Earn an MA in Film with David Lynch

I discovered – via The Criterion Collection website, via filmmaker Juhyun Pak – that a university is offering a degree in David Lynch. Or David Lynch is teaching about his work. Or something. You get an MA in Film, learning from David Lynch. Possibly about his work. I think it’s a fair estimation he will offer extensive examples from his oeuvre.




I’d love to attend.

I’d hand in all my assignments wraaaaaaapped in plaaaaaaastic.

Or carved into logs (RIP Log Lady).

 And ride into class on a mower.

Rather than an apple, I’d bring heaps of cups of coffee with far too much sugar to teacher to provide his granulated happiness.

Granulated Happiness

I’d sdrawkcab kaeps ot evah, of course.

And I’d rub out all my mistakes with my head…


I reckon I’ve earnt my degree right there.

Juhyun (who pointed out the need to sdrawkcab kaeps) points out that only 17 graduates will be awarded Kwisatz Haderach honours…

…but killing Sting is a prerequisite.

As far-fetched as all this nonsense sounds, further investigation reveals the course is being offered by the Maharishi University of Management.

That’s right, the Very Richy Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the ‘giggling guru’ of Beatle-related infamy (replace the words ‘Sexy Sadie’ with ‘Maharishi’ in the Beatles song to gauge  John Lennon’s final opinion) – founded a university. It offers an ‘holistic’ approach to learning.

So yogic flying is probably a co-requisite.

But more importantly, I’m probably bang-on with the ‘far-fetched nonsense’.




The Review

Dom trust

No idea if 'being a muso' is accurately portrayed, but the clip below conveys precisely the enormity of blogging about the arts, and a lot more directly than this blog post conveys the way in which the internet has rendered cultural discourse a ridiculous hall of mirrors as I blog about a film about a blog about music.




Maybe someone can write a song about photographing someone reading this?

Meanwhile, dig the gorgeous Les Paul...


Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story

It would appear that Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story is about to be or just has been broadcast on TV in the UK (and certainly will be again) because the blog's getting hits. I interviewed filmmaker Sarah Townsend for FilmInk back when it was released on DVD. I reckon you can have the whole thing here now.

Eddie Izzard Believe

Photo credit: Eddie Izzard, courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevork Djansezian/


"Documentary," Sarah Townsend says, "is a very difficult form, especially if it's not your natural bent. It's like trying to learn to do math if you're a writer." And she should know. Townsend directed Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, a fine doco - one that didn't so much begin life as a different documentary but almost ended up as one.

If you've seen Believe, you'll know Townsend from her ‘cameo'; part of the reason she ended up making the film - and has produced a number of Izzard's live performance DVDs - is because she's known Eddie since he began his career, when they were in a relationship. "Eddie's stuff was not political or cutting edge," she recalls. "Other people were much more obvious frontrunners. As time went on that very factor meant his comedy continued to be of interest." As demonstrated, in fine detail, in Believe.

It begins with the comedy process. The point of departure is a ridiculous UK tabloid beat-up of Eddie ‘conning' the public because his tour, promoted as an ‘all new show' by one venue, consisted of material the comic had already toured with in the US.

"It was bullshit, nothing to worry about," Townsend says, "but it got to Eddie because he's the guy who'd roll over his material faster than anybody. So the whole tour was about him trying to re-establish himself in his own head as the person he thought he was."

Presented parallel to Izzard's triumphant presentation, from scratch, of a totally new show, is his life story from infancy to worldwide success. But combining the strands of story was difficult. Sarah knew, dramatically, how it should be told but was stymied by editors insisting it was impossible.

"I'd think, ‘I bow to your greater technical knowledge' and end up with something that just wasn't going to work. So I'd be back to the drawing board yet again!" Eventually, the perfect collaborator, an "absolutely amazing editor" Angie Vargos appeared at the right time. "They always say ‘it takes years to find your team' with film. I went through something like eight editors before I found the right one for me."

They had their work cut out: despite amassing many hours of excellent material, some of it was in tiny fragments. "So much technical work went into making ten seconds here and there seem like a two-minute piece of footage. It was like making a jigsaw with only two pieces." Through it all, one essential piece of puzzle proved elusive.

According to Townsend, all documentary consists of manipulating material in order to create a "greater truth" from bits that, "strictly speaking, might not be true." But, sooner or later, you need to have the subject of the documentary acknowledge that truth, either admit or realise or "have the reality hit them in that moment." Without that element, there's "no proper journey."

Surprisingly - because they're old mates, and also because he seems so forthcoming in interviews - Eddie doesn't give much away. "On film, you can really tell when someone's not getting to the root of anything," Sarah says. "We did interviews for four years before we got anything that was genuinely truthful. There was no genuine revelation of the self in it, and ultimately, that's what we really want."

It was at the point where they were ready to relegate Believe to the ‘one-hour television special' that Eddie came through. "Suddenly we got the interviews that were the most revealing and formed the backbone at the end of the story."

The revelation? The truth Eddie reveals - as much to himself as to filmmakers and the audience - is that his entire career is predicated on his yearning for the approval and presence of his mother, who died when he was very young.

"That was an amazing moment," Sarah says. "A complete shock. We never thought we'd get there. We'd absolutely given up. And it was so real, so extraordinary. I remember us sitting in the room staring at each other afterwards not speaking, going ‘Oh my god!' That's the bit that made us able to turn it into a feature." Thus, Believe was equally a journey for Sarah.

"It was very interesting for me to discover, structurally, what we as humans require from a film in order to connect with it and believe in it and not feel that it's just something superficial."

Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story is available on DVD now (and showing on television in the UK some time).



Shock Horror: Lily Potter shagged Hagrid!

Lily Potter Hagrid

Yep, you read it right: Lily Potter and Hagrid had an affair. The kids’ll be freaking out!

Not all of them, mind. The more precocious ones who indulge in Harry Potter fanfiction will have explored that eventuality. But I can just about hear Hagrid now: "It's an outrage! It's a scandal!" Or I would, if it wasn't about Hagrid.

The evidence is there: Hagrid did seem to take quite a shine to 'young Harry' and his companions. Wouldn't it make for an interesting prequel: Lily Potter, virtually the 'Virgin Mary' of the Gen Y generation, having given birth to the their saviour, Harry…

And who could blame Lily? Hagrid, after all, was half giant. (Bet you can guess which half!)

Of course, their relationship took place quite a while ago - back when Lily Potter was DS Jane 'Panhandle' Penhaligon and Rubeus Hagrid was Dr Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald.

That's what I realised when I revisited the series Cracker (the British series, not the US series later retitled Fitz for overseas consumption).

Jack And Jill


A little while ago I stumbled upon the Hollywood Thanksgiving Trope. I'm sure I was always aware of it, but I only became aware that I was aware of it while discussing the most important US holiday with my American boss. It was for a Thanksgiving-related CunningList article.

With that fresh in my mind, I couldn't help but use it as my point of departure when reviewing Jack And Jill for FilmInk.

Normally, I don't spend time ruminating on art I don't particularly like. But when asked to review a current release film, you owe it to your readers to let them know when they're possibly going to be wasting time and money. It's a different story for a take-home DVD where it can be stopped and replaced with another one as cheaply bought or rented while there's still time to see something else.

It's a long 90 minutes when Katie Holmes is a pleasure to see - although the real pleasure is seeing her get beat up by a jealous tranny [1] towards the end… Read the review.

Image from PerezHilton.com


1. Apologies to any transvestite who finds the term ‘tranny’ perjorative – although David Spade owes you a bigger apology. And Sandler owes a bigger one still. To everyone.

