Housos Vs Authority ‘‘sticks it to the man’’ ..............
Housos Vs Authority gives a voice to the battlers, writes Vicky Roach
PAUL Fenech isn’t sure why it takes Baz Luhrmann and Hugh Jackman so long to make a movie. ‘‘I don’t know what the hell they are doing,’’ says the can-do comedian, who gave himself just eight months to deliver Housos Vs Authority – the film that sprouted from his popular SBS TV series – to the screen.
Fenech, of course, is joking. Kind of. It takes a pretty healthy ego to even attempt such an ambitious feat.
‘‘I know the depth of the filmmaking is trickier, but essentially it just comes down to cameras and actors and a script,’’ the writer-director-producer-actor says.
‘‘To me, a lot of those guys are like heavyweight fighters – they come out every four years, have one fight, and then go and sit in the sun for a while.
‘‘I guess that makes me like some sort of club fighter. I have to go every week otherwise I can’t pay the rent.’’
Fenech, 39, is happy to position himself as a battlers’ director – particularly as he believes the position was going begging.
The Tropfest-winning filmmaker, who got his first job with ABC TV as a stagehand sweeping floors, believes most Australian features target a small and select demographic.
Which might explain why Housos fans around the country have embraced characters, such as the cop-baiting, thong-slapping Franky (Fenech) and his dole-bludging best mate Dazza (Jason Davis), with wholehearted enthusiasm in packed, paid previews.
‘‘The people I make films about are not the minority,’’ Fenech says. ‘‘The greater part of Australia is much closer to
Housos than it is to, say, The Slap, for example. ‘‘Australia’s poor culture is growing and there’s no voice for them. Don’t shoot the messenger, but I would like to make a comedy that’s relevant.’’ Even police officers appreciate the humour of
Housos’ raucous, in-your-face celebration of the Australia’s authority-challenging underclass.
While filming in Sydney’s west, cast and crew regularly caught the attention of the local police.
‘‘Every time we shoot a scene with the bikies or the Arabs, or any scene that has more than 10 people, a cop car will come by. But once they realise it is Housos shooting, they usually ask for a photo. I can’t believe it. The police are some of our biggest fans,’’ Fenech says.
The ill-disciplined, foul-mouthed Franky and his motley crew of low-lifes, potheads and pension scammers have generated more than their fair share of criticism. Before the TV show had aired, A Current
Affair attacked Fenech after mistaking it for reality TV. In Housos Vs Authority, the gang travel in a drugladen campervan from the western outskirts of Sydney to the heart of Australia so Dazza’s foul-mouthed girlfriend Shazza (Elle Dawe) can be reunited with the dying mother she hasn’t seen since she was three.
While their socially unacceptable behaviour reaches a literal and metaphorical pinnacle when they spray paint Uluru, Fenech says he’s not simply provoking controversy for controversy’s sake.
‘‘Political correctness is great when it saves people from getting hurt, but when it infringes upon our right to have an Aussie perception, a kind of Aussie humour, that’s really wrong,’’ he says.
‘‘And I kind of feel that humour like ours is harking back to that really cheeky . . . I mean, ‘larrikin’ is such a corny word, but to me there is something to that about the Australian character that’s very appealing.’’
Housos Vs Authority opens today.
Housos Vs Authority’s Elle Dawe (Shazza), Paul Fenech (Franky) and Jason ‘Jabba’ Davis (Dazza).