We were due to start shooting at 8:00am. Legendary actor Bill Hunter, Billy to his mates, looked at me with one eye open, the other squinting and with a wry smile made it clear he wouldn’t be moving until I relaxed, sat with him and had a beer or two. He hadn’t said a word. His was a face that told a story.

This bloke didn't need fancy gizmos to tell a ripper yarn

Four other well known Aussie actors were there too. We were shooting a self-funded pilot for a TV series (that was rejected by the networks). For once I didn’t babble. I watched and listened and learned. I can’t say I knew Bill Hunter, but I was pleased to my core as we sat back and opened a second beer before shooting, that I shared a few golden moments with a man who knew how to tell a story.

Bill Hunter had a knack of picking the right Aussie films to be in. He knew what a good story was. So many Australian feature films are a flop nowadays because we lack the ability to tell a good story on-screen. For all the modern gadgets, the hand-held video cameras, the hard-drives; the instant play-back generation simply doesn’t know how to tell a story on-screen anymore.

On the commuter train last week I was listening to senior school boys talking about their school project. They were all shooting videos. I had hoped years ago that the craft of telling stories on screen would flourish with the gadgets that have spread like plague.

Even Trop-Fest finalists, despite being in the world’s biggest short film festival, the works are missing the clever-ness they once had.

Perhaps back when we had to shoot experimental films on Super 8 on a 3 minute film roll, that was sent to the city for processing, then had to borrow a friends projector to play it back…perhaps that gave us a discipline to plan shots, calculate every move, every line; because in those days nothing could be wasted. Film was costly and tempestuous.

The reason feature films are nicknamed the “silver screen” is due to the chemical reactions of the silver halides, the film emulsion - a sensitive beast. If you didn’t handle your film-roll correctly she simply would turn out wrong.

The Australian film industry and its off-shoots in many respects have been taken over by what I like to call the ‘Bondi-cafe-latte-set’. The people who are so fast to tell you about the ‘amaaaazing’ film project they’re working on; and how one of the choreographers on Moulin Rouge is such a good friend they’re choreographing their bridal waltz.

These are the people who literally make a living from grants handed out by Screen Australia. You’ll see many of them loudly leaving Sydney now that the Writers Festival has wrapped up. Yet for all the noise, there’s hardly a decent script between them. Sure, plenty of scripts have a great premise but it doesn’t mean it’s a great story on-screen.

So many Australian films start off well, but simply don’t have a third act. The three act structure worked well for Shakespeare and a gazillion American films, but for some reason we still rarely get it right here.

The big problem with telling stories on the Australian screen is we don’t value script editors and good writers in this country. There are probably less than five serious successful script editors in Australia.

The other decent Australian script editors are working overseas. There’s an industry joke about the actor who was so dumb he wanted to sleep his way to the top but slept with the writer. If we had a screen writer’s strike in this country it wouldn’t stop production, and nobody would care.

Australian audiences loved Bill Hunter because he was like them. He saw through the bull. He took time to observe and understand people. He shunned the red carpet brigade. He told a good story.

A colleague of mine often quotes great Australian film maker George Miller who said “If we don’t promote the idea that writers are sexy, we face a purgatory of underwritten sludge.”

The passing of a legend like Bill Hunter, on the very weekend that the world was supposed to end, makes this quote all the more salient.

We should take stock of the importance of creating great stories for our actors and not simply rely on modern technology to fill gaps when our talents lacks.

Most commented

78 comments

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    • Alex says:

      07:22am | 25/05/11

      Let’s see what you’ve given the Australian Film and Television Industry:

      20 to 1
      Jamies Journey
      Backyard Blitz specials
      60 minutes
      Big Questions
      Changing Rooms
      Good Medicine
      Our House
      Auction Squad
      Room for Improvement
      Summer Specials
      Groundforce

      Each one a modern-day classic.

    • Simon J. Green says:

      11:19am | 25/05/11

      SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!

      Order of snap, table 3.

      Snappy Gilmore, ladies and gentlemen.

    • dancan says:

      01:20pm | 25/05/11

      Oh Alex.  In my gloomy day today, you’ve just become my ray of sunshine.

