– The Tunnel (Carlo Ledesma)
– Chris Sun (Come and Get Me)
– Josh Reed (Primal)
– Damian Walshe-Howling (The Reef)
– Kelsie McDonald (Come and Get Me)
Best Supporting Actor
– Michael Rooker (Penance)
– Steve Davis (The Tunnel)
Best Supporting Actress
– Kerry Ann Reid (Family Demons)
– Ursula Dabrowsky (Family Demons)
– Michael Gilbert (Come and Get Me)
– Shing Fung Cheung, Steve Davis (The Tunnel)
Best Special Effects and Make-Up
– Chris Sun (Come and Get Me)
Best Cult Film
– Starship Invasions
Best Short Film
– Meth to Madness (Chris Mitchell)
Best Short Film Director
– Chris Mitchell (Meth to Madness)
Best Short Film Actor
– Jeremy Kewley (Shepherd’s Hill)
Best Short Film Actress
– Jamie McDowell (Home)
Bloodfest Genre Innovation Award
– Someone’s Knocking at the Door (Chad Ferrin)
Special Short Film Jury Prize
– Flow (Scott Dale)
Special Jury Prize
– The Reef (Andrew Traucki)
– Video Nasties (Jake West)
March 19, 2011
I got sent some questions originally posted here on my new feature film, The Beautiful and Damned:
I have responded.
I’ll reprint questions and answers here.
From Candace Grissom:
I completely agree with your statement that Fitzgerald’s works are very appropriate for translation into the 21st century and that he had an almost prophetic visionary sense about the future of youth culture.
I attended the screening of your adaptation of The Beautiful and Damned at the Fitzgerald Festival in Baltimore, and am including a study of it in my PhD dissertation, which discusses the evolving ways in which Fitzgerald’s works have been adapted for film as part of a larger discussion on how the status of how literary celebrity affected his writing.
I get what you were going for by including the sexual and substance abuse issues from the original text, by updating their excesses to maintain the same level of shock factor that Fitzgerald’s original must have had for a 1920s audience.
However, I continue to be puzzled by the political implications of your film, especially since Fitzgerald studies tends to focus specifically around how very “American” his conception of the wasting effects of capitalist excess can be on those young people who aspire to progress through achievement, only to find that, after they reach a certain plateau of wealth, there is no goal left for which to strive.
After reading your blog and statements about a new sort of fascist political system, I find myself wondering whether any of your ideas on this topic found their way into the film as political commentary and if so, do you see any cultural differences related to capitalism in America versus Australia that influenced your opinions? (Personally, I read it to be more of a universal, global issue that is indicative of postmodern society as a whole.)
Also, I find it fascinating that you have written a Manifesto for Ontological Cinema, and I was wondering how the ideology for the goals of this style guided your creative process for The Beautiful and Damned in particular?
Last, I noticed that, although there was a good bit of Fitzgerald’s original dialogue included in the film, there was also a very 21st century mannerism of inserting “fuck” and various other profanities into conversation in a seemingly random fashion, and I was wondering whether you simply intended their inclusion to mimic today’s speech patterns, or if they had any deeper sociological implications?
(I tended to include them in the overall sense that the film conveys to me, which is that modern society has made a saleable commodity out of the sexual act, making it less emotionally meaningful for individuals like Anthony and Gloria who are trying to maintain a relationship. Thus, I interpreted the profanity as mirroring a devolution of linguistic sensibilites in youth culture that parallels the devolution in regard for the maintenance of meaningful sexual relationships.)
Sorry about all the questions, but I thought that you would like to know that your film has been a really interesting piece of cinema to work with as I attempt to contextualize it within the larger history of Fitzgerald film history. It truly does represent a completely new path in the field which I think, given the upcoming major studio projects currently in the works, will be well-trodden by other filmmakers in the future.
Thank you for your letter. I will attempt to address some of your questions and the issues raised by them in this letter.
