Midnight Madness Blog

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Tonight's premiere of Not Quite Hollywood was a tremendous success. Yesterday I wrote on the Midnight Madness Facebook Group that I was happy that this year's documentary was about films, instead of the music documentaries we've seen over the last several seasons. The irony is that the fun, rebellious spirit of film-making shown in this documentary was pure rock'n'roll. And the soundtrack was killer, too.

I'm sure a good chunk of people in attendance tonight have seen Mad Max, Razorback, and Dead End Drive-In. Perhaps some have even seen Fantasm, but for over 100 minutes, we were given plenty of eye candy of pure gold from down under that you've probably never even heard about -- I sure didn't. I hope you were taking mental notes, because I know my 'want' list has just expanded by over two dozen films.

While not nearly as exciting as the films featured in tonight's documentary -- pardon me, rockumentary -- the whole thing had me thinking about the exploitation filmmaking that took place in Canada throughout the same era featured in Not Quite Hollywood. Canada and Australia share an obvious kinship, and one of our commonalities is that throughout the 70s and 80s our film industries were granted tax shelters. In Canada, from 1975 to the early 1980s, film producers could deduct 100% of their investment. While it led to the early breakthroughs of David Cronenberg and Ivan Reitman, it also led to plenty of cheap and quick-cash films, some of which were shelved immediately and never shown again. It also created quite a controversy; Robert Fulford, writing under the pseudonym "Marshall Delaney" in a 1975 issue of Saturday Night, wrote a piece titled "You should know how bad this movie is. After all, you paid for it." In the article, he blasts Cronenberg's Shivers, claiming it was "a disgrace to everyone connected with it -- including the taxpayers."

In Canada, the tax shelters were the result of the socially-minded policies of the Trudeau government. I spoke to the director of Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley, and "Ozsploitation" legend Brian Trenchard-Smith about the political climate in Australia throughout the early days of the genre. In Australia, the tax shelters came later than ours, but the government had still been handing out plenty of cash from the early 1970s and onward. Talking about funding and tax writeoffs might come across as a boring subject -- a fact Hartley admits during the interview -- but it gives a better understanding of some of the circumstances in which these films were made.

VIDEO: Mark Hartley and Brian Trenchard Smith discuss the tax shelters

You're also welcome to have a look at the Q&A session that took place after the film (Part 1 - Part 2). Colin was joined by Hartley, Trenchard-Smith, and another individual featured in the film, producer Anthony I. Ginnane, whose IMDB listing reads like War & Peace.