    • Bette Middler says:

      05:50pm | 25/05/11

      Did you ever know that you’re my heeeeeeerooooo…

    • acotrel says:

      03:14am | 26/05/11

      It’s easy to be criticalk of Australian movies, but I often wonder who writes scripts for that garbage about middle America?  Then along comes a movie like ‘World’s Fastest Indian’ with an interesting story line, and proves that the US film industry can still find decent script writers?

    • Helen Parker says:

      12:47pm | 20/09/11

      Hi thanks for the comment. After 10 years in news and public affairs, docos I was quite happy to move to light ents that you’ve listed.  The respect that Australian crews are given, and I’ve experienced from our counterparts in the US and UK is because people in the business know all these shows take discipline, structure, logistics. If you add up the viewers for those series I produced that’s 110 million viewers over those years. The lighter shows were often large productions and taught me more than some of the more highbrow series I’ve worked on.Thanks for your feedback though.

    • Aidan says:

      07:49am | 25/05/11

      And the winner, by knock-out…..ALEX!!!!!

    • 2-sided coin says:

      07:50am | 25/05/11

      Ahhh the duality of yartz funding.

      With it, you get professional fund chasers whose best work is done in the ‘convincing the approval panel to fund me’ stage.

      Without it, there’s the real risk of local product being ignored in favour of cheaper offshore stuff. Without the immense market of Hollyweird, you do need some sort of vehicle for local talent to get a kick start.

      And… We sometimes get Shine, or Wolf Creek, The Castle, Kenny, Lake Mungo, Animal Kingdom… Do they make us forgive the occasional Kings of Mykonos?
      Remember also in the US - for every Avatar or How to Train Your Dragon, there’s 2 or 3 Last Airbenders and Sex & City hash ups.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:51am | 25/05/11

      I think the fact that we suck at films has a cultural base - largely because we suck at understanding others.  I put myself in that boat.

      Too many of the “set” so adroitly described by the OP are so far up their collective ass that they have no empathy with anything anywhere; convinced of their own greatness, they don’t have the humility that I think is required to tell a story with genuine emotion from another point of view.

      That’s why Snowtown will flop - it’s confronting, it’s apparently shocking and gross, but it doesn’t tell us what the people involved were really thinking in a way most of us can at least try to come to terms with.  The latte group will love it though, exactly because the “great unwashed” don’t understand it.

      For films to succeed in any measurable way, they need to be accessible.  The Castle was one such movie, because it’s very easy to connect with the little battler versus big business, and we love a good dose of cutting down tall poppies.

      The rest of it though is either comedy or action.  Which is a shame, because we have plenty of good stories in this country.

    • Roy Rogers McFreely says:

      08:35am | 25/05/11

      Filmmakers tend to forget about who their audience is when it’s government money they are playing with, therefore ending up making a film for themselves and not for the public.

      Take a look at any of the government funding websites at what is currently in development and you will see at least half are not strong enough in concept to attract an audience.

      Add that to a lack of star power in the movie (which can compensate for a mediocre premise) and its not hard to see why so many are flops.

      Probably the most successful recent emerging filmmakers to leave Australia, the guys who made Undead (and then Daybreakers with Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil) couldn’t get any help from the government at all.

      These government funding bodies cannot see talent when it is staring them in the face asking for a leg up.

      Now we have lost those guys (and others like them) to the US system and have to hope they do us a favour by shooting their movies here in future.

    • VVS says:

      11:36am | 25/05/11

      What about the Aussie guys who made Saw?

      Government couldn’t see the potential there, so they make it for a million in the US (with Danny Glover no less) and spawns a franchise that has made over a billion dollars.

      Another classic example of something entertaining rejected over something that, no doubt, was considered art by someone.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:57am | 25/05/11

      @ VVS: Danny Glover *and* Carey Elwes, thank you very much! wink

    • martinX says:

      01:38pm | 25/05/11

      Don’t you mean Danny Glover and the dread pirate Roberts?

    • Bernie Lomax says:

      01:45pm | 25/05/11

      So you haven’t seen Snotown then Mahhrat? I’ll think you’ll find that it’s nothing like you think. In fact the second-highest grossing screen for Snowtown over the weekend was in Elizabeth, one of Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Trust me, there’s no “latte group” in Elizabeth.

    • VVS says:

      02:30pm | 25/05/11

      Forgive my error in not mentioning the great Elwes (however I believe Inigo Montoya would have made a better Dread Pirate Roberts)...

