Perth film producer signs John Waters as
‘The Bouncer’

Perth film producer Derek Hobbs is delighted at signing major talent John Waters as the star of his latest movie The Bouncer.

“The script was written with John in mind as the lead, so to have him on board is wonderful” said Hobbs.

“I sent the script to John and he loved it. He agreed to take the lead role after I visited him at his home in Sydney. I couldn’t have hoped for a better result,” Hobbs said.

Waters is in Perth at the moment starring in his John Lennon show The Glass Onion. He has taken time out to start rehearsals with Derek and cast and will return for shooting of The Bouncer in October this year.

“What attracted me to this project was the high quality of the script,” said Waters, “It’s a genre that appeals to me – a comedy-drama about the seedy side of life – the underbelly of life inhabited by interesting people.

“It’s as if the lead role of Dave, the aging nightclub bouncer was written for me – and that’s very attractive. It’s also very attractive that this is a totally independent movie and though it will have to fight for commercial success on its own terms, it means we don’t have to hand over control to overseas producers. That appeals to me – we can make the movie as it was written”.

The Bouncer’s Utopia Nightclub will be set at the Bog nightclub in Northbridge owned by entrepreneur and film producer Nunzio La Bianca for whom Derek shot and edited the movie Aussie Park Boys which has just taken out Best Action Feature Film at the New York Independent film festival.

“Aussie Park Boys was made on what would be considered a shoestring budget by the movie industry,” said Hobbs, “And at this stage, The Bouncer will also be low-budget although the State Government’s film funding body Screen West has been watching with interest. Filming will go ahead regardless with many of Perth’s best actors and technicians investing their time in the production”.

The Bouncer is Hobbs’ most challenging project to date. He served his apprenticeship as an Army PR and combat photographer and cinematographer. He was a press photographer at the The West Australian for seven years where he won Photographer of the Year. He pioneered Night News cameraman service for Perth television networks where night news events are covered throughout the night and has produced many television documentaries like Aussie Cops, Perth Uncovered and Volunteers.

Starring: John Waters, Ali Roberts, Nunzio La Bianca, Matt Elverd, Danny Birrel, Jenny McCann.

Synopsis: It’s the last night on the nightclub door for for 50-plus Dave, after 25 long, grinding years on the job. It’s also the first night as a bouncer for Jamie, 20, wet behind the ears, good looking, and skilled fighter. In an event-filled night involving stolen diamonds,shady characters, sex, violence, and deception, Dave finds fate presents him with a last desperate chance at happiness.

July 2004:  Filming will commence in October 04 in Perth Western Australia.  The movie is called The Bouncer and will star John as a bouncer who decides to have one more go at it before he retires and gets involved in a scam. Written by Derek Hobbs & Trevor Todd, directed and produced by Derek Hobbs.  Majority of filming will take place at Channel Nine studios, with some location work at The Bog in Northbridge.

23/10/05 Sunday Times STM Liftout Perth Confidential
The Bouncer, shot in Northbridge and starring John Waters, gets its first showing tomorrow. The movie was made by Derek Hobbs, a pioneering TV news man behind TV documentaries such as Aussie Cops. The Bouncer's first audience will be its cast and crew. They will then adjourn for drinks at the Northbridge nightspot The Bog, the setting for the movie and owned by film producer and entrepeneur Nunzio La Bianca.

26/10/05 XPRESS Paper - Social pics on the right from the private screening at Cinema Paradiso.

The film will be playing in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in New York next month.
The international distribution agent is ITN Distribution and they will be taking the film to the American Film Market and the Cannes Film Market.

The movie 'The Bouncer' will begin its Australian Theatre release in Perth on 16th Feb '06 at the Piccadilly Cinema in Perth City and the Pioneer Village Cinema in Armadale. It will play for as long as people are turning up. Then it will make its way around the country and play in every capital city and selected other major cities. Look out for details in your local media and on this site.

