Interview - Mark Hartley
Drive In Diaries
Australian film buff Mark Hartley talks about his documentary love letter to his country’s criminally overlooked exploitation cinema of the 1970s and 80s, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
‘To me they were just like American exploitation films, but they had Australian locations and Australian actors. So I felt a connection to them. After seeing them I wanted to read about them, but I realised they hadn’t been written about at all.
‘In the 70s and 80s, Australia embraced its arthouse films, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Walkabout, Breaker Morant, My Brilliant Career etc, as mainstream films. But ignored this whole section of Australian cinema, writing off The Man From Hong Kong, Patrick and Mad Max as exploitation, where in America they would have been popular genre films. These films were still stigmatised when I came to make a doco about them, so I had to get international funding before I could get any Australian financing.
‘I come from a music video background and so approached the doco as a rockumentary, which suits the films because they were made with a devil-may-care rock ‘n’ roll sensibility. And we wanted to give Not Quite Hollywood a 70s style to reflect the time in which the films were made, which was incredibly politically incorrect, so it’s very irreverent and balanced more towards entertainment than education.
‘We were amazed to get Jamie Lee Curtis and Dennis Hopper and Stacey Keach to talk about the films they were in. I thought, “Surely, you’ve got something better to do than talk about films you probably didn’t have a very good time making 20 years ago.”
‘In a way it’s good that it took ten years to get Not Quite Hollywood made, because exploitation films are back in fashion. Now have new Australian films like Wolf Creek alongside American films like Death Proof, which was made by Quentin Tarantino who is a big fan of Ozploitation cinema and who happily took part in our doco. So our film has the happy ending it might not have had, had we made it ten years back.
‘Now that Not Quite Hollywood’s being released on DVD I hope it’ll encourage people to seek out some of the original films. Some of then, like Turkey Shoot, are dreadful, though it’s not uninteresting if you know the story behind the making of it. Others, like Road Games, The Long Weekend and Next of Kin are great films by any standard.’
Not Quite Hollywood, out Mon 30 Mar (published by Optimum).