The film Healing, starring Hugo Weaving and Don Hany, is a powerful story of redemption, the discovery of hope and the healing of the spirit – in the most unlikely place.
Healing director, producer and co-screenwriter Craig Manahan provides an insight into the film.
Healing is based on a true story. How did you come across the story, and what inspired you to turn it into a screenplay?
It was a feature article written in The Age (Melbourne) about the bird programme at Won Wron. There was an initial connection with the story in so much as it was a positive story about something that worked with regard to helping people. We explored it further and found the deeper we went the more there was. Stories of redemption and hope are what we found and is what the film is about. We were emotionally engaged and that is what I wanted the film to offer.
What resonates with you the most about the story on a personal level?
Loss, really. All you cannot leave behind. Everyone has their story, their journey. I lost my parents a few years ago, which was pretty difficult as they were great. That sort of springboarded into this.
What do you hope people will take away from the film?
It’s never too late.
What was it like working with real birds in the film? Was specific handling training required?
The birds were marvellous thanks to bird handler Andrew Payne. We spent about eight months working on the bird methodology. What can they do? What do we need them to do? How much time does that take, etc. The whole film was shot in 24 days, including the birds, so we needed to have a good plan going in.
Was it hard to convince Hugo Weaving to come on board for this project?
No, he was on [board] from the start.
Was it easy finding the perfect Viktor Khadem? What do you think Don Hany brings to the part?
It was tough finding Viktor for a while, until I thought of Don. He was marvellous. Don spent a great deal of time with the birds. He enjoyed working with Hugo very much and I’m extremely proud of him and his performance.
What was your most memorable moment working on this film, and why?
The shot where the eagle lands on Don’s arm. That was shot on the last day of filming. It was a long time to wait to make sure I had my ending.