The wisdom of Philip Brophy
February 21, 2009
Australian filmmaker, digital and multi media artist Philip Brophy (Body Melt) has added an important contribution to the Australian Film Industry crisis debate. Like Mark Savage he is one of the more interesting Australian filmmakers of the past 20 years. Brophy takes a radical post modern mutant approach to cinema, filtered through his obsession with post apocalypse scenarios, sound, gore and Japanese pop culture. I always find his work very interesting. His visual art is usually aggressive and transgressive, and always stands out in a gallery filled with the usual contemporary art emptiness.
His personally run web site is here.
The full article below, a pomo wry and funny review of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, published in the new issue of Real Time magazine, is here.
Here is some of Brophy’s wisdom on the Australian Film Industry crisis. Once again a case is made for genre and exploitation movies to be made more often down under. I love some of his plot line idea suggestions:
To align oneself with the Australian film industry as a ‘content provider’, a mortgage-paying ‘technician’, or a pithy ‘movie reviewer’ and remain uncritical of the cultural implications of the medium’s multiple crafts is unacceptable. If Australia has a ‘film industry’ – then let it be a ruthless industry. Make pornography with girls who look like your first-year-uni daughter. Tell stories about footballers on drugs; bogans killing their kids; dungeon-and-dragons nerds massacring tourists. Cast wildly and inappropriately and tabloid the hell out of the production’s sensationalist drive. Write scathing comedies about law students who become topical panellists on national TV and wear chambray shirts; bourgeois ABC journalists who become bourgeois politicians; arthouse distributors claiming to know about cinema. Forget the international market because they care as much about you as you do about Finnish historical drama. Find any niche no matter how unsavoury and exploitatively hammer it to death. Do all this and damn everything that Rudd and his Creative Australia (gag!) think-tank proposed, and Australia will have a real industry – one that would dare its practitioners to stand up for the contentiousness of their work rather than allow them to hide behind the giant phantasmal puff-ball of proud ignorance that spawns gaudy carnivales of patriotism like Australia.
Each year, there’s a polite round-up in the mediascape about ‘Australia’s performance at the box office’ during that year. A successful film receives a disingenuous slap on the back. It sounds like a fly-swatter hitting soggy Weetbix. The ‘worthy’ films that didn’t make a dent in the box office excite a plethora of reasons for their criminal neglect. No-one mentions the possibility that the film’s were simply not interesting as concepts in the first place. The upcoming year’s roster will be optimistic, and articles like the one you’re reading will be posed as ‘part of the problem not the solution’. Yet those upcoming films will smack of the same insular ‘Aussifying’ themes which smell like MTC/STC ‘finger-on-the-pulse’ productions or social studies curricula foisted on Year 11/12 inmates.
This may seem completely off-topic. Wrong. The context which creates then evaluates the likes of Australia is the problem. If all the other forms of alternative non-nationalistic exploitation were allowed in the industry, then Australia would simply be another option for entertaining an audience. And at such a chosen task, the film completely succeeds. What’s missing is all those other films.