      Looking at the cast list I also see the foxy Dina Meyer was in it (killed in a subsequent film I believe)...

      Also the guy who played Benjamin Linus on lost, Michael Emerson.

      Quite an impressive cast overall, may have to watch it again.

    • Kate says:

      06:07pm | 25/05/11

      I would have thought there was no way Snowtown would appeal to the latte set. Firstly, because I am definitely not a latte type (hot chocolate please) and I can’t wait to see it. And secondly, because it seems like more of a genre film along the lines of Saw and The Loved Ones. Don’t latte types only like a film if it deals with angst, and annoying people whining about superficial issues and/or taking drugs?

    • St. Michael says:

      02:19pm | 27/05/11

      “(however I believe Inigo Montoya would have made a better Dread Pirate Roberts)...”

      So does Carey Elwes, if you watch the film again through to the end.  “Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.”

    • jackjjones says:

      08:08am | 25/05/11

      Sorry, but I find this article kind of pretentious. exactly the type of words i would expect from the ‘bondi-cafe-latte set’ so lampooned in this piece. So technology has meant everyone can do a ‘film project’—fantastic. take a look at some of the stuff kids put out these days, i do in my job and it’s simply amazing.
      good writing has always been a vital ingredient in good film making. but just as the internet has shown us that journalism is not the exclusive domain of writers and journalists, technology has shown us that film making is not the exclusive domain of some cultural elite.

    • Gladys says:

      08:33am | 25/05/11

      Good point. But I sort of agree that now we have unlimited capacity to shoot, we do get a lot of bad stuff.

      On the other hand, one of the best parts of the Saturday paper in Brisbane is the photo comp. there are some beautiful images taken by amateur photogs.

      It might be that arts grants for films are given to people from such a small pool of inbred creatives that no new and original ideas are coming out.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:01pm | 25/05/11

      I do agree when you can afford all your vices in filmmaking, your editorial eye tends to waver.

      For example, George Lucas and Star Wars.  Original Trilogy = made through the studio system.  Multiple people involved who saw Lucas had tons of vision but couldn’t write for shit and became involved in extensive rewrites.  Also the budget constrained Lucas down to the good bits and telling a good story.

      New Trilogy = almost the reverse.  Lucas could just about personally fund the entire film out of his own pocket, was enamoured with the technology of digital filmmaking, wrote the script, directed, had nobody but Rick McCallum there to tell him “no” or “this doesn’t work for storytelling”.

    • Old media hag says:

      12:20pm | 27/05/11

      @JackJones. I am a journalist of more than 20 years experience and I agree with you 100%. I love the fact story telling isn’t owned by the in crowd, grads from certain film schools or big media. You are right - some of the stores and work produced by kids - or older folk - using today’s accessible technology is wonderful.

    • JG says:

      08:24am | 25/05/11

      Bill Hunter was having a few beers before starting work at 8am?

      Was he an alcoholic?

    • TheRealDave says:

      09:30am | 25/05/11

      Bill was probably still kicking on from a session that started the night beofre - so, no wink

    • Glen says:

      08:30am | 25/05/11

      Yet the Americans and most other countries prove that if anything technology aids story telling. I think you will find the real culprit is your precious Australian film industry. Let’s just throw a few more films about bogan midlife crisis, celebrated criminals and jackaroos on the barby hey love!

    • Ashlee says:

      10:20am | 25/05/11

      Hmmm it is really funny when uneducated people try to offer up an opinion on a subject they haven’t got any clue about.

    • Jim says:

      10:58am | 25/05/11

      Even funnier when pompous members of the intelligenstia brag about the profoundness of the latest art-house Australian film that seems to win a lot of plaudits but no paying movie goers…

    • VVS says:

      11:03am | 25/05/11

      Probably more funny that Australian comedies, I’ll give you that.

    • Richard M says:

      11:40am | 25/05/11

      Ashlee, your comment just says everything about what is wrong with the Australian film industry at present.  It, and you, have forgotten, or don’t care, who the audience is - ie ordinary people, who simply stay away in droves from the nasty, gloom and doom ridden, drug and crime-filled,  tedious, artsy fartsy crap that is served up by Australian film makers these days.  This is because the films are not aimed at an ordinary audience but at the insiders, the afficionados, the pretentious inner city cafe latte sipping, film festival going set, the high brow critics, the Margaret Pomerances (favourite word: “confronting”) of this world.  There was a time when audiences flocked to see the latest Aussie film (eg Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli, the Man from Snowy River etc etc), but now the very fact that it is an Australian film drives audiences away.  This is because Australian film makers seem not to understand that ordinary film goers want actually to be entertained, not preached at or bored to death.

