LUKE J. MORGAN Star of locally produced film The Xrossing

The Xrossing
is an upcoming Australian feature film written and directed by Steven J Mihaljevich and co-written by Carl Maiorana. Locally produced in Western Australia, this Australian gothic is due for release later this year. The film centres on the murder of a young Swan View girl, and delves into the resulting revenge cycle, and the ignorance it fuels. JOSHUA HALL HAINES got in touch with Luke J. Morgan, one of the lead actors to discuss the feature, his time filming in Perth, and what the future may hold.

Luke J. Morgan moved up to Perth, Western Australia from Albany after high school, where he studied Film & Television at Edith Cowan University. After taking a few acting classes, he landed roles in the short film Residue and the feature film The Xrossing. Shortly after production completed, Luke went on to study Screen Performance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

He had a love for performance from an early age, and led to creating small skits and short films. “Making people laugh is the best, and I really honed my craft here, writing and acting in short sketches,” he says.

What drew you to the script for The Xrossing?

Initially I was drawn to the character Chris who I played in the film. He is a young man torn between where he is and where he wants to go in life. The idea of this struggle is something I could relate to as I think all young adults can. Going through that transitional period of life after high school can be conflicting and challenging. Then, reading the script, this theme is explored further across all the characters with their own internal struggles of where they belong, their identities and the choices they make that will define them.

What can you tell us about The Xrossing? What can audiences expect?

The audience can expect a tense and thrilling experience that will have you at the edge of your seat the whole time. This film has it all; coming of age, romance, mystery, crime and injustice, you name it. Shot in the Perth Hills, it follows three boys and others during the time after a murder of a young girl in the local suburbs.

Like I said, the internal struggles of all the characters is something that keeps you invested in the story. You want to know what happens next and how characters will react, and I think that’s good writing. It was a great script. However, there are some fantastic performances from the entire cast which really elevates an already gripping story.

Were there any obstacles during production that tested your abilities?

I think like any film production nothing ever goes completely to plan. But that’s filmmaking. Having to adapt, reassess and solve problems is the reason I enjoy this so much. Being my first feature film, my endurance was definitely tested. Shooting for a long period of time and creating consistency of character was a great challenge after doing so much short content.

What were the major highlights for you, as an actor, working on The Xrossing?

I was lucky enough to have scenes with almost everyone in the film. Personally, I love learning from other people. Watching and working with actors with all different levels of experience and ages made it an insightful experience. The younger cast such as Jacob and Jamie who play my friends, brought so much mischief and banter which made it enjoyable and that bleeds into the film, I think. Georgia, who plays Chris’ love interest brings a soft and subtle vulnerability which is fantastic to work against.

Kelton, who I had the pleasure of working with a lot, is such a hilarious and loving guy but that’s gone when the cameras are rolling, and he brings so much depth and intensity to his role. So, having to adapt and to be challenged with different actors made it such a learning experience and something that only strengthened my craft.

What was it like collaborating with the creative team of The Xrossing?

The crew were such a pleasure to work with. Steve Mihaljevich, our director, had a strong vision and he was the glue that held everything together, like a good director should. He wrote and starred in it too, so the stakes were very high for him. If he had anything to say I think it would be “it’s deadly” [laughs]. It was sort of his catch phrase on set.

Shane Piggot, our cinematographer shot some amazing pictures. Working with mostly daylight he was able to create some stunning work. The same goes to the entire crew, everyone was there to make something we all loved and believed in and that kind of atmosphere is addictive and makes you want to be there. Shane’s catch phrase probably shouldn’t be written…

What was the experience like coming from Residue, to The Xrossing, so early in your career?

Honestly, I was just happy to be getting consistent work. I felt like I was on a nice wave of momentum which is always great. I was constantly being challenged and offered new things, so it kept me focused and dedicated to where I want to be in my career. I am so thankful for both of these projects; they really gave me the confidence to call myself an actor and continue to pursue this wild dream.

What do you like most about filmmaking in Western Australia?

I think we are hungry out here, when we have a project, we really sink our teeth into it. Not to discredit anywhere else but the industry in Western Australia is pretty small. However, it’s exciting to see such brilliant filmmaking, acting, and creativity just waiting to be discovered in Western Australia. I honestly think it’s only getting better and some of the filmmakers and actors who have had success out of Perth recently, is evidence of this.

Also, how can I not mention the landscape. Whenever anyone mentions filmmaking in Western Australia they are like, “How about that landscape… Phwoar”. It’s true though, we have a treasure trove of locations and stories.

What advice, or insights, would you give emerging actors?

This is a tough one, as I don’t feel qualified to answer it. From my perspective I would suggest making content. Whether that’s for the internet or your own films and shorts. Grab a camera and some mates and just make stuff. I think Dave Grohl once said, “Nirvana was just a bunch of guys sucking in their garage”. My early skits and videos probably sucked but there was passion, creativity, and a drive to learn and make them better. Without those I wouldn’t be here. So, write, shoot, act, and edit! It’s all learning, and you never know who might see it.

What’s next for you in the time of COVID?

It’s just another big “no” and a hurdle. Something that will be consistent in this industry. But if you want something bad enough you won’t let anything stop you from achieving it. I just want to tell great stories and continue to do projects that challenge me and collaborate with people who feel the same way. I just love making movies. That’s probably my catch phrase, but I definitely stole that.

I think having a goal and consistently chipping away at it, things naturally come your way and it works out eventually. Looking back, you can see the dots connecting, but I was always just passionate about exploring the craft and trying to improve myself and tell good stories.

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