Interview: Joseph Sims-Dennett

Joseph Sims-Dennett (Director, Writer, Producer) was born in Oxford, England with a pathological film obsession. In 2009 Sims-Dennett established Sterling Cinema and produced his debut feature film Bad Behaviour in Queensland which went on to win numerous awards on the international film festival circuit including Best Director and Best Screenwriter at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival 2010.

Following the success of Bad Behaviour, Sims-Dennett relocated to Sydney where he forged a creative partnership with Josh Zammit. Together they wrote and produced their first collaborative feature Observance, which premiered at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival and screened out of competition at the 59th BFI London Film Festival. It is to be released in April 2016.

This interview is part of a series where we ask creative people about their influences.


TRM: What were your favourite texts growing up?

JSD: Probably Lord of the Flies by William Golding, mainly because they made everyone read it at school, but also because it’s quite fantastic. There’s so many great things about the text, the passive tone, the theme of power and how it’s perceived by society, that feeling of excitement as everything breaks down and the characters are revealed. The microcosmic storytelling cut through at such a young age. It addressed a very real fear inside of me and the society that I live in, as well as inspired much of my work in film, in particular Observance and a project I’ve been developing over the years called Cry of the Hunters.


What texts do you keep coming back to and why?

JG Ballard the most, especially Super Cannes. Then probably Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged which is the most terrifying thing ever.


Are there texts that relate to your life?

Again, JG Ballard, but his book High-Rise. I live in a high rise building looking out on dozens of other high rise buildings, a completely man made horizon. All these people living in air conditioned comfort on top each other, completely unaware of each other. It really does bring about a strange sort of existential crisis.


Are there any artists and texts that influence you creatively?

Everything I see, read and hear influences me in some way, but I guess key people would again be JG Ballard, journalist and filmmaker Adam Curtis, novelists Michael Faber and Cormac McCarthy.


Are there any quotes or other words of wisdom you find helpful for your practice?

‘Human beings will always betray you’ – The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (documentary by Adam Curtis)


What is a text that every developing artist should read/watch/listen to?

High-Rise by JG Ballard


For more information about Observance, you can visit the website or Facebook page.


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