True Believer Sarah Townsend on Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story

Eddie Izzard Believe

Photo credit: Eddie Izzard, courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevork Djansezian/

"Documentary is a very difficult form, especially if it's not your natural bent," says Sarah Townsend, director of Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story. "It's like trying to learn to do math if you're a writer."

Read more.


I Put A Spell On You…
Fiona Horne In Da House


I never was a big Def FX fan, despite having a friend who was obsessed with them, mainly because I had repeated run-ins with one of their members on the 138 bus home from school most afternoons. That wasn’t the stunning Fiona Horne, of course, but a different bandmember. If Fiona wanted to terrorise me as part of her pre-fame daily high school routine, I would have let her!

Having an obsessive friend into Def FX and having been firmly entrenched in student media at a time when Def FX were recording and releasing popular music meant that I have had a bit to do with them interview-wise; I published a couple of interviews that I didn’t conduct in 1994, and one that I did conduct in 1995. This latest opportunity to interview Fiona comes couresy of FilmInk, hence the run of film- and television-related questions at the end. I hope to have another chat with Fiona when she’s out here, for radio, when I can bung in a few Def FX recordings as well.

Demetrius Romeo: When you were a musician, had you discovered ‘wicca’ as yet?

FIONA HORNE: I’d had an interest in it since I was seventeen years old. I never talked about it openly while I was in the band, but the song lyrics I wrote definitely reflected my esoteric interests.

Demetrius Romeo: Can you give me an example of a song?

FIONA HORNE: ‘Spiral Dance’ was one of the songs on the very first EP, the Water EP. ‘Spiral Dance’ – “The wise witch wove her dream, spinning cold ropes of silver that wound round the trees” – that song was about a dream that I had after doing a very long mediation to do with my witchcraft. The lyrics, if you read them – and I actually published them in my first book in Australia, Witch — A Personal Journey – went “in the room at the back of the house, the walls are soft and pulsing, wet and cool, magic wells up inside of me until it overflows, cascading down my cheeks. Starry-eyed, I’m spinning slowly a spiral dance.”

At the time when I wrote that song, I didn’t know that the term ‘spiral dance’ was a very magical term that’s used by initiated witches to describe the dance of spirits through the heavens and the energy that conjured during spell-casting when we create a cone of power to fuel our spells. It’s like an energy vortex, I guess, which we’d create using our mind’s eye, our will and our intent to fuel our goals into fruition magically. It’s called the ‘spiral dance’, and I didn’t realise that. So I was tapping into some kind of universal collective consciousness – or unconscious – to be able to write that song.

If you look through the lyrics of Def FX you’ll see that often there are esoteric references to tehm and there’s also a profound love and appreciation for nature expressed through the lyrics that I wrote, like ‘Under the Blue’, many others. But really, the most overt that I ever was about it in my songwriting was when Def FX did the Majick album which was our last one, where I was very open with songs like ‘Spell On You’, ‘I’ll Be Your Majick’ and so on.

Demetrius Romeo: From what you’re saying, it sounds as if the power was reaching out to you before you reached out for it.

FIONA HORNE: I was open to it, but I was tapping into some kind of resonance, I guess.

Demetrius Romeo: To the uninitiated — like me, for example, because I had a very religious up-bringing — my response would be, ‘don’t mess with what you don’t understand’. There might be something out there, but it’s got to be evil. Apart from that sort response, there’d be people who didn’t want to know about it, or could only relate to fictional accounts as presented by popular culture. So what’s it like for you, working with witchcraft?

FIONA HORNE: Well, I was brought up Catholic, and I think that one of the greatest fictional works ever written is The Bible, so I’m very used to being brought up to find great meaning and profound truths in fiction, or in other people’s interpretations of events, which is what The Bible is; it’s been re-edited and re-constructed so many times over the thousand or so years it’s existed.

I always think that what appealed to me in witchcraft are some of the most profoundly spiritual experiences I had as a young child being brought up Catholic, were when I was alone growing up in the Australian bush. I live in Illawong, which was a suburb of Sydney. Now it’s full of houses and shopping centres and things, but in my day there were two houses on the whole peninsula of land and it was a very remote suburb and very beautiful, and I used to go out and play in the bush. We didn’t have Nintendo then, and we weren’t allowed to watch television, and it was really in the bush that I found a great sense of ‘magic’ in the world, so to speak. And so when I looked into witchcraft in my teens and realised that at its core it was pagan – ‘pagan’ meaning ‘to honour nature is sacred’ – and also that it places great reverence and respect for the goddess, the feminine principle of divinity, that was something that appealed to me a lot, because I’d been interested in Eastern religions like the Hindu religion which has a lot of goddess figures in it. And so for me, embarking upon this path of learning of my spirituality was very much a spiritual pursuit as much as it was researching spiritualities and expressions of spirituality from other cultures, as much as the practical experience of being outside and realizing that heaven is right here on this beautiful earth. It’s not up in the sky, out of our reach, and it’s not ruled by a man on a throne, or whatever, which is what my image of God was as a child.

I think one of the most profound privileges that people so often overlook in life is life itself, and that really is what my witchcraft is for me – it’s a way of exploring, through ritual and mythology and practical experience, the profound privilege it is to be alive.

Demetrius Romeo: Now when you put it that way, it just sounds like a commonsense philosophy.

FIONA HORNE: It is! It is very ‘common sense’; it makes a lot more sense than my Catholic upbringing! A lot!

Demetrius Romeo: What I mean is there are those overtones of… you know, casting spells, having control over people, being able to change things…

FIONA HORNE: Well there are three laws of witchcraft, which are:

Do what you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else;

Do what you want, as long as you don’t interfere with another’s free will;

– so, as you can see, you don’t control people – and

As you send out, so returns threefold.

So you have to be aware, as Jesus said, that as you sow, so shall you reap.
The modern witchcraft, when we talk about casting spells, we talk about creating change in our will – deciding that there’s something special that we want to do, and taking steps – both magical and practical - to achieve that goal. Tying it back in with the Catholic upbringing, I guess I used to have a bit of a giggle, and wrote about it in my book, about how I’d love to ask Jesus what the spell was for walking on water, and that one for turning two loaves and two fishes into enough to feed thousands… So often when we read these stories about these great, powerful figures in modern religion and spirituality, they were all doing something like spell-casting which was creating changes with their wills to benefit others. As a witch, you’re allowed to experience that divinity and that power. You’re encouraged to experience it by your own hand, to go, “well, this is my own life and it’s okay for me to have my dreams and to achieve them”.

Demetrius Romeo: How does it make itself apparent in your everyday life?

FIONA HORNE: Different witches practice differently. Having now practiced consciously with a degree of discipline for at least the last thirteen or fourteen years – or, at least being out of the broom closet for the last seven or eight years since I published my book – in my own personal time, the ritual and work that I do could be as simple as lighting a candle and meditating in the morning; taking the time as I did last night to watch the full moon rise; saying a prayer of gratitude and thanks to the goddess, to life itself, to this amazing wonderful world; to reading Tarot cards for a girlfriend who’s maybe having trouble making decisions regarding a guy she’s dating, whether she should date him or not — I’ll do a reading for her. After a while the craft permeates every facet of your life. It becomes who you are, not what you do. That’s what’s so lovely about it as well, because it really affects the individual. The individual expression of the craft is essential. There’s no one book written; there are basic laws as I described earlier and there is some structure, but you’re really encouraged to express your craft yourself, so it becomes really meaningful to the individual or to the coven or group that works together. I think it’s quite lovely, because I know, when I was growing up, that I felt quite powerless, in a sense, or very cut off and shut off from spirituality a lot in that you were told when to sit, when to stand, when to kneel, what to say. Somebody else made it all up. Whereas, in witchcraft, you’re encouraged to put your own stamp on it.

