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Garage days

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Movie propaganda

No matter how successful you may become, you'll always remember your garage days...

Garage days is a coming-of-age comedy about a young Sydney band trying to get a foothold in the competitive world of rock and roll.

After the band's first gig is a colossal failure Freddy (Kick Gurry) the lead singer takes it upon himself to go out and pursue the most successful rock manager in the country. Meanwhile the other members of the band continue to deal with the kind of every day life issues that can ultimately tear a band apart.

It may be the dawn of a new millennium but it's still a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Garage days imageGarage days image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Australia rock band garage youth drugs sex romance pub concert

Persons of interest

  • Kick Gurry .... Freddy
  • Maya Stange .... Kate
  • Pia Miranda .... Tanya
  • Andy Anderson .... Kevin
  • Petrina Buckley .... Flirt
  • Marton Csokas .... Shad Kern
  • Yvette Duncan .... Angie
  • Russell Dykstra .... Bruno
  • Tiriel Mora .... Thommo
  • Chris Sadrinna .... Lucy
  • Brett Stiller .... Joe
  • Michael Udesky .... Screenwriter
  • Dave Warner .... Screenwriter
  • Alex Proyas .... Screenwriter
  • Alex Proyas .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Visually stunning, aurally bland.

Alex Proyas brings a visual symphony to the screen that rivals The fifth element in its intensity. Every location is filled with something to look at and not enough time to look at it (Performing Arts Rule Number 1: Always leave them wanting more).

Unfortunately, Dave Warner and Alex Proyas bring a ho-hum story about a ho-hum band to the screen that makes Spinal Tap seem talented. Part of that is because the band is supposed to be crap - that's the story - but it's such a disappointment when it turns out that they are. I actually wanted a Hollywood ending but didn't get it. Even without a Hollywood ending you still want something to happen. Anything. Unfortunately, Garage days spends all its time (bar the last 8 minutes) not getting to the point, like a shaggy dog story without a punch line.

Also unfortunately, Dave and Alex have set themselves up for a fall. It is almost impossible to make a film that people want to watch when you fill it with characters that people don't like. The band are a bunch of tossers, not just losers (like The Commitments) but tossers. Freddy is a wanker who wants everything his way, Tanya is drifting, Joe doesn't care and Lucy is in your face. Bruno is a throwaway character inserted at odd occasions for a quick laugh. The one character who is interesting to watch is Kevin, Andy Anderson's burnt-out rocker (think Ozzy Osborne without so many drugs), but the film isn't about him so you're stuck with the young tryhards.

Ultimately, the best way to describe Garage days is by a quote overheard from another critic, "It's lovely", not the kind of thing you want to hear about your rock and roll movie but thoroughly accurate.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • *

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Drug use, medium level sex scenes)

Surveillance time

107 minutes (1:47 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 3 October 2002
DVD rental: 18 June 2003
VHS rental: 18 June 2003

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Production notes
Australian director Alex Proyas received worldwide acclaim for his two previous films The crow and Dark city. With an eye for the supernatural, Proyas is known for the dark tones of his work and his love of the 50s film noir visual style. Garage days is a complete change of direction. Says Proyas "It's always nice to do something different and surprise your audience. I really wanted to make something on a smaller scale that was more character driven and something I could have fun with."

A member of an experimental keyboard group that was, by his own description, "truly awful", Proyas began making video clips for friends who were in bands in the early 80s. Before long he was directing video clips for Crowded House and INXS amongst others. This gave him a real insight into the world of rock and roll: "But I was an objective outsider, so I could sit back and watch all the madness. I always thought it was a very exciting, very fascinating world." This time in Proyas' life became the inspiration for the film: "A lot of different factors came together in my mind as a possibility for a film, but I always thought the most interesting aspect would be a young band in their very early days when they're trying to get a manager or record company."

Proyas enlisted the help of Dave Warner and then Michael Udesky to write the screenplay. Says Proyas: "I was aware of Dave as a musician (Warner had a hit single in Australia in the mid-70s) and I was impressed with his writing. His experience in the music world was obviously a bonus. He was the perfect person to collaborate with at that early stage. Michael Udesky came on board later and with him I worked on the more comic aspects of the film and took it another step forward."

