Lee Zachariah


I’ve known Lee Zachariah for quite a few years now. Without him, my life wouldn’t feel complete. (Mental note : Must find those song lyrics to text through to him; been meaning to do that for a while…) Kate has always been a bit suss, actually. But that’s a story for another time.

.. but where was I? Oh yes, Lee, as some might know, went from the Aussie columnist at Aint it Cool News to the co-host of a popular little Channel 31 TV series called ”The Bazura Project”. Quite the success (though I deem anything that lasts longer than TV’s Video Underground a success), the show not only earned Lee a rep boost but a large following; now, instead of being greeted as ‘critic 32’ at screenings, folks call out his name (though someone’s really got to tell ‘critic 56′ that he does not work for the Herald-Sun. That would be critic ’21’). The fans, like Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors”, are growing by the day. And of course Ideally those fans will follow him and co-host over to ABC 2, where ”The Bazura Project” calls home fromT Thursday Sep 29.

I, critic number 16, spoke to Lee recently why he showered and I sat on the edge of his bathtub playing games on my iphone.

Firstly, congrats. There’s only a few other critics in this town I genuinely like – and you and Jim are right at the top so believe me when I say I couldn’t be happier for you.

You’re only saying that ‘cos I give you neck massages during press screenings. Which can be really tough when I’m sitting in the row in front of you.

That could be what’s annoying Tom of late? Anyway, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Younger. I’m already in talks with David Fincher’s people about it.

If not Fincher, then Burr Steers – director of “17 Again”, might be worth giving a call. You attended Bond University. What were Q’s lectures like?

Pretty good. I’d never seen anyone discuss the use of non-diagetic sound in Peeping Tom using a pen that blows shit up from 500 feet. It was impressive.

In all seriousness, how did you end up going to Bond University? And did you get your degree or drop out to be a full-time unpaid film critic with Aint it Cool News? And thirdly, did you ever get to ride down a ski slope in a cello case with Maryamm D’Abo?

In my final year of high school I made a short film for Media Studies. I entered it in a competition Bond Uni was running, and ended up winning first prize, which came with a scholarship to the school. And this was before I’d finished my exams, so I think I was the only one going into them with a sense of calm! Because Bond has three Semesters per year, I ended up getting my Bachelors in two years at age 19 (like Doogie Hooser, except without the ability to improve people’s lives). The Ain’t It Cool thing happened a couple of years later, almost out of nowhere… and latest eight years!

And when did you decide to start stumping ”The Bazura Project” to commercial stations and such?

Pretty much the moment we’d finished making our pilot episode, back in 2005. We were cocky and without much reason to be — the pilot was good, but it was way too rough. Everyone we approached (rightfully) knocked us back, except for community station Channel 31, who thankfully saw some potential in there. They took us on and we made three seasons — forty episodes all up — which then finally made us ready for the big networks.

What’s the format of the new show?

It’s very different from our community TV show. We’ve dropped the news, reviews and interviews, and mixed it up. Though the style is the same, the format is now an exploration of various sins in cinema. Over the six episodes, we look at violence, sex, money, profanity, drugs and fame, and how they’re portrayed in the movies. There’s a history lesson, a how-to DIY guide if you want to make your own movie, a segment on forgotten films in which my co-host Shannon unearths some truly unbelievable gems that you’ll be convinced we made up, and some other segments I’m reluctant to give away! You’ll have to watch!

Has anything one wrong, yet? – and I’m not talking about the day I was too ill to appear on it, that wasn’t so much as something going wrong as something that will likely hurt that particular episode beyond repair. Though, as promised, I will play Christopher Atkins in that Blue Lagoon satire you’ve planned for the next series.

It’s hard to remember the stuff that went wrong, because the moment something does go wrong you go immediately go into damage control mode. Most of the time if there was disaster, the solution ended up being better than the element-in-question would have been originally! Although it would have been funny to get you in that scene we shot up near your neck of the woods. (I’ll point out which scene it would have been when it airs.) We’ll get you in there one day!

Three favourite films. Go!

The Shawshank Redemption, Lost Highway, The Limey. (All great films, but at the very top because of the influence they had on my life when I saw them. It’s no coincidence that these were all made in the decade that I grew up in…)

Three least favourite films. Go!

Oh, wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about these before! I guess Fantasma, the 2006 Argentian film in which nothing happens (although part of me wants to give it another go). The other day I remembered Money Train existed, and wondered how anybody read that script and didn’t realise it was a giant scrotum.  Um… what else? Oh, did you see the zombie/Nazi film Dead Snow? Don’t.

Tell me about working with the DeLorean from Back to the Future. How does it take direction? Is it’s flux capacitor as big as everyone says it is?

We got to use the Mr Fusion model, so it worked out pretty well. It’s a good thing, because when the ABC pointed out that the studio we’d be filming the opening sequence in didn’t have any roads, we said “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads.”

How useful have you found the social network to be in pimping this new show?

Very useful, because we have no marketing budget! Much as we’d love to be the biggest thing since that show about sliced bread, we know we’re going to have a niche audience, which is cool. That’s the type of show we’re playing, and that’s the kind of audience we love interacting with, so being able to engage with them via Twitter and Facebook is cool.

What’s the one gadget you can’t live without – be it an iphone, portable blu-ray player, calculator watch etc. And why?

Probably my iPhone. Due to the running around aspect of my last few jobs (Bazura, film critic, freelance journo), it helped to have a mobile office and be able to do emails wherever I am. God, I sound like a bloody commercial, don’t I? Urgh.

Will there be a Bazura project App available for the iphone?

Hm… not sure. Not in the near future, but maybe one day. The At The Movies one works really well.

Will there be a DVD or Blu-ray, and will it include the restored musical sequence from Jabba’s palace?

I know we have some purist fans out there, but the segments in which Shannon and I sit at a desk and talk to the camera are greatly improved by digitally inserting banthas in the background. I promise.

What the fuck is a Bazura?

That’s a mystery for the ages…

Which are your favourite movie websites and why?

Wait, there’s more than one movie website?!? I only ever check Moviehole! When did they make others? I’ve got nearly all of them bookmarked, but my general daily browsing of news sites includes Ain’t It Cool, Dark Horizons, Moviehole, CHUD, HitFix and Badass Digest. I also read all of my friends’ film crit blogs — seriously, some of the best movie criticism is coming out of Australia — but I won’t try to mention them all here because I’ll forget someone and feel guilty.

As you type up your answers, is Shannon (Marinko, your co-host) being pleasured in the front seat of the Delorean by a hot-to-trot usherette?

Shit. I thought I turned my webcam off. Sorry you had to see that.

Tell us why we should watch ”The Bazura Project”?

Because it’s the best film school you’ll ever get! Shannon and I are obsessed with both comedy and film history, so we’ve tried to make the show as funny and as interesting as possible. We’ve designed if for both film obsessives and total non-buffs, so everyone should find something to love in there.

The crown at your place… Charisma wants to wear it again. We will be visiting again soon. Tell Kate to bring out the cupcakes.

She did look awfully cute in it! And she is impressed with our DVD collection, so we were happy with that. But yes, I think we’re definitely overdue for another cupcake night. Now the show’s over, I actually have time to see my friends again… assuming they’re still speaking to me. Sorry, that’s a strange note to end on. Oh well.

”The Bazura Project” premieres Thursday Sep 29 9PM, ABC2