Monthly Archives: October 2019

Meet the Suspects of After Nightfall: Ursula

We may have followed Troy’s immediate family for two seasons, but there were other McLeaveys in town. Namely Ursula, played by the lovely Kristina Benton.

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After Nightfall is a huge ensemble cast of interesting and complex characters. Tell us about your character and how they fit into the story.
My character is Ursula McLeavey and she is Troy’s tarot reading aunt.

How did you become involved with After Nightfall and what made you want to be part of it?
Wayne Tunks, the creator and director, and I have been friends for about 8 years now and I have acted in quite a few of his productions here in Melbourne. He’s one of my dearest friends and I pretty much would do anything he asks of me. He asked me to be a part of After Nightfall and I jumped at the chance. I was especially keen due to the series’ strong LGBTIQ+ story lines.

What made you get into acting?
I’ve been acting since I was about 7 years old. My mother couldn’t keep me off the stage so enrolled me in acting classes for kids and from there I joined a touring theatre company. I got bitten by the bug early and it’s never left me.

What is your favourite memory from the set?
My favourite memory on set is the funeral scene of season 2. All us McLeaveys hung out for two days and made each other laugh a lot, which is essential when filming such a heavy scene.

Were you shocked by the killer’s reveal in Season 2?
I did NOT see that coming! I had absolutely no idea and my jaw hit the floor when that I saw that scene. Now, of course, on a rewatch of the first season, all the clues are there.

What do you love most about the role you played?
Ursula has such a lovely heart and she adores her family. She just wants to help however she can.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned or taken away from this project, either personally or professionally?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that making your own work is possible in this business and oftentimes better than sitting back and waiting for the work to come. I have the utmost respect for Wayne and the entire crew for their “find a way to do it” attitude. Everyone involved in the project was passionate about it and believed in it, and I think that’s what ensured its success.

What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? The world is my oyster! I’m in a feature film called Apparitions which will premiere next year, but in terms of other gigs, I have nothing planned at the moment. However, I find that opportunities always pop up. I’m very lucky to know some very talented people in this business who seem to like working with me (and I with them), so I’m never without a project for long.

Meet the Suspects of After Nightfall: Nathan

For our next cast Q&A, we have Robert Miniter, the actor behind my favourite character, Nathan.

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After Nightfall is a huge ensemble cast of interesting and complex characters. Tell us about your character and how they fit into the story.
Nathan Kelty is the only son of Pat and Ed Kelty and the ex-boyfriend of Troy McLeavey. He lives in the small town Australia struggling with divergent paths that lay ahead of him.
The product of two worlds that battle away internally for control of his identity, his internal truth and an external persona. His parents are religious, overtly conscious of how the community sees them. They maintain the respectable appearance of the class nuclear family (minus the daughter, which I’m sure carries a lot of anxiety). Nathan must fit into this mould. However, he conceals a truth centred around his sexuality. Fearing the shame of his family he hides it away fastidiously.
This world is all threatened to come undone by Troy, who upon falling in love with Nathan wishes to free him by publicly declaring their relationship. Keeping in mind the fear of his parents (rightly so, mind you), Nathan abandons the relationship and hides any evidence from his family. His crafted world intact. That is, until Ed and Pat find the letters that Troy sent Nathan stashed in his room, setting in motion a chain of traumatic events Nathan would endure culminating in a discovery of courage and identity.
Nathan is afraid of the power of his own identity to reshape his reality, truth would mean to relearn everything it is to be himself. What kind of man that would make him? Nathan is on a journey discovering a new way of living, an independence in himself.

How did you become involved with After Nightfall and what made you want to be part of it?
Wayne Tunks came to me with the role. In the past I had performed a thematically similar role at Short + Sweet 2017 (a devised piece lovingly mostly-written by Erin Middleton while I tried to help), when Wayne was the Festival Director, so in a way I guess that was my audition. Working with Wayne is always a pleasure. Immensely hard working and driven to create HIS work. If Wayne comes with a role, you pretend to read it, then say yes.
When Wayne came to me with the part I saw quite a lot of my own anxieties of identity interlaced in Nathan’s story. My formative years were a bit tense between myself and the family at times, and like Nathan a lot of my adolescence was plagued with the struggles of fitting in. I saw a lot of potential to reflect that side of Nathan and was ready to offload my years into his story.

