Tag Archives: australia

Why Mad Max could only have been made in Australia


NB: This was originally written as a pitch
for a comedy site and abandoned.

I recently had the chance to see the
recording of the FAQ show for Ozflix with
Bruce Spence. We could only ask one question so mine was 300 words long.
I ended up having to cut it so I asked if the people making the movie
knew that if it was something that could happen in the near future and
not just a movie. He used the word prescient in his answer and said that
George Miller was “a bit of genius”. The first movies were about the
fuel crisis of the 1970s. Fury Road was about water.

So this happened

and then this

Despite there being many Australians
involved in the Hollywood film industry, the country does not have many
iconic film characters apart from Skippy, Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max
that are world famous. Wolverine does not count unfortunately.

The original Mad Max film was based
on Dr George Miller’s experience from dealing with a parade of carnage
through his emergency room in a time when cars were much more powerful
than today and more poorly regulated and more importantly, when drink
driving laws were lax.

In the city where the original film
was made there were vast suburbs stretching out in all directions with
lots of well made, straight, flat roads that helped the production. It
also led to many imitators both in Australia and overseas but Mad Max is
still the most iconic.

When the film was made in the late
1970s the gas crisis was a recent memory so the plot about the world
running out of fuel for cars seemed like a real possibility. There are
also a lot of other things that contributed to the movie being what it
is that will become apparent as we go on.

Despite what some fans are saying
about the new movie, it is an Australian production as a crew of 800
people went over from Australia to South Africa and Nambia to shoot the
film and many of the extras were Australian actors.

What I want to talk about in this
article is how the original film could not have been made in any other
country than Australia (an alternate reality of Mad Max being made in
Hollywood could be dealt with in another article.)

1. The political environment

Australia does not have the law that
its Prime Minister can only have two terms so at the start of the 1970s
after two decades of the one political party being in power, people were
ready for a change https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jykIqQxEOw

Gough Whitlam tried to institute
real change, but that went about as well as could be expected, he is
famous for being the only Prime Minister to be fired by the Governor

While he was in the Whitlam
government did pass a lot of reforms that led to a lot more creative
things going on including kicking into gear the local film industry due
to free university degrees and a lot more people going into creative
industries as a result.


The Australian Film Commission was
created on July 7, 1975 and began making substantial grants to feature
film, documentary, television and short film projects.182
It significantly extended on the support for the Australian film
industry that began with the Gorton Government. This support contributed
to the renaissance of Australian cinema that took place in the 1970s and
1980s, reviving an industry that had stagnated for decades. This support
allowed the expression of a new confident cultural identity through
film. Iconic and critically acclaimed films such as Picnic at
Hanging Rock
, Gallipoli and The Last Wave
were produced with funding from the new Australian Film Commission.

2. The Australian film industry in the 70s

At the start of the decade the
Australian film industry had “had a bit of a lie down” for about 20
years and even some of the more famous Australian films such as

They’re a Weird Mob

Wake in Fright



were not even directed by
Australians as while there were still people working in TV and film it
was thought no one would see Australian movies if they made them.

The subject is covered in depth in
the documentary “Not Quite Hollywood” about the “boom” time of
Australian cinema from the introduction of the R-rating (NC-17) and the
10BA scheme through to the slump in the 1980s due to over-investment in
shoddy productions.


When first introduced in June 1981,
10BA allowed investors to claim a 150 per cent tax concession and to pay
tax on only half of any income earned from the investment. Government
concern about the cost of 10BA over the years meant that concessions
were progressively reduced to 100 per cent. Division 10BA was
closed to new applicants in July 2007 with the introduction of the new
Producer Offset. The concessional status for investment in productions
holding a valid 10BA certificate remained available until 30 June 2009.

3. Actors available

While Mad Max was famously one of
Mel Gibson’s first movies that he only got the role for after turning up
for casting with a black eye after getting into a fight, there were also
many other cast members who had been in many other films in the previous
decade that directly contributed to making the film what it was.

No, I was not named after the movie
“Tim” it was the BOOK

Several of the actors had already
been in movies together, namely the movie Stone which is as much the
spiritual successor to Mad Max as any other movie

According to Stone’s producer Sandy
Harbutt Roger Ward went over to the pub that the Hells Angels who were
playing the extras were drinking at and yelled out “All Hells Angels are
poofters!”. Some of the fights in that movie were pretty real.

Not forgetting one of the most
important people involved in the film, stuntman Grant Page who was in a
lot of Australian movies in the 70s and early 80s http://www.abc.net.au/arts/stories/s3306721.htm


4. Director

Director George Miller was a doctor
before making the film and famously had to use his own van in one of the
stunts for Mad Max as they were running out of money.