Demetrius Romeo: Where in the US are you at the moment?

FIONA HORNE: I live in Los Angeles.

Demetrius Romeo: Is it hard to stay in touch with nature when you’re in LA?

FIONA HORNE: No, nature’s everywhere. In my garden I have five birds; they’re all friends of mine. I have my two doves, my two mocking birds, my two blue jays. That’s six! Gosh, that’s right. And there was one squirrel, but now there’s five running around the house like crazy. There’s nature everywhere here. I mean, honestly, my other apartment, I was up above the Hollywood Bowl area; there was a deer in my street! The funny thing about LA is that everyone who hasn’t lived here thinks that it’s this sprawling mass of cement, but there is a lot of beauty and nature here. Sometimes it’s even more lovely and beautiful for the fact that it’s in the middle of this big city.

Demetrius Romeo: That’s amazing, because I always read that you can’t get around LA without a car, so in my head it was just a series of concrete overpasses… but then, when I think about it, the big ‘Hollywood’ sign is on the side of a mountain with woods.

FIONA HORNE: You know, you can drive for five minutes at the top of Beechwood Canyon and just disappear into the wilderness and you can’t even hear the city below, and there are signs saying ‘watch out for rattlesnakes and mountain lions’. I think that LA, because it’s the home of Hollywood, it has this great kind of myth around it. And it is a tough city – gosh, it makes you pay your dues when you first come here; it tests you over and over and over again! But if you just stay focused… You know, you do have to take that time. I think the great thing about Los Angeleans is that they go hiking; they go to the beach; they search out nature and they search out ways to commune with it. We’re very spoilt in Australia because we’re kind of just surrounded by it. Here, you do have to hunt it out a bit. But there’s some of the loveliest land and energy that I’ve experienced anywhere in the world here.

Demetrius Romeo: What took you to LA in the first place?

FIONA HORNE: Well, my first two books that were released in Australia, Witch – A Personal Journey and Witch – A Magical Year were edited together and published by Harper Collins in 2001 and that book did very well for me here. I was able to do quite an elaborate tour with book signings and guest appearances on television and radio. My band Def FX had toured here in the mid-90s and I’d always wanted to come back to America, so I decided to move over here and try my luck and test my skills as a television presenter and actor in this town and things are going well. Really well. And my books are still doing very well. I just did a huge new book deal with Simon & Schuster out of New York, which I’m really excited about because the publishing industry’s really tough at the moment. But I’ve just done a brand new deal – probably the best deal I’ve ever done, eight years into my publishing career, which is very exciting. We’re just signing the contracts now. It’ll be published next year.

I’m coming to Australia just to be there. I get so many e-mails and so many hits on my website from Australia and I still consider Australia as a very important part of my life, even though I’m a full-time resident of America now. It was just a wonderful opportunity to come back for a lecture tour.

Demetrius Romeo: Do you still do any music at all?

FIONA HORNE: Not really. Just for fun, not for work.

Demetrius Romeo: And you have a couple of films in post-production.

FIONA HORNE: I completed a film this year, and a film last year. Last year’s film is called Unbeatable Harold, and I had a featured cameo, I guess, playing Henry Winkler’s girlfriend. It’s quite extraordinary. It’s kind of fantasy love story. The main character is a guy, Harold played by the actor Gordon Michaels and it’s adapted from a stage play that he did in New York. Henry has a kind of featured cameo in it as his boss, and I’m one of his floozies. It’s all a kind of fantastical, exaggerated love story/romantic comedy. My first day on set, I was doing a dance routine with the Fonze! That totally spun me out.

Demetrius Romeo: Did you have a crush on the Fonze when you were a kid?

FIONA HORNE: Well, I think every girl did, yeah! Obviously, he’s older now, but Henry’s so charming and loving. His wife made cake and he brought it on the set. He put out cake, he brought lollies, for everyone. He’s very lovely and really accommodating for inexperienced actors like myself. He’s really encouraging and lovely. It was a wonderful experience.

We wrapped that in September/October of last year and it’s coming out later this year, quite possibly early next year.

And then I did, at the start of this year, I was asked to play pretty much a lead role in the film Cult. I play Professor Dianne Estabrook. It’s a horror film, and horror films are huge at the moment. It’s a massive genre. They’re rushing that for release this year. It also stars Taryn Manning and Rachel Miner.

Demetrius Romeo: What was it like, having a major role in a big film?

FIONA HORNE: It’s a bit unnerving, actually, because on the second day of filming, I get attacked. I had to be stabbed in the back and then in the eye. I had the special effects and stunt guy showing me how to collapse after an attack. It was really quite confronting because the blood looked really real and you’re in character, and you’re supposed to be on the verge of dying. You really internalise that.

There were other funny moments, like when I was lying wounded on the floor, and it’s three in the morning and I’d been lying there for a while, and there are other dead bodies around me and this and that, and I’m incredibly tired because there’s been some really long nights of shooting, and I hear off in the distance, “FIONA! FIONA!” And I open my eyes and… I’d actually fallen asleep! They all thought I was acting really well, lying there as if I was dead, and I was fast asleep. That was really funny: three o’clock in the morning on the floor of a Chinese restaurant, asleep.

One thing I enjoy about acting is that you get to live vicariously through your characters – there are things that Diane would do that I would never do, and I got to do them as her. I really like that about acting. You have this excuse to do whatever your character would do, whatever the script tells you to do, and I really enjoy that a lot. I enjoy acting very much.

And I also did a SCUBA movie. I work a lot for PADI, the Professional Academy of Diving Instructors. I’ve been a SCUBA diver for fourteen years now and I make a lot of appearances in their instructional videos for teaching SCUBA around the world, as well as voice-overs for those videos and radio ads for them, and I’ve just done an ‘introduction to SCUBA diving’ film which is just being edited. So I’ve been acting topside and below the water.

Demetrius Romeo: And so you’re experiencing your witchcraft – your appreciation of nature – on land and in the sea.

FIONA HORNE: It’s a big part of my spirituality, my SCUBA diving. Some of my most spiritual and magical moments are definitely underwater.

Demetrius Romeo: When you sit down to enjoy television or film, what do you sit down to?

FIONA HORNE: I recently got Vera Drake; that was amazing. I like things that are either nature documentaries or things that are intellectually stimulating. I’d sooner get those than fantasy or sci-fi, funnily enough. I don’t draw the line too much… for me, if I’m having a night at home and I want to get a couple of movies just for myself to watch, I’ll get ones that no one else will sit with me and watch, like Vera Drake, or maybe something about the great whites off the coast of Africa – a National Geographic documentary or something.

Demetrius Romeo: Do you go out to the movies much?

FIONA HORNE: I do sometimes. It’s fun to go out to the movies here, everyone makes such a big deal about it. And I tend to see… well I went and saw Saw the horror film my friend Leigh [Whannell] – whom I knew years ago when he did movie reports on ‘Recovery’ – and his friend James [Wan] made last year, that created a huge splash here. I was one of the first people to go and see it, that was very exciting. I was on a book tour in New York and I went to a cinema on Forty-Third Street because I had spoken to Leigh during the day and he’d said, “it’s premiering today and I’m really nervous,” and I said, “I’ll go and see it”. Forty-Third Street was around the corner from the hotel I was at. But even though I’d bought a ticket at four o’clock in the afternoon for the nine o’clock session, I still had to sit on the stairs to watch the bloody movie — they were turning people away. It just exploded here. It was so cool that James and Leigh, two blokes from Melbourne, had this massive hit on their hands

I really like taking myself off to the movies. I take myself out on dates. I’ll take myself to dinner and a movie and then shopping at Borders Books afterwards.

