film at least 50 times during editing process so I knew all the jokes and I still laughed. They started laughing so loudly, I laughed along with them again – it was like a great ride at an amusement park! Going to the cinema is joining a ride with others – to go on a magical journey.