Malaysian-Australian filmmaker showcases his most ambitious project to date

Ambitious: Rod Manikam's new film Tainted Getaway, which took three years to complete and is also his biggest production in terms of budget.

It seems like Malaysian-born Perth resident Rodney “Rod” Manikam‘s love affair with films knows no boundaries.

The founder of production company Rodman Pictures will be showing his most recent production, Tainted Getaway, at The Backlot in West Perth following its red-carpet premiere at Luna Leederville.

Manikam is known for his work on previous independent films Wild Justice and Infected Paradise among others. Tainted Getaway is his sixth production as well as the most challenging and exciting one to date. It was born from an original script by Rocky Mangan in the summer of 2016.

Ambitious: Rod Manikam’s new film Tainted Getaway, which took three years to complete and is also his biggest production in terms of budget. (Picture from Tainted Getaway Facebook site)

Due to the nature of the story, Rodman Pictures needed to speak with a number of government agencies to get permission for on-location filming. Post-production also took a long time to complete. This meant Tainted Getaway took three years to complete while previous films generally took about a year. This film, like all others before it, was shot entirely in Western Australia. In fact, several landmarks of Perth feature prominently in Tainted Getaway.

Tainted Getaway is about Brock Bremer (Tyson Barry), an escaped convict seeking his share of the loot from a bank robbery years ago. At the same time, Alison Haven (Chloe Brown, Eleven Days) has just arrived in Perth from Russia for an ultimately unsuccessful job interview. Her day only gets worse when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her, and getting taken hostage by Brock seems to be the lowest point for her.

Brock has enemies who are out to stop him from getting near the loot and are not taking any prisoners in the process. Throw in a corrupt policeman (John McPherson) and the situation only gets messier. This loosely translates into lots of action as well as lots of bloodshed.

The cast is dominated by West Australians, with the only foreign face being that of Amanda Dow from Hollywood. Barry fits into the lead role very naturally despite not being the first choice. He has appeared in television commercials and short films but Tainted Getaway is his first feature. Brown had to put on a Slavonic accent for her role in this film and it appears she has done rather well. There is also chemistry between the two leads, and Alison’s subsequent bond with Brock leaves the audience thinking of Stockholm Syndrome. McPherson’s characterisation of the bent cop Andrews generates as much revulsion as Tristan Balz‘s character in Black Ghost. This film also features veteran thespian Ron Arthurs (Eleven Days, Black Ghost) as the commander of the special task force responsible for capturing Brock.

Manikam has certainly come a long way with Tainted Getaway. He may be a qualified graphic designer and chef but films have always been a passion of his. In fact, he auditioned for and landed a minor role on Keys to Freedom starring Jane Seymour when he was just 18. It was filmed in his hometown of Penang.

Fast forward 20 years. Manikam had by then migrated to Australia, settling down in Perth. His love for acting led him into producing films. Through various interactions with the locals, Manikam realised that there were many creative talents in Western Australia who were without a platform to strut their stuff. Subsequently, Rodman Pictures was founded. Manikam invested a lot of money into the company despite not having a clear vision for it.

His gamble appears to have paid off. Rodman’s productions are distributed in Southeast Asia and Manikam has been given official recognition from the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities in the form of royal titles. Thus, he feels stoked that his contribution to Asian cinema has gained so much positive attention. Rodman mainly focuses on thriller, horror and action genres but it is also looking at drama and comedy production at some point in the future. “I have a good team behind me, and we will be up there eventually,” Manikam proudly says.

Right now, Manikam is firmly staying put in Perth, with no plans to move to another country, let alone interstate. He emphasises that Rodman Pictures was created to give Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts graduates a chance to showcase their talent. In the long run, his hope is that Rodman will churn out commercial films rather than target the festival circuit. That being said, Infected Paradise was nominated the best feature at the West Australian Screen Awards in 2014.