|Henry Crawford, Producer of Five Mile Creek, the award winning miniseries A Town Like Alice, and Eureka Stockade, now spends his days "producing" the stunningly beautiful resort Vatulele. From time to time, Mr. Crawford answers questions posed to him on the FMC mailing list. What follows are his answers in reverse chronological order.|
Q. What led you from producing movies and television to "producing" Vatulele resort?
Crawford: As a matter of fact, it's much the same:
Have an idea about 3am in the morning
Develop the concept
Find the location
Design and build the sets
Put a bunch of characters in it
Deal with the temperamentals, and
Hopefully the audience leaves with a tear in their eye and a smile on their face.
Actually Vatulele is the longest soap opera I've ever made!!
Q. I was just curious. Was Maggie's hair her own on FMC or did she have a wig? On a couple of the episodes, it looked like maybe she wore a wig. If she didn't, she's a lucky lady because she has beautiful hair.
Crawford: Louise's magnificent hair is her own, but from memory we added a piece to lengthen.
Louise Caire Clark: I have never worn a wig except on Halloween for dress up.
I did however have a fall made by the hairdresser around Episode 6 - which was a small hairpiece that was attached to the back of my head that made my hair look longer when it was down. Thank you to Julie for the compliment.
Q. Have you seen The Animal? That is a recent movie Michael Caton was in.
Crawford: Michael Caton loved working on The Animal, and there is talk of a sequel. He currently fronts a lifestyle show in Australia, and is starring in a British TV show, now in that country. He hasn't been as busy in his life. He got married - again - in my resort (www.vatulele.com) two weeks ago. We hope to have some pictures up there soon in our news area.
Q. I was wondering if the cast members took riding lessons or if any of them were "natural" riders? From watching the few episodes I have, it seems some were very comfortable with horses.
Crawford: Rod Mullinar and Gus Mercurio had to have coach driving lessons. The only 'natural' rider/driver was Jay Kerr who was brought up on a ranch in Texas. He was a wonderful horseman, and comfortable with four legged animals all round - part of why I cast him in the role.
The rest were..... 'actors'!
Stand-ins/stuntmen were used for anything that may have been considered potentially dangerous. The most technically difficult stunt we did was a coach roll-over/crash. This required a lot of preparation and planning. Our chief stuntman/coordinator also worked on the Mad Max/Road Warrior films, in which case vehicles were involved. He's a talent and brave man! Thankfully no person or animal was injured during our two years of production.
Q. Has anyone ever seen The Man From Snowy River with Tom Burlinson? Gus Mercurio plays a small part in that movie. Also, one of the unnamed characters in The Man From Snowy River is the same guy who kidnapped Maggie and Hannah and brought them to the cave (not the bad guy who tried to help them, but the big, mean guy with the low voice).
Crawford: The 'guy with the low voice' is David Bradshaw. Although an exceptionally nice chap, he gets to play a lot of baddies and is in high demand for commercial voiceovers. Many of the horses we used on FMC were also on Snowy River.
You may be interested to know that the first episode of FMC was directed by George Miller, the director of The Man From Snowy River. There are two George Millers in Australia. The other is Doctor George Miller (Mad Max, Witches of Eastwick, etc). He's a medical doctor. Oddly enough, Snowy River George didn't do the greatest job for us on the first episode, and we had to get another director to shoot quite a bit of additional material.
Q. I'd like to ask how Peter Carroll reacted when he found out his character was being killed. How did the rest of the cast react?
Crawford: "One Fine Day" was directed by Brendan Maher, who was particularly good at working with the actors. We actually put out several endings and only gave the actors the real one at the last minute. At that time the series was not to continue so we didn't feel bad writing Charlie out. Peter Carroll, the actor who played Charlie is a wonderful professional, who works all the times in everything from narrating documentaries to musicals on stage. He is never out of work as he is so versatile. The stuff he did with Charlie made the character one of our favourites. I recall that there wasn't a dry eye on the set after he 'died'. Louise was particularly cut up.
Q. If FMC had continued for a fourth season, where would you have liked to see the production -- moving to America or staying in Australia?
Crawford: The only reason we ended as we did was because I was closing the series down. Had we continued Con and Kate would not have gone to America. Disney only commissioned the show because we could make it for about half the price of making it in America. They would not have purchased it at double the cost. Therefore it would have stayed in Australia had another series been commissioned.
Q. Just watched The Prize. I know that Gus Mercurio was, at one time, Vice-President of the Australian Boxing Association. Was it his interest in boxing that brought about the storyline?
Crawford: Gus was right into boxing, and was a well-known referee. I auditioned him originally 30 years ago, when he walked in off the street. Although he had never acted, he had talent and I gave him many small roles in things I was producing. When Five Mile Creek came along we created the role for him, because I thought he was such a good 'type' and was a American actor living here. Boxing was very big in the late 1800's and it seemed natural to do an episode based on it - particularly as we had a ready made coach!
Q. Was the Five Mile Creek pilot filmed in a location other than Australia? And if so, were there difficulties or any special stories you recall about moving the entire cast and crew "Down Under"?
Crawford: It was all filmed in or near Sydney and Melbourne and all crews were Australian (we have very good ones here and now many international pictures are made in Australia). The American actors lived down here for two years - that was probably most difficult for Priscilla Weems and her mother - to be away from home for a long period of time. There were no other specific problems except for some issues of language and slang for the American audience.
Q. Was Port Nelson based on the city of the same name in New Zealand, or was it created based on another city during the gold rush in New South Wales?
Crawford: It just sounded a good name!