    • Ashlee says:

      12:59pm | 25/05/11

      Richard M I think you should read Glen’s comment again because I simply wasn’t implying that. I’ve lived overseas for the past few years although a proud aussie I can only watch what I can get my hands on or what is distributed internationally so I probably haven’t seen the latest stuff FFC Australia has financed (nor did I every claim to).

      FFC Australia was never designed to fund big budget Hollywood type blockbusters, it is there to promote our art and culture. Plus comparing our film industry to Hollywood is like comparing your local milk bar to the Coles and Woolworths duopoly. FFC Australia simply exists to fund movies and tv shows that are critical to keeping our culture alive. Ofcourse there will be flops that may not make it overseas or be successful but that is the nature of every business it is very hard to market a film to several different countries and socio-economic backgrounds. Big studio’s have money to run tests on the market trends and rarely take risks plus what do you have when you take the bells and whistles our of those films, yup that’s right a lovely cookie cutter plot line. 

      Picnic at Hanging Rock and Gallipoli have a huge amount of Australian cultural content and could be referred to as ‘artsy fartsy’ but by luck they were commercially viable.

    • TracyH says:

      01:15pm | 25/05/11

      Ashlee…FFC mustn’t consider deaf aussies worthy of accessing our critical
      art and culture… but otherwise…I hear your point smile

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      01:51pm | 25/05/11

      “Ofcourse there will be flops that may not make it overseas or be successful but that is the nature of every business”

      Bollocks.

      If 99% of my stuff was of no interest to anyone, I’d be broke in no time.  What you’re describing is a welfare recipient, not a business.

      Picnic at hanging rock…pff.  That movie was made before I was born!  That’s not a decent example!  Make movies that are interesting.  I don’t want to see more movies about feral bogans losing the money to buy a new fridge because of their pokie addiction.  Or how hard it is losing your friend to a heroin overdose.  Or about some miserable kid being beaten by his father daily.  FFS…if I want that, I’ll read the news or walk through my local shopping center.  It’s not clever.  It’s not cultural.  It’s called being too lazy to write anything interesting and just pulling on well known emotional strings.

      Bah!

    • Richard M says:

      01:53pm | 25/05/11

      So, Ashlee, it doesn’t matter whether anyone actually wants to go and see the film, as long as it “keeps our culture alive”.  Sorry, but I don’t think funding films which are boring and depressing does any such thing - it simply feeds the precious and pretentious world of film afficionados and critics.  It has been shown many times (unfortunately not much lately) that you don’t have to have a big budget to make films which are diverse, appeal to popular audiences, and also reflect our culture - eg the Castle, Kenny, Beneath Hill 60, Lantana.  Maybe, funding which is unrelated to box office is a major part of the problem.  Film is a popular medium.  If no-one wants to see your film, just maybe it shouldn’t have been made.

    • Ashlee says:

      02:31pm | 25/05/11

      Richard M. and Tim the Toolman you are not getting me.
      AFFC is not Hollywood, it does not have enough money or enough tools to manipulate a box office success. Yes Tim in a way the people getting money for their films are welfare recipients because they couldn’t afford to make it otherwise. Ummm 99% where is that stat from?

      It takes allot to make a successful movie not just a box office hit. There are allot of elements that contribute to the craft. The reason why the AFFC funds drama’s is because they are cheap and more likely to appeal to the so called latte sippers overseas.

      Guys the issue isn’t so black and white, think about it.

      Tracy H agree there should be subtitles, cannot believe there are not!

    • Clart says:

      03:11pm | 25/05/11

      Err Ashlee, if no one want to even see these films please explain why a) they must be made, and b) once they are made how does it help to “keep the culture alive” if no one actually wants to see them. Are you suggesting that making unpopular and unsuccessful films is their goal? Surely if it was “critical” to keep the culture alive they would be trying to make movies that were popular and successful.