It was a great pleasure to adapt F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. I was inspired by the Ken Russell adaptations of DH Lawrence, the cinema of Lars Von Trier, the contemporary writings of Bret Easton Ellis (who I have subsequently met up with a few times) and JG Ballard. The later two I dedicated my new film too.
There has been a cinematic resurgence of interest in Fitzgerald and I think I had my finger on the right cultural pulse to make this film in the late 00’s. I felt adapting the book was like working with a contemporary, albeit one of great genius.
To your questions:
Regarding American-ness it seems in our globalized world that today everywhere is America. So Fitzgerald’s America and critique of the American Dream can apply to where ever globalization/later day Capitalism has had an impact. This covers a vast swathe of the planets surface and population. Capitalism is now the worlds number one religion and is a positive and at times negative phenomenon that can have negative effects on the soul of a people. This is becoming universally evident. So, to me setting the film in Melbourne Australia in the 00’s (though it could be ‘anywhere’ in the West) was an easy and non contradictory decision. Many things held up and adapted perfectly. Fitzgerald has always struck me as a timeless author whose work can survive moving from his milieu like Shakespeare and others.
RE: Politics in book and film. Many writers consider Fitzgerald to be a Left Winger and I had an interesting discussion with Scott Donaldson at the conference who is of that opinion. I gave a copy of my film to him as well! But I beg to differ. As research in the texts I studied, like many modernists, I found in Fitzgerald an attraction to many Right Wing/fascist ideas. One of the major clues is his interest in Spengler, a major Right Wing/fascist writer. Same his attraction to conservative poet TS Eliot. Fitzgerald also mentions the likes of outright racists like T. Lothrop Stoddard and others who is obviously familiar with. While Fitzgerald is critical of the upper class and Capitalist elite in many ways like Bret Easton Ellis he clearly admires them, also. He is a romantic idealist and elitist in essence from my reading and I think such ideas lend themselves to fascist or other Rightist discourses. My interest in Right Wing and Fascist politics did attract to me to Fitzgerald oddly enough. He spoke admiringly of Mussolini in an interview I read and never lived to see the major human rights atrocities of fascism. So, much like say Lawrence, Eliot, Pound or Yeats I detect a reactionary Right Wing vein in Fitzgerald. This can also be applied to Fitzgerald’s alleged anti Semitism. I naturally left the reference intact from the book in the film. Though it is a minor issue in The Damned and I did it so as to remain true to the novel and the Bloekman character. I think Anthony’s anti Semitism shows his weakness at that moment and that overall I find Fitzgerald is not really a racist or anti-semite. Though he has some Southern sensibilities, I would suggest…
The Manifesto for Ontological Cinema I wrote around the time of shooting The Damned and it comes from my reflections on making this film. It’s often what is left out in a film that makes it good, as much as what is put in. Kubrick is a master at this. So, too, Lars Von Trier. I am merely following in the footsteps of my cinematic idols to distill a new kind of 21st century digital ontological cinema. A lot of the thoughts come from my study of Martin Heidegger. A major figure in 20th century thought and the most important philosopher of our epoch, in my humble opinion.
In updating the book I tried to bring a level of shock to it that the book must have had but not be too excessive as to be an orgy or depravity and debauch which was not Fitzgerald’s book. Whether I went too far, or got it right, often depends on ones sensibilities. The use of “fuck” and other curse words stems from that as does other sexual scenes and the drug use, etc. I do feel I got it almost right. Some friends say I didn’t go far enough!!!… which tells me so. It’s not that bad given the scenes of sex and depravity on our TV every night but neither does the film shy away from portraying upper class decadence, debauch and entropy.
I hope these answers address some of your concerns. I am happy to answer any more if you have them?
PS. The book on Anthony Patch’s lap (below 2nd photo) is Thomas Malthus’s famous treatise on population control.
November 12, 2010
An Open Letter In Support of The Melbourne Underground Film Festival
Bruce LaBruce is an internationally renowned filmmaker and writer. His works
have screened across the globe: at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the
Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival,
the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and many others. Several of his
films have also screened to appreciative Australian film festival audiences. His
films are readily available to rent and buy, both internationally and nationally,
where many have been released on DVD.