Pics from Derek,taken during rehearsals in July 2004.
REVIEW: Xpress Magazine 9 Feb 2006

Technology that was once priced so as to only be affordable to large companies is now readily available to everyman consumers, and the world of entertainment is changing rapidly as a result. Gone are the days when filmmakers and musicians are at the mercy of their budget; where their creativity may lay untapped until they can afford to put it in the hands of the people with the gear and the know-how. Now, anyone with the will can find a way to acquire the tools needed to put their imagination to work. Not only this, but the curtain has also been lifted on the wizard of Oz, and roles such as producer, director, and editor can be largely self-taught. The ramifications of this changing of the guard have already re-shaped the music industry, and the film industry looks set to follow.
Perth filmmakers are already leading the pack, according to many people, with an underground film industry well on its way to taking on the big guns at their own game. The latest venture to see the light of day is The Bouncer; a Northbridge-flavoured nightclub romp born of local film producer Derek Hobbs. Starring John Waters as the quick-witted cockney title character, The Bouncer is a mantle of the current WA cinematic underground; a keen mix of dialogue-heavy grit, and fast cut action scenes. Hobbs' award winning work with Aussie Park Boyz has served as good training for The Bouncer, though the emphasis this time around is on showing the lighter side of the metropolitan underbelly.

Waters plays Dave, an aging but handsome nightclub bouncer who has found himself a ticket to retirement - a rich woman. His relationship with his fiancé is one of perfect symbiosis... she doesn't need love per say, just companionship and sex, and Dave needs to finally hang up the bow tie and settle down to a life that doesn't involve early morning brawls. The Bouncer takes place on Dave's last night on the job, tending door at the Utopia Nightclub (shot in and around U2@Bog) and of course becomes an unfolding series of unfortunate events. Much like the cop who gets shot the day before his retirement, Dave has to deal with underworld thugs, shady cops, stolen gems, ex lovers, as well as his usual foes of garden variety dickhead punters. Waters plays the role of streetwise bouncer down to a tee, acting as a film noir detective style narrator into the bargain. Old enough to know diplomacy, yet hardened enough to be able to take matters into the alley for some biffo, Dave is a man who has nothing left to prove. All he wants is a night free of hassle. No such luck.

The Bog owner, and brainchild / star of Aussie Park Boyz, Nunzio La Bianca again teams up with Hobbs, playing a rival nightclub gangster / security muscle with a serious grudge against Dave. Once again, La Bianca's fighting skills get some screen time, though his role is decidedly less dialogue-heavy here. As a nemesis to Waters, La Bianca is perfect. He is the emotional and physical antithesis in every aspect; younger, leaner, angrier, and still working his way up the food chain. As a bad guy, La Bianca shines, especially cast opposite Waters' 'don't worry about it' demeanour. Add a bungling cop chasing down some stolen gems, a former stripper dragging Dave down into the mess she's in with both, some plucky comic relief courtesy of the Utopia's clientele, and The Bouncer becomes an action comedy.

The film was shot on a budget that would make Hollywood cackle, but herein lies its power. Rather than rely on what money can buy, The Bouncer relies on what no money forces one to do... and that, as one could guess, is to place emphasis on the actors and the script, rather than the smoke and mirrors around them. The Bouncer is underground mainstream - it has the budget of lower-end art house flicks, but still tries to create a straightforward story within such confines. The direction is more akin to major motion pictures than indie art pieces, and from this place will come the strength of the local no-budget industry. Rather than spend no money creating surreality, producers such as Hobbs are tackling mainstream convention, and with each film the nail cops a wallop on the head.

Slowly but surely, as Waters himself attests, the Perth independent film society is building themselves up to be able to compete with the major film companies. Obviously it is early days, and they're not quite there yet, but from good footing already established in the indie industry, and their minds set on a bigger prize, it won't be long before the likes of Hobbs scale the mountain.
This is good news for everyone. The need to keep raising the bar will push local producers to stretch themselves, try new ideas, and dare to step outside the square. The resulting films will not only draw punters into locally-produced films, but also inspire other shoestring budget filmmakers to get rolling. The attention drawn to Perth's industry will increase, and, of course, a genuine alternative to big budget overseas films will be right there, for all to embrace. Thanks to forerunners such as The Bouncer, and bigger name actors with vision such as John Waters, the vital foundations have been laid. From this solid starting block the possibilities are truly endless.
Enjoy this great review from Xpress magazine and further below is a really good Q&A interview with John from the same magazine.
Q&A Interview, Xpress Magazine. 15 Feb 2006.  JOHN WATERS - Guerillas In The Midst. By MIKE WAFER

From Play School to Hollywood, John Lennon to Dave the bouncer, John Waters has covered a hell of a lot of ground in his career. The handsome English-born Australian adoptee has been in front of the camera and on stage enough to have rightfully earned the title 'veteran' but unlike many seasoned artists, Waters is just getting warmed up.

