Sunday, May 07, 2006

The birth of a movie

I mentioned[^] way back in December that we held a 'roast Robin' night in January 1990. What I didn't tell you then, because I hadn't written about the background, is that we decided that night, Heino, Robin and I, to make a movie.

What movie would we make? We didn't spend much time debating; the choice was obvious. We'd make a Scarless Pumpernickel[^] movie but this time we'd finish it!

I could say that I argued against that decision, given that it would involve me playing the title role but I'd be lying if I made that claim. :-) If there's one thing you can be sure of, having read the blog so far, it is that I have an ego!

So we went into a phase of arguing about story lines. Robin, ever the impractical dreamer, wanted to do a story involving airplanes and skyscrapers. Yes, more than a decade before 11/9, Robin had visions of us filming the crash of an airliner into a building. I bet the people behind Fight Club[^] were very very glad they got it to theatres before that particular atrocity. Would they have dared release a film with that ending in the months and years since?

While we'd have loved to do something that ambitious Heino and I argued, successfully, against such an ambitious storyline. We were more interested in scoping things down to what we could achieve within a very small budget with the acting talent we could call upon. You understand that the budget was what the three of us were willing to fork out and the acting talent was going to be those friends we could coerce, hoodwink and generally decieve into appearing!

We were very lucky. Heino worked at the time for the National Australia Bank in their long since disbanded video production unit; he had access to broadcast quality equipment and, just as importantly, his boss was willing to let him borrow it on weekends. He was also willing to let us use the edit suites and the studio out of hours.

We once calculated what it would have cost us to use the equipment if we'd paid commercial rates; it worked out at considerably north of a quarter million dollars!

Our script was an eclectic collection of ideas; we wanted to pay tribute to all the Turtle Video Centre productions that had made it as far as at least a few seconds of video. So we stole scenes shamelessly. Fun with Maths, for example, a production by one of Heino's schoolteachers in 1975, which described polygons. 'A polygon is a plane figure bound by straight lines'. We put those exact words into the mouth of The Professor, as he explained that soot sometimes feels smooth and sometimes it's gritty!

Of course Scarless still wore a silly outfit. The panty hose hadn't worked in the 1976 attempt so we decided I'd wear a pair of my girlfriend Peta's jodhpurs and some riding boots. My tailcoat and fake top hat had longs since gone the way of the dinosaur and whilst it was still possible to track down a tailcoat a top hat was impossible. We compromised with Peta's grandfathers hat.

We spent countless hours at my place or Heinos and occasionally at Robins nutting out the knottier points of the screenplay. Since we were trying to be true to the spirit of the original concept we just had to have a dream scene. Our dream scene was a mixture of a scene from Gary's movie Why me[^] and our original sequence from 1976 involving my beheading. I remember one afternoon (we have the discussion on video) at Heino's house where we acted out the scene. I said 'the chief swings his sword, a real sword' pause as Robin play acts a little 'and you gotta stop!'. Followed by the comment that the body wriggles a little 'but not too much!'. Maybe you had to be there!

My sister Debra would play the female lead; she'd been heavily involved in Turtle Video during the 1970's.

Robin would play the police chief, Orville C Fudpucker. That's a real name! In 1980 I bought my first floppy disk drive, A$750 for 143 K of storage! The purchase of a floppy disk drive in those days included floppys containing an operating system (M-DOS, short for Micropolis Disk Operating System) and a copy of Bill Gates MS-BASIC. I joined the M-DOS Users Group in 1981 and received, as part of the membership package, a floppy containing the complete members list. And there he was, Orville C Fudpucker of Alabama. The name just stuck in my head and when it came time to give the chief a name that was the obvious one!

One of the Daves agreed to play my trusty sidekick, Festering Wound; the other Dave was happy to play the professor. Sue would play Backup. Heino, in a cameo role, played Roger aka VK, the voice of Victoria police. The names of the characters should tell you something :-)

So, with the main plotlines in place; most of the actors decided, we went into production.

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