Proyas asked Mystery Clock Cinema partner Topher Dow to produce the film with him. Says Dow: "I played in a garage band once upon a time but clearly wasn't destined to be a great rock and roll drummer! Certainly though, I had that moment where I dreamt I might be destined for something good. And that's what appealed to me about the film - it's a story of some kids who have a dream and do what they can to realise that dream. In the end what happens to them is maybe not what they dreamt, but they learn it's all part of life - part of that growing up experience."

The band's lead singer and central character, Freddy, is played by Kick Gurry, who was discovered after a lengthy search. Says Proyas: "When you audition 20 or 30 actors, quite often when the person who is perfect for the role walks in, you just know the moment they walk in the door. Casting Kick was like that - he immediately grabbed my attention. He has a great sense of humour and he gave Freddy a lot of different layers."

Comments Gurry: "I was blown away by the script when I first read it and with all that was going to happen within the film - it's pretty big. I was also very interested in Freddy - he's a young dreamer but he's also very determined to achieve his dreams. And I got to be a rock star if only for a short while! That's something I would never have done if it wasn't for the film."

The film re-unites Gurry with Looking for Alibrandi co-star Pia Miranda. Says Miranda: "Garage days was the first script I'd read in a long time that made me really laugh out loud. I loved all the characters - they were very clearly defined and I was very touched by their story. I play Tanya who is the bass player in the band and the only girl, so she's pretty tough, although she loves the music and that's why she's there. She's a much feistier character than I've played before."

Says Proyas: "I think Pia responded well to her character because it was radically different to anything she'd done before. She really rose to the occasion and did a magnificent job."

Newcomers Chris Sadrinna and Brett Stiller complete the band, Sadrinna in the role of Lucius, or Lucy, the chemically-enhanced drummer, and Brett playing Joe, the brooding lead guitarist. Says Proyas: "Again Chris and Brett came to us through a lengthy audition process. Chris was physically exactly as I saw the character so that worked for me immediately. We work-shopped the script over a four-week rehearsal period and Chris really shaped Lucy in some very interesting ways. That's when I started to see the different aspects of the various characters and re-wrote the script accordingly."

He continues: "Joe became the hardest character to pinpoint, to be objective about. Brett and I both explored throughout the film exactly where we wanted to go with Joe. He's pretty messed up and doesn't really know as a character where he's going or where he fits in. It gave Brett's performance an interesting tension." Adds Brett: "Joe is a very brooding character and has a pretty incredible twisted arc in terms of his journey. His story evolved during filming. This was a real stretch for me - not only was it my first film but I'm completely the opposite from Joe - pretty happy most of the time! I felt incredibly fortunate to be involved in the film and enjoyed the challenge to dig deep and find Joe. Alex was incredibly supportive - I felt very lucky to have him as the director of my first film."

Sadrinna agrees: "Alex really listens. He lets you discover your character by yourself and he'll only step in if he thinks it should go a different way. If he's happy with what he sees then he encourages you to take that direction."

The actress Maya Stange was cast to play Kate, the source of Freddy's musical inspiration. Says Proyas: "Maya is a great actress. We tested her for all the female roles - I hadn't originally seen her as Kate. But as with many of the cast, Maya really evolved her character taking Kate to another dimension."

Says Stange: "I loved that this was an ensemble piece and yet all the characters have their own little stories within the film. And it's got a wacky kind of quality, which is Alex's vision...he doesn't do romantic comedy quite like anyone else! My character Kate is a pretty funky chick which is great because in the past I've played far more serious characters."

Stange was also very happy to have the opportunity to work with Proyas: "The great thing about Alex is that not only does he like actors, he also has this incredible cinematic vision, so you know he's going to be doing some amazing stuff with the camera that you have no idea about when you're filming. So it's like there are two films - the film I know about, that I made and this whole other thing that Alex has created."