What made you get into acting?
Drama in Year 7.  Like a lot of young theatre kids I found a confidence on the stage that I lacked in my everyday life. Investigating another struggles can tell you a lot about how to address your own. So, the stage really shaped my growth as a young boy, and helped immensely with school.
However, I played a cameo role in a year 7 play and had an awful night on stage, was scarred for two years. Still did Drama at school, but it wasn’t until year 9 when my teacher forced me to take a small bit-part in our biannual school musical (Guys and Dolls) that I got back into it. After that it was as many school productions as I could manage, then HSC Drama and immediately heading to training at Sydney Theatre School after Year 12.

What is your favourite memory on set?
The night where Nathan first kisses Yardley. I’ll be honest, I had never kissed a man before that night. Not only was I nervous about an intimate scene (as you get anyways), but for some reason I had a swell of anxiety about what that would mean for what people I grew up, or people in general.
Of course, immediately after the first take I felt all of that wash away. All of a sudden I realised how silly I was to think it was anything other than two people sharing a loving moment. Honestly I was quite embarrassed at myself for getting so worked up.
That whole night on set was such a great lesson for me personally and professionally. The scene gave a great freedom to Nathan, it was written with such care. As an actor you yearn for those scenes to really flesh out such beautiful moments. Everyone has them, that rush of adrenaline as you kiss someone for the first time when you were younger, beginning to discover love in your life. It’s a wild time, one I remember so fondly. To explore these universal coming-of-age moments reverberates to audiences everywhere.
None of those scenes are possible without having a kind and supportive team there with you. I’m so thankful that Adam Haylock was my Yardley. With Adam there, Wayne and Nic too, the whole shoot was such a pleasure. 

Were you shocked by the killer’s reveal in Season 2?
I mean, COME ON! How despicable, how deplorable, how inconceivably abhorrent would you have to be to do something like that!
Won’t say who, but my word was I shook. Truly, didn’t see it coming. Had my suspicions firmly placed elsewhere…

What do you love most about the role you played?
 Nathan is the embodiment of what so many of us struggle with in our adolescence. Thought it may not be the same narrative. His journey brings forward those questions of individual identity that we have to answer as we shed off the impressions our upbringing has on us. Discovering who we want to be means departing from what others wish us to be, potentially causing conflict. Having the chance to revise those moments from my adolescence and reflect on them now was a gift that Nathan gave me.

Nathan was by far my favourite character in the series, because he reminds me of a close friend who went through very similar circumstances to him. What was it like, playing a character in such a terrible situation, especially considering this really happens to so many people? Do you think Nathan would ever be able to recover from what happened to him?
Wayne gave him such an authentic arch and I’m so thankful to have been able to walk in his shoes albeit for a brief time. He embodies a terrible struggle that so many experience on a daily basis.
It’s hard to play Nathan, I think. I mean that as; how as an actor are you able to comprehend such an inner war occurring every waking moment within people that cannot be themselves, and must maintain an iron clad persona. Knowing that so many people experience this trauma there is a weight of responsibility to give it your full respect and do it right. For many it is akin to life or death. Such gravity means you must give this story the same deep truth it has given you, you must lay yourself out just as those who experience this do. For me, that meant investigating my formative years. Asking myself tough questions of the person I was pretending to be towards the end of school. How that has impacted my emotional and interpersonal identity as an adult. There is of course more to it, but thats between me and Nathan.
Nathan will recover I think. Nonetheless he won’t ever be the same, nor will he ever be able to shed his trauma. His experiences, like us all, shape his character. Although it is awful to say, from where I stand I see his trauma as a necessary evil to him embracing and finally loving himself. Ultimately, cards Nathan and others were dealt are vile. To regain his power he had to fight back. No one should ever have to experience such trauma. No, it’s truly an injustice that a person would put with such pain. Fighting back gave Nathan, and I think it gives others experiencing this, the necessary power to take back control of their lives. Never hiding the scars, instead finding power in that pain, power they can use against those who deny them justice. To find themselves, at last. 

The scenes where Nathan was tortured was hard to watch. But often on movie sets, the most intense scenes can be the most lighthearted when the cameras aren’t rolling. Was the scene as hard to film as it was for the viewers to sit through?
Those days on set are always a balance of keeping it professional, and a bit relaxed. You don’t want to end up with a joyous atmosphere whilst you attempt to delve into pain, the same said for the inverse. On the day we had a great balance of focus as we shot this distress, balancing it out with light hearted banter to keep us all energised. It’s something you never plan or discuss, just the result of a great understanding team.
I’ve never been tortured, so what would it be like? Wayne and Nic found us a great scary shed, equipment and lighting. Even the battery sparks were real. It was all very authentic. You are aware that everyone else has done their job so well, all you need to do is commit, and avoid taking the piss. Finding authentic pain, without going over the top is key.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned or taken away from this project, either personally or professionally?
Personally, understanding yourself is crucial to bettering yourself when departing on life’s journey. Being true to an inner truth, disregarding what people want you to be. Professionally, tools and work ethics to better understand and authentically embody a character. Connections to great, hardworking people that I aspire to work with again.

