Making Sweet Country, his critically acclaimed Australian Western, Warwick Thornton went in without any preconceptions, wishing to find an organic and unique take on the genre that might fly in the face of what people might expect.

“You try and reinvent yourself as a director every time you read a script,” Thornton said, appearing yesterday at Deadline’s Sundance Studio. “The worst thing you can do as a director is to try and impose your ideals on a film, or the way you direct.”

Set on the Northern Territory frontier in the 1920s, the film follows an aged Aboriginal farmhand (Hamilton Morris) who shoots a white man in self defense, going on the run to avoid being hunted down. Winning the Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted Platform Prize, and touring several times around the world with Sweet Country on the festival circuit, Thornton is one of Australia’s essential voices, an indigenous filmmaker who brought on Aboriginal writers Steven McGregor and David Tranter to pen his script.

Thinking about the classics of the Western genre, Thornton was more inspired by Italian Westerns, films that were less cut and dry in their moral coding and “a lot naughtier than maybe the classic American Westerns.”

To view Deadline’s conversation with Thornton, take a look at the video above.

The Deadline Studio at Sundance 2018 is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.