Australian director Stephen Elliott’s new film Swinging Safari contains the perfect recipe for 1970s chaos.

Three adult couples who have belatedly embraced the liberation and freedom of the 60s, a bunch of kids who have a limitless appetite for running wild, and one boy – Elliott’s 14-year-old imagining of himself – Jeff Marsh, and his Super 8 camera.

“It was the ‘pre-helicopter parent’ period, there was simply no politics to be incorrect about,” Elliott said.

Elliott confirmed that the film is based on his teenage life, and is filled with his own experiences.

“I had a Super 8 camera at that time, and trust me, I filmed some things that maybe I shouldn’t have seen,” said the director.

The film’s ensemble is bursting with Aussie stars including Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue and Asher Keddie and their performances as border-line crazy parents is mind-blowingly relatable. Elliott said he brought a clear idea of what he wanted in on paper, but when he gave his direction to the cast, that’s when the characters really took form.

“You could see everyone eyes light up, like ‘OMG’ I get to play my mother or my father, or aunties and uncles can creep in as well, at that point the ownership that the actors took at that point was fabulous,” said Elliott.

Elliott’s career as a director has been extensive, but he is perhaps best known for creating the Australian cult classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Days before the release of Swinging Safari, Elliott was not harbouring any expectations. “As long as we’ve been pure and honest, I don’t have expectations,” he said.

“I look at the film now and there are some things in it that some people aren’t going to like, but well it happened, in this instance I wasn’t lying or making stuff up.”

However, there is sure to be some strong opinions as Elliott admits he held nothing back when cramming 50 years of memory into 95 minutes of film.

“It’s an assault, it really is, I’ve had someone tell me recently, it’s probably one of the fastest films they’ve scene in the past couple of years, let alone Australian film.”

Elliott’s contributions to Australian film track back to his first feature film in Frauds in 1993, but his journey to becoming a director began much earlier.

 

“I loved movies growing up. I made up my mind very early that’s what I wanted to do. It was pretty cool that by 14 I’ve already made up my mind and by 15 I was working professionally,” said Elliott.

“It was all down to blind determination and ambition, but I kind of missed a large part of my childhood because I was so committed to working.”

Reflecting on his career and his life is what inspired Elliott to finally tell the story of his childhood through film.

“People have midlife crises, I hadn’t had one, but at 50 I had my wobble,” he said.

“It opened a door to thinking about what I’ve achieved, and I realised I have this terrific back story and I think it was 50 that pushed me to putting pen to paper.”

Readers also enjoyed reading The West End Magazine’s review of Swinging Safari.

 

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