What’s next for you?
At the moment, I’m on exchange in Canada for university until December. After travelling more I come home in February and finish my last year at RMIT. Next year I hope to make my own film, land some roles and properly commit to a career in acting. Perhaps move back to Sydney? I don’t know. But I’m over here in Canada having a hard look at myself, figuring some things out.

Click here to watch After Nightfall

Meet the Suspects of After Nightfall: Leanne

Continuing our Season 2 Q&A with the cast is Chantel Leseberg as Leanne French, another prime suspect.

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After Nightfall is a huge ensemble cast of interesting and complex characters. Tell us about your character and role in the series and how they fit into the story.
Leanne is the girlfriend of Dave – local crime boss and Troy McLeavey’s uncle. We see early in season one that Leanne is having a secret affair with Ryan, one of Dave’s most trusted gang members. It’s this secrecy that seems to have led many of our audience members to look to Leanne as one of the main suspects in Troy’s death. Leanne and Ryan get caught out towards the end of season one and Leanne spends season two trying to gain Dave’s trust back. Still, the question remains from our season two finale – who will Leanne choose?

How did you become involved with After Nightfall and what made you want to be part of it?
At the time Wayne was writing After Nightfall, we were performing together in an early childhood theatre show for Em’s Entertainment. Wayne offered me the role of Leanne and I jumped at it. I’d previously had the privilege of working with Wayne in his play The Girlie Show and I knew from his talent, dedication and wicked sense of humour that After Nightfall was going to be one hell of a ride.

What made you get into acting?
I’ve always enjoyed performing. It’s my happy place. I can be quite introverted at times but I also have a lot of creative energy, and in the words of Jill Morrison from Mean Girls: “I just have a lot of feelings”.  Performing lets me explore all the different parts that make me who I am, and to experience the thoughts and feelings of someone else. It’s a real gift we’re given to be able to share that.

What is your favourite memory on set?
Every moment on set was brilliant. The cast and crew got along so well, and we genuinely just had a lot of fun. Plus – Wayne is an incredible baker so there was always that to look forward to.

Were you shocked by the killer’s reveal in Season 2?
Yes! Back in season one I recall thinking…”you know…maybe the Mum killed Troy” and immediately dismissing that as an idea. I’d actually prepared myself in the very last episode to find out that Leanne was the culprit. Props to Wayne. There were a few red herrings thrown in particularly in the lead up to the finale so I was genuinely surprised.

What do you love most about the role you played?
I really loved getting to know Leanne. There was a pretty big shift for her from season one to season two and despite her actions she really does love her man. I enjoy seeing the journey characters go on and for Leanne there really is so much more than meets the eye. To be always developing and learning about your character like that is really exciting.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned or taken away from this project, either personally or professionally?
To turn up on set and just work and have fun with like-minded creatives is a real joy. I think working on After Nightfall was also a valuable reminder that if you find yourself with an idea and you have that creative itch – scratch it! There’s nothing stopping you from getting out there and creating your own work.

What’s next for you?
First things first – get through year one of my uni degree. Then I’m keen to take time to do some writing, get back into my music (shake all that dust off my keyboard first), and just enjoy the sunshine really!

Click here to watch After Nightfall

Meet the Suspects of After Nightfall: Oscar

With Season 2 of After Nightfall done and Troy’s killer revealed, let’s get to know the people behind the characters we loved and hated. First up, we have Jace Pickard who played Oscar, the prime suspect for many viewers.

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After Nightfall is a huge ensemble cast of interesting and complex characters. Tell us about your character and how they fit into the story.
I play Oscar, the predatory book shop owner who becomes a major suspect in the Troy McLeavey murder.

How did you become involved with After Nightfall and what made you want to be part of it?
Wayne and I have been friends for years and I believe this role was written with me already in mind. I have worked with Wayne on a number of projects and I absolutely love his writing and the characters he creates. I will always jump on a Wayne Tunks project.

What made you get into acting?
I have always had a passion for film and wanting to play roles that are opposite to my personality. I did drama in year 11 and from there, I knew I wanted to continue this as a career. It became more real when I was accepted into Screenwise, (an acting school) and made the move to Sydney.