Armed with his extensive experience and an unstoppable drive to see the Australian film industry get back on its feet, Waters is one of the very first actors of his calibre to get involved with the emerging guerrilla filmmaking scene. So-called because of its complete reactionist stance against the corporate industry, and an ability to operate without any funding that isn't self-funding, this guerrilla filmmaking is fast becoming the new order.

Here in Perth, the guerrilla filmmaking scene is already gathering momentum. The latest production to see the light of day is The Bouncer. Created by burgeoning local filmmaker Derek Hobbs, and starring John Waters among others, The Bouncer is a victory for the little guy, and a giant 'fuck you' to every piece of opposition the independent film industry has to face in our country. Part of what Waters refers to as 'no-budget' films, The Bouncer is one of the first essential steps the actor sees as being necessary to get Australian films back on the map.

Driven and passionate, John Waters is a shining example of what needs to be done, and as a forerunner he is encouraging of others to take the reigns and do it for themselves. He's also a bloody good singer.

Do you enjoy being in theatre as much as film?
Oh yes, depending on what work you're doing on the job. I like performance; it's the lifeblood really. I think what makes you a performer is that getting up in front of people and doing it. Filmmaking is fantastic in its own particular way, but it never gives you that same rush of entertaining those people through your own efforts without anybody's intervention. They both have their merits, but I think that, for me, I hadn't been involved in filmmaking and had only been on stage for a couple of years, and I think I started to hang out for it a bit. So I was ready for all sorts of stuff at the time, and when The Bouncer was being made I had been on tour with Glass Onion, which is my John Lennon show, which I really love, but I was hanging out to do a bit of filming.

Do you find yourself torn between music and acting; do they compete?
Yeah I suppose they do, but it's a happy competition. I'm one of the few that has a foot in both camps, and they do come together now and then... one of my favourite movies I've done is Heaven Tonight, which is a rock 'n' roll movie. I got to actually do the band thing on film and be in a dramatic story at the same time. I can always alternate, that's the main thing, but the Australian film industry is in a bit of lull, but what we're trying to do, with all of these low-budget or no-budget films, is bypass all the big boys and make our own choices. I have other projects apart from The Bouncer, with Derek Hobbs, which involve music in film - which I'd rather be doing as I love rock 'n' roll movies.

With guerrilla filmmakers and no-budget films, do you find your years of experience come in handy for the film in more than just your own acting?
Yeah, I know what you're saying. I kind of look at the picture a lot more, the more I get on I suppose, it's kind of like a maturity process for me. I spent a good 15-20 years, from being 20 years old onwards, happy going from one job to the next, putting a piece of paper in front of me and just doing it, and using a lot of instincts and letting other people worry about the finished product... but now I have taken more of an interest in it from the beginning to the end; I believe it's probably my duty with the kind of experience that I've got, considering the state of the industry now. We know a lot more then we even believe ourselves, and try to keep this industry alive. I heard someone say in passing 'my god we're not an industry anymore we're just a slack hobby farm', and it stuck with me because it came from the heart... anybody who's serious in film is going straight to Hollywood, and leaving Australia behind.

That must be very saddening
It's extremely saddening, but if you go over there and you crack it then it's good money and fame, and the ones that do reach that level put in a lot of hard work. Heath Ledger, he's been around to all the castings and slummed it... slept on friends' floors until he finally made it... so he deserves the success, but what's left here? Very little, so the money is not there to produce, and the more the people working on the ground level don't hang around, the more it's a real drain. So what I have been saying to people who have been around for a while is that we should all use our knowledge and really put it to work now. It's been on the back burner for a while now for me. There have been plenty of people to do the job, like marketing, producing, and coming up with ideas, and now they're all leaving, and it's time for people like me to get involved in it all and to get involved without the big boys. We have to do this with a low budget, because it's pointless doing an independent Australian movie if you have to go to Miramax, you know, because then it's dead in the water before it even starts. There are still a few films that make it through, but we need more... we need a bigger turnout.

What's kept you from going down that Hollywood path?
To be honest, my reason is not this perfect loyalty or altruism, it's just circumstance. I had children at a really early age. They were in school, and back in the '70s there was plenty of work, and heaps of mini series for me to be in, and I didn't want to disrupt my children as they grew up. Things have changed, and I have looked to other countries and broadened my horizons, but I didn't do it when I was young, and short of cracking a role the way Geoffrey Rush did with Shine, I doubt if I will switch careers now. I'm now married again, and have a three-year-old child, so I would like him to grow up knowing he was born here, but also like him to know the UK because his parents are both from the UK. I would like him to have a foot in each camp. The Australian film industry of the '70s was such a place to be, and I feel that I owe it to be a part of a second revival, to be honest. It might happen in the next 20 years or so, and I'd like to help as an actor but also by helping independent films get made, directing a couple of films, and just being involved that way.

