From Deep Storage Into Daylight

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Susan Earl grew up in New Zealand and started life as a school teacher, moving to Melbourne, Australia to go to film school. Deep Storage was her first fully funded film, with a professional producer and crew.

Deep Storage is very original in so many ways. How did you come up with the story, and the script?

I find that hard to answer because it isn’t one thing. I think I started with two main ideas: that someone could live in their storage unit. (Which isn’t so far-fetched really. Once in my twenties, I put my things in storage and thought hmmm, my mattress would fit here perfectly, I could live here. I didn’t, but I considered it momentarily.)
And secondly, I’m fascinated with the way people who stammer can often sing well, because it uses a different part of their brain. So they were the two things I started with which informed the main character Gus. Lastly, I enjoy a little magical realism, which I often have in my film ideas. I like the idea of a world that is more than meets the eye.

The two main characters feel very authentic. Were they based on people you know?

I think they are an amalgam of people I know, not particular people. I didn't have actors in mind but felt very fortunate (and relief) when the two actors, Miles O’Neil and Alice Ansara, came into the casting room. My heart sang because I knew I'd found Gus and then Alice. It's amazing how once an actor starts to embody the character, they bring a new other dimension to them, beyond what was in one’s head and on the page, and it is always for the better.

Has stuttering been a challenge for you personally?

When I was younger I did at times (I still do a little sometimes; nothing like Gus though) and my older brother stutters a bit and manages it well. Talking is such a fundamental communication tool and if it is impaired this comes at a great cost but singing is a way to overcome this—I find this idea very moving. I just loved the rawness of Gus’s disability being so apparent but Sylvia can see through it and ‘see’ him.

What was production like?

We spent a lot of time inside those storage facility corridors! The challenge in the first few days was to remember how to get ourselves from A to B because everything looked the same! The cameraman, art dept. and crew were wonderful because we had to use two separate units to show Gus’s unit, separated by quite a distance; one for when looking into it and the other for when looking out of it. This meant a lot of smart continuity care.

One day a young woman came up to us when we were in the middle of shooting and asked about the story. When we told her, she laughed; she was from Hong Kong and she said people really do live in their storage units in Hong Kong!

Read the complete interview on our blog.
See more of Susan’s work at