It’s rare that a TV show gives you something to think about long after the final credits have rolled. It’s equally rare that an Australian production can have that impact.
Restoration had its free-to-air premiere on Nine Go last month but is now about to screen on STAN, where it’s likely to find a far wider audience.
This hour long thriller is set in a ‘familiar’ looking near future, where people routinely have their memories downloaded and backed up.
Very early in the piece, we meet Oliver Klein (Grant Cartwright, Barracuda); who’s going in for a regular back up, but is worried he’ll miss his son’s recital.
It’s never explained whether it’s an accident or a deliberate act, but he wakes to find his memories have been downloaded into the body of logistics magnate Gavin Worth (Steve Carracher; Vanished), whose own identity appears to have been wiped.
It’s a head spinning turn of events that plays on identity and sees both actors taking on more than just one role.
“It’s a really complex story, but once you get your head around it, it’s really cool” says Grant.
“I remember reading the script and thinking ‘this is really cool”. I didn’t quite understand exactly what was going on, which made me even more intrigued to enter this world”.
“When it came to filming, I had to decide which parts of Steve’s character do I take on. What parts of mine do I retain? How do I combine them both? I mean, we’ve got two individual men, who exist on their own and then one of those men becomes the other man, then one becomes BOTH of those men. I guess the more words you use for it, the more confusing it sounds”.
Filmed in and around Melbourne, Cartwright and Carracher developed a close friendship born of having to play the same character.
“We had that connection from the initial casting, which is what you look for as an actor,” says Steve.
“And I tip my hat to Grant, who did a spectacular job on providing those characters with the ‘truths’. He just did a wonderful, wonderful job. As did all the other actors. I think we were very lucky that we all sort of found each other on this project, along with the crew”.
Crowd-funded and independently produced by Midnight Snack productions, Restoration has the feel of an ‘indie’ movie; a little bit underground and a little bit subversive. Both actors grateful for the opportunity of bringing it to life.
“It was an incredible experience. For a little independent project that initially didn’t have the backing of a big distributor, it was run as a very professional film set,” says Steve.
“Everybody involved was just so passionate about it. I think when you come across a piece of writing like Restoration, I think everybody in the cast and crew had the same idea: what an extraordinary concept and what an amazing script to be working on”.
It’s a sentiment shared by Cartwright, who has a background in theatre, but has done a fair bit of TV.
“It was amazing fun to work on and such an incredible team on an independent production. I’ve worked on some big scale productions: Australian TV, main stage theatre and big US mini-series. But not one production has worked harder than Restoration to get this off the ground.
“I was in The Pacific, the Hanks and Spielberg production about 10 years ago and that was a 250-million dollar mini series. I was shooting on that and you could see the money dripping off the fake trees. It was just incredible. And here I am 10 years later working on Restoration and what they were with very little money was just as good, just as good to work on.”
With Restoration about to make its debut on Stan, both actors are confident it will find an audience that may lead to something more from this production.
Equally, they both hope Restoration will play a part in the regeneration of Australian drama and the local TV industry.
“I’ve been saying it for years; there’s no reason why we can’t have a Hollywood style industry here,” says Carracher.
“We have some of the most creative and talented people here, but there’s no work and no money. Maybe off the back of Restoration, we’ll start looking at local content”.
Cartwright is just as passionate about the local cause.
“It does seem that for such an imaginative and creative industry, there’s very little imagination or risk taking. So, when something like Restoration comes along, it’s great”.
“And if an independent production can make Restoration, then imagine what these teams could do with a budget you see in the ‘States”.
Restoration is an intriguing and thought-provoking piece. It deals with identity and self and asks questions about the potential abuse of technology in a not so distant future. It’s well worth watching and maybe more than just once.
Restoration makes its debut on Stan from Thursday, September 8th.
Nikole Gunn has been a watcher of TV since the 70s. A writer of words since the 80s. A reader of the news since the 90s; mostly on Triple M, Nova and Gold.
Twitter - @NikoleGunn