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Ryan Kwanten and Patrick Hughes’ Bloody Road to “Red Hill”

Ryan Kwanten and Patrick Hughes’ Bloody Road to “Red Hill” (photo)

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Even before the opening credits run before “Red Hill,” there’s something mildly amusing about how Patrick Hughes named the couple at the center of his contemporary western Shane and Alice Cooper, the former an admitted nod to westerns past (Gary Cooper) and the latter a possibly inadvertent reference to something more rock ‘n’ roll. Ultimately, Hughes’ film is a bit of both, set against the backdrop of a once prosperous gold rush town that has fallen into disrepair when a young cop (Ryan Kwanten) and his pregnant wife (Claire van der Boom) resettle from the city to raise their soon-to-be-born child. But Officer Cooper’s first day patrolling the country roads is as pressure-filled as when he was minding the streets when a convicted murderer escapes and seeks revenge on the men who arrested him.

“It’s like a prequel to Eastwood and Wayne,” Kwanten said during the post-screening Q & A of the film of his character Cooper, a rookie who is tasked with covering the ominously named Skins Creek Road as an afterthought by his commander Old Bill (Steve Bisley). While Cooper’s new squadron barely takes the new guy seriously, “Red Hill” itself is the real deal, a mashup of eras that sees fit to score an old fashioned bar shootout with Stevie Wright’s tubthumping “Black Eyed Bruiser” from a nearby jukebox and illustrates the slow death of a town that time has simply passed by.

After years of directing commercials, Hughes had a similar fear of opportunity passing him by after trying to get a feature into production for years. Calling in favors from his commercials crew and shooting on the unused reel ends from bigger productions such as “Fast & Furious” (meaning the occasional stoppage of a scene just to replace the film in the camera), Hughes put up his own money to make “Red Hill” and developed the film as his wife was pregnant, which contributes to the resonance of our hero’s struggle to make it out alive for the birth of his son. Following the film’s premiere at Fantastic Fest, he and Kwanten sat down to talk about the “True Blood” star’s first Aussie production in eight years, Hughes’ plans for a trilogy and why fake blood makes Kwanten feel like a man.

09252010_RyanKwantenRedHill2.jpgWhat was strong enough about this that you decided it was going to be the first feature?

Patrick Hughes: I sat down and said I’m just going to write something I know I can shoot in four weeks with little money, but I felt like at the same time that I wanted to write something that would have impact. All any filmmaker wants to do is try and get noticed and get into the system and tell a story at the end of the day that you want to go and see. I felt like I wanted to go and see a movie like this, but no one’s kind of made one. So I thought it was a bit fresh in that sense that it was a modern take on it.

Ryan, when you hear Patrick has literally bet the house on this movie, what makes you want to join in?

Ryan Kwanten: His madness. [both laugh] Because I think you have to have a chromosome missing to want to be a part of this business and I think you have to have two chromosomes missing to want to be a part of this film.

PH: [laughs] And three if you want to put up your house.

RK: Right. [laughs] I thought if this guy is willing to go to these lengths, he must believe in it. His script already made me a believer and then after speaking to him, I was more than ready to sign on. And he kept telling me in the conversation, this is going to be a tough shoot – very much appealing to me anyway. I wasn’t after an easy shoot. And it was tough, but it was certainly memorable and I felt like it was a very worthwhile journey.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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