Interview - Ric McKinnon

Interview: Ric McKinnon - 6th Fefruary 2007

With Ric McKinnon and Garry Young; creators and producers of Australian Ghost Stories. (AGS)

Background: Intro …

Ric McKinnon's background is in acting and writing mainly for the stage and for print media outlets- as Garry Young's background is in writing and directing short films, music videos and editing for the film and television market. It is their debut as producers of an independent television program.

What are your current projects?

Australian Ghost Stories has been the major project over the last year -The team is already developing concepts for AGS spin-off programs, including a Radio Programme consisting of all things supernatural. There is also a drama series that is in the final stages of script development. Another goal is to also break down Australia's barrier and failed attempts with sitcoms. There's a comedy series pipelined with a very unique and twisted flavour.

What was the sequence of events that led you to this point?

Through media work involved in a seminar for a popular Australian psychic, Scott Russell Hill from Sensing Murder fame, there was a realisation that we had a really great concept with this "ghost project"…. People were interested in the supernatural and it really, as far as mainstream television goes, has not been approached for more than a decade in Australia. It's of course been a long process, as a team of film makers chasing ghosts, more so than a team of ghost chasers with a camera- It has made it an exciting adventure to learn what to look for, and where to go to find our spooks.

What's your main interest in the supernatural?

I think everyone questions the way things are, and maybe more importantly the way things appear and are interpreted by individual people. Everyone at some point has questioned their own mortality, by understanding ghosts; perhaps we can understand the dying process a little better.

What happens after death?

Who are your mentors? Garry Young's work is inspired by : Peter Jackson, Adam Elliot, Rolf de Heer, Peter Weir, Stuart McDonald, Clayton Jacobsen and Nadia Tass. I'm a little more simple, The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and even Bono from U2 … Creative or not, my mentors are those that stand up for change in a peaceful manner.

Who are the most authoritative and talked about experts on the supernatural, and what got them there?

It depends who you ask, but there are a lot of self-made "experts" currently dealing in supernatural matters. Unfortunately, this also means there are some charlatans that are out there to make a few quick bucks. Which I guess, proves that people are interested in finding out answers to life and are often prepared to pay. We are highly intrigued by the research of Dr. A.R.G. Owen - although his research isn't ghost research in the traditional sense, his work does open up many doors for spin-off TV programs that we are looking into. Peter Underwood is one of the more famous, "old school" ghost researchers. Both Peter Underwood and Dr Owen speak of ghost as self created by the human mind? But if seeing is believing, and people like John Edward, claim to be able to see dead people? … Then it's a matter of trust and faith unless you unlock the powers of insight and the ability to communicate to the other-side by yourself?

Who have been your biggest supporters to date?

Apart from ourselves (we regularly "spot" each other for motivation), as you can often question your sanity and ask why are we doing a project like this? The interest in Australian ghost Stories has been diverse. From famous mediums, to football commentators- Often those you least expect are the ones that offer the most support. Of course, our families and friends must get a mention here.

What media coverage have you received thus far?

We have had very limited media coverage thus far. The main reason for this is because we have been apprehensive about releasing our idea to the general public; also knowing that if we don't tell people about the show it will never get made. Realising it's a double-edged sword, we know that the more publicity that our show gets, the more chance there will be for another outfit to come along and get their version on air before us.

What are the biggest challenges you have overcome?

We have actually had a lot or roadblocks to get this point with Australian Ghost Stories. With personal illness to Garry after filming the pilot (some mediums say Garry got possessed) *laughs* - And the standard challengers that come with being new-comers whist trying to get a show on air… especially one involving ghosts. You get used to door slams though!

What technologies and format do you do most of your work and filming in?

Gary experiences have mainly been working with mini DV (Standard Definition), High Definition video and is currently working on some super8 projects with other companies. AGS is to be shot with HD, with a strong infrared scope and night vision modes … Its funny how ghosts seem to only ever appear at night?

Why's it so important to support Australian filmmakers?

The Australian film/television industry is probably the most accessible art format available to the general public. Currently with the influx of mainly American content, we feel the very fabric of our nation's culture is being bombarded with American mass culture. In recent years with cable television coming on board, and also the recent changes in cross-media ownership laws, it is just too easy to "fill the void" with cheap, pre-produced content and motion pictures. A vibrant Australian television and film industry reflects the confidence and general mood of the Australian people.

What's your motto?

Garry: "I'm not here for a long time; I'm here for a good time!"

Ric: "Everyone dies, but nobody is dead".

What do you do to relax?

We never relax… We are trying to make television! *laughs*


Editors note: This show has legs. I forsee it being on Australian television sooner rather than later.


Australian Ghost Stories