For many people, it was a time of uncertainty and fear, but WA filmmakers, director Nick Petkov and producer Morgan Munro, didn’t let that stop them from producing their feature debut.
Pain killer follows the story of Steven Sullivan (G Roberts), a man tired of his mundane life as an office worker, who turns to dangerous and risky thrills in an attempt to stir up more excitement in his life, but ends up soon to embark on a dark path of violence, tragedy and murder.
The film explores themes of isolation, emotional need and the dark places people with mental illness go when they feel they have nothing to lose. “This is a person who believes society is against them and acts accordingly even though that’s not necessarily the case,” says Petkov.
With the film, Petkov wanted to address what he sees as the major social issues of our time, particularly mental health and domestic violence, and the lack of support and understanding surrounding them.
Pain killer takes audiences on a disturbing and sometimes surreal ride, retracing Steven’s fall from grace, increasing isolation and fractured personality. The film was privately funded and took three months to shoot, filming around the capital and urban areas of Western Australia.
Local businesses stepped in to support the film, including the iconic Tradewinds Hotel.
Auditions were called for actors across the country, but due to closed borders at the time, the production could only recruit talent from their home countries.
Pain killer had its premiere at the WA Made Film Festival, in February 2023, and has since been selected at a dozen international film festivals around the world. Cinematographer Michael Thomas won a bronze award from the Australian Cinematographers Society for his austere and evocative cinematography.
Pain killer has also signed an international distribution deal with Bounty Films and is in talks with major networks across the country.
Petkov and Munro (respectively right and left below) previously worked together on a short film titled Air and are currently working on their next feature film project. “We learned a lot from the production and the cast and crew were great to work with,” Munro said.