By Charlotte Willis

Sydney’s film community is in mourning following the tragic death of independent filmmaker Samuel Genocchio.

The 43-year-old’s life came to a sad end after he was struck by a car on September 11 on Bondi Road, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The eldest son of four boys and father to son Max (who has shown a great flair for acting), Genocchio enjoyed a 20-year love affair with the arts.

Close friend and colleague Mark Cleary said he left behind a “indelible impression on the Sydney film industry”.

“He had a wonderfully-varied career across all sides of the business and he had a great deal of vision and a lot of heart,” an emotional Cleary told INSIDEFILM.

Born in Melbourne on August 11, 1967 and raised in Lane Cove, Sydney, Genocchio was drawn to film from his early 20s and began writing television drama in the mid-90s for the iconic Australian soap opera Neighbours.

Genocchio’s love for the arts reached many facets of film and writing, having freelanced for virtually the entire spectrum of the entertainment business – from director, writer, producer, and even features journalist – while working in film, television, live theatre and events.

As the Australian agent for The Flying Cam, Genocchio worked in production on Mission Impossible 2 and Moulin Rouge. He made his debut feature film Get Rich Quick, which was released in 2004 and awarded ‘Most Gratuitous Violence Award’ at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival that year.

“He had a wonderful Aussie ratbag sense of humour and that shone through in Get Rich Quick,” said independent film releasing strategist Paul Brennan, who worked with Genocchio on the film, describing it as having a “[Quentin] Tarantino derivative”.

“The filmmaking energy was there. The film was about manic behaviour, manic violence, very comic book, real ratbag behaviour.”

In December 2008, he completed his second feature film as writer/producer/director on Bad Bush, a psychological thriller that was shot in just 12 days.

Genocchio was also the first artistic coordinator of Short and Sweet – the largest short-play festival in the world – and was the Sydney Fringe Festival coordinator for two years.

Cleary noted that Short and Sweet began with very humble beginnings back in 2002, and Genocchio was “right at the helm, driving the festival, the energy, the enthusiasm… we couldn’t have done it without him – his involvement was crucial.”

Genocchio had maintained close involvement with the company since as writer and director and was set to direct a play next year.

The festival committee has made plans to name the ‘Director’s Award’ in memory of the father of one and his dedication to the company.

His most recent work was as a screenwriter and script doctor and in recent years he taught screenwriting at Southern Cross University.

Cleary recalled a particularly fond memory he has of the filmmaker with his involvement in the 2004 musical Naked Boys Singing ,acting as the co-producer and production manager at the Valhalla.

“Sam was able to work in any environment! He was nonplussed, un-phased with such a wacky show.”

Genocchio had many promising works near completion; in particular his $5.5 million feature film King of the Mountain, which car-racing legend Peter Brock was involved in. Following Brock’s shock death in September 2006, the script underwent a myriad of re-writes but never quite got off the ground.

Brennan added: “[Sam] had a nice, common-man’s touch about him, and that’s what will be missed…plus, he was good fun.”

Genocchio’s funeral was held last Friday at North Ryde.

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