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Five Questions with Mark Hartley

21 April 2021

Mark Hartley at Not Quite Hollywood premiere for the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival

Australian filmmaker Mark Hartley sat down with us to have a chat about his award-winning documentary Not Quite Hollywood.

Hartley took home the inaugural ‘AFI Documentary Trailblazer’ award at the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards and Not Quite Hollywood won ‘Best Documentary’. 

1. What fascinated you about Australian 1970s and 1980s New Wave cinema?

I remember as a kid seeing both Patrick and Snapshot on late night TV and what I loved about them was they played like American films. They told international stories but were filled with familiar locations and Australian accents. I discovered the director of Patrick, Richard Franklin, had been a past student of my high school, so I invited him back to speak. I went to the school library to research his career – and there was nothing there. The Australian industry was embarrassed by these films. Later, when I was directing music videos, I worked with old school film crews who had great stories about making these movies. So, I figured someone should document this amazing time in Australian cinema – and it may as well be me.

2. Do you think the world looks at Australia for action and horror films?

I think internationally Mad Max Fury Road is the go-to film for action – just like Mad Max 2 was in the 1980s. Hopefully, that encourages international viewers to deep dive and discover that we have an amazing tradition of capturing death-defying, jaw-dropping action on screen. The same goes for horror also – Wolf Creek and then The Babadook put the focus back on Australian horror and audiences can deep dive there too. Director Greg McLean cites Ozploitation classics Roadgames and Razorback as inspiration for the Wolf Creek films. 

3. What’s your favourite classic film and why?

An obscure English film called Perfect Friday from 1970. I love heist and caper films – and this is hands down my favourite. It’s whip smart – and it’s always good to discover something that isn’t on a lot of people’s radars. The film was directed by famed UK theatre director Peter Hall and stars Stanley Baker and Ursula Andress.  

4. What’s your favourite scene from an Ozploitation film?

I have too many – so I’ll mention one of Tarantino’s favourites. You may be surprised to hear it’s not an action or horror sequence but a really clever dialogue passage. It’s Stacy Keach having a conversation out loud with his inner voice – it’s so original and daring, but totally works. He is arguing with himself about whether there are any extra carcasses hanging in the truck. It’s a smart moment amongst many other smart scenes in that amazing film. 

5. What was it like sitting down and talking with Quentin Tarantino? 

He was so generous agreeing to do it and then with the time he spent chatting about Aussie exploitation cinema. Quite honestly, the film wouldn’t have happened without him. We shot him way in advance of the film being financed and without that interview, we wouldn’t have found international investors. His depth of knowledge was mind-blowing. He could tell you which Neighbours cast members had appeared in Aussie films! We shot almost 4 hours with him and just recently I reviewed it all and found more than 50 minutes of never-before-seen material with Quentin which you can see in the newest Blu-ray release. 

Hartley is currently working on a couple of narrative features – one written by Justin King (who wrote the Patrick remake) and also an Australian anthology horror series, funded by Film Victoria called Terror Australis, working alongside Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend).

Not Quite Hollywood will be re-released on Blu-ray on Wednesday, 5 May at JB HI-FI, Sanity and Umbrella’s web store. 

The release contains over 9 hours of special features including an additional 50+ minutes of Tarantino, an exclusive 16-page collectors booklet and a brand new 1080p transfer.