Perth director Mat de Koning makes WA premiere of Meal Tickets at Rev Fest


Director Mat de Koning. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Director Mat de Koning. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

MOST people have seconds of Snapchat or Facebook clips of their mates, but Mat de Koning racked up about 700 hours of footage of his closest friends throughout 10 years.

The filmmaker followed his Kalamunda Senior High School mates and Screwtop Detonators band members Mitch Long, Lee French, Charlie Austen and Ben Ward with his camera from 2005 when they embarked on their first American east coast tour and subsequent years.

De Koning saw it as an opportunity to get a tour documentary on his CV, but twists and revelations between the circle of friends throughout the next several years broadened the scope.

The band’s roadie Will Stoker, from North Perth, bailed mid-tour then found success with his own band, while the Screwtop Detonators struggled to put together an album and find a wider audience outside of pub gigs on both sides of Australia.

The 93-minute Meal Tickets, which has screened at Sydney and Melbourne film festivals, has its WA premiere as part of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival.

“It was all very fun and innocent at first but then it was like filming the loss of our innocence,” de Koning said.

“When we hit our mid-20s, things got serious and continuing to film was more of a burden.

“The split from manager Dave Kavanagh was confronting.”

De Koning, who cites Clerks director Kevin Smith’s “DIY approach” to filmmaking as an inspiration, always wanted to be behind the camera.

“I made my mind up when I was 15 years old,” he said.

“At 14 I was filming skateboarding and in Year 10 I was signed up for art classes; I was dead set on it and thought it was a great opportunity (to film the band) with Dave on the scene.”

While the documentary is finding success with critics and audiences on the festival circuit, it has come at a cost for de Koning.

“I keep in contact with all of them except Mitch; we had a falling out,” he said.

“That was over business and it is tragic, but that happens sometimes when you go into business with friends.”

Meal Tickets screens on July 8 and 18 as part of the festival.

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