Fenech: Brain behind Housos
The Australian TV industry has been taken over by the “posh wanker brigade”, Housos creator Paul Fenech has complained.
His comments – in which he highlighted his “love-hate relationship” with SBS – came in a live video chat with Mumbrella readers on the weekend that the Housos fim opened in cinemas.
Fenech also spoke of his antipathy to working in the advertising industry again and said that the lengthy process involved in getting Screen Australia funding has made him go his own way in producing films such as Housos which he partly funded out of his own pocket.
A nine-episode second series of the housing commission comedy will follow on SBS in the new year. Previous Fenech series on SBS have included Pizza – which he followed at the cinema with the Village Roadshow-funded Fat Pizza – and Swift And Shift Couriers.
Fenech highlighted his tensions with the broadcaster. He said: “SBS and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. They love the success but they are always a bit worried about the content I give them because it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
“But you cant argue with numbers and results – we’ve always been their number one show that they make, since Pizza, for ten years.”
He said that the change from MD Shaun Brown to former ABC marketer Michael Ebeid as the boss of SBS had not helped Housos. Fenech said: ‘The regime at the time were happy with the idea. Then there was a regime change. When they saw the final product the new people were very reluctant – swearing , domestic abuse.
“Everything was against it, it was on at ten o’clock at night and that’s almost the kiss of death for most TV programs but luckily enough people found it through social media.
“I’ve never understood it. Since Pizza, there’s a weird inhouse, maybe it’s a personal reluctance. There’s a lot of middle class people that work in the media in general, not just SBS. Out stuff is very – working class is the wrong title – but underclass kind of humour. Maybe some people call it lowbrow but I just think it’s general Aussie humour, so I’m dealing with posh wankers the whole time.
“In the last 15 years the posh wanker brigade has taken over more of TV and there’s less and less real film makers and TV makers actually making TV. We’ve been overrun with people who’ve come out of all sorts of corners but not actually production so it’s a real struggle.”
Fenech was scathing about the current crop of Australian films. He said: “A lot of Australian movies don’t find an audience because a lot of the fim makers are making films for themselves and not for the audience.
“To be honest, most of the producers and directors I know, they are irrelevant to the Australian landscape because they don’t get out there and they don’t see what’s happening. It’s really shifting and changing. Most producers and people in the media these days it’s all about some bloody marketing report and that’s how they understand society. Bullshit, go and meet people.”
Asked about working with funding bodies such as Screen Australia and Screen NSW, Fenech said: “They are so slow, I don’t. With Housos I wanted to make it quickly and I knew if I went the government route it would take forever. There’s nothign wrong with that and I’ll probably work with those guys eventually maybe.
“But all the films I’ve made have been independently financed just because I’m impatient. I hate the time and paperwork. I’d rather just go and talk to somebody who’s up for it.
“The government agencies, there’s a lot more onus on you to jump through a lot of hoops and I’m just impatient. As a producer I like things to happen quickly.I’d rather be working than stooging around doing thousands of meetings.”
Asked about his previous career in the advertisng industry, Fenech said: “All the ones I made were for KFC and stuff so they weren’t exactly my favourites. Advertising is a bit boring because it’s just about selling people chickens at the end of the day. It’s all a bit forgettable.
“I consciously try and stay out of that. The work I make is very anti-media. You get some advertising clown telling you to change it three times.
“I find it so painful, I’d rather put my balls in a vice than make TV commercials any time soon.”
SBS declined Mumbrella’s invitation to comment.