FENECH IN FOCUS
The Aussie filmmaker has forked out his own cash to fund half the budget for his latest venture into the art of making people laugh
Paul Fenech has so much faith in his ability to connect with his target audience that he has invested $500,000 of his own money in his latest film project, Fat Pizza vs Housos – about half the film’s total budget.
“I believe in myself,’’ says the Logie-winning writerdirector-producer-actor simply.
Fenech’s faith is hardly illfounded.
The majority of his comedy projects, which include three previous features – Somewhere in the Darkness, Fat Pizza and Housos vs Authority and something like 100 half hours of television for SBS, have turned a profit.
“I don’t think I have made anything – perhaps a couple of DVDs – that hasn’t made back what it cost and more,’’ Fenech says.
“I mean you always get stooged, but I make a living, so I am happy.”
The secret, according to the one-time amateur boxer, is understanding one’s market.
“My theory, as a producer, is that you should make your film at an affordable budget for a country with the reach and population of Australia,’’ he says.
“And you have to know who your audience is and what they want to see ... we just want to make something funny that people can relate to.”
Two of Fenech’s bestknown worlds collide in his most recent project, which was filmed primarily in the western suburbs of Sydney and features cameo appearances by Nick Giannopoulos, Kyle Sandilands, Jonesy and Angry Anderson.
After 15 years in prison – for threatening a food inspector with a chainsaw – the only shopfront Fat Pizza chef Bobo Gigliotti (John Boxer) and his mother (Maria Venuti) can afford happens to be located in the infamous housing commission suburb of Sunnyvale, home to Shazza (Elle Dawe), Dazza (Jason Davis) and Fenech’s lawtaunting, thong-slapper Franky Falzoni. While it’s been more than a decade since the comedian first introduced us to Bobo’s world, surprisingly few changes were required.
“That’s kind of the point,’’ says Fenech. “They are the sort of guys that don’t change. “
The Housos characters, on the other hand, are a little less predictable.
“They are more fluid just by nature of the characters they are, the universe they live in. They are always changing and adapting, ultimately, because they are survivors and scammers.”
While the onscreen relationships in Fenech’s films are intense, combative and wildly anarchic, off-screen the disciplined, hardworking filmmaker and his team work long hours to deliver the film on time and on budget.
Fenech conceived, wrote, shot and delivered his latest film to the cinema in less than 12 months.
“When people tell me they have been developing a film for three or four years, I go: ‘what have you been doing?’ Really, what can you possibly have been doing for all that time’?”
He goes to great lengths to make sure his relationship with his audience is a dynamic one.
“When we do live stuff I am very attentive to what people are laughing at,’’ he says.
“And when we do TV or film, I have a good look at the social media to get a sense of the praise and the criticism.
“I spend a lot of time listening to the audience to find out what they like and then I work as hard as I can to give them something that will give them a laugh.”
Pauly (Paul Fenech) and Habib (Tahir Bilgic).