10 Questions: Mark Hartley, filmmaker, 44

YOU’VE just remade the 1970s Australian horror classic Patrick. Why?

I really loved Patrick but it was very much a film of its time. I don’t think you should remake films that can’t be improved upon but when you look at the original now, it was set in one room and didn’t have a lot of atmosphere. We wanted to go quite spooky with it.

When did you first see the original Patrick?

I remember it was the first ex-rental VHS tape I ever bought. A little bit later I found out the director, Richard Franklin, had gone to my high school so I got in touch with him and stayed in contact right up until his death.

You’ve directed video clips for bands like Powderfinger and the Cruel Sea and even the theme song for the Sydney Olympic Games. How did that come about?

I was working a lot with Sony and they were doing the original soundtrack album for the Olympics and they got me to direct Tina Arena singing The Flame.

Your 2008 doco Not Quite Hollywood, about Australian B-movies of the 1970s and ’80s, won an AFI award and fans around the world. Were you surprised by its success?

Totally. Some of the subject matter is quite extreme but people seemed to forgive that because there was such energy and no one was at all apologetic about any of the films in it. It was a time before computer-generated images, when people were fearless and stupid but they did all they could to get the best images on screen. It alternated between funny and kind of jaw-dropping.

Where did the term Ozploitation come from?

Quentin Tarantino takes all credit for coining the expression but he called it Aussie exploitation and I kind of streamlined it to Ozploitation. We just needed a buzzword for R-rated Australian genre cinema which covered our low-budget crime films, our sex films, action and horror films.

Have you seen Tarantino since you interviewed him for Not Quite Hollywood?

When he came to Australia promoting Inglourious Basterds I got together a lot of Not Quite Hollywood people who he’d always wanted to meet and we all went out to dinner. [Producer] Tony Ginnane got Quentin to write a note suggesting that Screen Australia should finance the remake of Patrick and sign it.

Why did you want to become a filmmaker?

I’m the right age to be a Star Wars kid – it just blew our minds.

What were your viewing habits as a child?

Because of Not Quite Hollywood and [the follow-up doco] Machete Maidens Unleashed, people just assume that I sit at home screening exploitation films one after the other, but I have a very broad appreciation of film. When I was a kid, it was all the Ray Harryhausen dinosaur films and lots of ’50s sci-fi like The Day the Earth Stood Still.

You’ve also helped preserve the stories behind mainstream Australian films. How?

I put together the DVD releases for all Umbrella Entertainment’s Australian back catalogue, so I ended up doing making-of documentaries on Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Getting of Wisdom, Don’s Party, probably about 60 Australian films. A lot of the people we interviewed are no longer with us.

Is the Australian film industry in good shape?

It’s difficult to get someone to leave their home to spend $16 to $18 at the cinema. It’s even harder to make them feel the films we’re making in Australia – which are much smaller, contained films – are worth that spend.

Patrick premieres at the Melbourne International Film Festival on July 27

 

BY:MEGAN LEHMANN From: The Australian July 20, 2013