There were a lot of young directors
at the time due to the film industry having a revival in the 1970s
people like Brian Trenchard-Smith, Peter Weir, Phillip Noyce, Gillian
Armstrong, Fred Schepisi amongst others who started off small and then
went off to work in Hollywood or overseas due to the Australian film
industry not being big enough to sustain them all.


During the 1970s , following the
confluence of numerous different factors, t ere was an extraordinary
revival of Australian film. The graduation of the first group of
students from the newly-created Australian Film, Television and Radio
School(AFTRS), was one factor; students like Gillian Armstrong and
Philip Noyce left their studies and began to work in the industry, and
settled alongside filmmakers like Fred Schepisi, Bruce Beresford and
Peter Weir, who had entered the industry in other ways. The other
factors ushering in the revival are also significant: in 1970, Philip
Adams and Barry Jones (working with the blessing of then Australian
Prime Minister Gorton) travelled around the world researching
Government-funded film industries, with the brief to prepare a detailed
report recommending ways in which an Australian Film Industry might be
literally “established”. After much wrangling and two changes of Prime
Minister, the new Australian film industry was brought into being.

One of Peter Weir’s first movies
“The Cars that Ate Paris” also has the porcupine VW Beetle that makes a
welcome return in the trailer for the new Mad Max movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q424p7lWD-U

5. Car culture of Australia

Even though they were both USA car
brands, Holden vs. Ford rivalry was the source of many playground fights
growing up, sadly there are not going to be any car manufacturers left
in Australia after 2016 when the last of them shuts down as the current
government has decided to pull the plug.

The peak of car manufacturing in
Australia was in the 1970s where a car manufacturer’s race the Bathurst
1000 was held once per year by cars actually in production. If you go to
see the museum at the track you can see all they did was weld roll bars
into a real production car that still had its back seats installed and
souped-up the engine http://www.motoring.com.au/news/2012/sports/bathurst-1000—the-superstar-70s-32315

While not as money-rich as the
Formula One or having a big a following as NASCAR, the V8 touring cars
still do a series of races around Australia and the Formula 1 race in
Melbourne is the only one where they actually have another class of cars
racing on the track before the big race or nobody would come to it

Australian cars in the 1970s were
big an boxy, if you got into the crash the car would be fine, it was you
would be smashed up. There was famously a car that was deemed “too
dangerous” to release after an incautious motoring journalist took it
for a test drive one Sunday morning.


With the popularity of cars in
Australia and the number of road accidents, drastic measures had to be
taken and the Traffic Accident Commission started airing graphic road
accident commercials on network television as part of various campaigns
mirroring the violence in the Mad Max movies but showing the real


A 20 year retrospective of all the TAC campaigns
from the past 20 years.

To commemorate this 20 year anniversary, a five minute
retrospective of TAC campaigns from the past 20 years has been
compiled. This montage features iconic scenes and images from
commercials that have helped change the way we drive, all edited to
REM’s moving song ‘Everybody Hurts’.

As an aside I did once borrow a VHS tape from the
Australian Centre for the Moving Image called “The Road Worrier” that
was totally based on Mad Max but had a golden driving instructor robot
and advised students to “DON’T BE A NERD! TAKE YOUR TIME”


Title The Road worrier (304757)
Physical Colour; Sound; 19 min
Produced 1986
Distributor Film Australia (FA)
Synopsis Examines driving hazards encountered by young
people when
they start to drive: inexperience on roads; traps to avoid when
dealing with car dealers. Also looks at how to acquire good
driving skills. Prod Co
Distributor Film Australia (FA)
Prod Co: Film Australia
Director Karl Zwicky
Subjects Automobile driver education; Automobile
driving; Automobiles
Purchasing; Film Australia

Asking ACMI for a copy of “Rolf Harris Water Safety”
is left as an exercise for the reader https://twitter.com/ACMI

6. Geography

Despite being a flat, straight and
six lane freeway, the Melbourne to Geelong road is still dangerous and
claims several lives per year


The Weribee Plain is part of the
Western Volcanic Plains and starts at the You Yangs, that are actually
the remnants of volcanoes that have worn down so much only the lava
plugs in the middle remain.


This meant a very flat road with
good looking locations such as the bridge where they took the railings
off to do the stunt where the motorcyclists went into the river. Also on
the same bridge one of the stuntmen actually got hit in the head by the
motorcycle’s wheel.