    • Ashlee says:

      09:30am | 26/05/11

      For crying out loud Clart - where did I suggest that Australia should be making unpopular unsuccessful movies??
      The big power-house Hollywood can’t even fully predict if a movie is going to popular or successful because duh film is subjective especially for the genre’s we as a country are famous for which are drama and comedy.
      Clart my answers to all your questions you have asked me lie in what I have posted already.

    • David C says:

      08:48am | 25/05/11

      i dont remember the invention of the printing press devauling literature?

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:13am | 25/05/11

      Don’t tell the church!

    • centurion48 says:

      09:24am | 25/05/11

      Then you obviously haven’t been to an airport bookshop/newsagency.
      Mass production of books enabled people who should never have been published to get published. Trashy novels are trashy novels and nobody would have invested the time in reproducing one before the printing press was invented.

    • marley says:

      09:38am | 25/05/11

      Well, back in the days when everything had to be written down by scribes, very few “books” got published.  The printing press changed all that, and as a result, not only do you get Milton and Hemingway, you also get Harlequin Romances and pulp thrillers.  The new technology is allowing a lot more people to get their films produced - and in the nature of things, most of it is going to be worthless and ephemeral.  I just resent the fact that my taxes are paying for quite a lot of dross.

    • David C says:

      12:21pm | 25/05/11

      Marley - then your issue is with the Australian Film Commission or whatever it is called these days.
      Cent - Feel free not to buy books/magazines you dont like but realise the more published increases the chance there might be somehting you do like (it also increases the chance of something being published I like!)

    • Carz says:

      12:44pm | 25/05/11

      You remember the invention of the printing press????

    • marley says:

      12:44pm | 25/05/11

      @DavidC - I was merely pointing out that new technology doesn’t necessarily mean better product, just more product.  And I frankly don’t see why I should have to subsidize films - let the film makers learn the ancient art of convincing people to invest in their films because they’re going to attract punters, rather than trying to persuade bureaucrats that they’re making something “meaningful.”

    • David C says:

      01:01pm | 25/05/11

      sorry Marley didnt mean to come across snappy and I agree it does produce more product. Hopefully that means it increases the chance of some good product rising to the top
      The issue of film funding etc is a whole new minefield and ends up in the area of “why fund any of the arts?” ..

    • JR says:

      08:48am | 25/05/11

      95% of the crap that gets made as Australian film is simply that. If I wanted to make a living in the industry I’d leave this big island. Too conservative, too much politics, too many wankers…

    • Ryan says:

      08:53am | 25/05/11

      So a multimedia journalist employeed by a website is complaining about technology ???
      biting hands that feed much ???

    • Edward James says:

      09:52am | 25/05/11

      Airheads with gadgets have hijacked real storytelling. Could it be Helen The worlds of journalism and movies / storytelling are not so exclusive anymore?

    • martinX says:

      01:44pm | 25/05/11

      “Multimedia” and “website” are presentation and delivery tools. “Journalism” is the skill and is not dependent on the delivery tools.

      A good film is a good story on film. A writer needs a pencil and a pad. Not even an iPad, just a pad. They can buy a copy of Final Draft when they get paid.

    • James Ricketson says:

      08:58am | 25/05/11

      The bureaucrats who run the Australian film industry do not understand or appreciate the difference between the art and craft of screenwriting. They work on the presumption that it is all craft and that a good or promising idea + craft skills will deliver a great screenplay - especially if a ‘script expert’ or ‘guru’ can be introduced along the way. It doesn’t work that way. There is as much inexplicable magic and serendipity in screenwriting as in any art from but for as long as our obsession is with ‘craft’ our screenplays will lack magic. Of course craft is important. A chair needs four legs of equal length if it is going to stand up, but having four legs of equal length is no guarantee at all that the chair is going to be one worth sitting in, looking at. I can think of no other art form (yes, screenwriting is an art) in which those who sit in judgment on its development are so ill equipped to do so by their limited (and often total lack) of experience in the art.

    • marley says:

      09:41am | 25/05/11

      Well, I have to say, if we have bureaucrats running the film industry, that’s the problem right there.  Get the bureaucrats out of the business, and let the film-makers find commercial funding for their ventures.  Instead of focusing on the next grant, let the film makers focus on getting butts on seats.  And the ones that can’t do it, can go back to bricklaying or pouring lattes.

    • Tubesteak says:

      08:59am | 25/05/11

      Firstly, I think you’ll find most of those people aren’t from Bondi, but Newtown.

