Priscilla producer Al Clark to receive AACTA Raymond Longford Award

21 November, 2012 by Brendan Swift

Veteran Australian producer Al Clark will receive the AACTA Raymond Longford Award in recognition of his three-decade career which has included iconic films such as Chopper and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Clark, who emigrated from the UK in the 1980s after representing music acts such as the Sex Pistols and Phil Collins, has produced or executive produced 19 feature films. He has also served on the board of the Australian Film Commission (1989-1992) and participated in official juries of several international film festivals, including the San Sebastian and Valladolid Film Festivals.


‘’With a love of films that always transcends the frustrations of getting them made, I’ve tried to choose distinctive projects, to navigate them soundly, to find gifted people to work with, and to bring out the best in their considerable talents," Clark said after being told of the award. "I’m grateful to AACTA for this great recognition and for everything it represents.”

AFI | AACTA chief executive Damian Trewhella said the Australian Academy was impressed by the diversity of Clark’s attributes, skills and contribution to the Australian and international screen industries. ‘’Al Clark is also recognised for his talent for prose and writing, which many note contribute to his keen eye for a great script, and to his ability to nurture young writers and directors," he said in a statement. "The author of two film books, Raymond Chandler in Hollywood, and The Lavender Bus, Clark is also the founder and former editor of The Film Yearbook, adding to his praiseworthy and celebrated encyclopaedic knowledge of film."

Clark executive produced the first feature film to star Russell Crowe (The Crossing); produced the first Australian feature film to star Ryan Kwanten (Red Hill), and produced John Polson’s first feature film (Siam Sunset). Priscilla director Stephan Elliott, actor Guy Pearce and costume designer Lizzy Gardiner (who co-won a BAFTA and Academy Award for costume design), as well as Chopper director Andrew Dominik and actor Eric Bana received international recognition for their work.

AFI | AACTA chairman Alan Finney said Clark's commitment and passion for the Australian film industry, as well as his body of work and nurturing of new talent, deserves recognition. Finney distributed four of Clark’s films: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Absolute Beginners, Gothic and Priscilla.

‘’In addition to helping filmmakers to craft their projects, from assisting in casting and creative, through to finance and distribution, Clark is a celebrated mentor, noted for his collaborative and inclusive nature, regardless of people’s backgrounds and experience. It is for each of these reasons that the Australian Academy is proud to recognise Clark for his lifetime contribution to Australian film,” Finney said.

The AACTA Raymond Longford Award will be presented at the 2nd AACTA Awards luncheon, presented by Deluxe, in Sydney in January 2013. The awards are currently searching for a new major sponsor after Samsung, which took over naming-rights in 2009, pulled out one year after the awards were revamped and shifted to Sydney from Melbourne. 

Industry support for Al Clark (via the AACTA announcement):

Hugo Weaving
‘’As a writer and raconteur Al has an unerring sense of style and effortless ability to find the 'mot juste'. His skill as a writer gives him a keen eye for a strong script, and a talent to bring out the best in younger writer/directors, encouraging them to shape their work in a way which suits their idiosyncrasies yet speaks to a wide audience. His comprehensive knowledge of music and the music industry has meant films he is associated with are able to access scores most Australian films cannot. He has significantly helped to put Australian film onto the world stage, tirelessly promoting and championing local talent internationally.” 

Guy Pearce
‘’Al's unique view of the world, film and the arts has been a great inspiration for me. His ability to recall any moment from any movie or book, analyse its value and express it succinctly is a rare quality. He has taught me and many other actors the value of truth in performance as well as truth in oneself. He is an educator and has opened my eyes to many filmmakers and styles just through his sheer enthusiasm for the medium. He's very generous with his wisdom."

Stephan Elliott
‘’During my first exhausting week of production on Priscilla, I was under attack from all sides. Some thought I was making a very dangerous movie. The PC brigade was in full demolition mode. Everybody had an opinion. Everybody had a re-write. My producer, Al Clark, was doing his best to keep them all at bay, but at the same time needed to guide me through an expanding minefield… Al’s knowledge, grace, tenacity and good judgment are always at my (and many others) disposal 24/7 and for this I am very, very thankful. I could not think of a finer recipient for the AACTA Raymond Longford Award.” 

