Interview with ROMPER STOMPER director and writer GEOFFREY WRIGHT. He talks about tensions in Australia, Jacqueline McKenzie and film feature Whispering Death.
Romper Stomper was originally a film, created in 1992 which Russell Crowe starred. Set 25 years afterwards, the series (available on DVD from 18 June) tracks the action of far-right activists and the anti-fascists who are against them.
So how bad is the situation with the groups? “There has clearly been an escalation of the tensions between the far left (Antifa), and the far right (Ultra-Nationalist or neo Nazi groups).”
“In Australia, Antifa or the Socialist Alliance have clashed with the United Patriots Front (UPF) or Reclaim Australia. Watching these clashes on the news reminded me of the choreographed brawls in the movie. That was Vietnamese versus neo-Nazi skinheads. It seemed appropriate to depict these real, contemporary fights in the series.”
“At this moment the clashes have gone quiet, due to the police being more involved in keeping them apart, but things can change rapidly. The kind of brawls we show and home invasions, have been seen in many parts of Europe.”
Did you see the film? Wright would recommend it. “It’s not essential, you can still follow the TV series plot without recalling the events. However if you watch the movie, you will appreciate the changes that the TV series has undertaken.”
“Knowing the past of the older characters in the story makes for a richer experience and a greater appreciation for the irony that passing time delivers to human beings, or entire communities.”
The TV show shows a period of great change says Wright. “We are now in the post-Trump and post-Brexit era. The alt-right has become very vocal, with the virtually fascist voices louder too. Voices that were once beyond the pale are now on the fringes of the mainstream and seeking legitimacy.”
The cast includes names such as David Wenham, Dan Wyllie, Lachy Hulme, Sophie Lowe and Toby Wallace.
“There were a number of writers involved in our show, because of the current political sensitives. It’s easy to be called out for confronting people these days and opinion makers can’t wait to shame you with labels.”
“As a story teller I need to be fair and understand between straggling, heavy-handed PC and genuine concerns. If you’re going to try something controversial, you must justify it, think it through, have a complex and provable strategic end you’re aiming at.”
Jacqueline McKenzie who plays Gabrielle, says she wanted the show to start a discussion on how to change the culture that has existed. So has Wright achieved that? “I think the west suffers from an inability to openly discuss extreme politics, as if discussing it somehow encourages it.”
“To me this is a kind of Twenty-First Century superstition and just makes things worse and go underground. I’ve had far more rewarding conversations about race, culture and politics in the back of an Uber than I’ve had in public forums.”
“This series can loosen up tongues a bit, make people less concerned about PC taboos. If you can talk about something, you can potentially change it. I suppose the first thing that needs changing is the appearance of far-whatever in mainstream spectrum.”
So what’s next for Romper Stomper? “It’s designed to continue although the bulk of a story arc is completed. I’d like to take on a classic show runner role in any future work.”
“I’m developing new projects. One is a series about Australia’s Westall UFO incident of 1966, and the other if a film noir feature called Whispering Death.”
Telly Binge spoke to Geoffrey Wright in June 2018. View his previous work on IMDB.