Everett DeRoche is the first cab off the ranks in a series of Brain-Picks. My reason for choosing Everett first is simple; he wrote so many of my favourite films. His work was a big part of my childhood and influenced a lot of my own writing endeavours. An American, he moved to Australia in his early 20s and has lived here ever since. He made his mark during the late 70s and 80s at a time which is now referred to as the era of Ozploitation. His film credits include Long Weekend, Road Games and my personal favourite, Frog Dreaming and as you will see from the posters below these are but a few of an impressive catalogue. He has also written extensively for television on programs such as: Homicide, Bluey, Police Rescue, Ship To Shore, Fire, Stingers and Cyber Girl amongst others. Boasting one of the most consistent and impressive bodies of work in Australian cinema, Everett has kept his finger firmly on the pulse. The past few years have seen several of his scripts come to life in bold and confronting ways with Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) directing the twisted slasher Storm Warning and the remake of Long Weekend. Now 35 years after his first film (Patrick) shocked audiences an all new re-imaging of that film is upon us. An absolute gentleman and an insanely brilliant storyteller, Everett DeRoche is without parallel.
I was incredibly lucky recently to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
What was your favourite film or television show as a child?
Twilight Zone, Hitchcock' Half Hour.
What type of job/s (if any) did you have before coming to Australia?
I was straight out of uni with little job experience.
You moved to Australia in the late 1960s. What brought you to these shores?
I came to (1) surf, (2) to escape the Southern California rat race and (3) to find wider opportunities.
How did you become a writer?
I'd wanted to be a writer from the age of 10 when I discovered Twain, Stephenson and Poe. My first job in Oz was as editor of a weekly newspaper in Brisbane. Shit work, but at last I could call myself a writer. My real writing career began with Crawford Productions in 1970.
How has the Australian lifestyle influenced your writing?
In Oz we have a "fuck you clause" that isn't available to Hollywood writers. If worse comes to worst, Oz writers can always retreat to NEIGHBOURS to make a living, whereas LA writers have no bottom line - you're either a writer or a waiter/ I think this advantage gives Oz writers more boldness.
What is your favourite film?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
Oliver Stone believes there is a difference between a film and a movie. Do you agree?
Yes, I agree, although the difference is hard to define, and many pictures cross over between the two.
Which film in history do you wish you had written?
Again, MOCKINGBIRD - so elegantly written. I dig it out and rewatch it at least once a year.
Your work, for the most part, is genre based. How important is horror fiction to our society?
I have no deep thoughts on this, I simply set out to scare my kids, who loved horror movies. I much prefer classic horror - Gothic Horror - as opposed to slasher films, although STORM WARNING was a slasher film.
You have also written for television. How does this compare to film?
Writing kids' shows like SHIP TO SHORE was great fun and even creatively satisfying. Less satisfying were the police shows and medical shows, which became progressively corporatised and not much fun. An exception was CHANCES, which was a hoot to work on.
Of the films you have written, which is the most personal?
FROG DREAMING, because I was one of the producers and thereby had a say in the production.
Which of your films was the biggest disappointment to you personally and why?
VISITORS was hugely disappointing. The remake of LONG WEEKEND hardly even made it to DVD. Most of my movies have been a disappointment to me.
Of all the directors, who has connected with your style the most?
I'd have to say Richard Franklin, although we fought like dogs. I loved his energy and knowledge.
How did you get Henry Thomas involved with Frog Dreaming?
Barbi Taylor had recently worked with Henry.
I would like to ask you about Link. Directed by Richard Franklin, this is one of my personal favourites and I think that it’s underrated. How do you feel about the movie?
Nobody knew at the time whether the apes would come across as frightening or comical. Happily, they were both. I'll never forget working in London and having the famous Jerry Goldsmith living in the flat below mine, sitting at his piano and scoring for my movie!
Several of your films have been remade recently. How involved have you been with these?
Total involvement in LONG WEEKEND, zero involvement in PATRICK.
How do you feel about the current state of Aussie cinema and have we lost touch with genre film making?
The industry would appear to be in relatively good shape.
Of the new blood rising up in Aussie cinema, has your radar picked up on anyone particular?
Only my daughter Summer ;)
If you were to be remembered for just one film, which would it be?
The ones that haven't been made yet, LOCUSTS & WILD HONEY and IN EXTREMIS.
Everett, thanks for your time and thanks for the incredible body of work!