Housos Vs Authority’s Paul Fenech on why the film industry doesn’t accept him
It’s a hard job being the multi-faceted Paul Fenech. “Running in thongs is very difficult, you have to acquire a very special set of skills, which I’ve acquired, and mate, look, the running is actually not the difficult part.”
The writer/actor/director/producer of bogan comedy Housos Vs. Authority experienced other hardships during production. “In the middle of winter running in shorts and thongs, that’s difficult mate. When its zero degrees and you’re in shorts riding a sidecar motorbike in Alice Springs, the wind-chill alone…I should be in some Guinness World Record book for that.”
It is all part of bringing the cast of SBS underground comedy series Housos – which follows a group of low-income Australians living in Sunnyvale's Housing Commission public housing – to the big screen.
For populating his world with the weird and wonderful, Fenech is known for casting locals and non-actors.
“Screen acting is completely different from theatre acting and I think in the history of cinema there were plenty of people that weren’t necessarily great actors but they had a lot of character and are memorable forevermore. So I love people with screen charisma, that’s what I look for and that’s what I cast.”
His representations of housing estate life have got Fenech in trouble – does he anticipate more controversy for the film?
“I’ve always been a bit of a trouble magnet, so I’m ready for it you know? But to be honest I don’t care, if people are going to be upset then I don’t think they have a sense of humour.”
Last year A Current Affair mistook the first season Housos as a reality program and sought to have it taken off the air. “The amount of bloody dramas I was having with SBS: they were all worried and it turned out to be the greatest piece of publicity, the greatest launch for a show that you could actually have. We ended up having an audience for this project before any publicity started.”
The audience for Housos includes 'non-bogans' who laughs at the bogans on screen and the bogans themselves, who relish in their representation. Does Fenech favour one side over the other?
“I think everything I try to write supports an underdog. To be honest I probably feel more like an underdog.”
Despite having written, directed, produced and starred in over 100 half-hours of television and four films, Fenech doesn’t feel as accepted as his peers.
“I’ve never felt like I’ve ever made it or that I’m a big success or anything. The film industry has never made given me that feeling, even though I’ve managed to stay in the game for a long time. I always feel like I’m struggling in my own way. I suppose I feel closer to the bogans because people look down their noses at them, and professionally I’ve always had a weird attitude around me like that.”
Housos Vs. Authority is currently in cinemas. The film was released by Transmission Films on November 1.