Mixing black comedy, politics, genre, melodrama and porn, LaBruce’s films tell
stories of homosexual desire, of lust and love, all shot through with a low budget,
post-punk aesthetic that pays homage to both underground cinema and
Hollywood classics. He has a dedicated cult fan base and his work is central in
both indie film and contemporary GLBT cinema, a documentary study of
LaBruce’s work is due to premiere at a major European film festival in 2011.
His most recent movie, LA Zombie follows a ‘gay’ ‘zombie’ who, rather than killing
brings the dead back to life by having sex with them. The sex, much of which is
faked, is, behind the ʻshockingʼ concept, gentle and loving. Beneath the stage-
bloodied zombie movie is a tender film about the regenerative powers of sex and
Film fans across the world were surprised when LA Zombie was ʻbannedʼ during
the Melbourne International Film Festival. When the film was subsequently
screened with no police interference to an appreciative audience as part of the
Melbourne Underground Film Festival many praised the event for enabling an
audience to see the work.
It is, then, troubling that Richard Wolstencroft, the director of the Melbourne
Underground Film Festival, had his house raided on 11th November by
detectives searching for a copy of the film. The involvement of Victoria Police and
the threat of legal action simply for screening a film that has already played to
global audiences is deeply disturbing.
The image of the police and courts enforcing censorship is never pretty; when the
target is the work of an internationally famous gay filmmaker it is downright
shameful. The threat of legal action simply for screening a film is part of an
increasingly hysterical response that can only have a detrimental effect to
filmmakers and audiences in Australia.
As filmmakers, film fans, and consenting adults, we roundly condemn the
banning of this film and the possibility of legal action against the director of an
independent film festival.
Dave de Vries
October 4, 2010
I have embarked upon a new narrative feature to be called The Second Coming after the famous Yets poem. I have longed for a confrontation of Yeats poetry and my own cinematic practice for some time and delighted that this is now happening…
The new feature project is a portmanteau film that will revolve around seven or eight stories that are all interconnected and inspired by the famous apocalyptic poem of William Butler Yeats. Other poems of the maestro will also inspire certain segments…
This work will constitute part 2 of my “March on Rome” Trilogy.
I am also working toward completing the two documentaries I shot in 2009 on Africa and porn star Joe Blow(aka Michael Tierney – who has a role in the Second Coming that I am shooting in Thailand as I write this) and releasing The Beautiful and Damned commercially in Australia and overseas in 2011. See trailer here: http://vimeo.com/6876671
The text to Yeats poem is here:
The Second Coming
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
May 12, 2010
Sorry if Idea Fix has gone a little quiet now. I have started another blog for my relaunching of my Hellfire club that is getting some regular up dates.
I will get Idea Fix back up and running soon. I am writing two scripts, preparing MUFF, working on the club and other projects so its a busy time…
Check it out here: http://thehellfireclub.wordpress.com/
March 7, 2010
Well respected Sydney writer and Walkley winner Jack Marx wrote this piece about my new feature Thee Beautiful and Damned and added his views on the film Industry crisis. Check it out here and here is he cut and paste version.
It’s a great piece.
My favourite quote? “Fitzgerald’s classic may have found a spiritual home in the hands of Wolstencroft.”
February 28, 2010
I met Bret Easton Ellis last April in Los Angeles. I have been meaning to blog this for a little while. Here is what happened…
I contacted Bret Ellis and told him about my festival, that I had dedicated my new film The Beautiful and Damned to him and that I was a serious fan. I compared him to F.Scott Fitzgerald. He got back to me and suggested a meet next time I was in LA.
I was in LA in April 2009 and Bret was on the cover of the new Fantastic Man fashion magazine that month as I got off the plane. I contacted him again, we spoke and worked out a meet at a restaurant called AMMO, on Highland between Santa Monica and Sunset.
