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WOG BOY

Andrew L. Urban explores the making of The Wog Boy - a film by wogs, about wogs - but not just for wogs, but for all Australians, as its creator Nick Giannopoulos explains.

The Wog Boy "is a very broad, very Australian film," says producer John Brousek, "and encompasses the whole spectrum of Australian society - it's an observation of it, and not just the multicultural aspects of it. It has a lot to say about coming together, harmony and bringing Australians together. It has heart and spirit."

"irreverent humour"

Writer/producer Nick Giannopoulos, of Greek origin, has taken Acropolis Now and Wogs Out of Work, satirising both the Australian attitude to wogs and the wogs themselves and now the concept has found a home in a screenplay that retains the irreverent humour and the larger than life attitude.

"It's everything the fans ever wanted," remarks Giannopoulos. "That was my brief to myself. I'm competing with $100 million films - Bond, de Caprio, Julia Roberts….we've got an original Australian story and great performances."

"a sort of anti hero."

Giannopolous says he loathed the word 'wog' ever since it was hurled at him from the age of five. "But we claimed the word for ourselves in the playground - the wog boys - as a sort of anti hero." It was, he says, in part a film that he wanted to make "for my parents and all the others who came here and stayed despite being told to 'go back home, ya wog bastards'…this is my way fo saying to them that we've arrived and we're a major part of this society. I wasn't comfortable with this being my country until five years ago."

Giannopoulos was kicked out of film school after two years for being too disruptive. It has taken him 10 years to get his earliest ideas into a shooting script, working with schoolfriend Chris Anastassiades. "I hope this little film will inspire people."

"how the little guy can maintain his dignity"

For director Aleksi Vellis, the message of the film is simple and unoriginal: "it's about the little guy and how the government can use the man in the street, and how the little guy can maintain his dignity. This guy is plucked out of nowhere and portrayed as a dole bludger; the government uses him with a hidden agenda which he pursues."

Ensconced in the largely Greek neighbourhood of an inner-city Melbourne suburb, Steve (Nick Giannopoulos) is a good-natured larrikin whose life revolves around hanging out with his mates at the pizza parlour, posing at the local nightclub and hooning around in his cherished '69 Valiant. When he has a minor prang with a limo carrying the Minister for Employment, and later impudently sends her the repair bill, the Minister (Geraldine Turner) decides to teach him a lesson by engineering a media slur campaign - with help from her PR (Lucy Bell) - whereby he is labeled as 'Australia's Biggest Dole Bludger'. With his reputation (not to mention his unemployment benefits) hanging in the balance, Steve sets out to clear his name. (Dole bludger: Australian for person happily taking social security benefits and not seeking work.)

"we got it."

"To me," says Vellis, "cinema is fantasy and the volume has been turned up. This is a romantic comedy and we're aiming for a broader appeal to what Nick has done before, to introduce audiences to his comedy."

The mid-range budget was hard to pull together, says producer Brousek, who was "surprised how much convincing some people needed - except Beyond Films and the Film Finance Corporation, which was "very keen." But Giannopoulos "had to" invest some of his own money "to fill up the shortfall". The final deal gives large back end points to investors, says Brousak, assuming there is plenty of 'blue sky'. And Brousek is optimistic: the six week shoot in melbourne went well. "We're trying to do something bigger than normal and we've been blessed with the weather. For a feelgood movie you need blue sky - and we got it."

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See also the SOUNDTRACK Review for The Wogboy.

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