      Secondly, we aren’t going to produce many greats in this country if all the funding comes from a government body. Governemnt bodies themselves are full of talentless parasites, so you end up with one group of talentless parasites trying to get money from another group of talentless parasites. Unless film-makers start making commerically viable films by convincing investors that their product will be commercially viable we’ll continue with more boring dross with Ben Mendelsohn in them.

      Thirdly, good writing and good stories comes from life experience. Little Tarquin whose parents never made him grow up who went to arts and drama school has never had the opportunity to gain any life experience because all he’s done is hang around Newtown drinking Campos coffee whilst sitting in a coffee shop bludging the free wifi and filling out dole forms. It doesn’t make an interesting person and uninteresting people don’t make interesting films.

      Finally, the market has changed. TV shows are where good stories are these days. Movies are too short and there’s no time to develop decent characters and stories. Leave movies for giant alien robots and explosions. If you want good stories then stick to TV. The Australian TV landscape is pretty bad because the Australian market is too small and it means they have to produce middle of the road dross.

      Head to America or the UK where HBO, AMC and BBC are making some brilliant stuff.

    • James Ricketson says:

      09:30am | 25/05/11

      Tubesteak, it is not helpful to use expressions like ‘talentless parasites’ - true neither of ‘Newtown’ filmmakers or of film bureaucrats - but I agree with you that life experience is an important ingredient in being able to tell a good story.

    • Null and Void says:

      09:17am | 25/05/11

      You failed to mention the problem that lies within the funding rules. And I didn’t read the comments to see if anyone else picked it up so apologies in advance.

      I am one of those crappy latte-sipping arty types but have never been able to secure funding for anything as my works are classed as “genre” pieces and “don’t have enough Australianism in them”. Ohhhhhkay. Why bother writing a good script if you can’t get funding off it anyway? May as well write the opening for it, send it off as an example and then just shoot tonnes of ending sequences and smash them together in Final Cut when you can no longer be bothered with the film because you’re bored of it.

      Perhaps if they relaxed these rules, good scripts would follow. Then again, maybe not. But we won’t know if Screen Australia keeps these rules that are based on 1923’s sentiments of what it is to be quintessentially Australian.

      Also. Bill Hunter is a legend. I am heartbroken that he will not be in any more films. I have every single thing he’s done.

    • Jim says:

      11:09am | 25/05/11

      “Why bother writing a good script if you can’t get funding off it anyway?” - Why should you get taxpayer dollars for a pet project that will only appeal to a small clique of alternate art-wankers? How hard is it to get private funding from a studio if your work is deemed viable? Oh, wait…

      On another note…the (very small) handful of Australian actors and film producers that have made it big - how much help did they get at the start of their careers? And how much have they returned to the industry? How many tax dollars did the biggest wanktard of the lot (Baz Lurhman) waste on ‘Australia’ - one of the worst movies EVER?

    • Null and Void says:

      12:03pm | 25/05/11

      Private funding is harder than Screen Australia’s funding. Best not to try to respond to something you don’t know about, Jim.

      Australia rarely has private funding for movies. Don’t you read the title cards at the start that say “SCREEN AUSTRALIA in conjunction with ANOTHER PUBLIC FUNDING SOURCE”.

      Don’t get me started on Baz Lurhman, he eats egg white omlettes with smoked salmon for breakfast, ffs.

    • Get the facts right! says:

      10:55am | 25/05/11

      “So many Australian films start off well, but simply don’t have a third act. The three act structure worked well for Shakespeare and a gazillion American films”

      Ummm, Shakespeare was well known for his FIVE Act tragic structure. My year 8 students could have told you that…

    • Steve says:

      11:20am | 25/05/11

      The movie Jindabyne didn’t have a third act. Or if it did I missed it. For me it was the most unsatisfactory ending of any Australian film.

    • DaveS says:

      11:06am | 25/05/11

      Having just been involved in an Australian film that received NO government funding, but (measured by pairs of eyes actually seeing it) is becoming one of the most successful films in recent history, I can say good storytelling and innovation in film craft is far from dead.

