In 1984 my film Strikebound was at the Cannes Film Festival. By co-incidence, INXS are playing in Nice (just a few miles from Cannes). I rustle a few Australians and Poms together and we go to the concert in a large marquee tent. My French publicist, her 14-year-old daughter, Michael Hutchence and I end up in a party in a rustic French Villa, where Michael protectively offers to protect the daughter from all the unwanted sexual harassment she had been receiving from the thuggish boys in her class at school.
The girl’s mother (my publicist) drives us back to Cannes and drops us off. After a night of clubs and hotel room parties and no sleep, Michael and I arrive at my publicist’s apartment and escort her daughter to school early the next morning. The young girl points out the boys that had been harassing her and Michael approaches them and in bad French, informs them of the physical violence they will receive at his hands if they ever harass our young friend again. The incredulous boys throw stones at him and abuse him loudly in French informing him in no uncertain terms of their general disregard for his band, INXS.
Michael chased them away and then tags along with me as I meet with the prominent, respectable and middle-aged Australian producer, Joan Long about the next movie I had planned and was in the middle of writing. Whilst moaning artistically and collapsing into our 1984 ten-dollar orange juices, I explained the plot of my new futuristic political thriller. The response was blank and expressionless to say the least.
I was then hit by a lightning bolt of an idea. I sat up suddenly and said, “And of course there’s the film that Michael and I are making…”. Michael looks up in a vague stupor and said, “We are…?”. I said, “Yes, we are… It’s all about this young girl who comes into a house-hold full of hippies and punks and other assorted weirdos in the late seventies”. Michael interjects, “That’s right, and then there’s…”
Michael and I began to ad-lib the story-line which wasn’t bad since we hadn’t discussed it at all up to that moment. Joan Long’s face lights up. This is something she understood and we promised to get in touch as soon as we got back to Australia.
Michael and I walked down the Croissette to the Cannes office of the Australian Film Commission where I left a rather bedraggled Michael on the front steps basking in the sun as he waited for his tour bus to pick him up, something I wasn’t sure they would know how to do since they didn’t have the slightest inkling where he was. As I departed, one of Australia’s most prominent film critics walked by and dropped a franc into Michael’s out-stretched hand. Michael looked up at him, smiled and said, “Thanks…” A few weeks earlier an INXS song had been number one in France. I guess the film critic understood how the tide could turn.
Two years later, ‘Dogs In Space’ was in production..
We never saw or spoke to Joan Long, the Australian producer, again…