First-time filmmaker David Richards fulfills a dream with ‘The Knockoffs’

17 September, 2018 by Don Groves

Isaac Smith as Buff Space Cadet in ‘The Knockoffs.’

David Richards is proving you don’t need formal training or to have made a short film or web series to write, produce and direct a feature film.


A former basketball coach and banker, Richards is shooting The Knockoffs, a family comedy/parody, in the Newcastle/Port Stephens region of NSW.

The plot follows the World Toy Federation whose profits and dwindling, prompting its leaders to hatch an evil plan to restore fiscal viability to large toy companies.

After discovering a portal to a parallel dimension, the federation’s Supreme Toy leader (Paul J. Mailath) draws all the poorly made, non-commercial knockoff action figures into this toy world and sends in his highly trained toy agents to destroy them.

First he must eliminate a vintage figure, the first knockoff ever made. However he underestimates the knockoffs’ fierce desire to survive and to give all children the opportunity to play with action figures.

Richards is co-producing the film with Peter McMurray, the founder of the Newcastle-based video production company Lumina Visual, who is also serving as the DOP.

“The concept began more than three years ago,” says Richards, who works for PCYC, a youth charity in Port Stephens. “I decided I would make my own film, wrote the script, met with Peter McMurray and began planning the film as well as playing a few basketball tournaments together.

“We sourced the cast from StarNow and local theatre groups; we have a great mix of good people involved with the film.”

Isaac Smith plays Buff Space Cadet, an action figure who does not understand why his lasers and gadgets don’t actually work. Richards is Sheriff Woodchuck, a cowboy who believes all knockoffs should be treated as real action figures. Ben Durham is Army Jimbo, a knockoff who doesn’t know which side he should be on but wants to be on the winning side.

Verna Amy McClune is Agent Kenner, lead agent for the World Toy Federation, who is determined to be the top dog and will stop at nothing to destroy all knockoffs, with Lucas Fatches as Agent Hasbro, who aspires to become the lead agent. The cast also includes Hadrian Le Goff, Melissa Thompson, Richard Platt, Rob Holland and Bethany Kable.

The Singleton-born Richards studied media and advertising at Southern Utah University while playing basketball in the mid-1990s.

His interest is movies was kindled when he spent a few weeks as a stand-in on Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt and he later worked on Rake and Blue Murder 2.

“I’m enjoying the challenge of building a team to achieve a goal,” he says. “This isn’t about money. The hope is that we get this one under our belt, the beginning of a plan to have fun and tell tales. It really doesn’t matter if 100 people or a million people watch it; I’m doing the film because I want to tell a fun story.

“My team will get to do what they love, get some food and travel if required, meet new and great people and build friendships. At the end of the day we can all sit back and say, ‘We did this’ and be proud of the achievement. There is a ridiculously small chance that they may earn a dollar or two from it.

The Knockoffs is a family parody, a story that shows no matter where you’re from, or how you look, that you have a purpose. A story of courage, sacrifice and friendship.”