Monday, 24 March 2008

Kissing for Australia



Recently I left a comment on Richard Wolstencroft's Blog Idea Fix about Wilfred, the comedy series running late nights on SBS. I have known Adam the creator of Wilfred for many years, indeed I spent my early youth with a group of actors who all in some way have continued to cross-over work with each other and they are Francis McMahon, Jason Gann, Adam Zwar and Paul Denny - I was always the odd one out in a sense, although I did have Paul Denny and Francis McMahon perform in my first broadcast radio play "Groggy Sprogs" and I edited Adam's early work "Break-Up International" and "Rough Cuts", Francis appeared in my feature film, I was also lined up to edit the short film Wilfred but Tony Rogers had his own editor at hand and I was once again to return to the fringes of where I generally sit nowadays with my mad projects on the boil, and my creative ladle strapped to my hip.

What I have always admired with Adam Zwar in particular is his need to be constantly writing and not just for film. Whether it be for his newspaper or particularly for the theatre, he is a writer in the true sense of the word. The play featured above this post is Adam's latest work for the stage and I urge people to go and see it. I really do think that it is essential for writers of film to be dipping their pens into other mediums as this has almost always been the case with any worthwhile author whose work is prolific and yet interesting.

I have no fear of writing for the theatre, I actually really like writing for the theatre and my own one-act play did quite well for the 2003 Fringe Festival here in Melbourne, I am also slowly leveraging out another play. The beauty of writing for the stage is that it does refine screen writing skills and can be a wonderful filler to any gaps in a career which we all know with film often exists purely because of the time lapse between pre-production and post. It also works to keep your name in the "lights" so to speak, while your film is in the edit suite your play is on the stage, whilst your film is on the screen your play is on your desk.

It is funny though that in the early days I recall the group camaraderie in producing work and it all felt as if, in the traditional way that cultural power is enforced within new waves of creativity, that we'd all be doing something to break this film industry up a bit here in Australia. Unfortunately, the nature it seems of our modern world, and perhaps the back-breaking industry we have, that time causes people to dislocate. Not going separate ways perhaps but the extinguishing of youthful ambition through time, having kids, getting stable incomes, finding partners, looking for other opportunities, and the limited central zones of actual physical meeting points such as pubs or cafes where in other decades in other countries provided groups with a base central, have all worked to weaken, dilute, and disseminate ideas. Has it been purposeful? Sometimes it feels that way.

I could name a dozen writer's groups that existed to change the cultural funk of any decade, whether it be the Inklings or the Beats, in film existed too, these groups. The purpose was not to have someone tell you your work probably wont see the light of day because a) you will never get funding for that idea and b) who will distribute it. It was always the drive to realise the idea or concept rather then anything made for an audience and a general audience at that, the point was that the audience will like this, rather then "will the audience like this?" - what a daft question. Prove yourself, is the catch-cry at the higher ranks of our industry, and yet how can one prove oneself if the initial idea is shot down before it can have its day in court, or rather, its day on the silver screen?

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