Not merely existing, but really living.
Childhood friends and co-founders of Soup du Jour Productions, Dominic Billings, 31, and Vincent Moloney, 32, ask this relatively daunting question in the most humorous manner with their first feature-length film ‘200 Grams’.
Debuting at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with two sold-out shows, ‘200 Grams’ is a sure sign of great things to come from the dynamo duo.
Featuring English subtitles, the Italian-language comedy explores the friendship - and rivalry - of Rada Galovic (Robert Breda) and Vesna Vajina (Dominic Billings), two nonnas living in suburban Melbourne whose worlds revolve largely around salami and fig desserts.
“When people hear that ‘200 Grams’ is about two nonnas played by men, it’s easy to assume that it’s a pretty silly film,” Billings said.
“But what drives the film is that they’re both widows who aren’t really living life to the fullest, and the protagonist [Rada] laments a misspent youth.”
Best friends since they were six years old, Billings and Moloney have always shared a passion for film, and were destined for cinematic stardom from the beginning.
“We’ve lived almost parallel lives,” Billings explained.
“We went to primary and secondary school together and always played in the same sports teams, so I think we’ve always had pretty similar interests.”
The pair’s dream of bringing their imagination to the screen became a reality when, in 2007, they got involved with SYN Media, a Carlton-based youth media organisation that provides broadcasting and training opportunities for young Australians.
Billings describes his time at SYN as “voluntary training” in a range of areas from radio broadcasting to TV production, and a valuable experience which has allowed him to pursue his passion and “encyclopaedic appetite” for film on a professional level.
“The network of friends that I accumulated during my time there made stepping into film less daunting and almost inevitable,” he said.
Billings and Moloney had just finished their second TV series, when the latter made a passing comment about making a feature-length film.
When they reached their mid-20s, the lifelong friends found themselves living in Fitzroy North, a bustling suburb where young hipsters rub shoulders with elderly post-war migrants from the Mediterranean.
“We took a lot of delight from the small things,” Billings recalled.
“Vince remarked one time over a coffee how much he enjoyed hearing the Italian nonnas who live around that area ordering 200 grams of something at the local deli.”
Before they knew it, a plotline was born.
While Billings has no Italian heritage or prior knowledge of the language, his co-star, Robert Breda, found that his grandparents’ Italian origins helped him tackle the script "like a natural".
Despite overcoming the tiny obstacle of the film being in another language, both Billings and Breda step into their roles fully, and offer an honest insight into the ageing migrant population in Melbourne’s suburbs.
Moreover, they manage to make people stop and reflect on their own lives, realising that they too will eventually grow old, and that every day should be one to remember.
‘200 Grams’ will be screening on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at Cinema Nova, Carlton. For more information, visit www.200grams.com.au