      At the Festival des Cannes is the Marché du Film (Film Markets), where freshly minted motion pictures from all around the world are presented for sale to the international market. Arguably around 95% are between mediocre and utter crap and are unlikely to be seen by most people, least of all Australians, even in the bargain bin at the $2 shop. The remaining 5% are between fine and great. I think it’s not unfair to suggest a similar ratio for fiction books. A LOT of stuff gets cranked out, much of which is never seen by most consumers. I don’t believe Australian films are immune from this ratio either. Where Australian films struggle is not enough are produced to easily reveal that magical 5%, government funding or not.

      BTW I find this sneering, fundamentally offensive regionalism attitude (Bondi, Newtown, North Shore etc) not only very tiresome but hopelessly inaccurate and a form of bigotry that has no place in mature debate or modern society.

    • RT says:

      11:45am | 25/05/11

      Name the film you were involved in or your post lacks any real weight…

    • Shane says:

      02:51pm | 26/05/11

      Why should he, RT?
      Countless others are on here spouting their opinions and view with no justifiable evidence aside from I don’t like it/intellectuals make me feel dumb/etc.

    • Margie says:

      11:06am | 25/05/11

      Australian films for the last several years at least are mostly dark, drab and depressing.  No character development,  very poor storyline, no plot development, lots & lots of “f ” words. Characters who exist on drugs & booze.They also show the seamier side of Australian life,  Most of the characters are losers. Why would I pay money to go and see a movie to be depressed? A movie should be about entertaining or informing the audience, and be uplifting.
      Quite a few Aussie movies come to mind,but they were so bad I cannot remember their names, except for “Little Fish” which was excruciating.. There were however, standouts like Lantana and Samson & Delilah.  Rabbit proof fence was not even factual, just a web of self indulgent lies,  but was popular among the left of society.I would not cross the road to see a Philip Noyce movie, they are pure self indulgence on his part.

    • david says:

      11:22am | 25/05/11

      the real threat of technology isn’t the negative effect on quality storytelling. the advances of technology threaten to take the cash lifeblood out of the industry through illegal downloads and systemised copyright infringement. This includes Hollywood.

      Don’t knock a government funding body - the commercial film industry could be gone before we know it.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:55am | 25/05/11

      Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of all creative material produced is crap.  The fact filmmaking is now democratised proves it.  That’s all that’s going on here.

      Although I find it humourous that whereas Hollywood is a free market of film and does not produce crap, Australia is one where the government controls the free market by dispensing cash for films, and consequently we have crap films.

    • Pop Music says:

      01:48pm | 25/05/11

      Firstly, you paraphrased Sturgeon beyond meaning, and secondly if you think Hollywood doesn’t produce crap, I don’t think you’ve ever seen a film. Roger Corman? Troma Films? Any of these ring a bell?

    • St. Michael says:

      02:00pm | 25/05/11

      Hollywood produces some crap, but not as measured financially.  At the end of the day, they put bums on seats across the entire planet.  Australia only manages to do that sort of thing if Paul Hogan’s starring in the film.

    • Pop Music says:

      07:37am | 26/05/11

      Hollywood produces heaps of crap. It just doesn’t make it here. Ditto for TV. You think what we see is pretty crappy? There’s a lot more garbage out there but because we only have a few TV stations they get to pick and choose (within budgets).

    • TracyH says:

      12:25pm | 25/05/11

      What I hate about Aussie films, is the cringeworthy representation of country people. In Jindabyne, for example, they had floral sheets on the bed, ala 1970…excuse me but people in the country do have access to modern linen!! And also, every male country character has a bloody mullet. It annoys the hell out of me. It’s obviously because the arty types really don’t have the capacity to understand the people they try to portray.
      Another whinge: just about every AFC funded film (ie you and me funded) does not have subtitles. It pretty much excludes every hard of hearing or deaf Australian from watching a product they have paid for…particularly annoying because these films are supposed to be for all Aussies…I can get the crappiest American movie and it will always have subtitles. I wrote the the people from the film finance department only to receive a pissweak explanation.

    • S.L says:

      01:07pm | 25/05/11

      If you have a good story people will watch it no matter where it is made. “Kenny” made by the Jacobson brothers was bankrolled by the very firm they depict in the movie Splashdown.
      The original Mad Max was made for $500,000 total and started the career of the Kennedy Miller organisation.
      About the only Aussie film that lived up to the pre-hype is Crocodile Dundee.
      I can think of 2 other movies that have had longevity but are ignored by “movie"people and made a reasonable profit which is almost unheard of for an Aussie flick, Stone and Running on Empty.
      As soon as I heard Baz Luhman was directing “Australia” I thought it would be crap…...and it was!

