Sydney multi-hyphenate George Basha first burst onto the scene as the writer and star of 2009’s The Combination, the tough, gritty directorial debut from legendary Aussie character actor David Field. One of the first local films to delve into the vibrant, multicultural world of Sydney’s western suburbs, The Combination stirred up massive interest and controversy, and it set George Basha rolling on a fascinating career. As well as a host of acting roles, Basha continued to forge his own path, teaming with David Field to co-direct 2014’s utterly gripping Convict from his own staggeringly uncompromising screenplay. The duo reunited on 2019’s surprise sequel The Combination: Redemption, with Basha again scripting and starring. Now, George Basha strikes out on his own with Hostile Forces, a gritty actioner on which the Parramatta-raised filmmaking force writes, directs and stars. With typical grit and charisma, Basha plays Mickey, a retired soldier who has to draw on his violent past when his family is threatened during a holiday in the wilderness.
What were your inspirations behind Hostile Forces?
“Hostile Forces was the type of film I wanted to make after The Combination. One of the reasons I got into acting was that I was always fascinated by the action genre. Unfortunately, in Australia, we don’t make any action films. My biggest inspiration was to make a film that has never been attempted before in this country. We have had international films come out here that have been filmed in Australia, but never an Australian film. I looked and searched to see if an action film of this type has ever been made in Australia and I couldn’t find one. I wanted to be the first to make a film of this type. I was even offered more money to make it in US dialect, which I turned down.”
We’ve been seeing a little more action/thriller/genre type filmmaking in Australia lately, but much more so in the independent realm. What do you put that down to?
“It’s one of the best-selling genres in the world. Independent filmmakers are now realising that if you’re going to make a film then you need to think bigger than Australia. The genre sells internationally, and sadly in Australia, our governing bodies don’t support many films of this type of genre. One of the biggest things I learned from my trip to the US from film companies is what sells and what’s in demand. Action, horror and sci fi are the big sellers.”
How difficult was it to get the film up financially?
“Getting a film up financially is very hard. I had to really sell myself and my ability as my investors knew I was going into a genre and attempting to make an Australian first and that wasn’t easy. In the end, they backed me, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your cast, and how you got your actors?
“In all my films to date, I have prided myself on finding new talent, and then mixing it with known talent. Maya Stange plays Sophie, and she doesn’t need any introduction. She was fantastic, as viewers will see for themselves. Ria Maric plays Janelle; she’s a newcomer, and I think she will have a great career. Troy Honeysett plays Kane. He had a small role in The Combination Redemption, and I thought, ‘This kid can act!’ I cast him in his biggest role to date and again he smashed it out of the park. Steve Anderton, who I worked with in 2014’s Convict, is also cast in the film. There are also a lot of new faces that the audience will embrace and love.”
What did you learn from your previous films as a producer and co-director?
“I think you are always learning. I have been very lucky to have worked and co-directed with David Field, and he taught me so much. I took what he had taught me and mixed it with what I wanted as a director. The biggest thing I learned is that when you’re directing on your own, you have full control and it’s your vision. There is no one to turn to. On the producing side, I believe filmmakers need to look outside of Australia when making a film. What’s your market? Who is your audience? You have to think big.”
This is your first sole directing credit? How was it going out on your own?
“This is the first time I take the directing role alone and I have to say that I loved it. I relish the pressure, and it makes me really stay focused on what I am wanting to achieve. I really enjoy working with actors and trying to bring out the best from them. I think having been an actor myself helps me understand an actor a little more. I wanted to really stamp my own vision as a director on the film and give it a totally fresh look and feel from my previous films.”
How was the shoot? Any major obstacles/difficulties?
“The shoot was the hardest of any of my films to date. We had many obstacles. The film was shot during Covid, and as we got to the last week, we were shut down. That was very frustrating and it blew the budget. We also have so many fight scenes in this film, and I was constantly getting injured and hurt. I never told any of the actors of my pains as I didn’t want them to worry or start backing away in scenes. We also had a setback when we were filming a fight scene in water near a waterfall. It was winter and the water was very cold. I got hypothermia and my body shut down, and we had to stop filming. We then had to go back a couple of months later to film the scene again. We dealt with Covid, weather, injuries and reshoots. In the end, we got there.”
Hostile Forces will screen on August 24 at The Lebanese Film Festival. Click here for all ticketing and session information.