Stone creator in our midst

Sandy Harbutt

The creator of the cult Australian movie Stone, Sandy Harbutt, will be guest speaker at Pics & Flicks’ first screening for the year.

He moved to the South Coast 15 years ago, living at Werri, Gerroa and now Gerringong. Many who recognise him as a local will be unaware of his contribution to a new era of Australian film making.

“Stone was released in 1974 at a time when Australia was still drafting 18 year olds who couldn’t vote to fight in Vietnam,” says Sandy.

“It is about an outlaw motorcycle gang of Vietnam veterans that are alienated from the society that sent them to war.

“It was the first film to tackle the ramifications of the war on the veterans, that are still evident to this day.

“No-one was expecting it.

“It sprang from the counter culture and I refused to have it compromised.”

He says that while the critics didn’t like it, Stone had a huge box office from the start which made it the first commercially successful drama of the new era.

“The only two that made a profit before that were Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.”

Drawing on experience gained in advertising (working for Bryce Courtney) and as an actor at Crawford Productions, Sandy wrote, directed and produced the film – his first – as well as starring in it as the bikie gang leader.

“I took the best bits of what I learnt and we ended up using 35mm film almost like 16mm,” he says.

Widely regarded as the inspiration for Mad Max, the film continues to gain praise. In the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino outs himself as a fan, enthusing about his admiration for the film.

The acting credits for Stone include now household names such as Bill Hunter, Helen Morse, Rebecca Gillings, Gary McDonald and Drew Forsythe. Ken Shorter played the lead role of Stone.

Sandy will speak after the screening about the film, its making and the social context of the era.

Despite living close by for so long, it will be the first Pics & Flicks he as attended.

Details: Friday 7 February, Gerringong Town Hall.
Doors open 7.20pm, with the film starting at 8pm. Tickets $10 at the door. Multi-movie passes and annual memberships are also available. The movie remains R rated.

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