Demetrius Romeo: I find it hard to believe there wouldn’t be any number of people willing to do that for you.

FIONA HORNE: Oh, no, LA’s really bad for stuff like that. My girlfriends and I are all resolutely single and guys are really sleazy and awful over here, pretty much. I’m so busy and my work involves dealing with so many people whether it’s here or in Australia or wherever, that I like to spend some time on my own. There’s a great area here called The Grove and it has a great cinema complex and it has great boutique shops, a great Borders Books and really nice restaurants. It’s hard in LA to find somewhere where you can just walk around, and at this place you can just walk around so it’s a great afternoon where you can just relax.

Demetrius Romeo: It sounds like a little King Street, Newtown in LA.

FIONA HORNE: It’s more like an Italian Piazza – there’s even a singing fountain in there.

Demetrius Romeo: Do you buy many DVDs?

FIONA HORNE: The last DVDs that I bought were Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects and Sideways. Sideways is one of my all-time favourite movies.

Demetrius Romeo: When you watch them are you just into the film or do you get into all the bonus features?

FIONA HORNE: I watch the ‘process’ as well as the film. I watch all the extra stuff and the interviews. I got the Reservoir Dogs special edition with interviews with Quentin Tarantino and everything because, as I’ve been acting more, I like learning about the process. I also did a two-day guerilla filmmaking course just to get an insight into the process of filmmaking so that as an actor, I can understand everyone’s roles better. I think that it’s really worthwhile doing that because you realise how worthwhile the grips are, how the director of cinematography is probably more important, in some regards, than the director himself. You just understand the roles and how everyone pitches in. There are so many unsung heroes in the process of filmmaking; there are people whose roles are so essential but the audience doesn’t even know.

Demetrius Romeo: Television doesn’t seem to play a big role in your life at the moment.

FIONA HORNE: I’ve had more work on television than anything else. I hosted a show here last year and I was on billboards all over the country. Work-wise, I do a lot of TV. But I’m not the kind of person who comes home and switches on the telly unless there’s a particular show or movie I want to watch.

Demetrius Romeo: Is there no series that you’re addicted to?

FIONA HORNE: Well, Lost is one that I like. But often, my schedule is so hectic so I don’t watch those things because I don’t want to be tied to the TV screen. But if there’s a good special on National Geographic or Discovery, I’ll watch it. I’ve enjoyed watching Medium over here, that’s been pretty big. I enjoy watching Charmed sometimes.

Demetrius Romeo: How do you feel about shows like Charmed and Buffy?

FIONA HORNE: I’ve never watched either of them that much, but particularly with Charmed, people say, “what do you think of it? Do you find it offensive?” or something silly, and I say, “well, it’s not a documentary on witchcraft, it’s entertainment!” So it’s great. The girls look hot, the story lines are hilarious and it’s a great piece of TV. It’s a Spelling television show, you know. It’s great mindless entertainment.

The Gobby Twins


I had the pleasure of speaking to The Go-Betweens one gorgeous autumn in a Bondi Icebergs function room with a breathtaking view of the beach. Well, when I say ‘The Go-Betweens’, I mean Robert Forster and Grant McLennan (to whom I may collectively refer, at least in this introduction, as ‘The Gobby Twins’). Glenn Thompson, their current drummer, was also there and I did ask him a couple of cursory questions, but he graciously took his leave when he saw that I was far more interested in the lifetime members of the band.

Having devoured David Nichols’s biography The Go-Betweens (published by Allen & Unwin in 1997, but no doubt revised since then) I had the good sense to select a ‘Modern Lovers’ t-shirt to wear to the interview. It clearly went down a treat, because Robert Forster ended the dialogue by telling me how “lovely” it was “to be interviewed by a man with a Modern Lovers t-shirt”. It’s that underground punk band thing that informed so much of The Go-Betweens’ early career, and still makes itself apparent, albeit less directly, in their work.

At one stage McLennan tried to solicit my opinion on the cover art for the new album but I had the good sense to keep shtum. To me, it’s the kind of expressionist chiaroscuro of Weimar cinema. The foregrounded Forster, with the shaded eye sockets, is a zombie, McLennan, the controlling mad scientist. Well, I was there ostensibly to conduct a film interview for FilmInk, so I’m allowed to ‘read’ everything cinematically. But I’m glad I kept that particular cinematic insight to myself: after I’d unplugged the microphone, The Gobby Twins started to talk about journalists who had ‘done them wrong’ in the past, the name of one scribe in particular causing Forster to declare that McLennan would hold the guy, while he himself gave him “a bit of this!” The emphasised ‘this’ was accompanied by Forster busting kung fu moves not unlike those favoured by the jump-suited Elvis Presley of the 70s in performance mode. Having thus divulged this scenario online, I daresay that the next time it is enacted, the scribe who is held by McLennan and kung fu’d by Forster will bear my name.

What follows is the cinema-heavy FilmInk article coupled with a version written up for the magazine Last, and the bits that don’t quite work are probably where segments of the different stories were grafted together.

This version is dedicated to Fritz, AKA Anthony Frazer, who was interested enough to e-mail me and ask why I hadn’t yet uploaded this interview, and to Paul Davies, who was hip enough to own Go-Betweens albums and lend them to me when, whether I realised it or not, I really needed to hear their music.


“It’s been a great – I hate to use this word because it’s been over-used and it has terrible connotations – ‘journey’,” Robert Forster confesses. The Go-Betweens, a band he formed with his friend Grant McLennan nearly thirty years ago, have released Oceans Apart, possibly their best album yet. It’s certainly up there with 16 Lovers Lane, the other contender for the title. The major difference between the albums is that 16 Lovers Lane featured the so-called ‘classic’ band line-up that included Amanda Brown and Lindy Morrison. Nowadays it’s all too easy to regard subsequent members like bassist Adele Pickvance and drummer Glenn Thompson as ‘additional members’. In fact since Forster and McLennan are the only band members present in every incarnation, perhaps every other Go-Between has been an ‘additional’ member. “It’s been a bit of a curse that there hasn’t been a constant line-up,” Forster admits, “but it’s been good as a reflection of different eras. But with Glenn and Adele, we feel really great, and I think you can hear it in the music.” Forster confesses that Mark Wallis, who produced both Oceans Apart and 16 Lovers Lane, could also hear it in the music. “He was just going, ‘these two are great’,” Robert reports. “We know it, but people around us are saying, ‘they’re fantastic’.”

Despite the connotations, ‘journey’ perfectly describes the career trajectory that The Go-Betweens have traced. They came into being in 1978 in Brisbane, when Robert Forster approached his mate with the idea of forming a band.

“The fact that Bobby would ask someone who couldn’t play an instrument if he wanted to start a band – I thought that was really interesting,” McLennan recalls. “He didn’t ask me to come in and start playing the whip…” – a reference to Gerard Malanga, who used to dance with a whip in front of the stage when the Velvet Underground first started to play – “…or film it; it was to be a musician. That period when you’re a teenager and you’re dreaming of taking on the world or getting out of the world you’re in – which is probably more apt for me – the last thing that I really wanted to do was be a musician.”

