#AlexOLoughlin – A Bright Beginning – 2005

Today we are waiting “patiently” for Season 6 of Hawaii Five-0 to begin tonight. I thought it could be interesting to go back 10 years and have a look at those early days of Alex’s career  ……….

A Bright Beginning

2  November 2005

Although it was originally posted in The Australian the article is no longer available there.

I found this in the archives of  the now closed down site

Alex O’loughlin. Org

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A gang of four has set up a film production company to get away from the Hollywood system. Jack Thompson is sitting on a wooden step in the small, mustard-coloured courtyard of his home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The veteran actor with more than 40 films to his credit, from the Australian classic ‘Breaker Morant’ (1980) to last year’s American drama The Assassination of Richard Nixon’, sits quietly, listening intently. Every so often he thoughtfully strokes his greying beard.

Thompson may be the most famous person in the vicinity and patriarch of the small group of people who have gathered at his home, but for once he is not the centre of attention. Instead, all eyes are on burly, fast-talking American film director Brett Leonard, who is explaining the magic that happens when a film is made with the right mix of people.

“The film business is a difficult business at the best of times: there is no holy alliance between art and commerce, so you’re often dealing with people coming together with a lot of varying points of view,” he says, leaning forward to emphasise his point.

“The great thing is, if you can bring ‘honour bright’ to that, then it can actually be a tremendously positive experience. It doesn’t matter what film you’re making, it’s really about that magic, when the people making that film are all moving in the same direction and have that bond.

You can’t force it, you can only make it happen by bringing the right people in.”

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Thompson grins. “Hear, hear,” he says in his deep, honeyed voice as his eldest son, Patrick, and actor Alex O’Lachlan nod in agreement.

This meeting is all about honour bright, meaning honour among mates. Thompson chose it as the name for the production company he has set up with Patrick Thompson, O’Lachlan and Leonard.

“Jack named it that because it’s how we feel about each other,” his son explains. “It’s a very old Australian phrase that we feel is representative of us as a group of friends. We feel we have honour bright.”

Leonard, best known as director of 1992′s sci-fi thriller ‘The Lawnmower Man’, met the Thompsons through Russell Crowe.

Later, they were cast with O’Lachlan in Man-Thing, directed by Leonard and based on a Marvel Comics character. Although Man-Thing went straight to DVD, it helped pave the way for Honour Bright Productions’, formed when Patrick Thompson and O’Lachlan came up with the idea for a film.

“Russell, Jack, Brett, Alex and I have always discussed how good it would be to have a group of us making movies,” says the younger Thompson.

“You always want to keep making movies, but as an actor or director or producer you often have to wait until the next project comes along. So Alex and I came up with the idea for a film and approached Brett as a sounding board. And he said: ‘Let’s do it.’”

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Patrick Thompson, 36, has the muscular physique that his father did as a younger man, around the time of 1975′s ;Sunday Too Far Away’. They have the same big personality and guffawing laugh.

Patrick Thompson grew up in the world of films. He has worked on movies in front of the camera and behind it as a set builder (he is a carpenter by trade and has appeared as a builder on the home renovation television shows Auction Squad and Ground Force); he also has appeared in plenty of commercials.

It was at Patrick Thompson’s house in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, earlier this year that he, O’Lachlan and Leonard workshopped the script for Feed, HBP’s debut production.

The three spent the weekend watching dark movies such as Se7en’, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘8mm’ to find the right tone for Feed, a psycho-sexual thriller about a cyber crime investigator searching for a man with a fetish for overweight women.

The depraved man feeds his victims until they die and broadcasts his crimes on the internet. (The idea came from the disturbing BBC documentary ‘Fat Girls and Feeders’).

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With Leonard directing, O’Lachlan plays the “feeder”, Patrick Thompson is the detective and Jack Thompson is his police superior.

Friends were hired as cast and crew for the shoot in Sydney earlier this year. Gabby Millgate (best known for uttering the “You’re terrible, Muriel” line in Muriel’s Wedding) plays the victim, wearing a startlingly lifelike prosthetic fat suit.

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Half the $1 million budget came from ‘Becker Entertainment’, the rest from private investors, including the main cast. It was Jack Thompson’s first time as a producer and he says it has been one of his most memorable working experiences, especially because of working with his son.

“It’s certainly one of the best things I’ve ever done, despite the fact that I was silly enough to invest money in it,” he says, to the amusement of the others.

It was great because the film had its own real impetus, and that kind of energy is what was there for me in ‘Sunday Too Far Away’ and in ‘Breaker Morant’ … If you have that element there already, that’s something you can never pay for.”

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Feed was screened at the Fantasy Film festival in Nuremberg, Germany, in July. A German fan who posted a comment on the Internet Movie Database called it “disgusting, vulgar and fascinating”.

Last month it screened at Paris’s L’etrange Festival, which also showcases fantasy films. The film has been sold to Germany, Denmark, South Korea and Britain, where it will be released in cinemas this month.

Becker, which is handling the sales, is in negotiations with Australian distributors.

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With the film yet to open in mainstream cinemas, its creators have moved on to other projects.

Leonard is in Lithuania directing Highlander 5′; Jack Thompson is in Los Angeles shooting ‘A Good German’ alongside Cate Blanchett and George Clooney; O’Lachlan — who was screen-tested for the role of James Bond, but lost out to British actor Daniel Craig — is filming ‘The Invisible’ in Canada; and Patrick Thompson is in Sydney, “keeping the home fires burning”.

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Although Crowe is not involved in HBP (Honour Bright Productions), they have a new partner in Peter Sprowles, a successful advertising producer with his own production company, Sprowles Films International.

The two companies now share office space in Annandale in Sydney’s inner west. HBP has several other projects in the works, including an Australian period piece co-written by Jack Thompson and Leonard, and a contemporary political thriller with the working title of ‘Headless‘.

Leonard says he is enjoying creating the magic away from Hollywood, in Australia, which attracts him because of its “aggressively egalitarian” approach to film-making.

“You can’t capture lightning in a bottle,” he says.

“But you can create an environment where you, as primary collaborators in a film-making team, can be nurtured in a way that gives you better odds at the magic happening.

And that’s really what Honour Bright Productions is going to be, that’s what we’re doing, and we’re going to continue to do it.”

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My thoughts

  • I wonder if ‘Honour Bright Productions’ still exist? And if they will ever collaborate again to do something new in the future?
  • In last years interview with Pauly Shore, Alex said that he still have not met Russell Crowe, although his mentor and friend Jack Thompson knows Russell very well.

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