Spectacular Sunsets and Wheat Fields Landed James Pratt In Hollywood
James Pratt, award-winning actor, director, and filmmaker, found his love for making movies in the most unexpected of places: the Australian Outback.
Pratt performed in the occasional play, but as was common in Australia for high school, the main emphasis for James was on surfing and sport. After completing his required education, he studied film acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Kensington. Notable alumni include Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, and Cate Blanchett.
Upon finishing, Pratt took a year off from acting and lived in a small town in the Australian Outback at the suggestion of his parents. “It was the furthest thing you could imagine from where I’d grown up.” He tells me in our recent interview, “My parents thought it would be good for me to get some life experience, which kinda seemed like a punishment. I saw floods, draughts, dust storms, all in the same year. But, it helped me grow.”
Even in the tragedy and turmoil, Pratt tells me what he remembers most vividly were the beautiful sights he was able to experience. “I remember days when I was driving home and would see 10,000-acre wheat fields, with swaying grass and the sunset. Imagery that I wouldn’t have seen at home, had I not decided to live there.”
Inspired by the views of the outback, Pratt decided he would make a short film right before he left. “I found someone who lent me her camera for $100.” Pratt remembers, laughing. With extremely limited resources and a budget of $200, he called on a few favors, but mostly created the entire film on his own; writing, directing, acting, shooting, editing, and producing. The wheat fields and the setting sun that he had seen so many times on his ride home became the art direction of the film.
The final product, titled New York Model Agent, was a finalist for the NBC Universal Shorts Fest in San Francisco. NBC asked Pratt for a feature-film script of the short. “I didn’t have a feature-film length script at the time, but they asked me for one, and I said ‘Sure, I have one.’ Then, I spent the next ten days before our meeting writing.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Pratt’s most recent endeavour, the feature film Malibu Crush, was in a bidding war for distribution at the end of 2021, with Cardinal XD winning the rights to be the main distributor in 2022.
Malibu Crush follows the hilarious story of two best friends on a quest to declare their love for an ex-girlfriend by pretending to be highly acclaimed film school students.
“Some people need the escape more than others, and that’s why we make art,” James tells me, “and I really understood that when I was living in the outback. Making films and TV isn’t always about making it for yourself, but making it for someone else who needs to feel a part of the world away from their own. With Malibu Crush, if I can make one person feel better and laugh, then it’s all a success.”
Next up for James is the feature film Skyline Mist (2022 ) in which he is slated to play the lead role of Detective Dylan Connolly and then the comedy feature, Bank Shot ( 2022 ) in which he plays the character, Drake Marshall.