Michele Bennett and Andrew Dominik
‘’Al’s body of work has been impressive. He has tackled low budget material with the same vigour and enthusiasm as his bigger budget films. It is gratifying to know that one of these, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, became one of the highest grossing films in Australian history, due, in no small part, to the passion, skillful guidance, ingenuity and musical knowledge of Al Clark as producer.’’

Lizzy Gardiner
‘’Al Clark is a fine producer, a great mentor of young talent, and an excellent writer on industry matters … Add me to the list of admirers.’’ Phillip Adams
‘’The incredible moment when Al Clark decided to trust and nurture everyone involved in Priscilla was a turning point for many people. Every single detail was Al's. His decisions are all heartfelt and never about money or the back-end. His passion for filmmaking is purely about that – films.”

Ana Kokkinos
‘’Al is a producer who is tenacious, bold and ferocious in protecting the creative vision of the director, as well as ensuring that everyone involved in the project is working with one aim in mind, and that is the realisation of the project without compromise. Australian cinema would be the poorer without Al Clark’s vision and philosophy.’’

Roy Billing
"Al is a hands-on producer, involved with every step of the filmmaking process. He regularly visits the set and talks to actors and crew and his enthusiasm rubs off. He's a joy to work with."

Darren Ashton
‘’Al’s contribution to the Australian film industry is simply phenomenal. Apart from having one of the most critically and financially successful Australian films in history, all films he’s associated with have a distinct Australian flavour. This distinguishes Al, for it is the film that motivates him and not the promise of success. Of course he makes films for an audience, but first and foremost his motivation is to make great films and films that inspire him. He has been on various industry boards and helped shape the Australian industry in a positive and constructive direction.‘’

Bob Ellis
‘’Frugal, reclusive, outgoing, generous, laconic, eloquent, secretive and very much his own person, Al Clark does not court the limelight. But his contribution to the Australian cinema, and to international cinema, is immense.‘’

Al Clark – Filmography
1984 – Secret Places (executive producer) – director Zelda Barron – with Marie-Therese Relin, Jenny Agutter.
1984 – Nineteen Eighty-Four (co-producer) – director Michael Radford – with John Hurt, Richard Burton.
1986 – Absolute Beginners (executive producer) – director Julien Temple – with David Bowie, James Fox.
1986 – Captive (executive producer) – director Paul Mayersberg – with Oliver Reed, Irina Brook.
1986 – Gothic (executive producer) – director Ken Russell – with Gabriel Byrne, Natasha Richardson, Timothy Spall.
1987 – Aria (co-producer) – directors Robert Altman, Jean-Luc Godard, Nicolas Roeg, Bruce Beresford etc – with Theresa Russell, Bridget Fonda, Tilda Swinton.
1990 – The Crossing (executive producer) – director George Ogilvie – with Russell Crowe, Danielle Spencer.
1994 – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (producer) – director Stephan Elliott – with Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce.
1997 – Heaven’s Burning (producer) – director Craig Lahiff – with Russell Crowe, Youki Kudoh.
1999 – Siam Sunset (producer) – director John Polson – with Linus Roache, Danielle Cormack.
1999 – Eye of the Beholder (co-producer) – director Stephan Elliott – with Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd.
2000 – Chopper (executive producer) – director Andrew Dominik – with Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, Kate Beahan.
2002 – The Hard Word (producer) – director Scott Roberts – with Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Joel Edgerton.
2004 – Thunderstruck (executive producer) – director Darren Ashton – with Sam Worthington, Callan Mulvey,
Stephen Curry
2006 – The Book of Revelation (producer) – director Ana Kokkinos – with Tom Long, Greta Scacchi, Colin Friels.
2007 – Razzle Dazzle (executive producer) – director Darren Ashton – with Ben Miller, Kerry Armstrong, Tara Morice.
2009 – Blessed (producer) – director Ana Kokkinos – with Frances O’Connor, Miranda Otto, Deborra-lee Furness.
2010 – Red Hill (producer) – director Patrick Hughes – with Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E. Lewis.
2013 – Goddess (executive producer) – director Mark Lamprell – with Laura Michelle Kelly, Ronan Keating, Magda Szubanski