In YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME, in the middle of a violent storm, a young woman appears at Patrick’s door seeking shelter. Patrick, who lives in an isolated area of a trailer park, lets her in. As the storm rages on, the two begin to become slightly more acquainted…and increasingly more wary of each other.
YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME, the chilling debut feature of Australian writer-director duo Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen, screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. We caught up with them for a quick chat about YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME, where we discussed their newfound love of the horror genre, what sparked the inspiration behind the film, and why they set the location in a trailer park.
What sparked this whole thing? What was your inspiration behind writing YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME?
Indianna Bell: Typically when I write scripts it’s that usual thing of you have a conversation or you see something or you meet someone, and then the idea comes quite organically. We went about this really, really differently because we knew that we wanted to make a feature film. And we knew that we wanted to make it with Brendan [Rock] and Jordan [Cowan] because we just worked with them previously on a short film called The Recordist. So it was almost like a writing exercise where I was like, “Okay, we want to do something really contained, we want it to be two characters, we know the age and the look of the characters—what can I come up with?” And [then], “Okay, what about if it was set in this space? What does it do?” And it kind of went from there. We [thought it would] be really interesting if it was set in a mobile home or trailer home. What would that do? Who would these two characters be? And then [we] just kept on pulling at the different threads to see where they led.
How much research did you guys do before and during writing YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME?
Indianna Bell: I did a fair amount. I like to kind of read lots of different stories, lots of true crime and all that kind of stuff. I like to read lots and consume lots, but at the same time, because of the kind of film that it is, and the fact that it’s obviously a work of fiction and it’s quite a surreal piece, we felt like we had permission to be creative and go in whatever direction felt right. I guess the answer is a bit of research, but at the same time, lots of discussion and working with Brendan and Jordan in rehearsal. It was a bit more organic, I’d say.
Was there any particular true crime case you drew from?
Indianna Bell: That’s a great question. I was particularly interested in, not so much sociopaths, but people who commit crimes and it weighs on them. People who have a conscience and how and why that comes about, and also what’s happened in their childhood or in their life that gives them these urges to do these things. What I found really interesting is that there’s a lot of evidence out there of people who do things as a result of trauma in their life. And it’s not that it’s an excuse or that it’s at all okay, I just found it interesting that that’s how some human beings work. So nothing specific, no specific case. But just finding those stories that aren’t quite the brooding sociopaths who sit there with a cold heart. We just wanted to make him a little bit more interesting.
What was the experience like on set shooting with just two actors?
Josiah Allen: It was actually a really great experience. It meant we were able to spend all our time and energy with them. So it just became this great shared collaborative experience due largely to the nature of the speed in which we were shooting. We had a rehearsal period, which was great. And, as Indianna mentioned, we just worked with Brendan and Jordan, so we already had a really great creative relationship going anyway. This obviously took it to another level. We got a really healthy amount of rehearsal time to really talk about what was needed in each scene, psychologically. By the time we got to the shoot, we came in with such a solid plan and were all on the same page. By the time we got to the shoot, it was really just fun and actually moved really fast. It was great.
Bell: Yeah, it was awesome working with two actors, because of that level of [creative] control and the amount of time that you can spend with just two people. You also get to know each other really well, so you [develop] a shorthand and you can move a lot faster and shoot a lot faster. It’s also having that friendship, which is really great for the shoot as well.
Why did you choose a trailer park for the setting?
Indianna Bell: Caravan parks and those kinds of rural living areas in Australia are very plentiful. We’ve got them everywhere, and they’re just really interesting, isolated locations. So, for the sake of the story, we knew we needed somewhere that was off the beaten track that was out of the way and isolated to help with that tension and feeling, like these two characters are trapped together, and there’s no real, alternative place to run to. We were really drawn to that isolation, but also the Australian iconography because in a typical film, your character would go to all sorts of different places and it helps the audience place where they are, but when you are in one location and it looks like a house, it could be anywhere. We also kind of liked how it feels quite Aussie being in like a beaten up donga, they’re called: a trailer park.
Are there any scenes that you shot that are particularly memorable, either because they were hard or just really fun?
Indianna Bell: My favorite scene to shoot was the card game scene. It was one of those scenes that worked in script form and then it worked when we rehearsed it. It’s a very long dialogue, with the two actors sitting together at a table. We did it all in one day, and it was so satisfying and so fun, because we’d rehearsed it and Brendan and Jordan just nailed it. It felt like we were shooting a stage play; it felt very live. And it wasn’t one of those things that we needed to discover in the edit or work any magic on it. The magic was there on the day. But we had the complete opposite of that on other days where it was absolutely nuts. So there were two extremes in the shoot, which is kind of fun.
Josiah Allen: Yeah, there was a lot of contrast each day, because we shot mostly in chronological order, which is unusual. It was kind of nice to not, because it was very—by design—really play-like, especially in the first two-thirds [of the film]. It was very interesting schedule-wise but also stylistically, having those scenes where it’s super stripped back, like that card game, [which was] just two shots the whole time. But then we [had] a couple of sequences where it’s much more of a normal cutting pattern. A lot of shots, shooting really quickly. Getting 30 shots a day as opposed to two for the whole day. I think that contrast is really fun and I think, too, for our experience, really neat to kind of jump back and forth so often.
What horror films do you two like?
Josiah Allen: We’re actually very new, very fresh to it. We’ve only recently discovered our love of horror, which has been great. And it’s very much been through—
Indianna Bell: —psychological thrillers were the gateway.
Josiah Allen: [laughs] That’s right. That’s right. Speaking for myself, I was just too chicken; everything I watched as a child I was scared of. So really, all through my teen years, I didn’t watch any horror at all, except for at a sleepover [or something]. But it was really with films like Hereditary, where everyone spoke about how undeniably amazing it was, even if you’re not into that genre. And it was such an incredible movie, and it’s really opened us up to a lot of films, and of course, a lot of A24 films have, too. We’ve really gone down this path of now seeking out specifically psychological thrillers or horrors. I think we’re in a really amazing time for horror at the moment. That’s where the unique stories are being told. They’re exhilarating. They’re so fun to watch. Some of the best acting is happening in horror at the moment. It’s such an exciting genre.
Indianna Bell: We’re also big fans of The Babadook. And that’s an Australian horror film shot in South Australia where we’re from that really [made us go], “Oh, wow, this is what you can do with horror, this is awesome.” We knew people who had worked on the film. When it came out, at that point, there had been some breakout Australian horror films, but The Babadook just exploded. It was really inspirational. And obviously, The Witch is awesome. Everyone loves that movie.
Do you think that you’re going to dip into horror a bit more as filmmakers?
Indianna Bell: Definitely. Yeah. It’s one of those things that we enjoyed making so much. Psychological thriller kind of became the gateway. That’s what we were consuming. David Fincher is our favorite director. He’s just awesome. We were consuming a lot of his films and writing psychological thriller stuff. It’s so fun to create tension and also get that reaction of people going (gasps dramatically). I think it’s going to be a bit addictive and I think we’re just going to lean more and more into that as we continue to make films. It’s really fun and very satisfying to go in that direction.
Josiah Allen: In a funny way, it’s the closest to our silly first stuff that we did, you know, just with our friends—comedies. And we have noted with our last few short films that we really miss the audience interaction. So yeah, anytime there’s any screams or just gasps—
Indianna Bell: Or the kind of tense silence, which was really fun to experience, where you get to those quiet bits. And it’s like, everyone’s really [focused]. No one’s drinking water. No one’s getting their popcorn. Everyone’s watching. It’s a different kind of audience engagement that’s really satisfying.
YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME played as a part of the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.