Blinder of a film
Retired footballer Glenn Archer drew on experience for his latest career, writes Neala Johnson
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.”