You can actually go see where they
filmed parts of the first movie fairly easily if you are living or
traveling to Melboure. Due to hoons messing up the place in their cars
the author has left some locations off the list


“Note: Some locations I have
discovered are privately owned, and for that reason are not listed.
Additionally, I have noticed evidence at some other locations that
people have been hooning around in their cars. DON’T let this be you.
It’s rather childish, and spoils it for everyone else when I’m forced to
remove locations from the list as a result. Thanks.”

The second and third films were
filmed a lot further out near Broken Hill and do not have the same feel
to them. The outer suburban malaise where all you can do is drive around
and yelling out at people before wrapping it around a power poll at
100mph is a popular thing for younger drivers to do still, the Victorian
government had to change the laws to restrict the number of passengers
probationary drivers could have due to so many accidents.


Australian band TISM also covered
this topic in their song “Greg! The Stop Sign”

There is also the song “Maltby
Bypass” which I cannot find online that is about the region around
Weribee telling the story of Johnny Cash having is photo taken on the
side of the road and a family car breakdown a decade earlier

Greyhound Hotel – All the gigs I went to*

* – those that I have a verified record of at least.

2001 | 2002 | 2003
| 2004 | 2005 | 2006
2007 | 2008 | 2009


The Starliners & Cabana Smoothie Karaoke

Twits Karaoke



Fred Negro & Steve Prictor’s Karaoke

The Gamma Rays

Fred & Steve’s Karaoke


The Prayerbabies


Prayerbabies & South of the River Community Choir
Thursday 18th December 2003


Red Hot Poker Dots


Reopening of the Greyhound Hotel Band room
Featuring Prayerbabies, Violent Mood Swings, GUT, The Exotics, Gamma Rays,
Speed Demons & The Fuck Fucks



New Year’s Day 2005 Recovery at the Greyhound
with the Gamma Rays, Shonkytonk, Vaginabillies & Sin City (unseen)

Suzannah Espie & The Last Word
Sunday, 29th May, 2005


P-TEX Christmas Show 2005
Saturday, 17th December, 2005



Rock’n’Roll Wrestling
Friday, 13th January, 2006


Hard Drive Bluegrass
Sunday, 22nd January 2006


Coreyoke for Corey’s Birthday
Sunday, 5th February, 2006


Mrs Wainright
Sunday, 2nd April, 2006


Slim Whittle’s Country Killed
Sunday, 30th April, 2006


Suzannah Espie & The Last Word (special guest Jeff Lang)
Sunday 9th July 2006


Heartbreak Hotel Elvis Tribute
with the Maryhillbillys Trio, the Paddy Chong Orchestra, CW Stoneking, Tony
Shaw, Dave Last
Thursday, 17th August 2006


The Twits vs. Rock’n’Roll Wrestling
Friday, 13th October 2006

Kooky Karaoke
Sunday, 5th November 2006


Sunday, 10th December 2006
hosted by Frederica 100% Negro and Janelle down the Pint
featuring performances by Alicia, Damian, Jack, Justine,Mrs Mitchell, Lucy,
Mia, Margarine, Nick and Tiffany

Fuck Fucks XMAS Show 2006
with Brothel & The Hybernators
Friday, 22nd December 2006


Suzannah Espie & the Last Word, Kooky Karaoke
with special guest Matt Walker
Sunday, 21st January 2007

Rock & Roll Wrestling
with the Twits
Friday, 9th February 2007

The Detonators
Saturday, 10th February 2007

with Killer Birds and Cold Harbour
Friday, 9th March 2007

2007 Karaoke Oscars
Sunday, 11th March 2007
Hosted by Fred Negro and Johnny Down the Pint
Singers: George E Bean, Deb & Peter, Ewan, Bongo Womble, Amanda, Carla,
Jeff the Butcher, Melinda, Frank Lee Earnest, Dale

Sunday night, Monday morning early
Jesse Bates’ Birthday
with various supports

23rd March 2007
Bittersweet Kicks, Speed Demons, The Hybernators, Box Wars, Fuck Fucks

Sarah Carroll & the Unconscious Brothers
with special guests Suzannah Espie & Dan Warner
Sunday, 15th April 2007

Wayward Fancies & Fingerbone Bill
Sunday, 3rd June 2007

The Brown Brothers, Maryhillbillys
Sunday 16th September 2007

The Re-mains
with Bec and Den Hanrahan
Thursday 11th October 2007

The Hybernators
with Catgut Mary, Brigitte Handley & The Dark Shadows
Friday 16th November 2007

