Steven Ball
Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
Daryl Dellora

Melbourne independent filmmakers

Leo Berkeley
Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph
 
     


Matt Norman
b. October 20, 1971, Tallangatta, Australia.

BIOGRAPHY:   Matt Norman finished school in 1989 as a year 12 student attending Nagle College in Bairnsdale, Victoria. His ambition was to join the Victorian Police force but first had to move to Melbourne to get a sense of difference from living in regional Victoria.

Matt Norman bought a panel van and headed to the big smoke (using his panel van as accommodation) he looked for work immediately in the security industry as he was Australian and Victorian Karate champion growing up. He started working at Nightclubs as a bouncer and then went on to becoming a bodyguard for some of the World's biggest celebrities including Madonna, John Farnham, Charlton Heston, Prince, Lindsay Fox and even Derryn Hinch.

After a few years he got the job of head of security at the then brand new Channel 10 at Como in Toorak. A chance meeting with Riccardo Pellizzeri had Matt introduced to legendary casting director Jan Russ at Neighbours. Matt auditioned for a few small roles and got his first job on Neighbours as an extra. Wanting more from acting he joined the National Theatre Drama school but left after the first year due to a lack of honesty in his acting.

 
Matt Norman

While committing himself to a new life in the arts, Matt got some amazing roles opposite leading Australian and international actors including: Gregory Peck, Patrick Stewart, Ted Levine, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Jackman, Nicholas Cage, Anthony Lapaglia, David Wenham, Sigrid Thornton, Peter Phelps, Rebecca Gibney and many others. It was working with these actors that gave Norman the want to tell his own stories. One of Norman’s first film roles was on Robert Connolly’s The Bank. "Watching Connolly work it gave me a want to see it from the other side of the camera. I’d watched how things were done a million times, but never studied every move. Connolly had the perfect technique working with actors and it was something I wanted to do.."

Matt says "I have studied enough movies in my life to give it a red hot go and had been on hundreds of sets to know what everyone does, so going to film school wasn’t even a factor for me. I did it the hard way but I believe the best way, I just went out and made films".

Matt’s first Directing job was on a play called August Rain. Matt says "I put my hand up to direct it so that I could spend weeks practicing the art of communicating with actors. The play had a sold out season and was the real turning point for what I really wanted to do. Now it was time to give it my all behind a camera".

 
 
All the kings horses

Matt’s first film was an ambitious project that required very focused actors. The film was a 27 minute short feature called All the kings horses starring John Brumpton and John Flaus. The film got selected for many film festivals both here in Australia and also overseas. It also won several awards and gave Matt his first credits as writer, director, producer and editor.

Matt’s next film in the same year (2004) was Shank. A short film for Tropfest starring Rob Carlton and himself. It got selected as part of the "Best of the Rest" in Tropfest and went on to win other awards nationally and internationally.

Matt says "I had made two films that both did well… I didn’t want to be one of the directors that did hundreds of short films so that they could be the popular one standing by the bar at film festivals… I wanted to shoot higher and I wanted it now!!!"

Matt Norman then wrote The Writer. A psychological thriller. He wrote the film FOR Kim Gyngell in the lead role. "I always saw Kim as an underrated actor. Why on earth weren’t people using his skill in drama instead of constantly giving him comedy. If you ever saw Kim Gyngell in an MTC play you’d know that he has an incredible range, and I wanted me some of that".

 
 
The Writer

The Writer – starring Kim Gyngell, Mel Butel, Rob Carlton, Krista Vendy and John Flaus was a 37 minute Short feature. It picked up some great awards for Matt and also cast and crew. Kim Gyngell won "best actor" at the St Kilda Film Festival on its release in 2005 which was a great moment for all of us. Apart from "best film" awards, it also won Marty Smith the Gold Award at ACS as well as an APRA Nomination for composer Ricky Edwards. Finally it ended up being bootlegged and screened in cinema’s in Japan and then on TV in Paris.

Two weeks after shooting The Writer Matt decided to quickly throw together one last short film called The Umbrella Men starring Underbelly’s Damian Walshe-Howling and Benji McNair. A short war film that certainly got a lot of attention for its beautiful look and exceptional acting from both Damian and Benji. "The pair of them were riverting" Matt said. "What made this film so special was I wrote it one night after a dream (most of my films are written that way), called the actors the following day, called the crew at the same time, shot it in one day and had it fully edited ready for festivals two days later. I’ve learnt a lot about keeping budgets low and quality high. It was a great experience.

In 2002, I began researching my uncle Peter Norman who was involved in the Black Power Salute of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He was the WHITE GUY in the photo!! I was amazed that no Australians knew his story. I started out wanting to research him properly and on the way obviously make a "MAKING OF" for the DVD release. The film I wanted to do as a first feature was called 1968. Because of the extraordinary footage of all people involved both here in Australia as well as in the United States it became obvious that I had the perfect Documentary feature.

 
 

I continued making the film, called Salute, from 2002 through to 2008. Tragically my uncle Peter died during the making of the film in 2006 with affected me greatly. It was at that stage that I received funding from the FFC and also the first time I got to see the reality of working with the greedy dogs of our industry. From my uncle’s death and the fact that his name was World news especially in the U.S I got offers from different people to help get it to the big screen. These people wanted only one thing and that was opportunity and money.

