Blin­der of a film

Re­tired foot­baller Glenn Archer drew on ex­pe­ri­ence for his lat­est ca­reer, writes Neala John­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

FOR a long time, North Mel­bourne great Glenn Archer poured ev­ery­thing he had into play­ing footy. “I played for prob­a­bly too long, 17 years at AFL level,” he says.

But he never knew the kind of ef­fort it takes to get a movie made un­til, over cof­fee one day, his mate Scott Di­dier pre­sented him with the script for a fi lm called Blin­der.

“I’m not much of a reader, but I took it home that night and I read it in two- and- a- half hours,” the coura­geous Kan­ga­roo says.

“As I read it I thought, ‘ I’d change this, I’d put this here’ ... stuff that I saw through my foot­ball days that I reck­oned would res­onate with peo­ple. So I went back to Scott and said, ‘ I love it, I’d like to help out’.”

Next thing he knew, Archer was an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the project, do­ing ev­ery­thing from sourc­ing a di­rec­tor to eval­u­at­ing the footy skills of au­di­tion­ing ac­tors and “putting mar­quees up”.

“Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, I didn’t really know what that ti­tle meant, but I think it means do a bit of ev­ery­thing. It’s hard work, that was the over­rid­ing emo­tion,” he says of the movie, which cost about $ 5 mil­lion and took two years to make.

“I’ve been in­volved in TV and shot a few com­mer­cials, so I knew it can be a bit time­con­sum­ing, but mak­ing a movie, ph­woo, 15 hours a day, six days a week ... it put it in per­spec­tive.”

Blin­der spoke to Archer on a cou­ple of lev­els. First, the tale of the Torquay Tigers club speaks to the en­dur­ing friend­ships forged through footy. “If you speak to any foot­baller who’s played the game at any level, the one thing they take when they leave is the mate­ship,” he says. “It’s very clichéd, but it’s so true.”

Sec­ond, says Archer, know­ing the sub­ject needs lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion.

“Cer­tain el­e­ments of the movie res­onate with me,” he says. “The scan­dal part, ob­vi­ously, how it can break up friend­ships and part­ner­ships with girl­friends. That hits close to home with what I went through at North Mel­bourne.”

Archer is, of course, re­fer­ring to the 2002 rev­e­la­tion of Wayne Carey’s af­fair with the wife of an­other team­mate, An­thony Stevens.

But the scan­dal in Blin­der has more in com­mon with the St Kilda school­girl drama of 2010- 2011.

In the fi lm, the Torquay Tigers are torn apart when one player takes ad­van­tage of an un­der­age girl dur­ing post- grand fi nal cel­e­bra­tions and pic­tures are re­leased to a news­pa­per.

“One thing the di­rec­tor Richard [ Gray] was stead­fast on is you’ve gotta have some scan­dal, you can’t just roll out a fi lm about foot­ball and ev­ery­one lives hap­pily ever af­ter. I to­tally un­der­stood that,” Archer says.

“We went through all the dif­fer­ent dra­mas you could go through; there were some ro­bust dis­cus­sions. Ob­vi­ously I wanted to keep it away from my back­yard.” If it had veered into his back­yard? “I would have run for the hills,” Archer says with a rue­ful laugh.

The Blin­der team con­sid­ered draft­ing some AFL names to make cameos, but while Sam Kekovich ( also a pro­ducer on the fi lm) ap­pears as a com­men­ta­tor, Archer thought it was best to leave it to the pros ( the cast in­cludes Jack Thompson as the in­spi­ra­tional coach along­side ris­ing Aussie ac­tors Oliver Ack­land and Josh Hel­man as the play­ers at the cen­tre of the scan­dal).

“We’ve got the ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional ac­tors,” Archer says. “I didn’t really want to make a mock­ery of it by hav­ing my boof­head pop up.”

Archer re­tired in 2007. Th­ese days, he’s a di­rec­tor of a sports man­age­ment busi­ness which looks af­ter about 120 foot­ballers and runs a tour com­pany which takes clients to ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events such as the Su­per Bowl and Monaco Grand Prix.

But the movie bug has bit­ten, and Archer’s brain is now rat­tling with the cin­e­matic po­ten­tial of many of his footy ex­pe­ri­ences.

“There’s that many sto­ries I’ve got in my head I could make about four fi lms, the amount I’ve got,” he says. “But let’s go through this process with Blin­der fi rst and see what sort of a re­sponse we get. If it’s half de­cent, let’s have an­other crack.”

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