12 November 2023

Wombarra's Tahlia Crinis lands eerie role in Willa, on track to become most funded Stephen King short film

| Dione David
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Headshot of Tahlia Crinis

Wombarra actress Tahlia Crinis has been cast in a short film adaptation of Willa. Photo: Rebecca Hitch Photography.

A local woman has been cast in a film that’s on track to become the most funded Stephen King short film on record.

Wombarra actress Tahlia Crinis joins rehearsals for Willa in January next year, with filming scheduled to take place in May.

The story has been adapted by award-winning Sydney writer/director Warren Duncan thanks to support from The Dollar Baby Program and Kickstarter crowdfunding to the tune of more than $40,000 for production.

The Dollar Baby Program makes many Stephen King short stories available for filmmakers to adapt, but not for commercial purposes. As such, additional funding will go towards better production, increased pay for cast and crew and more film festival entries.

“The director is doing this for the love,” Crinis says.

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The Illawarra born-and-bred actress first caught the acting bug in drama class at Bulli High School.

“I loved it. But of course, everyone tells you that you have to have a ‘real career’,” she says.

She went on to study marketing and public relations and now has her own PR business. But the bug was ever-present, so she completed an acting course at Screenwise and has been moonlighting ever since.

She has taken on theatre productions, short films, commercials and a skit for ABC’s Gruen. Her extras portfolio includes appearances in Fall Guy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, George Millar’s Three Thousand Years of Longing, and Pieces of Her starring Toni Collette.

More recently she had a small role in Stan’s upcoming TV series Prosper and local director Sharon Lewis’ short film Frances. She also acted in local writer/director Brendan Bate’s theatre production of The Colours in the Flames, which won the People’s Choice Award at Short & Sweet Illawarra.

But the role of Georgia in Willa will give her something to sink her teeth into.

“I love Stephen King, and I haven’t had much opportunity to work in horror and thriller genres, which are both genres I enjoy,” she says.

“I love mixing drama with horror and creating that sense of eeriness. As an actor you have to work out how to allude to something with your delivery and have the audience question what’s happening beyond what you’re actually saying on script.

“You have to keep them enthralled throughout the journey.”

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A captivating thriller, Willa follows the story of David, who wakes up on a train platform unable to find his fiance Willa. Ignoring warnings from the other passengers (including Georgia) not to go looking for her, he embarks on a journey that will leave the audience questioning reality to the very end.

Per The Dollar Baby Program, this production of Willa will not be available for general consumption via mainstream avenues, but Kickstarter backers will have the opportunity to view it.

Currently it’s in second place and slowly gaining on its goal of becoming the most funded Stephen King short film.

The campaign will also need to more than double its backer base to exceed 350 backers and break the record as the most-backed Stephen King short film on any crowdfunding platform ever – a title currently held by Duncan’s previous Stephen King short film All That You Love.

If you’d like to help them with these lofty but achievable goals, become a Kickstarter backer here.

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