My first feature film about my best friend and uncle and I got nothing but greif from people I thought would do the right thing. The funding bodies treated me like garbage and my then producing partner was a fraud looking after himself and his company. To this day he has walked away with hundreds of thousands of dollars while I have lost everything including my family home. Great lesson but unfortunately at my own cost.

Paramount Pictures distributed the film across Australia and it became the 2008 number one Aussie Doco at the Australian Box office. It has also won several international awards at festivals and is about to be released across the United States and Europe. It is amazing to note that even though audiences loved it and it actually got a release, it didn’t get nominated for any industry awards (probably due to the fact that the industry awards are sponsored by the Government funding bodies). It did win "Best Aussie Doco" (Audience Choice) at Sydney Film Festival, was nominated as "Best Documentary" by the Australian film critics circle association and obviously out did most Australian films at the box office when it came in at number 10 for any Australian film at the Aus box office. So I was happy.

Matt Norman is now looking forward to an international release of the film which is now in the hands of people who actually want the film to work. Releasing the film in Australia on only 14 screens, the film is expected to release in the U.S on an outstanding 450 screens.

Next on the cards for Norman is the drama version of Salute called 1968. Heath Ledger had been in discussions with Norman to play his uncle. His death really stopped our World. He was an incredible actor and will be sadly missed.

Matt is currently in different stages of production on several projects both here in Australia and also the United States.

Matt is the founder and CEO of The Actors Café Pty Ltd Film Production Company, a self reliant production and post production facility.



CRITICAL OVERVIEW:   

 
 

CRITICAL OVERVIEW OF OUR INDUSTRY:

If the Australian film industry wants to support the boys club and not the underdog then they can continue to swallow the same shit on film they’ve swallowed for years. Unless our industry starts building a new breed of filmmaker that dares to be different then no money in the World will make Australia a film friendly place. Just look at New Zealand!!! Some of the best independent films in the World come from NZ, Australian financiers just don’t get film because our funding bodies are too busy looking after their own to explore new media and new talent.

Unfortunately we have amazing talent in this country that just don’t get supported. Even our biggest directors don’t get the support they should and it’s because there is a system at play that is not only criminal but also fraudulent and isn’t examined so these same old people get away with murder by film every year. They then stand around at film festivals wondering why their film was ripped from the screens after a couple of days as audiences don’t want to see these filmmakers repeating the same thing over and over.

CRITICAL OVERVIEW AS A FILMMAKER:

As a filmmaker I want to make films that mean something. The scripts I write are made to tell a unique story of real people. Although I do like commercially viable films obviously as that is what makes money, I do however believe that we shouldn’t COPY other stories and re-hash them into our own.

 
 
The Umbrella Men

I feel it my responsibility to show audiences how it really is. Make films that don’t just entertain but also teach or make an audience think about issues. I love films that deal with Mental Illness, politics, injustice and the underdog. I love watching good comedy but will never make a comedy. So far all of my films have themes ranging from Fatherhood, family, mental illness, war, racism and injustice. Whether making a film on someone’s actual life through documentary or as a drama its not the actual life story that gets people but the actual reality of life that makes audiences reflect on their own lives. Love, life, death and reality are all important parts of grabbing the attention of audiences.

"Wouldn’t it be great to change the way our World is by making a film that sends a message?". That’s how I want to be remembered. A film maker that MADE a difference not MADE a Billion dollars.

It’s not necessary to have car chases, guns, and big budget special effects to tell an effective story. We all love a good action flick but for me the special attention to detail in making the story humanistic is more important.

-Matt Norman, April 2009


FILMOGRAPHY:

 
 
All the kings horses

All the kings horses (2004, 27 mins, digital, drama)

Shank (2004, 7 mins, digital, drama)

The Writer (2005, 37 mins, digital, thriller)

The Umbrella Men (2005, 10 mins, digital, thriller)

Salute (2008, 92 minutes, 35mm, documentary)

Men In Court (2009, 60 minutes, 35mm, documentary)

Shackle (2009, 94 minutes, 35mm, thriller)

1968 (2010, 35mm, drama)


FILMOGRAPHY as WRITER/PRODUCER:

All of above plus:

Sing Valley Rose, Imperial Myer, Canary, Marmalade, Working through Pollock (these are all completed screen plays completed ready for production).


SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 
 

New York Times - For Australian Athletes, a Voice From the Grave May 23, 2008

In-flight film will urge Olympians to protest - Sydney Daily Telegraph May 24, 2008

Sydney Morning Herald "white man becomes hero on film"

Sydney Morning Herald 13/5/2008

Sporting Life - The Age

Fox Sports

USA Today

The Courier Mail

The Herald Sun

 
 

ABC TV - 7.30 Report

'68 protest more than a memory", Kevin Blackistone, ''Dallas Morning News'', September 29, 2000

"Peter Norman dies after heart attack"

"He Didn't Raise His Fist - But He Did Lend A Hand"

"Bitter price of Olympics' iconic image"

"Clenched Fists, Helping Hand" by Mike Wise, Washington Post

"Norman Remembered as an Unflinching Champion"

World Socialist Web Site Article on Peter Norman


© Matt Norman., April 2009

Contact Matt Norman

The Actors Café Pty Ltd +61 418 169 776 Skype: matt.norman1

 
 

ONLINE:

The Actors Café Pty Ltd

Salute The Movie

1968 The Movie

Men In Court

Facebook

Wikipedia

Imdb.com

MySpace

Paramount Pictures

Transmission Films

Odins Eye Entertainment

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis