What was the 'ah-ha' moment that lead you to film-making?
I guess it was when I was 13 and my parents bought me a video camera with a porter pack. I think their idea was that I could “video” all the family events like weddings and parties for them. I kind of did that, but I then one day I started filming my Doberman Pinscher trying to have sex with my Mum’s cat. The poor dog was so eager to lose his virginity, while the cat couldn’t have been less interested. I then dubbed my voice over the footage playing both the dog and the cat. The end result was like a filthy hilarious live action version of Pepe Le Pew. I made a copy and showed it to the kids at school, who made copies etc. It eventually became one of those secret videos that people lend to each other at parties and pubs. A few years later my cousin in Adelaide told me about this hilarious video he’d seen with a Doberman and a Manx. I think that may have been the ‘ah-ha’ moment, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. I went to Drama school and studied to be an actor.
What can you tell us about your film and the overall production?
The initial idea for SIZZLER ’77 came from the two lead actors, Terry Yeboah and Alan King. We were working on another film of mine, where they both play cops on the case of capturing two homeless punk bandits who commit bizarre crimes. Their characters were minor in this film, but while we were shooting their scenes it became apparent that they had terrific chemistry together. They jokingly said that I should write a spin off movie for them. I wasn’t really sold on the idea of a cop buddy movie as there are millions of them, but I told them I would come up something and would call them for a reading in two months. I was having trouble at first, but when the light bulb went off and I decided to set the film in 1977, it all just came pouring out. We had a reading with the four principal cast members that summer. It sounded good, our enthusiasm was high so we all decided to pull in our resources and time to make it happen. I then spent a good twelve months refining the script, taking time in casting the roles and searching for authentic sets, props and costumes from the era. In the process I became addicted to Op Shops, Savers stores and trash and treasure markets. About 14 months after our initial reading, we had our first shoot. I would edit the film at nights, whilst shooting was going along during the day. Overall I think there was about 9 different days of shooting with several different locations.
What was your greatest blunder on set? What invaluable lesson did you take away from it?
There is a gang rape scene in the story. This particular scene required a large number of cast on location. The only time that everybody was available was between the hours of 10am to midday on a Sunday. It also happened to be Mother’s Day. I say this is a blunder because I just wished we had more time to shoot such an intense and emotionally charged scene. Sometimes when working with tight time constraints, it’s the little things that can be often forgotten. And little things can make a big difference.
What was your greatest triumph on set?
When you are working on a film and everybody on set is constantly smiling and laughing while still doing fine work, to me is a great triumph.
What can audiences expect from the film and how do you think they will react?
Expect to be taken back to Melbourne in 1977. It was a pretty exciting time to be alive apparently. Australia had not long had colour TV so everything was incredibly bright and dazzling. The world seemed to change in 1977. Donna Summer released “I Feel Love” which changed music forever; Lucas released “Star Wars” which sadly changed film forever. I did the best to my ability to recreate the era from the art direction to costume design to the visual style and to linguistics of the screenplay. So expect to have a nostalgic look back to a year when the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee and The King, Elvis Presley died. SIZZLER ’77 is primarily a black comedy, so I hope any audience relates to the humour and to the journey of all the characters.
Is this your first time at MUFF and what does the festival mean to you?
I think MUFF is an excellent celebration and platform for filmmakers and artists. I went to the Opening Night about two years ago and really enjoyed meeting and chatting with all different of filmmakers and actors. I think it’s healthy that a fraternity like this has an avenue to showcase their work to positive film buffs and audiences alike.
What's next for the film in terms of festivals and potential releases?
There are plans for a commercial release of SIZZLER ’77 in the short future.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline? Can you tell us a little about them?
My intention was that SIZZLER' 77 would be the final film project. I am getting tired. However, I ended up enjoying it so much that since then I have penned a second film, titled THROBBIN’ 84. If I can get the cast right, I would like to start shooting it for a release next summer. I have a number of feature film length screenplays sitting around. If I ever get the opportunity to work with the right people, they might happen.
SIZZLER '77 IS THE CLOSING FILM OF THE FESTIVAL AT HOWLER. SEPT 19 (9PM).
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