Gleny Rae and Her Tamworth Playboys
Thursday 22nd December 2007



Chuck’s Wagon, Prayerbabies, Toby’s last Karaoke
Sunday 10th February 2008

Sin City
with On The Prowl, Loveslaps
22nd February 2008

The Paesanos, The Joelenes
Sunday 13th January 2008

The Band Who Knew Too Much
Sunday 2nd March 2008

Ghost Mountain, The Dirt
16th March 2008

Karaoke Oscars 2008
Sunday 23rd March 2008

The Re-mains
with Fireside Bellows
Thursday 27th March 2008

The Double Agents
Saturday 5th April 2008


Dezperados CD Launch
with the Large No. 12’s
Saturday 12th April 2008

Suzannah Espie & the Last Word
Sunday 22nd June 2008

Rob Luckey & the Lucky Bastards
Sunday 6th July 2008

You Yangs
Thursday 24th July 2008

The Stetson Family, The Snowdroppers, Kooky Karaoke
Sunday 17th August 2008

Crackwhore, Kamikaze, Killerbirds
Friday 22nd August 2008

Kooky Karaoke
Sunday 24th August 2008

with Imperial Leatherman
Friday 19th September 2008

Grand Final Eve 2008
Kretch, The Hybernators, Sons of Lee Marvin
Friday 26th September 2008

The Flyin’ Saucers, Brigitte Handley and the Dark Shadows
Sunday 2nd November 2008

Kooky Karaoke’s 12th Birthday
with the Kaos Orchestra, special guests
Sunday 2nd November 2008

Nici Blue Eyes, The Snowdroppers, Kooky Karaoke
Greyhound Hotel, Sunday 16th November 2008

Fuck Fucks Barrels by Candlelight 2008
with Cold Harbour
Saturday 13th December 2008

Mal Webb, Sarah Carroll, Bakersfield Glee Club, Waz E. James Band, The Junes
Pure Pop Records/The Greyhound/St Kilda Bowling Club
Sunday 21st December 2008


Chuck’s Wagon
with Den Hanrahan
Sunday 4th January 2009

Kooky Karaoke
Sunday 11th January 2009

Runaway Boys, Greasy Hawaiians, Flyin’ Saucers, Kooky Karaoke
Sunday 25th January 2009

The Band Who Knew Too Much
Sunday 8th February 2009

Hornswagglers, Brigette Handley & the Dark Shadows, the Hybernators
Sunday 15th March 2009

Bittersweet Kicks, Molten Universe
Friday 27th March 2009

Sunday 23rd August 2009

MIFF 2015 – Gulpilil Shorts

Crocodile Dreaming (2007)

Director: Darlene Johnson
Starring: David Gulpilil, Tommy Lewis, Richard Birrinbirrin, Mary Dhapalany, Frances Djulibing, Jamie Gulpilil

An important ancestral stone gets thrown into a billabong leading to one of the local crocodiles being angered. This crocodile kills the daughter of the man who threw it. He offers to help, but the elders reject his offers and ask his brother (Gulpilil) to help even though he is away living with the white people and a famous actor.

The film is based on the dreaming of David Gulpilil’s mother. The director originally met the actor while working on Rabbit Proof fence and the story was originally meant to be about a troublesome crocodile and involve Steve Irwin, but David Gulpilil felt that story had already been made and he wanted to tell the story in his own words.

I enjoyed that there were spiritual and other worldly elements involved in this movie, but they were more touches to the film and helped emphasise when something had a special significance such as the fire trail left by the crocodile, the flaming billabong, the glowing stone and the crocodile attack in reverse.

The acting was also great in this even from the extras who are acting like you would expect them to act in such a situation. Having seen Dark Age before this movie, the dialog for this film is much better and not corny.

Mimi (2002)

Director: Warwick Thornton
Starring: David Gulpilil, Sophie Lee, Aaron Pedersen

A yuppie (Sophie Lee) buys some Aboriginal art just as investment not caring about the story behind it. This comes back to bite her when she opens the cupboard the next day to find the painting of the fish is only bones having been eaten. The next day she finds her apartment messed up and the other artwork is actually a Mimi. In panic she rings her friend and asks if she knows a “real Aboriginal”. When the man arrives (Aaron Pedersen) the sight of the Mimi scares the shit out of him, but he agrees to help.

Ringing his grandad (David Gulpilil), he first has to put up with a torrent of abuse about pretending to be white but does agree to help if he gets a new fridge. Opening his new fridge he finds the foul-mouthed Mimi waiting for him. He throws it in a cave and walks away to it throwing rocks at him.

