Magazine article Metro Magazine

Looking for John Waters: Damian Kringas Talks to Four Guerilla Film-Makers

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Looking for John Waters: Damian Kringas Talks to Four Guerilla Film-Makers

Article excerpt

In 1972 John Waters made Pink Flamingos, a movie that cost five thousand dollars and earned millions. But that's hardly surprising--squeeze a three hundred pound man into a dress and you can't lose. For many filmmakers, John Waters is a hero. For a growing number--who aren't mainstream, or even underground but 'guerilla'--John Waters helped create the world of Guerilla Cinema, banging down doors all those years ago, trying to get his film onto the big screen, overcoming abuse and rejection.

The makers of The Killbillies (Duke Hendrix, 2001), an Australian low-budget full-length feature, will tell anyone willing to buy them a beer; they're dug-in at the front line of an Australian Guerilla Cinema revolution, that includes them and other dedicated film-makers.

'How many others?' I ask.

'Well', they tell me over the phone, 'we don't know anyone else making full-features like we do but there's bound to be a few'. We decide to get together.

Duke Hendrix (director/co-writer/actor) and Leon Fish (co-writer/actor) arrive first. Against expectation they're calm, almost subdued. Hendrix tells me Fish is a published poet.

DK: So how.does being a poet fit into movie-making?

DH: Someone once told me, you have to spread your arts.

Hendrix says, that with a straight face. He leans in closer.

DH: It's all about entertainment. You hold someone's attention for the whole time and you've won the baffle. In the case of The Killbillies it's eighty minutes. Our job is to hold people for the full eighty minutes.

DK: And do you?

LF: Target market. The guy from Sex Gore Mutants Magazine UK, said it was the best movie he'd seen in years. The guy from the New York Comedy Festival was so offended, I thought he was going to sue. It's all about taste.

DK: What's with the hillbilly theme?

LF: Duke and I wrote a cookbook a few years ago. We had all the recipes and in between we had this story. We'd just finished a short film, Frankenbilly (Duke Hendrix, 1998), so we had all the characters and with the cookbook story we came up with enough to get the feature started.

DK: So you've made short films?

DH: Leon's done one, we've done two together and earlier I made a couple with my brother.

LF: We decided a full-length feature was what we wanted to do. With a three chip camera and digital editing software we had what we needed.

DH: And email. Email and the Internet made it possible to get information and to network. To get in touch with the right people and get feedback, especially after the film was finished.

LF: We also had Grant Biffin (special effects) who worked on The Matrix (Andy and Larry Wachowski, 1999). He did all our FX and that's what we based the story around.

DK: He did the blood and guts stuff?

DH: Yeah, like the zombie birth scene. Leon and I decided on a scene where a zombie baby comes out of one of the hillbillies. We had the scene in our heads and I called up Grant. He said no problem. I think we all thought, let's give it a go but on the night it was better than we could have hoped for. It's like Grant took this vision out of our heads and made it real.

I order drinks.

Fish hands me a promotional pamphlet.

The Killbillies; see hillbillies, hear cussin', see un-natural lovin', hear surf guitar, see zombies, learn cookin.

LF: We had the premier at the Mu-MesonArchives in Sydney. Jay Katz and Miss Death helped us out. Without them, there wouldn't be any non-mainstream cinema in Sydney. Duke, the rest of the cast and heaps of people were there.

DH: It was sold out, maybe ninety people.

DK: What was the reaction?

LF: Great. They laughed and more than a few times we brought the place down.

DH: Leon was worried but I thought it went down really well.

LF: Yeah, a couple of times they went a bit quiet but at the end they clapped, waited for the credits to finish, clapped again, then sat there totally stunned. …

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