Ben Elton wants Aussies to look past Thor

Danielle McGrane
(Australian Associated Press)


Ben Elton is urging Australia’s film industry to take the emphasis off Hollywood blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarok and start making and promoting more homegrown projects.

The millions spent luring the Marvel cosmic action movie to the Gold Coast could have helped make numerous Australian films and all the money would have stayed local, Elton says.

“A lot of Australian money was spent bribing (Thor) because all countries are trying to get the big films, I think it was $30 million,” he told AAP.

“Now that could have made 10 or 15 Australian movies and all of the money would have been spent in Australia, rather than going overseas.

“I”m not denying it’s great to be a part of the global industry but the reason Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe are these big stars is because they started in small films here and we need to nurture that market too.”

The writer-director famous for the cutting comedic satire of British TV series Blackadder and The Young Ones, for his series of books and more recently for penning the Queen musical We Will Rock You, is releasing his first Australian feature film, Three Summers, filmed entirely in WA with a local cast and crew.

Elton has applied his writing and directing talents to a mish-mash of quirky Australian characters for the movie, played by actors including Michael Caton, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman and Rebecca Breeds.

There’s a social conscience underneath the comedy. Elton uses a West Australian folk festival as a sort of microcosm where indigenous people, refugees and Anglo-Australians come together and air grievances.

Having lived in Fremantle for 30 years, where he is married to and has children with a local girl, Elton considers himself Aussie.

The film was funded largely by Screen Australia and Screen West and he believes the economic benefit of supporting local arts shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Every penny of the budget we had was spent within the local community,” he says.

“Not one penny went overseas, we had $3.5 million which was a small but wonderful budget to have, all spent within the Pinjarra region, entirely employing Australian arts and crafts within the community and from the broader Australian talent base.

“If we want the Australian character and Australian stories to be told within our own community and overseas we have to make them ourselves but actually it’s also economically so important to support our arts.”

*Three Cinemas will be released in cinemas on November 2

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