From the heyday of the '70s and '80s, what do you think started to trigger the Australian industry to lose steam?
I think maybe it was escalating budgets as the main factor, and the polarisation of everything... it's always going to be the centre of attention because of the money and the power, but if you look over how we viewed films and actors 20 years ago it wasn't with the same degree of worship, celebrity, and fame. This has moved into the industry a bit... Australian actors have gone back a notch, where they just don't seem important enough anymore because they're not in Who Magazine every week. Another factor is the control of distribution. The French have got very strong government initiatives going, and 10 per cent of takings from all box office sales of any movie have to go to into the French movie industry. All films, from anywhere in the world, help fund the French film industry

That's very clever.
It's very clever and it doesn't hurt the distributors of those movies in France. They can't object and say no; it's the law, so they have to do it. So, several million dollars from Hollywood films are going into French films... it's a great idea for here too, but probably won't happen because it takes profit away from other people.

Do you think Australian actors with overseas success are obliged to use their name to try and help the Australian film industry get back on its feet?
A lot of them do use their names to help. I guess becoming a celebrity gives you some degree of power. People like Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett are quite vocal in support of it, but the power doesn't really lie in them. It's a weird thing... someone's celebrity is a huge source of revenue, and it's what people want, but the power doesn't really lie in the celebrity themselves but in those who manipulate the celebrities. I think you are right; there is a certain obligation... I don't mean to be harsh on any of these guys because they're doing a good thing, but the power doesn't lie with them. Nicole Kidman is very vocal about the Australian industry and everyone in America is like [adopts talk show host American voice] 'you're right Nicole, Australian films are great', but they really don't give a fuck. She does talk about the Australian industry a lot though.

A lot of creative freedom is taken out of the hands of artists by their film and record companies... does studio independence in the film industry translate to artistic independence and freedom?
Yeah. There are certainly contracts that oblige you to do certain things, if you have a recording contract that obliges you to make so many CDs in a time frame you end up having to rush things in the end 'cause you can't just turn creativity on and off like a tap, even though someone like Sony thinks you can, it's much better to be able to do your work as you can, and be in control of more of it. There's heaps of independent filmmakers in the United States, like John Sales, who doesn't work with major studios, but is quite a big influence in independent films in the States, he owns his films and is in charge of the final cut in his own movies. It's an amazing thing that directors like Tim Burton, they aren't even in control of the final cut in their own film. You know who's doing the final cut, a bunch of guys in suits, accountants, who run a survey of what's going to bring in the biggest return.

That must be infuriating.
Yeah. All those guys have to work their way into the kinda contract with the most control but most major studios say 'You want control? Go work in the independent under two million, bye'. I mean, if you don't want to do it we will get someone that does. So yeah, the studios have the power, but they're investing a lot of money, they are allowed to be concerned about where they're spending their money. But with creativity you have to hand it to the people who know what they're talking about.

How did you actually become involved in The Bouncer?
Derek Hobbs sent me a script about a bouncer who was turning 50, was going to retire, and I thought it was a great thing for me to do with this type of character and he was there all the time, in just about every frame.

One thing that struck me most about The Bouncer is your physical presence. You actually could, if you stood outside a nightclub, pass off as a bouncer, quite easily.
Yeah, he looks like he kinda knows what to fucking do, and that's the thought power. They were shot very quickly, and very efficiently and with lots of cuts and it looks like, you know, somebody that you don't mess with, and I like that it brings a smile to my face.

There's also the 'ladies man' aspect, has it been a comfortable life having that face of yours?
Well, one of the perks of the industry is the chicks (laughs). If anyone says 'I'm only in it for the storytelling and the honesty of the script' they have their head up their arse. You're constantly surrounded by good looking women.

Anyone in the music industry who says they don't like perks is also a fucking liar.
Yeah that's right (laughs). The perks are good, and the reputation of the industry over the years, you know, there's always the sort of romantic roles. I hope it continues, I like it that it continues on in your 50s and still be sorta able to pull the birds (laughs).

Do you ever get people who assume that you are as your characters were in certain films?
Yeah, it happens a lot. It's an illusion industry, and they don't want to break that illusion. If you play a tough guy or a great pants-man people think that you're that, and so be it. If the general public have fallen for the illusion of what you do, that means you have done it well, and it's worked.