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Australia 2003
Directed by
Gary Doust
70 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Ruth Williams
4 stars

Making Venus

Synopsis: Gary Doust was invited by Jason Gooden and Julian Saggers to shoot a "making of" for their proposed first feature "The Venus Factory". The twenty-five year old cousins, with buckets of enthusiasm and one hundred thousand bucks borrowed from friends and family, have big plans for a future in the film industry. Unfortunately for our hapless heroes, things don’t go to plan and what started out as a dream of a bright future, quickly and mercilessly turns into their worst nightmare.

I remember watching films where the main character is in deep trouble but they can’t see it themselves. Instead, they go deeper and deeper, so much so, that before long, you find yourself wanting to tell them to go back home and lock their doors. At least this way they are out of harm’s way. If only someone could have told Jason and Julian not to give up their day jobs. They come across as nice guys, although in tall poppy terms, you might consider them a little too confident. Believe me, it won’t be long before you feel like ringing them up and asking if you can help in any way.

What a great happenstance that Doust was around to capture the unfolding of Julian and Jason’s experience as first-time filmmakers. Although the topic of the documentary might be considered relevant to a narrow audience, there is much about it that would strike a chord in most people. The two cousins allow Doust to interview them and record many occasions that reveal the deep hole they have dug for themselves. The willingness to expose so much of the experience reflects a generosity that is admirable. By the end of the film we are witnessing two very chastened young men. Six years of hard work and too many knockbacks eventually convinces the cousins that they did everything they could – after all, what more can a person do?

It is easy, as a member of the audience, to see where they were making major mistakes. It’s also easy to forget that when one is in the midst of a new venture, whether it is in business or relationships that it feels like nothing can go wrong. It’s just a pity they took so many others down with them, especially one friend who invested $45,000 in the film; a vote of confidence that eventually turns into disbelief that things could go so horribly wrong.

Many of the cast and crew involved held onto the hope that the feature film would reach an appreciative audience. At a pre-screening for selection into the AFI Awards, a number of audience members said they enjoyed it, although just as many found it preposterous. By the end of the documentary, I really wanted the guys to succeed. It wouldn’t surprise me if they received offers to produce from other film-makers hoping to avoid the same pitfalls. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Jason and Julian ran for the hills at the thought of going down that road again.




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