I thought this would be pretty cool meeting him as I consider Ellis one of the most important living authors and an inspiration to me in my work. JG Ballard had just died, so, his stakes went even higher in my estimates with that sad news…
I decided to wear the following as tribute to American Psycho: a shirt by K-Subi, suit pants from a Giorgio Armani suit, shoes by Prada and a black velvet jacket from Ralph Lauren Polo. Bret wore a stylish dark brown top and pants. He looked like he had lost weight from some photos I had seen of him this decade. He appeared fit and healthy. He is tall and charismatic.
He announced he was going to the “toilet” as soon as he arrived. Whether this was to do a bump of coke or just to actually use the toilet, we cannot say. But he announced it in a way as if to imply he was possibly up to something, even if he was not. I have read interviews that try to imply he is often on coke, but I would say he was not that evening. Unless he hides it well. He seemed relaxed and at ease. Elegant and perspicuous in his conversation. He was having dinner later that evening with some friends at the same restaurant.
We ordered some breads and ate as we spoke.
He started by saying what a “man of the people” he was meeting me, a “fan” and admirer of his work. I think this comment was designed to put me on the back foot a little. For my part, I felt comfortable in his presence, not intimidated. His energy reminded me of a couple of higher-powered lawyer pals I have as friends in Australia.
We spoke about my film and my festival by way of introduction. I then quizzed him on his new book that he told me is called “Imperial Bedrooms”. He said he was locking off the final draft that month. He said he had been tinkering with it, and humorously added that it was “no use” and it was time to let it go to print. He appeared modest and self deprecating about his new book and work in general. He said it was a sequel to Less than Zero. My first question, “Is Rip back?”. Rip was one of the most depraved and sick characters from LTZ, a forerunner to Patrick Bateman, who I loved. Bret confirmed Rip was indeed back and was a major character in Bedrooms. He said Raymond Chandler had inspired him and other crime writers and said Bedrooms had a crime narrative. I asked what he thought of the film of LTZ and he said not a lot. But, that he felt it had entered public consciousness, including his own…
We talked about the film adaptations of his work. His favorite was Rules Of Attraction by Roger Avery, who he calls a friend. Then probably American Psycho, he liked Christian Bale a lot in it but not so much Mary Harron’s take. I agreed with him on that. I asked him about The Informers, which I had just seen a few days before, and liked. He said it was a bit of a disappointment. I asked him about working with Australian director Gregor Jordan. He said he worked a bit with Gregor, as he wrote the script with LA writer/producer Nicholas Jarecki, and liked him. But, he felt the film lacked something. I offered that it was a film about really exciting, out there and wild things but that it felt a little boring like an Australian art house movie. He laughed at this. I said it should have been faster paced, more aggressive and exciting. I stated that even though Gregor Jordan’s The Informers is flawed its still the best thing Jordan has ever done and that I liked it, as the material (Bret’s book) was so strong. He said there was a longer cut that was better. I said the Vampire story needed to be in it and Bret said it was cut due to ‘politics’. He seemed most disappointed by the bad BO of The Informers and its mediocre critical reception. It had just opened a few weeks before. I got the impression if it had been a hit, he might have liked it better….
We spoke about Glamourama I commended him for being so prophetic in his portrayal of the two obsession of the coming ten years: celebrity and terrorism. I asked about an adaptation of that to the screen. Roger Avery was going to do one, but it had been put in turn around. I mentioned Zoolander and the similarities of the plot to Glamourama. Ellis said he had taken Ben Stiller to court and settled but cannot discuss the settlement.
From this we got on to his favorite subject, the surface of things. In chit chat Bret displayed an honest and intense fascination and enthusiasm with the superficial and the vacuous. It is no act with him. To him this is what society is all about. He seemed very interested in celebrity, gossip, fashion and various related issues. I asked what he thought of “The Hills”, a show I noticed had his stamp. He went into raptures about it and said it was the best thing on TV, “Ever”. He said LA had never looked as beautiful as how producer Adam DiVello portrayed it in that show. I said that is how your novels should be filmed, like “The Hills”, but with drugs, danger, murder, mayhem, psychos… and vampires! I said what are your favorite films of the past year? He said “The Dark Knight” and some other commercial fair, but also “Hunger”, which he said he loved. I had seen Soderbergh’s “Che part one” and asked what he thought of that? He said he saw part one and two with a friend and hated them and couldn’t wait to leave the Premiere as if the film was a kind of torture.