What is your favourite memory from the set?
I think it would have to be the Season 1 finale when I push Faye. I was incredibly nervous to do that scene because Emma was actually pregnant, but we were very careful with the blocking. It was just a great scene to work with and I absolutely adore Emma. We play such flawed characters and it was just so much fun to work off one another. It’s also a great memory because after shooting that scene, I left the set to go and have a first date with my now partner and we celebrated our two years last month.

Were you shocked by the killer’s reveal in Season 2?
I honestly thought it was Leanne for so long but it became clearer as we went along with Season 2 that it HAD to be someone that was not on our radar. I was so impressed with Jacinta and her performance. And the scene with her, Wayne and Nick was just heartbreaking. I loved it! I texted her as soon as I found out and was like Good work on killing Troy.

What do you love most about the role you played?
Oscar was such an interesting character to portray because technically he wasn’t doing anything entirely illegal. He was obsessed with younger men, but he would wait until they turned 18 before he pounced. It’s like he had those rules in place but he was definitely a predator and I’d think he would bend those rules eventually. If I was to love anything about Oscar, it would probably be his confidence. I don’t know why he thought he would never get caught. His demons definitely caught up with him in the end.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned or taken away from this project, either personally or professionally?
I love this cast and crew. A lot of us have worked together on various projects and if I have taken anything from this experience, it is that this won’t be the last time I’ll work with this group of people. If we could do something American Horror Story style and do different stories,  I would sign on every year. We all get along and I believe we do great work together. We got to keep doing it! I can’t deny or confirm if Oscar is alive but we shall see (if a season 3 is announced) if we have seen the last of the creepy bookshop owner 😉

What’s next for you?
I am about to go on a film tour as I am releasing my feature film Fragmentary this month. We have our Sydney Premiere on the 21st October at Dendy Opera Quays and then we have screenings throughout Australia where I’ll be doing Q&As. And you will find some After Nightfall alumni in the film 😉

Click here to watch After Nightfall

After Nightfall Season 2, Episode 8

Sometimes, words are not enough. And this is most definitely one of those times. Because I’m so genuinely shocked at the things that went down in the Season 2 finale, that this is probably the most difficult review I’ve had to write for After Nightfall. In a good way. Because while a lot of questions are answered, many are not and a number of storylines take new directions. There’s a lot to talk about, both what happens in Episode 8 and what could possibly be next for After Nightfall.

Do I even need to warn you about the earth-shattering spoilers that lie beneath? Well, if I do, then you probably deserve to be spoiled. So here we go.

We open exactly where we left off. Colin knows who killed Troy and he’s off to confront them. But the answer isn’t revealed then. Colin only says to Viv “Don’t worry Mum, I’ll get her,” Instantly, we know the killer is female, and the answer is revealed in small increments, like a good murder mystery does. Really, After Nightfall is very similar to Broadchurch in a lot of ways, and I would never say that lightly.

At the police station, Zara is having a serious conversation with an unknown person over the phone. She’s got the McLeavey file out, and all of Colin’s siblings are there. Including Kate, who we know is dead. Zara tells whoever she’s talking to that while she couldn’t charge Colin with murdering Troy, she’s about to “apply some major pressure on the McLeaveys” and says something called Operation Permeate is on.
What do we learn from this scene? One, Zara isn’t working alone. Two, there’s a lot more to the McLeavey family than we’ve seen, although we know the family is full of criminals. Colin’s father is behind bars, and let’s not forget Quintin and Dave. So there’s a major plot point for Season 3, should that happen.

Just for a change, Angela’s wasted and has gone to seduce her ex-husband, who is sympathetic, but he’s also in a new relationship. There’s a lot more to these two. I just know it. Something else that could be explored in Season 3.

The next scene hit me right in the childhood (proudly raised by a single Mum!). Hayden’s come home and Margie’s lost her job. She wasn’t making ends meet as it was. Could this lead Hayden to take desperate measures? Speaking of which, where’s his Dad, anyway?

Meanwhile, Isobel is taking her criminal activities to a whole new level. Now that she can’t steal from Uncle Dave, she’s now selling stolen school tests to fellow students. This girl could give Don Corleone a run for his money. Good grief.

On the other side of town, one of my theories is confirmed, as Kobie shows up to Wesley’s house in the middle of the night. Kobie was indeed the reason for Wesley’s injuries. Apparently after Troy caught them together, Kobie took his temper out on Wes. Now, Kobie wants Wes to escape with him, because he may or may not have killed Oscar. I repeat, if a character doesn’t die on screen, they aren’t really dead, so until Oscar’s death is 100% confirmed, he’s still alive.
Either way Wesley, run away. Run away FROM from Kobie. You can do better!

