RIP Australian Genre Producer David Hannay

David Hannay was an Australian film producer best known for his work on such legendary titles as The Man From Hong Kong, Stone, Mapantsula and Cubbyhouse.  On 31 March, 2014, he passed away from Cancer.  You may not know the name, or possibly even the films he worked on but it’s safe to say that WITHOUT him, the Australian film industry and the movies of  directors such as Quentin Tarantino might look very different.

I worked with Hannay (as he affectionally liked to be called) on my own film, Ten Dead Men, along side director and friend Ross Boyask and found him to be a “tough bastard” (his own words) at times but also never less than inspirational and always great company.  Hannay was full of stories from his time in the industry, told in his own very unique way.   Having met Hannay at Cannes, he introduced us to the sales agent that would end up selling Ten Dead Men globally and worked with us developing some other projects such as fIXers, frequently calling us from his home in Australia to go over script notes, edits and generally to shoot the shit.

He was born in New Zealand. His first job in the industry was as an extras casting assistant on Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Hannay became head of production for Gemini Productions from 1970-73 and 1975-76. In 1974 he was general manager for The Movie Company, a production subsidiary of Greater Union. From 1977 he was an independent producer.  In 1988 he won the Human Rights Australia Film Award, the AFI Raymond Longford Award in 2007 and the Ken G Hall Film Preservation Award in 2011.  Up until his passing, he ran his own company, Vitascope Filmed Entertainment, where he took new filmmakers under his wing.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.  When I heard Hannay was ill I wanted  to try and record some conversations with him about his career, his past as a Hell’s Angel and what is was like being a frequently named inspiration for Quentin Tarantino.  I could listen for hours to Hannay recant his tales of old (and often did, he was never one for getting to the point quickly – part of his charm for sure!).  Alas after a silly disagreement whilst finishing Ten Dead Men, I lost contact with Hannay.  When I finally did reconnect with hannah it was too late and, whilst we started talking again, he didn’t ever get the energy up to speak to me.

Hannay was a fascinating man, someone that was not always easy to deal with but whose knowledge and spark for life (he frequently jogged 10 + miles a day even in his 70’s) inspired numerous filmmakers that he took under his wing.

I fear that time will probably forget Hannay despite the considerable impact his films have had on the world, as later in his career he shunned more mainstream work to focus on instead grooming the next generation of filmmakers.   Including myself and Ross.  This is a massive shame because his is a legacy that deserves to go out fighting, just like the man himself no doubt did.  In the days when idiots like Cory Monteith warrant multiple pages in news papers and magazines after his death, Hannay’s will go with little notice or fan fare.

An obituary described him as:

“one of the pioneers of the modern Australian film industry, a passionate cinephile, mentor and loyal friend.”

I’d probably go with “a tough but charming S.O.B”

He is survived by his wife Mary Moody.

For more on Hannay check out http://www.vfe.com.au/hannay.htm

– Phil Hobden

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