After a year of travelling the world re-creating scenes of popular movies, Richard DeDomenici is bringing his ongoing Redux Project to Australia as part of Sydney Festival 2014.
With just a handheld digital SLR and a team of up to one hundred local volunteers, the UK artist will re-shoot sections of four classic Australian films, which will be screened alongside their originals at Carriageworks. DeDomenici speaks to BRAG about his ambitious, low-budget, lo-fi filmmaking, and the unprecedented challenge he has set himself: to make and edit four movies in under two weeks.
“The essential basis of the Redux Project is that we attempt to make a shot for shot remake of sections of films in the original locations. There’s a kind of lofty ideal about the project –how it’s supposed to be able to disrupt the cinema industry, or the studio model really by making counterfeit versions of existing works,” says DeDomenici. “It was inspired by The Pirate Bay and illegal downloading and the way people are being criminalised for sharing media, and I thought that if people could make their own versions of existing films that are sort of copyright free to an extent, then maybe it’s a way of sharing culture without breaking the law. We haven’t been shut down by any of the Hollywood studios yet because I think it’s all under the auspices of fair use because we’re adding to the original work.”
The Redux Project wasn’t always as well-developed as it is today. “[It] was only ever supposed to be a one-off project in Bangkok last February [where we] filmed a Thai rom-com called Bangkok Traffic Love Story, which was the most popular movie in Thailand in 2009. I thought that was going to be it, but the response to it was quite good – the critic from the newspaper in Bangkok said that he preferred our version to the original, which I was not expecting. I thought that people might be insulted by my slightly cheap attempt to replicate their film, but people loved it.”
For DeDomenici’s Sydney Festival instalment, Aussie Mega Redux, the artist has chosen to re-create scenes from Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert, Muriel’s Wedding, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and The Matrix. “These are great Australian films that are very famous in the UK, Muriel’s Wedding especially, which is considered a classic… We consider the ’90s to be a heyday for Australian cinema,” he says. Original locations are essential to the project, such as the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville, where the beginning of Priscilla was shot. “Luckily, most of the bar looks almost the same as it did in 1994 – that’s always a challenge, because obviously the further back in history you’re filming something the chances are that the place isn’t there, has been knocked down or has completely changed.” The extras, DeDomenici says, are similarly crucial. “Wherever we go out into the world to do a project we find some local people keen to be involved. It’s a really interesting way to get to know a place through its cultural history.
“Hopefully by making a fake version of something that is itself already fake we’ll somehow arrive at a greater truth. I encourage people, if they want to, to redux their own projects, because I think it’s something we should all do. It makes you realise that cinema is all an artifice and pretend, and people probably know that already, but I think it gives people a new realisation that a lot of our mass produced culture is fake. There’s no reason we can’t make things that are just as legitimate.”