B R I E F   S Y N O P S I S
While on a field trip, an ambitious geologist (Toni Collette of About a Boy and The Sixth Sense) finds herself having to baby-sit Hiromitsu (Gotaro Tsunashima), a taciturn Japanese businessman. Hoping to strike up a business deal, she agrees to take him around Western Australia's remote Pilbara desert. Journeying further and further into the wild outback, these two diametrically opposed strangers are thrust into a potentially life or death situation and begin to leave behind all of their preconceptions of themselves and each other.
  The Purple Cast

All the elements were in place. Almost.

Toni Collette was signed on our picture. All of the investors were in. The dates were set. But there was one sticking point in one of the contracts. Nothing was budging on it. Alison Tilson, Sue Maslin and I had a crisis lunch. We went around and around the problem trying to come up with a solution. It looked like there was no solution. And I clearly remember saying to Sue "Well, something has to give." We were stuck.

It was late on a Friday. There was nothing we could do. We couldn't do anything else over the weekend. We couldn't concentrate on anything else so Alison and I decided to go to a movie.

We headed off to our local picture theatre (one of our favourites). Alison was walking ahead of me at a pace because we were running late. And three women coming out of the movie were belting along towards me. I stepped to the side to make way for them and stepped in a hole in the footpath, rolled on my ankle and went splat, front first onto the footpath.

I was embarrassed and confused and tried to get up and stop the fuss immediately. Then I realised something was wrong.

Something was wrong with my foot.

Something indeed had given. It was my foot. I had broken it.

But at this stage I didn't know. Alison charged off to get the car. And I stood there trying to work out how I could get myself across the footpath. I stepped out with my left foot but there was no way I could get my right foot to move. Eventually I dragged it up to the left and started the next step. It was excruciating. I was too proud to ask for help. I took about six steps like this and managed to get to the parking meter. I eventually got into the car and I said to Alison, "I think we had better go to casualty."

Four hours later they told me I had a broken foot and I was going to be in a cast for six weeks.

I remember thinking, "Oh no, that doesn't fit. I haven't got time to do that. I have a film to direct."

They gave me nitrous oxide to kill the pain while they set my foot. I took six deep puffs on the mask but it didn't work, so the doctor demonstrated by sucking on the gas himself to "show" me how it works. He was higher that I was. And we both giggled and screamed through the procedure as he re-aligned my broken foot and put a cast on it. For some reason he chose a bright purple cast. I think it was because he was stoned.

I went home, got into bed, and asked Alison not to tell anyone!

And then the real fun happened.

Everyone weighed in. Our lawyers were beside themselves worrying about what contracts we had entered into. Toni's agent was worried that Toni couldn't change her dates. Crew were having to be delayed. The repercussions were flying out across the globe, all emanating from this purple cast.

We were told that we might have to get another director. Alison and Sue worked overtime trying to: a) keep our film and b) keep me on as director on our film.

The lawyers came back to us then and said our potential breach on contracts could cost us more than any of us were going to be able to afford. Ever.

The completion guarantors were watching like hawks.

Everything had to be delayed but no one knew if it was possible. The house of cards had fallen and there seemed to be a very real possibility that it couldn't be restored.

And then there was a message that Toni, who was in New York, wanted to read the script again. She did. She fell in love with the script again. She moved her dates.

And we started all over again.

A few weeks later we were in the desert filming. I was off crutches, out of the cast and managing quite well with a very thick pair of socks and boots that were a size too big.

And then started the real test. Our forty days and forty nights in the desert making Japanese Story.

Films are an illusion. They are pieces of magic put together by dream makers.

When I broke my foot it was amazing to sit back and watch the dream disappear. It was a salutary and sometimes surreal experience watching our dream disappear and refocus and reform in front of our very eyes.

The film was made, went to Cannes in Un Certain Regard, is winning awards and now reaches an audience. And a new dream is out there. The best part of the realised dream is when people, strangers, come up to me and just say "thank you."

And the foot no longer hurts.


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