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The stars of Broken speak

THE red carpet was rolled out for the premiere of New Zealand-made movie Broken in Gisborne last week. Gisborne Herald arts reporter Mark Peters talked to three of the rookie stars about their their first-time film shoot experience. Broken opens to the public at the Odeon Theatre today.

Josh Calles

Ruatoria-based policeman Josh Calles plays an emotionally burdened former gang member. His character Logan is also the father of Tori, who has found peace in herself only to be murdered by an opposing gang.

“In Broken, I wasn’t acting as a gang member but as a father who happens to be in a gang which is not my world,” Calles said.

As a father, one of the hardest scenes for him was, in his character’s grief, to smash up Tori’s surfboard, a powerful moment in the movie.

“I had to go real dark, to a place where I’ve never been before for that,” he said.

Calles had not seen the film before the premiere so he was excited and hesitant about how he might see himself on screen.

“I tried to bring something to my character that is different from me.”

Although Broken’s prevailing theme is forgiveness setting people free, the widely viewed trailer gave it an unexpected twist during a real-life call-out to a domestic incident.

Two sisters were embroiled in a heated argument when Calles arrived.

A man who was there recognised the police officer-actor from the trailer.

“He said ‘you’re that guy from Broken!’ The argument between the two sisters stopped. Whatever they were arguing about became irrelevant.”

Jol Sparks

The true story that Broken is based on caught the attention of Jol Sparks, the Campion College drama teacher.

Broken is based on the story of 19th-century student Tarore, who was murdered during a raid by a group of Te Arawa men but inspired in them the need for reconciliation.

“Tarry (Mortlock, the director) also said there would be action in it so I wanted to be part of that.”

Cast as Murphy, the Mad Bulls gang member who manipulates Logan into rejoining them to crush an opposing gang, Sparks said Murphy was a cool character to play.

To help actors develop their characters Mortlock had his actors write his or her back story.

“A lot of the characters’ motives lie deeper than what’s written in the script. It was good to develop that. As you built your character, you’d say ‘yeah, now I know why he’s doing that’.”

The biggest challenge for Sparks during the film shoot was the fast turnarounds in changes made by the director to his performance.

“It was tough but no issue to build that into my character. I believed in his vision.”

Ruby Grubb

Recent law graduate Ruby Grubb knew Tarry Mortlock as a pastor with City Impact Church.

“He said ‘I have this project in mind. Would you like to audition?’”

She saw the film project as an opportunity, and landed the part of Logan’s daughter Tori.

One of the most powerful scenes in the film is the murdered girl’s tangi.

“It was interesting and strange being in a coffin at the tangi and being aware I was in a coffin in a wharenui on a marae. It was fine after a little while but the wharenui carries a feeling. It’s a sacred place.”

Grubb was studying law while working on the film. Her experience of the film shoot gave her confidence in talking to people a boost.

“I also have a greater appreciation of Maori culture. It was great being around in these small Coast towns and hearing people’s stories.”

Broken is a New Zealand film for all New Zealanders, though, she said.

“We’re all New Zealanders. The film relates to Maori, Pakeha, Tongan, Samoan — whoever.

“Everyone can take from its message of forgiveness.”

A NIGHT AT THE PICTURES: Cast as Pouakai gang leader Cruz in the movie Broken, Wayne Hapi (left) was one of the few actors in the film to have prior on-screen experience. Ruatoria-based policeman Josh Calles (second left) was cast in the lead role as former Mad Bulls member Logan who is called back to the gang by Murphy played by Jol Sparks (third left). Recent law graduate Ruby Grubb played Tori, the tragic figure at the heart of the film and its theme of forgiveness. Picture by Mark Peters