Being a writer-producer (Malcolm, The Big Steal, Matching Jack), regular cinematographer (Matching Jack, Kath & Kimderella) and now three-time director (Hercules Returns, Diana & Me), David Parker is certainly used to wearing many hats, even if they're not always on at the same time.
His latest film as director is a situation comedy called The Menkoff Method. It follows a young introvert (Lachlan Woods, Winners & Losers) that works at a Melbourne bank data processing centre who comes to blows with a Russian HR consultant (Noah Taylor, Shine) hired to boost performance levels. The film also features Robert Taylor (Healing) as the bank's chief and Catherine McClements (Better Than Sex) as the HR director.
“I was approached about a year ago by Jon Stephens, who is the development executive of White Hot Productions, and he said we've got a script that we'd like you to direct,” says Parker (pictured) during a break from filming.
Parker spent nine months working with first-time scribe Zac Gillam to develop the script into the basis for a clever and quirky film. “I just saw great potential in making a very different comedy for Australia,” he says. “Who would have thought a group of Russian consultants coming into a data processing centre in Melbourne to improve their performance? It's such a bizarre concept, and then you make one of those Russians Noah Taylor – it's just a funny situation.”
Indeed, one of the key casting coups was nabbing busy Australian actor Noah Taylor in the antagonist role. “I've always admired Noah's work, particularly from Shine onwards,” says Parker. “I was absolutely wrapped when he agreed and was available for a break from his busy schedule on Game of Thrones to do the movie. We only had a three week window for him but he came out and hit the ground running.”
Parker is also presently developing Tying the Knot, with his wife and regular collaborator, director Nadia Tass (Malcolm, The Big Steal, Matching Jack). Set to shoot next year, the film will be a Chinese-Australian co-production.
Tying the Knot is inspired by a true wedding incident Parker witnessed when he was a stills photographer in the '70s. “The groomsman had been let out of jail to attend the wedding and was accompanied by a prison orderly to keep an eye on him,” explains the filmmaker. “In fact, what happened was the prison orderly drank too much and became very amorous with one of the bridesmaids, so the groomsman ended up driving him back because he knew he'd get into trouble if he didn't make the curfew! I used that conflict for the basis of the movie.”
Parker's premise will revolve around an Australian boy marrying a Chinese girl who, days before the wedding, is thrown into jail for mistakenly being involved in a bank robbery. “At the moment we're weaving our way through the various intricacies of setting up a co-production with China and Australia, which is nothing if not fascinating,” he laughs.
The Menkoff Method will be released in mid-2014.