I got the impression in his enthusiasm for the superficial he didn’t realize exactly how important an author he was. I compared him a bit to F.Scott Fitzgerald in our conversation, who now has countless books on him, but during his life was somewhat ignored especially in his later years as a serious author, before the huge Fitzgerald rediscovery of the 50’s. He seemed a little oblivious to ideas his work is already or should be studied more at Universities and the like. I felt he agreed with Fitzgerald’s notion that, “An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.” To him he was/is still writing for his generation and appeared like he didn’t care too much about posterity or serious critical attention. At least on the surface. Which for Bret is everything, in many ways. Though he was not completely unaware of his actual, shock horror, depth. He would muse on a few things I’d mentioned in this area showing an subterranean intellectual breadth and reflection, that due to his persona, he often tries to hide.
We got onto politics. I discussed my interest in a form of right wing transformative politics, even with hints of fascism, and he tilted his head and said the Right interested him. He confessed to being a Republican sympathiser, but with reservations. He said his family had always been Republicans. We spoke about Bush who he told me loved Less Than Zero (…no surprises there!!) and that he had met him in the 80’s. He said he liked Ronald Reagan in the 80’s and that he thought Bush bashing was “too easy”. I concurred. He said he didn’t like some things Bush had done… but wouldn’t be drawn on details.
We discussed Fitzgerald. He said he had read The Beautiful and Damned at University and that he was a fan of Fitzgerald. He acted defensive when I spoke in detail about Fitzgerald’s oeuvre saying he had studied it all as a Lit Major in college. This seemed odd as he is clearly an author of great genius and need not be defensive on such issues even if he hasn’t read the author in a number of years.
I got him to sign my Fantastic Man issue, that I had brought along. He said the article made him “look a little gay”. As in slightly wimpy, not homosexual. This is from a guy who is, as far as the rumors go, bisexual. It was an odd comment. Bret seemed straight when talking to me. But you really can’t tell. He has something of the mythical Salamander quality about him. I would say this, if he was gay, he was the one doing the fucking and not the one being fucked. He has a certain air of stylish menace and alpha male aggression about him that comes through in his books and characters. In this sense he is a “man’s man”.
We spoke about Hollywood, how “all his friends were no longer interesting as they worked in Hollywood”. This was partly a jest, I imagine. He said the word Hollywood in a way as if he slightly despised it or looked down on it a little. Understandable given its ubiquitousness in LA. He was meeting Hollywood people later that night and he also had a TV Show he was trying to develop called “The Canyons”. So, technically, like Fitzgerald in his later years, he too, was now part of Hollywood.
I felt we built a rapport and an hour or more slide by easily. I invited him as guest of MUFF (Melbourne Underground Film Festival) any time, offering to play a retrospective of all the films made of his work and we agreed to stay in contact. His dinner guests arrived – three Hollywood types – one of whom I maybe recognized as part of a Hollywood power dynasty.
I asked for a photo. And he agreed affably, “No problems”. We took it out the front of Ammo on Highland. I placed my hand on his shoulder in the second shot and it was rock hard. Either from working out… or from being tense. Or maybe both?
It was great to meet BEE, someone whose writings have perfectly summed up the zeitgeist for me in the last 25 years and I look forward to “Imperial Bedrooms” and the return of Rip and Clay with bated breath.
February 17, 2010
Cover of the new Bret Easton Ellis novel. OK now I’m excited. This looks fucking great and I read a brief synopsis online that sounded spot on. Its a sequel to Less Than Zero. I had the good fortune to meet Bret Ellis last year ( …I should blog about that here soon) and he assured me Rip was back. My vote for most anticipated book of the year.