More than a quarter of a century later, sitting opposite me in a room overlooking Bondi Beach with “a microphone shoved in my face – in a nice way,” Grant McLennan acknowledges that he made the correct decision. However, to begin with, McLennan was more interested in film than music. “I still think my film years are ahead of me,” he confesses. “Film was pretty much my first great love, and it remains so.” To prove his point, Grant announces that he recently acquired “a tremendous biography” of Francois Truffaut. “I’d been searching for an English translation of it for five years and I found one in America a couple of weeks ago.” Truffaut is McLennan’s favourite filmmaker, although he namechecks other ‘new wave’ French directors of the late 50s/early 60s that he admires: Rivette, Godard, Franju…

“They took the American language of film and put a European – and quite poetic – slant on it,” he explains. Truffaut, however, holds pride of place for McLennan, not merely because he’s a fellow Aquarian: “I like his depiction of female characters, I love the fact that he had a great love of books, and there is a gentleness to many of his films. He was also very interested in the passage of children into adults. And his use of music was amazing.” How apt! The same could be said of The Go-Betweens’ music…

Robert Forster is passionate about an earlier generation of cinema: the screwball comedies of the 30s. “Anything with Jean Arthur in it just gets me going,” he says, citing Easy Living (1937), Only Angels Have Wings (1939) and both Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936) (“with Gary Cooper!”) and Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (“with Jimmy Stewart. I love Jimmy Stewart!”) However, having lived without a television in a German village for the last little while, Forster claims he “hasn’t seen many films” in the last ten or fifteen years. “Mainly, I see films on aeroplanes,” he admits, which explains not only his love for “commercial cinema that has old-fashioned Hollywood values,” but a specific admiration for “the cinema of Ben Stiller”. According to Forster, Stiller is “a modern-day comic genius.”

Unlike his collaborator, Grant McLennan is still an avid movie watcher. “I’m trying to structure my life so that I can see two or three films a day for the rest of my life,” he says. “There’s a lot I’ve got to catch up on.” But he’s not so keen on bonus features and the like. “The problem with DVDs is the same problem with CDs – people just jam too much on them. I’m not really interested in outtakes or the director’s cut in general. To me, if you’re going to deliver something to the public, you’ve got to have the guts to say, ‘that’s it!’ All this bonus material – there’s way too many other things in the world to do than to have to sift through four hours of outtakes of Dumb and Dumber.”

Hang on, I point out, doesn’t this mean that there wouldn’t be a time when The Go-Betweens’ back catalogue was reissued with alternative takes and flipsides?

“Well, it’s already happened, man…” Grant begins, a little exasperated.

Yeah, yeah, I jump in quickly, I remember the Red Eye and Beggars Banquet reissues; perhaps I should have said ‘doesn’t this mean there shouldn’t have been a time when The Go-Betweens’ back catalogue was reissued with alternative takes and flipsides?’ But the point I’m making, I tell him, is that he’s been caught out on his position…

“No, no,” he interrupts, “I think you got ‘caught out’…”

Well, okay, I must admit that I never invested in The Go-Betweens’ back-catalogue-reissued-with-bonus-tracks that were made available towards the end of the 90s – I was far too busy buying The Beatles’ Anthology CDs by the time I was hip enough and had the ready cash. But I knew the Go-Betweens’ reissues existed. Now I want to move on and, thankfully, McLennan lets me off the hook:

“When you’ve got the ‘cannon’, as Robert refers to the Go-Betweens albums,” he says, “and when you’ve got as many passionate fans as we do around the world, it’s a good thing to make sure those songs remain available, that they can be part of the culture and part of the dialogue. Part of presenting that to the modern public is to include everything.” Still, he maintains, he and Forster “have been very selective” in what they have allowed to be reissued. “The first six albums have all come out with the bonus discs, so there’s the b-sides, the radio sessions and the rare songs that never quite made the album. And the great thing about it is we will never have to do it again!”

Even if Grant McLennan sees his film years as lying ahead of him, at some level at least they have accompanied The Go-Betweens on their journey. The band’s first single ‘Lee Remick’ was named after the actress; their second album was called Before Hollywood; even the band’s name is a film title. 1970’s The Go-Between depicts a torrid, forbidden affair between characters played by Alan Bates and Julie Christie. Really, the only cinematic dimension missing from The Go-Betweens’ oeuvre is a film soundtrack.

“We never get approached to do soundtracks,” Robert Forster admits. “I don’t know why. I’m quite glad, actually, because I don’t think we could pull it off.”

This is clearly false modesty. I reckon the real reason The Go-Betweens don’t get asked to do film soundtracks is because their songs are already so cinematic in and of themselves. The imagery of the lyrics and the sound-pictures painted by the music conjure better scenarios than anyone could provide. Consider the album’s lead single, ‘Here Comes A City’ – every line of lyric describes the image you’d film to illustrate it. It’s clearly going to be a very strong radio single, I tell the duo.

“You’re talking our language, baby!” Forster shouts. “Yeah! That’s what we’re hoping.”

I can already picture the video clip, I tell him.

“What do you see?” McLennan demands.

It’s a fast-moving, black-and-white clip with jump cuts and quick edits, as seen from a hurtling train, I tell him.

“That’s the way I wanted to make it,” Grant McLennan says. “But you’re right, it’s black and white. And there are jump cuts. But the fast-moving stuff has all been done by the band. It’s very much a performance video.” He draws parallels to mid-60s New York: “…Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga with the whip, all that sort of stuff…” Not quite a reference to The Go-Betweens’ earlier interest in New York punk, it turns out, rather a nod at Warhol’s experimental filmmaking: “beautiful people doing disgusting things to each other,” Grant explains.

Other songs similarly hark back to earlier times. ‘Darlinghurst Nights’, name-checking a host of former Go-Betweens’ associates including former manager and music journalist Clinton Walker and Died Pretty organist Frank Brunetti, specifically documents the band’s return to Australia in 1983. “We were touring for about six or eight weeks and were just hanging around a house in Woolloomooloo before we went back to England,” Robert Forster recalls. “We spent a lot of time and met a lot of people in Darlinghurst.”

‘Boundary Rider’ is also associated with that period, at least by default. The band’s breakthrough single in 1983 was ‘Cattle and Cain’ and ‘Boundary Rider’ appears to be similarly inspired by the McLennan family’s roots ‘on the land’. Yet, Grant says, beyond the memory of “riding fences” in order to maintain them and ensure your paddocks aren’t “getting mixed up”, the song serves as a metaphor for self-protection. “Most people spend a lot of time stopping things getting out,” McLennan explains, “but there are occasional times, and they’re probably more scary, when things come in that you’ve got no control over.”

An interesting track is ‘Lavendar’, which almost has a reggae feel despite, Forster explains, it beginning as a “folk toon”. Whereas Mark Wallis produced the album, ‘Lavendar’ bears a production credit for Dave Ruffy (former Waterboys, Ruts drummer), who programmed click-tracks for the original demo-versions of the album’s songs. ‘Lavendar’ is the only song that retains its original click-track. “Dave, who was doing some programming and some keyboard overdubbing, had this rhythm that he’d written that we were playing along to that sounded so good that we kept it,” Robert says. “Because he took the song ninety degrees that way – suddenly it’s got this reggae beat and we just really liked it. It took us all by surprise.”

