Grace Otto, the younger sister of Miranda Otto (South Solitary) and daughter of seasoned veteran Barry (Bliss, Strictly Ballroom), will have her documentary The Last Impresario premiere at the London Film Festival in October. The film, which was three years in the making, explores the extraordinary career of 77-year-old British producer Michael 'Chalky' White (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
“He has a legacy of 50 years of amazing work and was at the forefront of so many aspects of British culture,” says Otto. “He produced the first “happenings”, introduced Yoko Ono, broke down the walls of censorship with Oh Calcutta, the first nude musical, and gave us The Rocky Horror Show.”
But it wasn't until Otto learnt that the veteran producer was selling his extensive memorabilia that she conceived of the idea to chronicle his career. “I instinctively felt that this was an historical moment that should be captured. I borrowed a camera and flew to London – and so began my journey of telling Chalky's amazing life story.”
The actress spent the next few years in between acting jobs interviewing over 60 friends, family and associates of the producer. “I could have spent the rest of my life doing this as every time I met one person they suggested another five people essential to telling his story,” she explains. “But Michael kept pressuring me to finish and then I showed him a rough cut and he was very happy with it.”
Otto is excited that her doco will have a London premiere. “I am completely ecstatic about the film having its world premiere in Michael's home town,” she says. “It's a very exciting festival and I was over the moon that they loved it and that they saw it as an important story to tell.”
The filmmaker is also confident that people will respond favourably to her film. “I believe audiences will respond to [Michael's] gentle optimism. In the face of great difficulties with his financial and health situations, he still goes headlong into life,” she says. “He sees every day as a golden opportunity to enjoy life and have fun. It is this infectious love of life that I hope will inspire audiences.”
The Last Impresario is produced by Nicole O' Donohue (Griff the Invisible) and features anecdotes by Naomi Watts, Barry Humphries, Rachel Ward and Rocky Horror creator Richard O'Brien amongst others.