Category Archives: Interview

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

Interview: After Nightfall

After Nightfall is a web series that has me hooked. It’s a refreshing new mystery surrounding the murder of gay teenager Troy McLeavey. It’s not set in the 1950s, doesn’t take place in the outback, has nothing to do with either world war, and thank heavens for that. In March and April this year, I reviewed the entire first season. And, full disclosure, in September I spent two days on set with the cast and crew filming a brief cameo for Episode 1 of Season 2. Everybody involved could not have been nicer, although part of me wondered if that was because I was known as ‘Superfan’ to most of them, having written such glowing reviews. I’m joking by the way. Wayne and his team of actors, camera crew, DOP etc are all professionals of the highest order.

With Season 2 due to be released in early 2019, I sat down with writer/director/star Wayne Tunks for a spoiler-free talk about the process behind filming such an ambitious project, and what we can expect in Season 2 and beyond.

For a writer, inspiration can come from anywhere. Where did the inspiration or spark first come for After Nightfall?

I was actually going for a walk late one Sunday night and the idea came to me. I walked for about an hour and the ideas kept rushing at me. By the time I got home to write everything down I had the basic premise, the name, many characters and the killer. I barely slept that night and the next day started writing. It was a story that needed to come out of me.

Did you map out every detail of the story before writing or did parts of the mystery happen organically?

A combination of both. To start I usually just write and let it flow out but then as the project continues I make a more detailed story map. The first 2 eps just came out organically and then the rest was planned. Having worked as a storyliner on Neighbours, our job was to plot story, so I still use a lot of what I learnt there.

What was the biggest challenge with shooting?

Independent filmmaking is an exercise in shooting on the smell of an oily rag. Shooting on a tiny budget is challenging but also rewarding. So as director I end up as production manager, set dresser and caterer as well as directing. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The entire world of After Nightfall is about the murder of a gay teenager. However, Troy himself remains shrouded in mystery. He’s mostly seen as a ghost and has had maybe five lines of dialogue so far. Was this a deliberate choice?

For Season one, definitely. It’s about the people left behind and how they react and which of them is the one that killed him. I like that Troy is a mystery, at first you’re even asking if his ghost is really there or if his Dad is going mad. In Season two we will see a lot more of Troy, including a flashback episode – so the mystery will slowly be revealed.

Troy is gay, and one of the things I personally love about After Nightfall is how this is portrayed as being completely normal. However, let’s be honest, the majority of LGBTQ characters in pop culture seem firmly rooted in stereotypes and coming-out stories. Why do you think this is the case?

For me all gay stories are important, whether it be a coming out story or others. For the 19 years I’ve been writing I have always tried to put gay characters in my work. When I am watching things now, especially TV, and there are no gay characters I get a little angry. Gay people are in every part of society and deserve to have our stories told. So whether it be coming out, a love story or just a gay cop, I’ll take any gay themed stories and characters.

After Nightfall has a large ensemble cast with many interesting characters. Do you have a favourite character to write for?

I love them all, my characters are like my children. But I have always enjoyed writing a good villain, living vicariously through them. So characters like Kobie, Oscar, Dave and Faye are fun. Plus, writing for myself is fun, guarantees I get some good lines!

My favourite character is Nathan Kelty. His harrowing storyline involves being trapped at a conversion camp. This is a reality for many LGBTQ people, but it’s very swept under the rug especially in media portrayals of the LGBTQ community. Were you at all apprehensive at tackling such a sensitive and rarely-seen issue?

It is our society’s big shame at the moment. I am constantly confused as to why certain religious people seem so obsessed with gay people. They are ruining the lives of young members of the LGBT community and governments let it happen. We like to believe it is just an American thing, but these horrendous places exist in Australia as well, so we need to talk about it. And we need to stop them hurting more innocent people.

What are the challenges of appearing in a project you wrote and directed?

I have been doing it in theatre for a long time but doing it in film is new. It is often intimidating but I was lucky to have an amazing crew around me to help out. But I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, I’m just one of these control freaks who likes to have a finger in every pie.

Obviously, we don’t yet know who killed Troy McLeavey. How have you managed keep the secret with so many actors and crew involved? Was it difficult?

Season One it was just myself and the actor playing the killer who knew. So many people would ask but we were both good at keeping it a secret. I loved hearing the cast and crew’s theories. Now, naturally, after filming Season two, a lot more people know. It was a relief to reveal it and now hope they can keep the secret.

What has been your favourite day on set so far?

Day one for sure. It was all so new and was a big risk. It was an experiment, we would do one day and see if it worked. It was a great success and I felt such a sense of achievement. After one day we knew it was viable and we began planning the rest.

Season One was definitely a success. It’s been screened all over the world and has won a number of awards. Were you surprised at how well people responded?

It’s always the hope that whatever you create, is a success. But I don’t think you ever really believe it will happen. People have been great fans and I feel very humbled. And the awards were the biggest surprise. It feels even more special that other people seem to enjoy the project as much as we do.

To the eagle eyed viewer, it would seem there are clues peppered throughout season 1. Is the mystery solvable to someone who is really paying attention?

100% there are clues, but to be honest, they are subtle. To me they are obvious, but the clues are small and there a lot of red herrings, as you would expect from any murder mystery. I hope when people discover the killer that they look back and see that it makes sense.

What do you most want people to take away from this project?

First and foremost, I want people to enjoy watching it. Love when I hear people binge the series. And I love when I hear people talking about who killed Troy McLeavey. And if we can also talk about important issues while entertaining, even better.

Now that Season 2 filming is done, what’s next for the world of After Nightfall?

We have one more season to go. There will be a new mystery and a lot of storylines to clear up. So after Season two, you will get to see your favourite and not so favourite characters. So watch out for Season Three.

Click here to watch After Nightfall Season 1

Reviews here:

After Nightfall Episode 1 & 2
After Nightfall Episode 3
After Nightfall Episode 4
After Nightfall Episode 5
After Nightfall Episode 6