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Michael Winchester, writer and producer of Bathing Franky (dir. Owen Elliott, stars Henri Szeps & Maria Venuti), recounts the progress of the low budget film; like a snail with its house on its back, Winchester, Owen and team Titan View, are taking the film around Australia in a painstaking and determined program to screen it for its target audience of seniors.

I thought you might be interested in an update of the film’s travels since our screening at the Astor in Melbourne last November which was huge – Maria was in fine form and we had around 150 people turn up to watch and enjoy the film. The post screening Q&A’s are always so interesting and the audience love to engage with us and the film. Not only about the film making process but in particular the issue of aged care in the home environment. 

"people respond to it quite emotionally"

Having done quite a few of these sessions now, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the nerve ending of Bathing Franky and people respond to it quite emotionally as they relate their own stories and experiences of caring for their own family members – especially women - we’re finding the demographic is mainly over 50s and women. It’s been a fascinating process to continue to be a part of as Owen and I take the film around the traps, screening and listening and discussing . . . . A must-do experience for all first time film makers I would suggest. I feel extremely privileged to have had this opportunity, even if I never make another film again! (which could quite easily be the case).

Henri Szeps & Maria Venuti in Bathing Franky

As you know, we toured the film to far north Queensland after the Astor screening and had many adventures – from staying in the windowless Bowen backpackers when it was 40C + and crammed to the rafters with hot, sweaty Germans all looking for itinerant work in the cane fields to being put up in a luxurious apartment in Rockhampton by the local film club, Rocky Flix . . . . and the stories will be told and retold by the Winchester/Elliott families for generations to come . . . 

January saw three screenings in Adelaide at the Mercury Cinema as part of their ‘Summer Scoops’ program – Owen travelled down and hosted another successful Q&A session: numbers were small but enthusiastic – and we paid our expenses. We also attracted over fifty punters at the Maleny Australian Festival of Films on Australia Day in the middle of those dreadful hurricanes which was pretty courageous I thought.

Singer & actress Maria Venuti - as Franky

Looking ahead, John L Simpson at Titan View has organized a screening of Bathing Franky at the Hoyts Entertainment Quarter Cinema, Moore Park (Sydney) to coincide with the official release of the DVD and VOD for April 18 and then we’re off back to Adelaide to the Capri Theatre, where Owen and I have secured a fully sponsored screening (IPAC South Australia – a specialist financial advice and investment management firm whose market is the over 50s), putting us and Maria Venuti up – and Maria is even going to sing a couple of her showbiz songs before the post screening Q&A! Fantastic! 

"the film’s real purpose"

I think this particular screening just highlights my belief about the film’s real purpose lying in its aged care theme. And then the next day after that screening I’m staying down in Adelaide to screen the film back at the Mercury Cinema as part of its ‘Seniors Week’ program.

So the film still lives on and Owen is expecting to take the film up to Darwin (where he was born) in June and more screenings are in the pipeline (back to Melbourne and again in Sydney and the Hunter Valley) – DIY distribution! Which is I guess the essence of John L’s collaboration with Screen Australia's Innovative Distribution Fund. 

Otherwise I honestly don’t think Bathing Franky would be getting the exposure that it has. Sure it’s not received the exposure reserved for ‘blockbuster’ hits but as the writer, as far as I’m concerned, every single person who gets to see it makes it an ever increasingly worthwhile project. Not to mention the fact that we’re slowly repaying all our debts out of the box office.

Published April 11, 2013

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Michael Winchester


Bathing Franky April & May 2013 screenings:
April 18, Hoyts EQ, Sydney
May 1, Capri, Adelaide

Henry Szeps as Rodney

Shaun Goss as Steve

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