SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
June 15, 2020

Hard Rubbish: When reality meets young identity

Set in Adelaide 2003, short film ‘Hard Rubbish’, by Adelaide-raised director Stephen Packer, shows there is no softer armour than young bravado.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Supplied

“You learn a lot about yourself when you get hit in the face,” Stephen Packer, director of Australian short film Hard Rubbish, explains over email.

“We were snot-nosed kids just itching for a beating to be honest.”

The happenings in Hard Rubbish are inspired by true events. The film follows a gang of young mates on a vandalism spree on the grounds of a private girls school. After a run in with an older and much meaner gang, the would-be hoodlums decide the best course of action is to call the police on their muggers – a decision that probably made sense at two in the morning and after a knock to the head.


Hard Rubbish can be streamed on Omeleto now.

The film has been around for a little while; it premiered at Vancouver International Film Festival in 2018, before screening in LA and then St Kilda. This weekend saw its launch on digital streaming platform Omeleto, making the work, which Stephen says “very much bleeds SA,” available to Adelaide audiences for the first time.

“Ultimately Hard Rubbish is a film about image, and the lengths we go to construct it,” Stephen says.

“I think we all tend to romanticise our youth a little, but the key was to try and nail the right balance of over-confidence and insecurity felt by most teenagers.”

Stephen got his start in the film industry by working as an assistant to director Jennifer Kent on her horror flick The Babadook, and he also worked on her following film, the acclaimed Australian Western The Nightingale.

He tells CityMag he’s keen to sink his teeth into his next project: a short film titled Sick Day, about a boy stuck at home unwell who stumbles upon his dad’s porn stash.

As an active member of the film industry, CityMag asks Stephen for some tips for people looking to get into the industry.

He says the best thing to do is to just create – even if it’s only with the tools you have at hand.

“Hell, you can make a compelling narrative on an Instagram story,” he says.

It’s also important to understand that to pull off some big artistic projects, you’ll need to do some commercial work. It’s about balance, Stephen says.

As for doing the work, set achievable goals and get a friend to hold you to them.

“Find a way to kick your own ass into gear to achieve them,” he says.

“If you have an idea for a film you want to make, mark a completion date in the calendar and find someone to keep you accountable to that.”

See the trailer for Hard Rubbish below, and watch the full short film here.

Share —