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Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
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Melbourne independent filmmakers

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Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph
 
     


James Howard
b. February 4, 1942, Coburg, Melbourne, Australia.

BIOGRAPHY:   Writing was my first interest, being told by my primary school English teacher that I had a future career in journalism. Later I was taken, when about 14, by my father, a school-teacher, to see a production of Macbeth. I loved it. Lady Macbeth’s speech stimulated and shocked me. When in my 20s I became very interested in theatre, attending lots of plays both amateur and professional. I discovered the New Theatre’s production of The Merchant of Venice (subtitled Was Shakespeare Anti-Semitic?) The actor, in a rehearsal setting, played Shylock firstly harshly and then sympathetically. I was certainly impressed and saw the production twice after that, and finally joined the company, intending only to enjoy the theatrical atmosphere and to sell programmes.

 

I soon found myself on stage carrying a coffin in Robert Speight’s play If There Weren’t Any Blacks, You Would Have to Invent Them. I performed in lots of plays after that. I soon started concentrating on being a solo performer of Australian material, and was also obtaining professional television work. Some years later the writing interest became much stronger. I was winning literary awards for my serious poetry and also for my comic monologues. After being encouraged to attend a writer’s workshop at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and our homework being to write about the nearby Maribyrnong River, I remembered that at about that time a homeless man had been brutally murdered in the Footscray Park. After discovering that he had an Irish name, I wrote a monologue that I intended to perform on stage called Danny.

At that time I knew many filmmakers. I had met the experienced and talented filmmaker Bill Mousoulis. With Bill's help, I thought that I would then try filming Danny, I did not have any filmmaking experience. Danny, 2004, was followed by Michael, 2006 (based on a short story of mine) then Mum, 2008, The Hoarders, 2009, Eden, 2012 and I am currently working on Boats, 2014.

- James Howard, March 2014



CRITICAL OVERVIEW:   I am interested in people and ideas. In my first film Danny I was responding to the brutal inhumanity of a homeless man’s murder.

 
 
Michael

The next film Michael is based on my own experience as a determined but terrified 9 year-old, trudging ‘unwillingly’ to school. I had much to fear. The Christian Brothers employed the strap as did the secular schools. The strap was the consequence for lateness and not learning the ‘tables’ and poetry. I refused to learn poetry under those circumstances and although I love literature and learning, I prefer not to have something tainted in that way. I suffered the consequences. I was not a good social mixer either. My 9 year-old asks “Who made God?” I as an adult would reply “We made God.”

Mum is about love. The character ‘Mum’ is a Catholic unmarried mother who loves and protects her son. The adult son has a remarkable resemblance to Oscar Wilde. I incorporated that idea into the film. I went to school with the mother, she being my partner in the primary school Ball. I would often see her and her son walking around Footscray. I love to have my characters walking e.g. Leopold Bloom (James Joyce) walks around Dublin. Mum follows her impatient son, culminating at the now demolished Footscray Station.

In The Hoarders I am satirising the oppressive obsession of the Catholic Church in forbidding birth control, they preferring to allow the quality of a relationship to be dominated by that dictate.

In Eden, I am satirising the blatant oppressive chauvinism of the Garden of Eden myth – an excuse in my opinion to blame and oppress women. I am also asking ‘what do we need to believe in’, in order to have a fulfilling, intelligent existence, with the revered institutions e.g. the Church, the law, the medical profession, who have proved to be incompetent? I am suggesting self-reliant, independent thinking.

My latest film Boats is a response to the current disgusting demonising of asylum seekers – a short, snappy, satirical film.

- James Howard, March 2014.


FILMOGRAPHY:

 
 
Mum

Danny (2004, 9 mins, digital video)

Michael (2006, 33 mins, digital video)

Mum (2008, 14 mins, digital video)

The Hoarders (2009, 20 mins, digital video)

Eden (2012, 28 mins, digital video)

Boats (2014, 6 mins, digital video)

Lawson (2014, 3 mins, digital video)

Charlene (2015, 11 mins,, digital video)

Gerty (2015, 5 mins, digital video)

Canterbury (2015, 25 mins, digital video)


© James Howard, December 2017.

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis