Szeps what doctor ordered
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.
– SUZANNE SIMONOT
Veteran actor Henri Szeps (holding the cross) stars in writer/director Gerald Lawson’s new Australian comedy drama