27 April 2023

EVICTED! reconsiders the 'Australian Dream' for a generation of renters

| Chris Roe
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Woman smoking surrounded by three women

EVICTED! follows four housemates on a quest to find a home for their “found family”. Photo: The Story Mill.

Back in 1997, The Castle set the standard for Aussie comedy with its heartwarming tale about the fight for the ‘Australian Dream’ of owning a place that the family could call home.

A quarter century on, a new independent Australian comedy, EVICTED! A Modern Romance, is readjusting those values for millennials and delivering plenty of laughs and good vibes along the way.

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“The idea came about because, like a lot of people in my age group, I’ve moved around a lot,” says writer and director Rowan Devereux.

“I remember we had a house cooling party and everyone there had the same story and that’s when the idea of updating The Castle clicked for me.

“This is a generation where they don’t own the house and people live in a share house and they live in there so long that it becomes like a found family.”

Rowan Devereux and Sophie Saville

The Story Mill was founded by Rowan Devereux and Sophie Saville in 2019. Photo: The Story Mill.

The story follows four millennial housemates on the verge of eviction and captures the 21st century reality faced by a generation for whom the dream home ownership has spiralled out of reach.

Rowan founded the Sydney-based production studio, the Story Mill, with his creative partner, producer Sophie Saville, and the pair devised and independently funded the film and are touring it through regional towns and cities.

“We’ve been surprised by how much it’s resonated with audiences everywhere we go,” says Sophie.

“We’ve actually had a great reception and we are finding that everyone has a story about the rental crisis at the moment.”

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Rowan says it was a lot of fun compiling house hunting horror stories in the script as the housemates look through a procession of dodgy dwellings, including one with a “kitchen/toilet”.

“I was writing it and I showed it to my partner and she was like, ‘This is too far, this is not believable’, and then a week later, we had an inspection and there was a kitchen/toilet in the pantry,” he says with a laugh.

“Now I keep hearing that it’s becoming a thing in more and more rentals.”

As well as an update on the current approach to housing, EVICTED! is also an example of modern independent filmmaking.

“We 100 per cent independently financed this film so we didn’t have any help or funding from any government bodies,” explains Sophie.

“That was a challenge, but it also gave us a lot of freedom because we didn’t have to answer to anybody and it actually enabled us to get this film up and off the ground much quicker than going through the traditional process.”

As well as raising the finance, the Story Mill team faced the additional challenge of shooting during the pandemic.

“We shot this in the middle of the two lockdowns in Sydney in January and February 2021,” Sophie says.

“We were in the inner west of Sydney, so in some very small, tight spaces so on top of the challenges of just filming, we also had to do all the proper COVID safety protocols and keep everybody safe.”

Poster for EVICTED

EVICTED! is touring NSW and the ACT. Photo: The Story Mill.

Now that the film is completed and earning positive reviews, Sophie and Rowan are enjoying taking it on the road and sharing it with regional communities who have welcomed them with open arms.

“People have been so happy to have the producer and director and some of the cast come along and do Q and A’s in some of these small towns” she says.

“And for us, connecting and talking to these communities has been really rewarding.

“We also want to do as many theatres as we can because film is designed to be shown on a screen with a lot of people and it’s also a comedy and comedy is better with an audience rather than just on your laptop.”

The Story Mill team have also been sharing their experience through workshops, offering insight and practical advice to emerging filmmakers on how to succeed in the industry.

“Our goal is to encourage and support the next generation of filmmakers and help them turn their vision into reality,” says Sophie.

EVICTED! A Modern Romance is coming to Narooma on 30 April and Merimbula on 1 May.

You can find out more details on the Evicted website.

Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.

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