Another interesting offering is the track ‘Mountains Near Dellray’ which, apparently, was McLennan’s idea, but Forster’s song. “I wrote a folk toon,” Forster begins again. “I had come up with the lyric and I went over to see Grant, as I do, and Grant had just come back from Tasmania.” McLennan related his Tasmanian travel experiences and Forster “immediately went home and wrote them down”. Now here’s the interesting bit: Robert thought Grant had mentioned ‘Dellray’ – “I misheard ‘the mountains near Dellray’ and thought, ‘that’s fantastic! There’s the song title!’ – when McLennan was actually talking about ‘Deloraine’. The former (in fact, Delray Beach) is in Miami, Florida, while the latter, as you’d expect given the context of Tasmanian travel experiences, is indeed in Tasmania, near the Derwent River. Scintillating, isn’t it! But there’s more:

“What I particularly like about the song,” Grant adds, “is that Robert says ‘Derwent’ and it’s one of his middle names. I think it’s one of Robert’s greatest lyrics, and the fact that there’s that parallel makes it even better.”

There is a pensive sadness to many of the lyrics, if not the actual music on Oceans Apart. ‘Darlinghurst Nights’ begins with “tears”, and even though another backward-looking song tells us with its very title that there’s ‘No Reason To Cry’, by its end, we are urged to “find a reason”. If, as it appears, Oceans Apart is the album with which The Go-Betweens look back upon themselves as a band, it’s worth noting the biggest difference between the ‘classic’ line-up and its current one. Lindy Morrison and Amanda Brown served not only as Robert Forster and Grant McLennan’s former musical partners; they were also their respective romantic partners. There’s clearly a different dynamic when lovers, or former lovers, are in your band. But is it a good or a bad dynamic, I find the courage to ask.

“Well I think Robert’s dating Adele, and I’m going out with Glenn at the moment, so we’ve managed to solve that problem,” Grant deadpans before offering a serious appraisal:

“We’ve always played with women in the band and there’s a certain island mentality that comes into being in a band – it’s like being in a gang. In my case, a relationship with a band member wasn’t something that I was looking for; it just presented itself and I’m very happy that it did. There’s a great passion and friendship within any Go-Betweens line-up, but I think I can speak for other people that have been in the band and say we’ve always believed in the songs. The most important thing has always been, making the songs as good and as clear as we can.”

With Oceans Apart The Go-Betweens have managed to do that again.

Bougainville Sky

Transcript of an edited interview with Nick Agafonoff and Fred Smith, regarding the film Bougainville Sky. Although we discussed Fred’s new album Independence Park at some length, it was better just to tell the one story – about the film – rather than two.

I haven’t gone to the extent of annotating the music as it appears in the broadcast. However, if you listen to the MP3 version, you’ll hear excerpts of the tracks ‘Bougainville Sky’, ‘Mr Circle’, ‘When She Cries’ and the title track from from the album Bagarap Empires as well as the title track from Independence Park.

I would have liked to have worked a bit of the song ‘Imogen Parker’ into it as well, along with ‘Radio Bougainville’ and ‘Rasta Mangke’, the more rollicking/reggae songs from Indepedence Park. But sometimes you’ve got to compromise to get a story out in time. What I like most is that I managed to get the story told by not telling any of it myself – Nick and Fred do all the talking.

NICK AGAFONOFF: Bougainville Sky came into being just over two years ago when I was at the National Folk Festival in Canberra. I could hear this person singing in one of the tents. I knew Fred Smith from around Canberra – I’d seen him playing in pubs. I knew him as a satirical songwriter, someone who wrote funny songs.

I went into this tent and discovered this entirely different repertoire of Fred Smith. These were not comedic, satirical, quirky little songs; these were songs about experiences as a peace keeper in Bougainville, and had quite a profound impact on the audience. What I identified in Fred at that moment was somebody who was able to translate the human experience of someone in a completely different culture to a western audience, and move them. I thought he had something really unique, and I thought to myself, “I really have to pursue this” and make a film about Fred Smith.

FRED SMITH: Bougainville Island is the Eastern-most province of Papua New Guinea, a very resource-rich island. The people there are ethnically very different from the people of mainstream New Guinea.

Historically, in 1973 an Australian mine called the Bougainville Copper Mine started up. It was a massive mine; it provided a third of the world’s copper trade and provided the New Guinea government with forty percent of its revenue. The mine created a lot of wealth for a lot of Bougainvilleans, and training, but on the other hand, it also displaced a lot of them from their land.

In 1989, a bunch of those displaced landowners had got some TNT out of the mine’s magazine and blew up a power pylon, killed a mineworker, and the mine shut down.

The New Guinea government got edgy about this and sent in the riot squad and troops. The troops ran amuck, did a lot of damage, and the small group of disgruntled landowners turned into the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and so a civil war – a war of independence – broke out.

That war of independence ran till about ’97. It was very destructive. It turned life right on its head there. Industries shut down. People went back to subsistence, and there were a lot of deaths from the violence, too.

In ’97 there was a peace negotiated between the New Guinea government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and as part of this peace agreement they asked Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu to send in a peace keeping force, on the condition that they come unarmed. Now this frightened the ADF, to send unarmed troops anywhere, but they agreed, and that’s how the peace monitoring group came about.

I was a civilian adviser to the peace monitoring group. So I was there, really, for reporting and to facilitate meetings between Bougainvilleans, to facilitate with weapons disposal, things like that. There are always civilian advisers up there and I was one of them. And then I turned into a professional extrovert – sort of the ‘Ronald McDonald’ of the peace process.

NICK AGAFONOFF: The film Bougainville Sky is about the Bougainville peace process. Fred is the protagonist who is the vehicle to exploring the remarkable story about the Bougainville peace process and how it became a success and the role that women played in it and the role that music played in it and the role that Fred played, himself, in the success of the Bougainville peace process.

FRED SMITH: I had a guitar. I became part of the formal patrol process: we’d get into a four-wheel drive, me and five or six soldiers and we’d spill out to a village and set out under a tree or in a church or something like that. Then I’d start talking about the peace process in pidgin. Then we’d start doing a few tunes and the soldiers would do the backing vocals, you know, ‘doo-wop, doo-wop’ – that sort of stuff. They were a bit reluctant at the start, but by the end of it, you couldn’t get them out of the patrol.

In the end, the outfit I was working for – the peace-monitoring group, which is run by the Australian army – came to see that the songs were useful for getting the message out. And so they flew in a recording desk for me, and we recorded some local musicians and some of my own songs, and we put out a cassette called Songs of Peace. The army ended up putting out twenty thousand copies of this cassette around the island.

NICK AGAFONOFF: Everywhere I went with Fred, people would yell out to him, “Em now, bulmacow!” and start laughing their heads off. He seemed to be this absurd character in Bougainville who people couldn’t stop laughing at whenever they saw him. I had to find out, of course, what this whole ‘Em now, bulmacow!’ thing meant. What it meant, what it simply translated to was, ‘Yes indeed, cow.’ This was incredibly funny to Bougainvilleans because there are now cows on Bougainville.

FRED SMITH: ‘Em now, bulmacow’ was one of the songs that I wrote for this Songs of Peace tape. The only lyrics are ‘Em now, bulmacow’, which translates as ‘Yes indeed, cow’ which in itself doesn’t mean anything. It’s a dada reggae tune. But the kids seemed to get right into it, and it became an expression around the island. ‘Em now, bulmacow’. Where ever you’d go, you’d wave at people and you’d shout, ‘Em now!’. And they’d cry ‘Bulmacow and fall about the place laughing.

NICK AGAFONOFF: I set out initially to make a film about Fred Smith and his music, but when I arrived in Bougainville, everything changed, because I realised very quickly how extraordinary the Bougainville people are and how extraordinary the peace that they’d created was. It’s something that they owned, that they created, and in particular, the women in Bougainville were able to create.