There is very little comedy based around Inigenous issues in Australia as it is a delicate subject as any non-indigenous person who would make a joke would be accused of being racist quite likely as they are not in the situation and do not understand the issues involved.

There is room for parody from people who do understand in both the art scene in that Indigenous art is seen as a set things and only certain things would sell and also people who buy the art without knowing the story behind the art and only seeing it as an “investment”.

The Rainbow Serpent (1975)

Based on the book by Dick Roughsey, David Gulpilil narrates the story of creation involving the Rainbow Serpent. While there is not really any animation in this film, the painted backdrops and sound effects do tell the story quite well.
I remember seeing this when I was younger but do not know if it is still available online. Schools used to have actual film reels these films were on.

Showing Melbourne to Maningrida (1973)

Director: David Gulpilil

David Gulpilil films his trip to Melbourne in 1973. Melbourne sure looked boring back then and very white. Lots more older buildings that have since been knocked down also.

There are segments of the film that are not in English but they are few enough that subtitles are not really needed.
I liked the part where David Gulpilil went to buy a suit since everyone in the city was wearing one and he looked like a cowboy. There was a part where he goes into a music store (Allans?) and tries out a guitar also.

This film was made when David Gulpilil was studying film at university.

An excellent time capsule of the era and it is good to see David Gulpilil looking relaxed and natural in a role. I still have to see Charlie’s Country and Another Country.

MIFF 2015 – Dark Age (1987)

Director: Arch Nicholson
Starring: John Jarrat, Steve Harris, Nikki Coghill, Cathy Pope, Max Phipps, Burnham Burnham, David Gulpilil, Ray Meagher

There was a killer crocodile movie released a few years ago that was similar to this movie, but I have not seen it. This movie has a lot of fans in the cult genre and the print screened at the festival was Quentin Tarantino’s personal copy.

The storyline is not that much different to any other killer animal movie with an initial attack being played down until there is one in broad daylight and all hell breaks loose. It is pretty graphic in this case with a young child being eaten in broad daylight.

If anything the response from the authorities was muted in this movie. If it had happened today the current government would have done everything bar nuking the crocodile to get rid of it, but they only care how much money they can dig out of the ground.

This movie did screen as part of the David Gulpilil retrospective, but he does not get to do that much in it apart from get ignored by people and a couple of action scenes.

Burnham Burnham gets a lot of corny dialog to deliver but still manages to maintain his dignity. I liked him more in the Howling III where at least he gets to be funny and take the piss on the native spiritual thing “no way I’m just gunna die!”
Another thing to appreciate in this movie is that is a rare chance to see a rare non-Home and Away performance by Ray Meagher, ya flamin’ mongrel!

Yeah, yeah John Jarrat is in it too, but he is a bit of a dork in it. The crocodile it quite well realised and they wisely keep it off screen for most of the running time except at the end.

It does say the film was shot on location in Cairns and Alice Springs, but you can see at least one pick up shot with the word “MARL-“ as in Marlo clearly visible on a building.

While I wouldn’t rush out and see this movie, it is $5 on the Umbrella entertainment website so if you are already buying a bunch of movies it would be easy enough to pick up.

Umbrella Entertainment – Australian DVD Run Part 1

Without meaning to I have done a bulk DVD purchase several times directly before MIFF when I will be watching lots of movies in short time. At least I have something to watch afterwards when I finish watching Skippy. Umbrella Entertainment has a special on at the moment so some of these were $5.

OZ-PLOITATION BOXSET VOL 3: Australia After Dark/The ABC of Love and Sex, Felicity, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Mad Dog Morgan, Patrick, Les Patterson Saves the World
Squizzy Taylor
Kitty and the Bagman
The Last of the Knucklemen
Death in Brunswick
The Lighthorsemen

I had been meaning to buy some more Australian movies for a while as I have seen a few of these and want to watch them again. Also I wanted to write some more reviews for Australian movies as my focus has been overseas for a long time.

I will see how I go after this batch as I am trying not to binge on DVD purchases too much as I want to save money while I am working for the leans times ahead due to the State Election and not being able to do get website work over the Christmas/New Year Period.

I have a large list of stuff I would like to buy, but the priority will be the 60’s Batman TV box set in November and the 30 movie Universal Movie Monsters Box set in September.

There is a writing project I want to work on involving the new Mad Max movie for another website and I will try to do some more work on that also.


Australia After Dark

The ABC of Love and Sex


Barry McKenzie Holds His Own

Mad Dog Morgan


Les Patterson Saves the World

Squizzy Taylor

Kitty and the Bagman

The Last of the Knucklemen


Death in Brunswick

The Lighthorsemen