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The Crop comes to cinemas -

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Broadcast: 10/08/2004

'The Crop' comes to cinemas

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

KERRY O'BRIEN: Rarely has Australia's film industry been at such a low ebb.

In the past five years, almost two-thirds of local releases have taken less than $1 million at the
box office.

Those in the industry claim they need extra subsidies and tax breaks to survive.

But one local film about to be released didn't rely on Government funding. Instead on the energy
and enthusiasm of the man who wrote it, produced it and also starred in it.

George Elliot left school at 14, but that hasn't stopped him from achieving success in a surprising
range of pursuits.

Tracy Bowden reports.

GEORGE ELLIOT: I'm a hotel operator, a jet helicopter pilot, professional Nascar racer, novelist -
it's a pretty big portfolio.

TRACY BOWDEN: George Elliot's vocabulary doesn't include words like 'no', 'impossible' or 'forget

He's made a career out of convincing others to believe in his passions and, better still, bankroll

Almost a decade ago, he added a new challenge to the list.

GEORGE ELLIOT: Look, you'll probably laugh, but it came about simply because I decided I wanted to
write a movie and star in it.

I mean, it really was as simple as that.


With a couple of novels already under his belt, George Elliot set to work on a script for his first
film The Crop, starring George Elliot.

Then he tried to convince others it was all possible.

TRACY BOWDEN (TO GEORGE ELLIOT): Did you get a few knock backs?

GEORGE ELLIOT: Yeah, yeah, I had quite a few knock backs and I had quite a few unkind remarks along
the way.


GEORGE ELLIOT: Well, that you've got no talent.

You can't write and the story's no good.

So, basically, you know, that was pretty blunt, but I would really like to thank those people now
because, you know, they gave me the determination to make it happen.

TRACY BOWDEN: But George Elliot knew he needed more than determination - he needed expertise.

He started acting lessons, a fitness regime and surrounded himself with people who know the film
business, including agent to the stars Martin Bedford.

MARTIN BEDFORD, AGENT: The camera obviously likes you, which is terrific.

TRACY BOWDEN: In 2002, against all the odds, filming began on The Crop with George Elliot wearing
several hats.

SCOTT PATTERSON, DIRECTOR: He wrote the script, he produced it, he starred in it and he was
involved in practically sort of every aspect of the production and so it's quite monumental.

TRACY BOWDEN: George Elliot plays the role of Blade, a publican going broke because of random
breath testing, who decides to grow marijuana as an alternative and illegal form of income.

GEORGE ELLIOT (AS BLADE): Do you know what them bastards did?

They stole our heads.

$500,000 worth.


GEORGE ELLIOT (AS BLADE): Friggin' coppers - they're supposed to be the good guys.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's baddies pretending to be goodies.

TRACY BOWDEN (TO SCOTT PATTERSON): Honest answer - how is George's acting?

SCOTT PATTERSON: George's acting, you know, isn't that much different to a lot of other actors

He primarily played himself.

So I think that George learnt fast and it was a baptism of fire, but eventually he got there, I

JAIMIE LEONARDER, THE MOVIE SHOW, SBS: I think the film is a very light-hearted romp through
Australian bloke-type culture.

TRACY BOWDEN: Film critic and Australian movie devotee Jaimie Leonarder concedes The Crop may not
be for everyone.

JAIMIE LEONARDER: I mean, I have got a great enjoyment of B-grade cinema.

I can see through a film's flaws and see them transcend to somewhere else and I think basically The
Crop is one of those films.

It won't hit you initially, but when it does it will profoundly affect you.

TRACY BOWDEN (TO GEORGE ELLIOT): Do you imagine that you'll get any criticism from anti-marijuana
groups, groups concerned about drug use?

GEORGE ELLIOT: Look, anybody that feels that way really needs to see the film, because once they've
seen the film, they'll realise that we are in no way condoning drugs.

This is about some mates who want to help each other try to survive and get out of trouble.

GEORGE ELLIOT (AS BLADE): What you talkin' about?

HOLLY BRISLEY (AS GERALDINE): You know what I'm talking about and so do I.

GEORGE ELLIOT (AS BLADE): So what are you sayin'?

HOLLY BRISLEY (AS GERALDINE): "No" is what I'm saying.


No, no, definitely no.

TRACY BOWDEN (TO GEORGE ELLIOT): Are you ready for the critics?

GEORGE ELLIOT: Look, I think, you know, I don't expect a lot from the critics.

I don't know that the critics will even like the film, because I didn't write it for the critics.

I wrote it for people - just ordinary, average Aussie people.

JAIMIE LEONARDER: I don't believe The Crop is going to help any of us artistically to rise up above
the quagmire that Australian film's in at the moment.

But certainly the notion and his inspiration and the fact that he sought it, went after it and
achieved it, is an extraordinary accomplishment.

TRACY BOWDEN: George Elliot even has a sequel ready to go if The Crop is a success.

But in the end, the sense is that what matters here is not so much the film itself, but what it
says about having a go.

GEORGE ELLIOT: If you've got a dream, go for it, you know, focus on what it is that you want to do.

I guess I'm living proof anyone can make it happen if you just work hard enough.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tracy Bowden with that report.

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