Damian Walshe-Howling steps out of spotlight for directing shot

He’s known for his roles on Underbelly, Blue Heelers and Janet King but Damian Walshe-Howling is never one to rest on his laurels, recently joining the crew of Underbelly Files: Chopper.

The 46 year old served as a Director’s Attachment on the Nine miniseries, as part of his ambitions to direct feature film.

It was a chance to learn with the best, he says, with director Peter Andrikidis and Director of Photography Joe Pickering, both of whom he has worked with in front of the cameras.

“They are very thorough and they work on the fly. There is a lot of planning that goes into it, but they are also open to a very organic process. I really love that, because it means people can bring their heart and soul to the piece,” he said.

“Peter’s vision is really clear and his understanding of story is so nuanced, actors love working with him.

“I did an attachment with Fred Schepisi 5 years ago on Eye of the Storm and I learned an insane amount from him. He’s a master. So everytime I do an attachment I set myself a task of something new to learn. There’s always more to know.”

“I’m very interested in human stories.”

Walshe-Howling, who is currently performing on Bite Club for Nine, has directed 3 short films of his own, from 2006 -2012. His love of storytelling his embedded in his upbringing.

“My mother was a founding member of (Carlton’s) La Mama Theatre, so I grew up watching them self-devise shows,” he continues.

“So it’s a natural progression for me to move into Directing.

“Funnily enough I’m a traditionalist, so I really love feature films. Some people would say television is where it’s at, at the moment, and I do agree. There’s some incredible television coming out all over the world.

“What I would love to do next is a personal, intimate, independent film –but something that entertains. I’m very interested in human stories. A lot of the beautiful films coming out of places like Iran and Scandinavia, France, and the really indie films in America, are smashing it on the festival circuit.”

But if storytelling is in his blood so too is his desire to create work with something to say to contemporary audiences.

“We are living in a world at the moment where the conservative agenda is really getting stuck into the aspects of storytelling that we love so much and trying to rip them one way or the other,” he says.

“In the Second World War when England we fighting they said to Churchill, ‘We’ve run out of budget for the War. Should we take it from the Arts budget?’ and he said ‘But then what would we be fighting for?’

“In some ways it’s an exciting time because with technology you can grab cameras quite easily. But you still have to put some thought into it. The aesthetics still have to be there and art still has to be the hub of it.

“So I feel very blessed to have worked with technicians, artists, cinematographers and people who are passionate.”

“He is really embodying the role”

Meanwhile, Walshe-Howling says Aaron Jeffery will surprise when Underbelly Files: Chopper screens in 2018.

“Aaron Jeffery is doing a singularly honest, clear and very unique performance. He is really embodying the role and put so much energy into his research …and then in a sense let it go. He is free-flowing and everyday flooring the crew. It’s always amazing when you see a crew galvanise behind (an actor),” he assures.

“In some ways it’s almost reminiscent of the first Underbelly, and it’s a lot of the same team.

“You can expect an emotional and nuanced journey. There’s a lot of entertainment and humanity in it. The script by Justin Monjo is beautiful.

“And I don’t think people will expect the dark humour.”

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