Angelo Salamanca
Australian Cinema Ensemble



Zyco Rock

2008, 88 mins, drama, HDV     IMDb page   

Director:  Angelo Salamanca  
Producer: Ian Handasyde
Writer:  Ian Handasyde
Director of Photography:  Anders Olson
Editor: John Umina

Cast: Alicia Bonaddio - Tim Parry - Elise Roncari - Natasha Milazzo -
Terry Norris - Tilia O'Donnell-Barber - James Bodin - Daniel Werner -
Laura Linossier - Lucy Hawkins

Kent International Film Festival, Connecticut USA, Seattle True and Independent Film Festival, USA, and Sled Island Festival in Alberta, Canada.


Zyco Rock is a futuristic teenage drama exploring music and drug culture as sanctioned by the government and schools of the day.            

When young JEN decides to rebel against the prevailing "Zyco Rave" culture and what it stands for, she befriends an enigmatic, old-style Rock aficionado, TOM and his ebullient automaton, FLICK.          

As Jen becomes acquainted with the music of distant past, she grows to appreciate a culture which she considers to be more vibrant and genuine.           

Enlisting Tom’s help and that of her close friends, KAT and LORRIE, Jen enters a school talent quest. Her mission: to open her audience’s eyes to a very different sensation, through the kinetic energy of Rock and Roll.          

Meanwhile, fearing a fall from grace, the all-powerful MIRO, the Zyco school-yard “Queen”, backed by her cronies, DEZZIE and FLAPPY, attempt sabotage on Jen’s growing popularity.          

But when Jen is alerted to Miro’s scheme, she equips herself with even more grit and determination. Jen is hell-bent on championing the qualities of non-conformism and win the day.

Director's Notes


When I was approached with the project, I was immediately drawn to its futuristic setting and its key themes: the relationship between the State and its young citizens; the relationship between spiritless music with versus music that comes from the heart; the dialectic of non-conformism versus conformism in youth drug culture.

I believed my aim as director was to tell this poignant, issues-based story as effectively and compellingly as possible. I was keen to make a film which would be sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous, occasionally bleak - but always engaging.

As film maker and lover of film, I’m excited by incisive character observation and lyrical imagery. In “Zyco Rock”, I wanted to convincingly depict multi-faceted characters - Jen, Tom, Flick and Miro - with very human feelings and traits namely: love, longing, sadness, outrage, deceitfulness, contrition.


My cinematographer and I went with a combination of shooting styles. Most scenes comprised of a meticulously composed frame. Some scenes we felt, would be best served by an extemporaneous approach with a jerky handheld camera.

I paid special attention to space and distance between characters with a view to ensuring that gestures and body-language could convey much of what isn’t spoken in the script. For instance, the relationship the mute android, Flick, has with the human characters, demanded diligent choreography. Budget constraints didn’t allow for animatronics or complex CGI so we chose to use an actor.


Even though the film’s futuristic look lent itself to stylization, I insisted on “naturalistic” performances from the actors. The intensive rehearsal period was fruitful. It facilitated valuable character development through work-shopping and improvisation.

I was keen for the young, relatively inexperienced actors (experienced actors were used in adult roles) brought a wonderful raw, vibrant quality to their characters.

It’s clear that actors can only live their role only when they’ve found the heart, and the essence of the character. I respect the actors’ input in the rehearsal process and was never precious about changes made to the script in order to improve it.

The music was always going to be crucial in assisting the story’s volatile characters to display their emotional landscape; secondly it was an essential tool when heightening the contrast between the futuristic urban milieu, and the world of the clandestine non-conformists.

Shooting a film with a large cast and many extras on a tight budget in 21 days meant that serious planning would be required. My producer was able to overcome many logistical problems and ensure that scenes were not dropped and the shot-list adhered to.

In summary, directing “Zyco Rock” was a challenging and ultimately rewarding experience.