Craig Reucassel’s ‘War on Waste.’
Making The Chaser franchise was such a collegiate effort the crew on the ABC satirical show used to jokingly refer to Craig Reucassel as the back-seat director.
The performer, writer and War on Waste star will take the front seat for the first time on Democracy Project, a feature documentary and two-part ABC program co-funded by Screen Australia’s Producer Program.
Marking a return to the factual genre for Jungle Entertainment, the show will investigate how money has infiltrated Australia’s democratic system, including corporate and political donations and the role of lobbyists.
The project germinated at a Shark Island Institute Story Development and Impact Lab last year attended by Jungle CEO Jason Burrows, Jen Peedom, Reucassel and Christiaan Van Vuuren.
“We developed the idea and at the end of the week it was decided I would be the director, which I did not intend to be,” Craig tells IF on the line from Tasmania, where he is working on another ABC documentary.
“We will investigate how money in politics gets in the way of coming up with a lot of solutions to issues like climate change, and what we can do to bring about change. We want to reach the widest possible audience.”
Determined to avoid any political bias, Van Vuuren says: “We will take a bipartisan approach.” Or, as The Chaser co-founder puts it, “It will be a pox on both sides.”
Madman Entertainment will distribute the feature doc produced by Aline Jacques, written and directed by Reucassel and presented by Van Vuuren, with Burrows and Peedom as EPs.
The workshop followed a meeting between Burrows and Shark Island Institute executive director Malinda Wink, who asked him for program ideas. “I have long thought about how crap our political system is because of the influence of money in politics,” Jason says. “There is a lack of transparency, which can easily be fixed.”
The topic resonated with Van Vuuren, who was astounded at the reactions to Australia’s Deadliest Animals, a YouTube song he recorded with his brother Connor, which celebrated the country’s strict gun laws.
The video had 4 million YouTube views and 10 million on Facebook. Contrary to the song’s assertion that Australia is free of assault rifles known as AR-15s, he discovered there are plenty of these weapons, they are legally available and there is a significant pro-gun lobby.
While the members of the Chaser’s creative team are immersed in their own projects, Reucassel does not rule out the team getting back together for another series. “We’re still friends so it’s about logistics, finding a time and place to do it,” he says.