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MAKING OF: BIG STEAL, THE (1990)

The Big Steal was Nadia Tass's third feature as director - and her third comedy. "I'm not always going to do comedy," she says, "but I'm drawn to it, I must admit. It's such an equaliser, it's an egalitarian genre." We publish this report in the wake of her latest film, Amy, having won the 1998 People’s Choice Award as Favourite Australian Movie of the year. ANDREW L. URBAN REPORTS.

Written and photographed by her husband David Parker, the film was produced by their own company, Cascade Films, as was their first, highly successful film, Malcolm. "I like the combination of writer/cinematographer," says Parker, "it means that when I visualise something I have written, I can actually go out and find locations that suit it, and light it just as I want to."

"there's nothing in there I want to change"

As with Malcolm, Tass and Parker provided 30% of the A$2.3 million budget themselves. The balance came from the Film Finance Corporation.

Tass is "really pleased with the end result...there's nothing in there I want to change. Which is amazing. But I had a brilliant team of actors and crew, plus we had complete control."

"We are stretching the character, not the acting style"

In particular, Tass is happy with the results of what she calls "experimentation" with the actors. "What worked is that we have stretched the characters to the maximum possible, away from the norm, so they're still believable but you get the most comedy out of it. We are stretching the character, not the acting style."

Shot in Melbourne, The Big Steal is the story of Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), an 18 year old who finally plucks up the courage to ask beautiful Joanna (Claudia Karvan) on a date, in a Jaguar he buys from an over-zealous but under-honest second hand car dealer, Gordon Farkas (Steve Bisley).

(Bisley says he based Farkas on someone in the film industry, "but I think I would have a writ slapped on me if I said who...")

The car breaks down, and so apparently, does the budding romance. Danny sets about repairing the damage to both, with funny and frantic results.

"entertaining... fast paced.."

Tim White is again co-producer with Tass and Parker; his job was to keep the film on budget, and act as sounding board. The film came in on budget, despite expensive all night shoots for nearly four weeks, and the use of five Jaguars.

White says the film is a comedy "aimed at a very broad base audience. I think quite obviously there's a teenage market there, but I'd like to think that the story is entertaining enough, fast paced enough, to appeal to a more mature audience."

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THE BIG STEAL

FIRST REPORTED: 10/9/90

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17/12/98: The Making Of … is a unique and historic series of articles on a selection of Australian films - such as this one - that were made BI (Before Internet), or at least before Urban Cinefile was launched. All the films covered in this series can be found in the FEATURES ARCHIVES menu page, listed alphabetically under MAKING OF

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Australian Film Commission in helping to publish this series.

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We have already published Making of features for the following films:
ANGEL BABY
BLACK ROBE
BLOOD OATH
CAPPUCCINO
CUSTODIAN, THE
HERCULES RETURNS
MAP OF THE HUMAN HEART
MURIEL'S WEDDING
PIANO, THE
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT
ROMPER STOMPER
STRICTLY BALLROOM
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