And now we get some closure for Nathan and Yardley (♥!), at least this part of their story. The boys have made it back to Nathan’s house, and he’s packing up for good. Pat and Ed arrive home, and Nathan says he’s leaving with his boyfriend. Ed wants Nathan to return to the camp, but Pat finally says to let Nathan leave if that’s what he wants. She’s still rejecting him, but there’s a spark of hope in there that she might come around. Or is that just me? Anyway, Nathan and Yardley are free now, although I’d say with a lot of trauma and I don’t know where they’re going from here since Yardley’s parents are presumably just as bad. I hope they come back for another season.

But we’re still only about halfway through. In the parking lot, Ryan’s still holding everyone at gunpoint, wanting Leanne to leave with him. Dave tackles him, leaving Leanne holding the gun. Who will she shoot? Dave or Ryan? (If the producers of that garbage show The Bachelor are looking for ways to up the tension, there’s an idea for free!) Anyway, it looks like she shoots Ryan, but there’s our cliffhanger for this storyline, so we might just have to wait and see.

And now, it’s time for the big reveal. The one we’ve been waiting for since March 7th, 2018. Who killed Troy McLeavey?

As it turns out, none of the main fan suspects (Quintin, Dave, Leanne, Oscar) were the ones who did it. Troy was killed to be silenced over something he witnessed, but it wasn’t because of Oscar’s predatory behaviour, Quintin or Dave’s drug dealing, or Ryan and Leanne’s affair. It wasn’t Kobie, for witnessing his tryst with Wes. It wasn’t Xavier, to keep his infidelity secret. It wasn’t even the Keltys.















Troy arrived home, instead of going to Hayden’s because of their argument. While there, he caught Simon (yes, the sergeant who was killed in Season 1!) having an affair with Justine.

GOOD GOD WHY MUST THERE BE SO MANY CHEATERS IN THIS TOWN?!? Xavier, Ryan, Leanne, and now Justine??? That’s really low.

Sorry. I really hate people who cheat. And I have plenty of reason to, but this is a review, not a diary. Moving on.

Troy took pictures on his iPad, intending to show Colin when he got home. When Justine came upstairs, Troy confronted her and said he was going to tell Colin. Justine tried to make him keep quiet about it, but when Troy said no (as well he should!), Justine strangled Troy to death in a rage. Then, overwhelmed with shock and panic at what she’d done, she tried to unlock the iPad, and when that didn’t work, she ran it under the tap and hid it in the cubby house before dumping Troy’s body. And she killed Simon to cover it up further.

Colin now knows all this, and he arrives home to find a distraught Justine being tormented by Troy. Justine apologises over and over again, before dying from the cocktail of pills and alcohol she’s taken, rather than face the reality of what she’s done i.e 25-to-life for 2 murders, a lifetime of being isolated and hated for the crimes, obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, a one-way ticket to divorce court….you get the idea.

I take back all the sympathy I ever had for Justine. She’s destroyed her family beyond repair. Quintin’s probably going to get caught for killing Brad, and even if he doesn’t he’ll never come home because of what Colin said to him. And as for poor Colin, he’s just learned his wife was cheating on him, killed their son, killed her lover, and she’s just killed herself.

But wait, it’s not quite over yet. There’s another ghost on the horizon.

Kate McLeavey.

End of Season 2.

Holy hell. I’m floored by the killer’s reveal. I honestly never saw that coming, and I don’t think anyone else did either. Between the performances and writing, Justine didn’t even really come onto people’s radar of possibility. And now that she’s gone, there’s no chance at justice. In fact, Colin might even get the blame for this too.

So, what now?

Well, I really don’t know what I’m meant to do on Wednesday nights after this, instead of waiting for the link to appear in my inbox. But I do know that Troy’s murder was a truly great mystery with an excellent twist, and there’s still so many possibilities on where the story can go from here.

If it was up to me, and it’s not, I’d say Season 3 almost definitely has to happen now. Troy’s story may have got a satisfying conclusion, but there’s much more to tie up. The drug storyline, Angela and her ex, Zara’s motivations, Quintin’s murder of Brad, Kobie and Wes, Nathan and how he’ll deal with the aftermath of conversion therapy, Hayden and his mother, and how on earth the surviving McLeavey’s are going to move forward, if they even can. Plus, we have a new mystery. Who killed Kate McLeavey?

I’m beyond impressed with this episode, and beyond impressed with After Nightfall. I’ve said it all, really. So keep an eye out for my next blog about what comes next, and if you don’t mind, I need to have another glass of rose on Colin’s behalf.