28 July 2000
DISTANT SISTERS CREATE HIT
By Tim Lloyd
A HIT New Zealand ``no budget'' film which has its Australian premiere at the Mercury Cinema tonight was conceived in Adelaide. I'll Make You Happy, started as a ``no budget'' film before attracting backing and turning into a screen success in New Zealand. The movie, described as a comedy heist, was originally inspired by the prostitutes and pimps frequenting a 24-hour fish-and-chip shop in Melbourne's St Kilda.
However, the film only made it to the screen because of the separate lives of two Adelaide sisters, Athina and Anne Tsoulis. While Athina moved to New Zealand in 1982 and became involved in the film industry, Anne stayed in Australia and became a screen writer. ``We lost contact for about 10 years,'' said Anne yesterday. ``I didn't know she was making films and she didn't know I was writing films.'' With SA Film Corporation support, Anne Tsoulis wrote the screenplay. However, the project was abandoned by the SAFC, which handed the rights back to Tsoulis in 1995.
``Then my sister gave me a call from New Zealand and said `Jenny (another of the six Tsoulis sisters) says you are writing film scripts'.She said `you can't write scripts - I'm the only one allowed to make films in this family!''' Anne sent her the script and Athina said she wanted to adapt it for a low-budget feature. Athina re-wrote the script and found $100,000 to shoot the movie in Auckland with the support of the New Zealand film community.
It stars Rena Owen, from Once Were Warriors, and even includes a cameo from Lucy Lawless of Xena fame. The New Zealand Film Corporation saw the rough cut and agreed to fund post-production of the film, which has since screened to packed houses in New Zealand, although it is still looking for a distributor in Australia. In the meantime, Anne Tsoulis has worked for two years as a project officer with the Australian Film Commission, and has most recently finished a new screenplay, The Watchhouse, which is to be turned into a film by Athina, with Anouk Aimee as its star.The 92-minute movie screens from tonight (Friday) until Sunday at Mercury Cinema, city, at 7.30pm.
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