FRED SMITH: Women don’t occupy a position of great respect in Papua New Guinea society. In Bougainville it’s slightly insofar as women own the land; it’s a matrilineal society. Now during the crisis years, women kept it together on the family level, they kept the family fed and suffered enormously and were never amongst the combatants. And so they had a great stake in the peace process and in discouraging their husbands and fathers and sons from participating in the fighting and they banded together. There’s a Bougainville Women’s Union which is about ten thousand-strong and they played a very strong role in supporting the peace process and making sure it went forward. They participated in the Burnham Peace Talks in 1997.

NICK AGAFONOFF: The film focuses on the final three weeks of the peace monitoring group being in Bougainville. So it’s essentially the last month, which was June 2003, in which the peace monitors went around and said goodbye to Bougainvilleans in various different villages and finally in a great big ‘farewell ceremony’ at Independence Park in Arawa, said goodbye formally. That’s where lots of people flew in from Australia and New Zealand: ministers, heads of defence, that sort of thing.

Fred’s role in that was that he had to organise the music and the entertainment for that farewell. And so I suppose the suspense in the film is about how Fred gets to that farewell ceremony and manages to bring it together in light of all these other farewells taking place in Bougainville.

FRED SMITH: Well they’d organised this massive farewell ceremony – they were gonna lower the flags for the operation, and there was a lot of emotion about it in Bougainville. The people there had, on the whole, come to associate us with peace. And so they organised this massive farewell ceremony, this cessation ceremony at a place called Independence Park in the capital of Arawa. It was a situation where the peace monitoring group – mainly the Australian Army – had people coming in from Australia. Cosgrove was coming, Senator Hill was coming, all these big people were coming from Foreign Affairs, and then there were a whole bunch of people coming from Port Moresby too. It had to run on time, so there was a great tightening of sphincters in the lead-up to the thing.

At the same time, nothing ever runs on time in Bougainville, and they asked me to organise the entertainment. I had a fifty piece band coming down from the northern part of Bougainville; my own band was playing – the Bulmacow Band; and a local band and a whole bunch of dancers and all sorts of stuff. So I had all of that going on and I had to manage that in a way that looked less than chaotic. And of course, in the end, it just poured with rain; that’s what happens up there.

Tara Moss In Da House


The opportunity to conduct another interview with Tara Moss is one I’ll happily pursue. This time around, it was for the ‘In Da House’ column for FilmInk, in which celebs are asked about their film consumption on DVD and video.

Our conversation happened to take place during this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and Tara, now based in Melbourne, was happy to report that she was thus an even busier model-turned-novelist than she was before; in addition to watching an average of four or more films a week, she was now seeing up to three stand-up shows a day. I hadn’t realised that along with horror, comedy has been her other life-long love.

Somewhere in the middle of all this comedy and cinema, Tara also had to make time for Makedde Vanderwall, the heroine forever haunted by serial killers in Moss’s novels. This was what she was trying to do when I contacted her for the interview.

“I’m in my running pants, sitting at my desk as we speak,” Tara told me over the phone. I had to fight the temptation to stop and contemplate whether she meant sleek tracky dacks or little shorts, since either fantasy would distract me from the interview, which, at the time, was distracting Tara from her writing. But the writing was the logical place to start. The transcript is much longer than what I could fit in the final ‘In Da House’ column, appearing any minute now in the June issue of FilmInk.

Demetrius Romeo: Tara, will there ever be a film based on any of your novels, and if there is, who would play Makedde Vanderwall?

TARA MOSS: There has been a lot of speculation over the years about who would be a good actress to play Makedde. There’s a whole section of my website where people have been writing in. I think Angelina Jolie is at the top of the polls at the moment just because she’s a beautiful woman and one that chooses very strong, independent and interesting roles. But she obviously did a serial killer thriller not too long ago so I don’t know if I’d be lucky enough to have her in the film of one of my novels. But one can only dream, I suppose.

It’s kind of a funny thing for novel writers because we, for the most part, write novels to be novels; we don’t write novels to be movies. It’s great that they can be translated and put into a different medium, but it’s not necessarily the most comforting thought, and I’m one of the writers out there who can honestly say I get really uneasy thinking about my books being made into films. I know it would be a great honour and it would be a really interesting experience, but it would also be a harrowing one because I like to control my little world within the books, and you lose that control when you hand over the rights.

Demetrius Romeo: When I read your novels, I can’t help but see you in the lead role.

TARA MOSS: If I could act, that would be great, but I have an aversion to acting. I’m really, really comfortable being myself and I’ve found that any time I’ve felt not quite right doing something, it’s usually because I’m having to speak someone else’s words for some reason.

Demetrius Romeo: Are you saying you don’t identify with your lead character?

TARA MOSS: I identify with her, but I’m not her. I think of her kind of as a sister. I do have a wonderful sister named Jacquie, but my fictional sister Makedde is someone I understand, and also someone who occasionally does things that I wouldn’t do myself. I think it’s important to have that separation between reality and fiction. Otherwise it would be very limiting from a writing perspective. Imagine every time you go to a keyboard thinking ‘what would I do?’ rather than ‘what would make for an interesting plot?’ I think it’s dangerous territory when you identify too closely to that character. With Makedde I did borrow a lot of autobiographical stuff; that’s clear. But I don’t think I’ve ever viewed her as me per se, rather as a character who I’d want to know, a character that I can understand intimately, which I think is a different thing.

Demetrius Romeo: Your husband Mark Pennell is a producer; doesn’t being married to a producer make getting a film made somewhat easier?

TARA MOSS: No, not really. In fact, if anything, it’s made me more wary of the film business than ever before just because I see the struggles he goes through with it. Mark is an Australian film producer and we know how the Australian film industry is at the moment. He’s worked on some international projects and he’s certainly working on some pretty incredible stuff at the moment, but again: danger zone! I already know my personality well enough to know that it would be difficult to let go of my books and let them become movies. I think it would be doubly difficult if the person making them is my own husband. Let me put it this way: I have a happy marriage at the moment and I don’t want that ever to change.

Demetrius Romeo: You’ve said that you see four movies a week, on average.

TARA MOSS: Yeah, I do. Sometimes more than that.

Demetrius Romeo: Is that in the cinema, on DVD or on cable?

TARA MOSS: It’s a combination of DVDs and going to the cinema. I don’t watch television much at all. I pretty much use the TV for DVD rental. I love going through DVD shops and finding the most obscure foreign films or art house films or b-grade films and finding something delightful and surprising in them, and I see probably about 80 percent of what comes out in theatres, so I’m frequently at movie theatres checking things out. I just love film. I think it’s a wonderful story-telling medium. Obviously, I prefer books. I don’t read all the time; I read a lot of the time. And when I’m not reading, I’m probably watching a movie somewhere.

Demetrius Romeo: Are there any cinematic genres that don’t interest you?

TARA MOSS: I suppose particularly sappy, romantic films don’t interest me a lot. I have a lot of fun watching something like Notting Hill, something that’s like a romantic comedy but is a little more clever; that’s great. This is going to sound really awful, but if people aren’t gonna die and there’s no conflict, I’m not very interested in watching. I know it’s a terrible thing to say!

Demetrius Romeo: You’ve expressed these sentiments before, when talking about your novels: you’re interested in characters taking control of the darkness, and have been since you were a kid reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies.

