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MAKING OF: PROOF (1991)

Jocelyn Moorhouse’s debut feature, Proof, was made the same year as Green Card, Flirting and Death in Brunswick – and a year before Strictly Ballroom. Andrew L. Urban reported this story at Cannes, in Moving Pictures International, coinciding with the film’s world premiere.

Shot over six weeks in a wintry looking Melbourne [September – November, 1990] - Melbourne tends to defy the southern hemisphere's seasonal rules - Proof was made on a budget of A$1.1 million, provided jointly by Film Victoria and the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

It is unusual in that writer/director Jocelyn Moorhouse - making her first feature - finished the script without development finance, "because it's such a personal film I didn't want to do a treatment or take it out into the world until I was happy with it."

"I think I achieved what I wanted with it,"

But when she did take it out into the world, namely to Film Victoria, she was encouraged to take it to the AFC; she was well received there, too, and the financing was arranged.

"I think I achieved what I wanted with it," she says, "and I feel the happiest I have felt about any of my work. With most of my shorts, I was less confident as a director than as writer, but this time I'm very happy."

The film tells the story of Martin, blind since birth, and his concern for the truth - and how to establish truth without sight. He takes photographs. But why would a blind man take photographs?

"I became fascinated about a reality without visual knowledge."

This was in fact the question that triggered Moorhouse, when in 1986 she first heard about a blind photographer. "I've always been fascinated by blindness," she says, "and I've also taken photographs all my life. So I became fascinated about having a reality without visual knowledge."

Martin (Hugo Weaving) suspects his mother had lied to him as punishment in his childhood, and for years he has waited to find someone he can trust to describe his photos. A chance meeting with Andy (Russell Crowe), an amiable kitchen hand turns into real friendship. But Martin's strange housekeeper Celia (Genevieve Picot), seeks revenge when her amorous advances to Martin are rebuffed, and seducing Andy instead, she gets him to lie to Martin.

"A rare mixture of pain and sexual presence." on Weaving

"Because it's such a personal film," says Moorhouse, "I was worried that I wouldn't get that obsessive quality," but she feels that the casting, long and deliberate, paid off, with Weaving "having a rare mixture of pain and sexual presence."

Like his co-stars, Weaving is highly regarded in Australia, and his major credits include the mini series, Bodyline, Dirtwater Dynasty and Bangkok Hilton. His feature film roles include The Right Hand Man, which has yet to be released.

Picot has similarly strong tv credits, notably with roles in Inside Running and The Petrov Affair, and the feature film Undercover.

Crowe, regarded as one of the brightest new Australian stars, made his feature debuts in The Crossing and Blood Oath, both released in 1990.

"An intense, intelligent film about learning to trust." Producer Lynda House

Producer Lynda House met Moorhouse at a screenwriters conference in 1989 and they stayed in touch. By chance, some time later, House's boyfriend was scheduling & budgeting the script, "and he raved about it...which is unlike him," says House.

Impressed by this reaction, House took the script; "and by page three I absolutely wanted to do it."

She describes the film as "an intense, intelligent film about learning to trust."

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PROOF

FIRST REPORTED: 10/5/91

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Cast: Hugo Weaving, Genevieve Picot, Russell Crowe

Written & Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Producer: Lynda House
Production Co: House & Moorhouse Films
Cinematographer: Martin McGrath
Production Designer: Patrick Reardon
Editor: Ken Sallows
Music: Waving Not Drowning

Run time: 90 minutes

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Festivals: Cannes 1991 – Directors Fortnight

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7/1/99: 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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Other films already covered in this series of Making Of:
ANGEL BABY
BIG STEAL
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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