Tell us your inspiration behind Romper Stomper?
The inspiration was the observation that certain
skinheads in Melbourne of the 1980s had made a transition. They
went from simply being thugs to thugs who took an interest in
the Third Reich as a model. I didn't think there'd been
anything like it in the long history of street gangs in
Australia. It all seemed like a pretty interesting basis for a
If Romper Stomper was released today, do you
think it would have the same impact?
---I presume if you ask if Romper was released
today that you're referring to an updated version, written
according to today's situation (as opposed to the situations of
the early 1990s). I think the impact of such a film today would
probably have more impact. I think this because any reaction
would be supercharged by the internet, which was barely in its
infancy two decades ago.
There have been parallels behind Romper Stomper
(1992) and American History X (1998), do you find these
---I don't mind the comparisons. History X is a
good film, but, of course, it was made with a budget about
twenty times bigger. Julian Temple famously shot a million feet
of film to make History X, while Romper would have been made on
a fraction of that.
I will say, though, that History X conforms to
certain patterns of story telling while Romper is really off on
a planet of its own, putting the audience inside the noise and
fury of the gang. Romper is a subjective experience, History X
is an objective one.
Undeniably Romper Stomper was the film that made
Russell Crowe, what was Russell like as actor?
---The Russell I knew was a superb worker. He'd
leave nothing to chance, he'd think about everything he had to
do, he'd try many different things before settling on a
solution. He was practical, tireless, exacting, meticulous,
What made you choose Russell to be the lead role
in Romper Stomper?
----I'd seen Russell in a supporting role in
'Proof' with Hugo Weaving. I thought there was something very
intense and brooding about him, I saw him and thought of the
role of 'Hando' straight away.
Russell embodied Hando from Romper Stomper
perfectly, how did you help him perfect the character?
---I just told him everything I thought I knew
about the character then let him go off and think about it.
When he came back he'd show me this idea or that and I'd give
him a reaction. He was never, ever, short of ideas.
As a director, what were your most challenging
parts of Romper Stomper?
---Getting through all the action and crowd
scenes in the six week schedule was the hardest thing, but
working with the cast was always thrilling and energizing.
With several years experience as a director,
would you direct Romper Stomper differently today?
---Yes I would, I'd probably rely less on 'master
shots' - that cover the entire scene - and have more faith in
breaking the scenes up into shots of more limited coverage. But
in those days I had less experience in understanding how to
shoot with more economy.
Do you find there are big differences in making
films in Australia compared to the United States?
---In the US the budgets are simply bigger, at
least most of the time. Also, the choice of crew people becomes
bewildering because there's so many good people to choose from.
Having said that, Australian crews work as hard as American ones
and are just as creative. They're often more fun than American
crews and a lot more fun than British ones.
The film business in the US is based solely on
capitalism, but the Australian business is often concerned with
issues of 'culture.' It's easy to find out decisions that get
made by the sources of finance in Australia but in America it's
often a mystery why certain decisions get made.
In terms of Hollywood filmmaking, what do you
believe are the pros and cons?
---Hollywood is inhabited by so many wonderfully
talented people both behind and in front of the camera, but it's
also inhabited by the nastiest people you'll ever meet.
Everything is in extremes. I think the best thing is that
Hollywood is a well-stocked market place of scripts and stories
and contacts. Networking is giddy there, very exciting and
Why do you believe that Australian films have
such a big impact in other countries?
---We develop actors of a quality that is
extraordinary considering our population, I think. Our actors
tend to be braver, wilder, yet more down-to-earth.
You've directed another Hollywood megastar (Sam
Worthington) in Macbeth, how different an actor is Sam compared
---Sam shares with Russell a don't-mess-with-me
strength. He's quieter bloke than Russell, in the way that
Steve McQueen used to be quiet. He has, on screen, a slow-burn
energy, while Russell has a fast-burn one.
For our film students at University, what words
of wisdom can you part on them?
---Filmmakers need to form relationships with
trustworthy fellow travelers. Directors need to find producers,
both of these need to find writers. If you can form this
triangle for a project or two you'll increase your chances of
successfully mounting projects. Filmmaking is a team effort,
find and form teams that may last at least a few years and
hopefully more. Also carefully examine the contracts you make
with each other, keep them fair, keep profit sharing fair, and
use separate lawyers.
What does the future hold for Geoffrey Wright?
I want to shoot a project called 'Australian
Gothic.' A horror film about revenge and justice.
Lastly, Romper Stomper was just released on
Blu-ray, will we see a Director's Cut in the near future?
The theatrical version of Romper Stomper - the
only version ever released - is the director's cut.
Most so-called "director's cuts" are marketing
devices. The version initially released is, more often than
not, the better version and probably one that the director
approved of. However, you can possibly make a few more sales of
DVDs if you trumpet "director's cut" in the marketing.
One of the most interesting examples of a dubious
"director's cut" is 'Apocalypse Now.'
These days the recut version of A.N. is the ONLY
version people can see but, in fact, it's just a version with
all the fat shoved back into the story that the filmmakers were
quite correct to remove in the first place. Putting all the
second rate scenes back in warps the narrative and deadens the
pace. It's a completely inferior experience to either of the
slightly different versions that were released theatrically.
(The differences between them were marginal and concerned some
images at the very end of the film).
Having said that, from my point of view, a film I
did in 2001, 'Cherry Falls' that was theatrically released in
Europe in its most harmless form (the airline version!!!) I'd
love to recut the harder version of that!
Thanks for your time Geoffrey and all the best.