TARA MOSS: I found Edward Gorey’s kind of delightfully morbid, black humour really fascinating at that age, and I think I still enjoy that. The types of books I sometimes like, like the types of movies I sometimes like, deal with really dark issues, sometimes with humour, and I think that’s the best way to deal with things we don’t understand or are afraid of.

Demetrius Romeo: You said that you like even b-grade films…

TARA MOSS: I’m a big fan of b-grade films. I think there are some beauties out there that are so bad that they’re genius, like Ed Wood’s films, or Night of the Living Dead.

Demetrius Romeo: Give me an example of a so-bad-it’s-good treasure you’ve come across recently.

TARA MOSS: Recently I watched pretty much every zombie flick every made. I went on a zombie frenzy. I started having dreams that I was being chased by zombies, I was so immersed in them. I was watching three zombie films a day. Some of them were fantastic, but I can’t even remember the name of half of them because there were so many. But I watched all of the Night of the Living Dead series. Of course, Shaun of the Dead is fantastic fun, but that is recognized as being quite a brilliant comedy. But I think a lot of the ones that are panned as being ‘b-grade’ films are actually brilliant comedies in and of themselves. I find them quite amusing.

Demetrius Romeo: If you watch so many films, do you have time to go back and watch all the special features when you rent a DVD?

TARA MOSS: I often do look at a lot of the extras. For instance, I recently rented Anchor Man which I thought was hysterical, because I love Will Ferrell. I was on the floor laughing at all the outtakes and things like that. Sometimes I do quite enjoy the extras. But I don’t tend to listen to the directors’ commentaries because I don’t want to over-analyse stuff. Unless I’m aware that there’s a particular story behind some of the scenes, I won’t seek out the commentary as much as the documentary aspects of the extras. The documentary is more interesting to me than watching the film again with commentary over the top.

The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Graduate, which is one of my favourite films, was a wonderful edition that came out and had interviews with everyone now and their views on the movie at the time. To me that’s a bit more interesting, that documentary style. I like it because they gave some behind-the-scenes information about some really classic scenes. The one at the end when they’re in the church, and Katharine Ross is getting married to her man, Dustin Hoffman’s standing above where the ceremony is taking place, and he’s tapping on the glass – because he had his arms extended, it was thought to be somehow related to Christianity. Mike Nichols and Dustin Hoffman are saying, ‘well, actually, it was because they told us that if I tapped in the middle of the glass, it would break’. So since 1967 they’ve been analysing the Christian references at the end of The Graduate – which I think is just a classic! Those sorts of stories are the ones I like to hear because I do think there’s too much analysis of creative work, whether it be books or film. We stop enjoying things for what they are in order to search for ‘hidden meanings’ in things that sometimes don’t even have meanings.

Demetrius Romeo: Are there particular directors that you like?

TARA MOSS: I’m a big Tim Burton fan. I like his kooky sense of humour. I like David Lynch and Burton and these directors who create completely different worlds out of their own imagination. I love Quentin Tarantino. I also love the stuff that people pan: I loved the Lara Croft movies. I love a lot of films that people think are quite superficial. I like films for different reasons, and there’s something very satisfying about seeing Angelina Jolie swinging on a rope with a gun strapped to her leg, and there’s something very satisfying about seeing a subtle film like Sideways that’s a bit more gentle and a bit deeper and has some great comedic moments in it.

Demetrius Romeo: Are you much of a collector when it comes to films? Do you have to own them, or are you just happy to see them?

TARA MOSS: I have to own stuff. I have to own a lot of films.

Demetrius Romeo: What sort of stuff makes the Tara Moss collection?

TARA MOSS: The Graduate – 25th Anniversary Edition. I love Wes Anderson, so The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my favourites. I love Bound with Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly, which I think is one of the most fabulous thrillers. A very sexy thriller!

A fabulous cheesy movie I recommend is called Ninja Killer. This is like a 70s Hong Kong action flick. If you’re used to b-grade movies, this is c-grade and it’s classic. The hair-dos, the outfits and the bad dubbing – it’s beautiful. It’s called Ninja Killer but there are no real ninja in it; it’s got a lot of people trying to pretend that they’re Bruce Lee, breaking up drug rings, with sideburns that could stop a truck.

Kill Bill Volume 1 – I don’t watch the whole thing over and over again, but I love the scenes in Japan, where Uma Thurman’s kicking butt! And I also love her short motorcycle scene in the yellow leather motorcycle suit so much that I went and had a red one made for myself. I have a red Kawasaki ZZR motorcycle and she’s riding a yellow Kawasaki ZZR motorcycle, so I thought it was very fitting. I also have films like Mystic River and The Thomas Crown Affair original, which is one of my favourite movies of all time – mostly because Steve McQueen is just a god! He’s such a ‘man’s man’ leading man. I love that really masculine leading man that we don’t see enough of these days. I also love The Getaway, even though there’s a lot of interaction between his character and that character of Ali MacGraw’s that’s now completely unacceptable. Thankfully. Feminism has come a bit further. Other than that, it’s a brilliant film, and very of it’s time. Blade Runner. Impossible to beat. It’s my favourite sci-fi genre movie.

Demetrius Romeo: Can the man’s man exist in a world where his woman isn’t so passive?

TARA MOSS: Absolutely. The man’s man can totally exist in today’s world now that women have power as well. I love powerful women. In fact, I like powerful women so much that I’m obsessed with actresses who starred in sometimes cheesy ‘powerful women’ roles. I love this current swing into female superheroes. I collect female action figures that all have a great deal of artillery and kick ass. But it doesn’t stop me from liking quite masculine characters. If a guy’s going to be a leading man, I don’t think he should spend more time looking in the mirror than I would. That should be the cut-off point right there.

Demetrius Romeo: Do you still have videos?

TARA MOSS: I do have some videos, but I don’t watch them very much, to be honest. I have The Shining, which is one of my favourite horror films, I only have on video so I’m planning on upgrading to a DVD version that hopefully has some very cool extras. The version I’ve got is a video, but it also has the documentary by Kubrick’s wife, about the making of the film, so it’s actually quite a good video. But it is a video; I’m sure they’ve got to be some updates since then. Kubrick was so before his time in terms of seeing a book like The Shining, seeing Steven King’s work, and seeing the primal way it taps into our sort of childhood fears, and treating that genre with respect. It’s one of those things I complain about often: just because something’s a horror story or a crime story or a serial killer story doesn’t mean you can’t treat it with respect and make it a really amazing piece of work, whether it be a book or a movie. I think there’s a lot of brilliance to be found in those genres, rather than just dismissing the genre because there are a lot of bad examples of it. There are a lot of brilliant examples of it, too. The Shining is one of those.

Demetrius Romeo: Do you think you’ll have a film script in you at some stage?

TARA MOSS: Not until I mature a bit more to be honest. Being a control freak, I’m very wary of the screenwriting process because it’s collaborative and the more I find out about the film business, the more I really don’t want to be in that position where I’m being told what to write and where the money matters so much that you have to make those compromises. Jeffery Deaver said something brilliant. He was asked how much he had to do with the making of the films of his books, such The Bone Collector. He said, “I have a lot to do with them; I cash the cheque”. I thought he was very wise: he’s a great writer, that’s what he does well; he was saving himself the frustration of actually trying to work with a whole load of people creating a film version of what he’s already done brilliantly as a book. Until I can separate myself a little bit more from my books, it would be a lot of frustration, and not the kind of frustration that pays off in the end. As we know, with the movie industry you can’t count on something being made or being successful or any of that. It’s a very difficult industry, and so, for the moment, I’m happy to stick to my writing.