Szeps what doc­tor or­dered

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

SEMI-RE­TIRED gy­ne­col­o­gist Ger­ald Law­son knew he needed a ‘‘name’’ ac­tor to help bring his third fea­ture film, McLean’$ Money to life – and to a wider au­di­ence.

Law­son was set to sign screen great Bud Ting­well ( The Cas­tle) to star in the com­edy drama when the ac­tor died of prostate can­cer in May 2009.

‘‘He was keen to take the part but he died be­fore film­ing be­gan,’’ Law­son, 65, says.

An­other ac­claimed Aussie ac­tor, Mother & Son favourite Henri Szeps, sub­se­quently ac­cepted the role and is now de­light­ing au­di­ences as wealthy ty­coon Ed­ward McLean in the in­de­pen­dent fea­ture McLean’$ Money.

‘‘Henri em­braced the pro­ject, he was a bun­dle of en­thu­si­asm,’’ Law­son says. ‘‘For a man of 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the theatre and film and TV, he didn’t take on any airs.’’

Writ­ten and di­rected by Law­son, McLean’$ Money fol­lows the chop­per­fly­ing, limou­sine-rid­ing Ed­ward, who de­cides to pre­tend he’s dy­ing when he re­alises his three sons are more in­ter­ested in their in­her­i­tance than his well-be­ing.

Law­son, the fa­ther of two daugh­ters, says the film was in­spired by other peo­ple’s sto­ries – not his own.

‘‘We haven’t had any great fam­ily fights over wills and things,’’ he says.

‘‘I re­mem­ber, how­ever, when Reg Ansett died, he set up a will that all but guar­an­teed ill will and dis­trust be­tween all the chil­dren and re­sulted in con­tests that dragged on for 30 years.’’

‘‘A will can bring out all sorts of fam­ily emo­tions and re­pressed emo­tions and a sense of en­ti­tle­ment. ‘‘Look at Gina Rein­hart. Have you heard of Bob James? ‘‘When you’re very rich, it’s al­most mis­sion im­pos­si­ble to work out the dis­tri­bu­tion of your as­sets with­out caus­ing all sorts of prob­lems. It makes you think – maybe not hav­ing buck­et­loads of money is not such a bad thing.’’

Three years in the mak­ing, McLean’$ Money was filmed in and around New­cas­tle with a mostly lo­cal cast and crew.

Law­son, whose in­ter­est in film­mak­ing dates back to his days study­ing medicine at univer­sity, has no plans to give up his day job just yet. He says he’s struck a ‘‘happy bal­ance’’ be­tween medicine and movies.

‘‘When I hit the ripe-old age of 50, I thought, hav­ing reached that mile­stone, I would write a script,’’ he says.

‘‘Then, hav­ing writ­ten a cou­ple of scripts and speak­ing to peo­ple in Melbourne and Syd­ney, I re­alised only one in 200 film scripts – oth­ers say one in 300 – ever gets made into a movie. I came to the con­clu­sion that if I made it my­self, then I could make my movie hap­pen.’’

Em­braced by au­di­ences in New­cas­tle where it pre­miered last month, McLean’$ Money opens on the Coast to­day.

The Robina Town Cen­tre Ap­ple Store will host a ‘‘meet the film­maker’’ event on Sun­day with the film’s cinematographer and edi­tor Ben Al­lan. Al­lan will show raw and com­pleted scenes from McLean’$ Money in Ap­ple’s Fi­nal Cut Pro & Logic Pro to demon­strate how it was edited, fin­ished and de­liv­ered to screen.

McLean’$ Money opens to­day at Pa­cific Fair.

McLean’$ Money.

– SUZANNE SIMONOT

Vet­eran ac­tor Henri Szeps (hold­ing the cross) stars in writer/di­rec­tor Ger­ald Law­son’s new Aus­tralian com­edy drama

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