Russell Dykstra and Andy Anderson join the cast as Bruno, the band's well-meaning manager, and Kevin, a nostalgic rocker from the 70s who also happens to be Joe's dad. Yvette Duncan and Marton Csokas are in supporting roles as Angie, the girl of Joe's dreams, and Shad Kern, the country's leading band manager.

Says producer Topher Dow: "We were very blessed with our cast - they are all incredibly talented and gave us some fantastic performances. The film is very much an ensemble piece so they were all very important." Adds Proyas: "We tried to create an atmosphere on set where everyone could have a good time and play around a little. I tried to give the actors as an ensemble the confidence to experiment and to have fun. As a result of that I'm really very happy with all the roles - there are some real gems throughout."

The music for the film was written by Dave McCormack (from the Australian bands Custard and The Titanics), Andrew Lancaster and Antony Partos. Both McCormack and Lancaster were given the additional duty of teaching the cast members how to play their respective instruments. Says Dow: "We wanted the actors to be able to play a few chords, but more importantly we needed them to look like a band, particularly whenever we see them on stage." The cast applied themselves diligently to learning their instruments and, by the time the film wrapped, most of them could pass as musicians.

Adds Proyas: "Three weeks into rehearsals Kick put on a CD for me to listen to, of one of the songs in the film. I assumed it was Dave and Andrew who were playing but it was actually our cast. I was very impressed at how quickly they had picked it up. They were all standing there beaming, feeling very happy with themselves."

Comments Gurry: "When I first picked up the guitar I was pretty scared - I really didn't think I could pull it off and after the first lesson I was seriously worried! But after the fourth or fifth lesson we began to get the fingering right and the strumming and it all started to come together. Dave and Andrew were fantastic. They're both amazing musicians and it was an honour really to have them as our teachers. We went and watched them play in their own bands a few times and it was great to see them play on stage and to watch what they do. That gave me a great sense of what it is that Freddy wants - why he wants to be up there playing the music."

Miranda, who also got coaching from husband Luke Hanigan who plays in the Australian band Lo-tel, became so involved with the music she bought her own bass guitar.

One of the big scenes in the film saw the band play on stage at a big concert in Sydney - known as Homebake - in front of an audience of over 40,000 people. Says Proyas: "Early on we decided that we wanted to put the band, the actors, into a real rock concert situation, rather than fabricating something that didn't look real. We worked hard at trying to secure a way of doing so and the organisers of Homebake were kind enough to allow us to put our band on their stage in front of a real crowd, for a small window of opportunity. It was actually quite a crazy thing to do, what with the logistics of the day and everything else, but I think it was well worth that extra effort."

Filming at Homebake took place at the very end of the shoot and it was something the actors tried to put out of their mind while they were making the film. Says Gurry: "We were all terrified at the prospect of playing at Homebake - being a real band up on stage in front of a real crowd, a huge crowd at that. So we tried not to think about it until we'd finished the rest of the film. Then we focused on it and were all in a complete sweat!" Adds Brett Stiller: "When we were up there on the day we were all looking at each other initially like 'help!' Then it just came together and it was the most incredible experience. We had a blast." Says Miranda: "I think we can now all say that we've lived out our rock star fantasies to their fullest! It was terrifying but a lot of fun at the same time."

Much of the film was shot on location in Sydney's Newtown. Says Proyas: "I wanted to use real locations as far as possible and Newtown had exactly the look I wanted for the film. There's a certain grungy, feral quality to the place and there are some fabulous old buildings there. We did alter all the locations in terms of art direction, because I wanted a certain style throughout and I wanted to show the locations in their best possible light."

The style Proyas sought for the film he terms ‘beatnik punk': "It's raw and it's gritty but there's a very bright color palette. I didn't want it to be too grainy or grungy - in a way I wanted it to feel almost like a live-action cartoon."

Proyas enjoyed the challenges of working on location: "For me it was great to be in the real world for a change. My past films have used extensive production design and sets. Shooting in Newtown was fantastic in that the people there were incredibly co-operative. I felt like we couldn't really have had that much more control on a soundstage. We did some crazy things like shutting down the main street in the middle of peak hour traffic and people were very nice and polite, which I thought was amazing. "

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