    • martinX says:

      01:50pm | 25/05/11

      Points for mentioning Stone AND Running On Empty.

      I thought Kenny ran out of puff though.

    • frank robb says:

      02:08pm | 25/05/11

      who would bother either investiing or supporting (ie bums on seats) or giving credit to any organisation that produces such fantasy as the rabbit proof fence, but presents it as reality. when you present shit, you get what you deserve, how true are the comment sabove about latte sipping dickheads?

    • James III says:

      02:30pm | 25/05/11

      There has barely been one great Australian movie that was not made by the SA Film Corporation or had them involved.

    • Saskia says:

      03:03pm | 25/05/11

      Remember a few years ago at the AFI Awards a few twits got up and spoke and said that Australian Film is depressed due to John Howard’s Govt?

      Well newsflash:  The ALP are in and the film quality if anything has gotten worse!
      The film industry is riddled with public servant types and left-wingers making boring, turgid, PC gunk that no one wants to watch.  It is neither quality like the SA Film Corp stuff or entertaining popcorn Hollywood stuff.

      Lift your game Aussie film makers and get over the the sickening stereotypes and obsession with PC, ethnic diversity etc.  Make film that entertains, not a documentary for Women’s Studies!

      You have no one to blame now.

    • Gerry says:

      04:25pm | 25/05/11

      Great script writing still exists… technology has simply meant a lot more films are made - many of which, lack a soul…  you need to dig deeper nowadays to find the true gems…

    • Kassandra says:

      04:39pm | 25/05/11

      The Cars that Ate Paris. Romper Stomper. Kenny. You don’t need big Hollywood studios or budgets to make bloody good movies audiences will pay to watch. They don’t like crap however. Most Australian movies are crap like 95% of all art everywhere is crap - as a couple of posters have pointed out above we just don’t make enough movies so it’s a volume problem. I hate self-obsessed wankers in the Yarts blaming everyone and everything else for the fact that most of what their industry produces is rubbish. If you can’t make a commercial living out of it get a real job and do it in your spare time. I know a few aspiring writers and artists who do that and don’t rely on yarts grants to support themselves (and they don’t live in Bondi btw).

    • stephen says:

      05:17pm | 25/05/11

      We are not an artistic country and we never have been. Our film industry, so much as can be expected, is doing as much as they can considering most commentary in the press and in crowds is of politics and sport and bikini girls.

      Tonight is the State of Origin and at the Queen street Mall was a couple of ex-players interviewed in front of a hundred about their previous games.

      Don’t see that sort of thing in public spaces at the AFI Awards.
      We are good at Cricket, swimming, a dozen other sports and a few other things. Culture is not one of them, and may I suggest if we want to be good at that then we’d best be thinking of it often and not as a reason for self-flaggelation.
      Frankly, we don’t deserve to be taken seriously at Art.

    • Kate says:

      06:03pm | 25/05/11

      I do get pretty disappointed every time I see an ad for yet another movie about people in the outback having family issues, abusing alcohol or drugs and meeting Aboriginal children with magical powers.
      Then again, for all the crap the Aussie film industry produces, there’s always the likes of Animal Kingdom, Romper Stomper, Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, Snowtown, The Castle etc to represent us well.

      Speaking of Australians and film, is there a way we can do a culture swap? Can we make, say, Christopher Nolan and George Clooney honorary Australians in exchange for Baz Luhrmann and Mel Gibson? Or just rip up the latter two’s Australian passports? They are truly embarrassing.

    • stephen says:

      06:37pm | 25/05/11

      Embarrassing ? Are you watching Lethal Weapon on telly ?
      I saw one on Sunday, for the first time, and mel should start desert traipsing in oruzgan province with a ‘Mohammad was a poof ’ t-shirt.

      He’s a bloody corn-ball, and Russ acts him under the table.

    • Kate says:

      08:36pm | 25/05/11

      I think I’m still scarred from witnessing his ‘acting’ in What Women Want. THE WORST.

    • bikinis on top says:

      07:27pm | 25/05/11

      Your comment:The Invisible Spiritual End Of the World occurred on May 21 when Bill Hunter died!

 

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