I arrived in Melbourne from Canada in 1979 after falling for an Oz girl in Tahiti. I had been to Oz a couple of times before while working as a TV Director etc. in Vancouver.
My ladyfriend had a contact called Simon Wincer, so I went and met him in the Crawford's cafeteria next to the Fosters brewery. He said that as they didn't know me, I would have to start as a 1st AD not a Director. I said OK, point the way. The way was Geoff Pollock who was the Production Manager. He offered me a ridiculous amount of money per week (i.e. tiny) and I accepted. I did point out that I didn't have a working visa and I was over 30. He said "naw worries mate, when can you start?". I replied, "well 'er anytime next week or month?" He said "start tomorrow morning at 07.00 and don't be late". Kewl, I had a few wines that night and arrived bleary eyed and saggy tailed the next morning.
When I walked in the door many people said what sounded like "Gedaiee". I just nodded and walked on mystified. My first assignment was scouting for locations for Sullivans. Us 1st AD's spent one week on prep and one week shooting. Here I am in a strange city, driving on the "wrong" side of the road, looking for suitable locations for WW2 Britain, Holland, Singapore, Africa and any other worldwide wartime locations in a city I had not a clue about. I must have done something right as I found "Changi prison, Singapore" (A gasworks in South Melbourne), Amsterdam and Brixton London on the first day. Soon I found the Sahara desert! Quite the challenge!
On location, the crew and cast facilities consisted of a large white ex-school bus driven by a guy called John S. The craft services provided by John were minimal, so we had great times in local pubs at lunch hour. It took a while to understand what "fair dinkum" mean't. Most of the regular cast on Sullys were fantastic people and one had many "nieces" that visited the set on a regular basis. The guest cast had idiosynrosies. Sam Neill was adamant that any smoking was done very far away from the set and himself. I directed him down at the Sulky track among other places. He was the love interest for one of the main characters. The actress, who I directed in one episode, asked me what her motivation was for a scene. I said, "you are a doctor, walk here then say your lines with emotion, then exit shot". She was quite p***** off, as she was a "method actress". I had also introduced myself earlier in the day with "Hi, I'm the director of the day, Tony Wade". She didn't like that either as she had just come off a flick with Dustin Hoffman.
The camaraderie between all of us on the crew was uplifting. We supported each other and any egos were kept to a bare minimum. Socially I became friends with many people, and listening to Mel Gibson joke around in the pub was a highlight.
I had to leave Australia as my non-existant visa had run out. I had just been offered a "permanent" directing position by Ian Crawford, but I had to reluctantly depart.
I am so glad that so many colleagues have gone on to great success. I am so sad that some have passed on.
I am now a freelance producer/director drifting between Canada and the UK. I have done a million documentaries and other programs. My eldest kid (41) is in the feature film business as a soundman. I have 3 others between 32 and 15.
My time at Crawfords was one of the top highlights of my life that has been full of highlights. Thank you all that touched me. Please get in contact if you feel like it. I am living at the moment in Brighton, UK.
21 May 2007