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The Office Picnic

Film by Tom Cowan

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The Office Picnic


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One of the three films in the first year (1972) of the Australian film renaissance.

A group of tormented public service wage-slaves decide that they are not clockwork monsters, so the steamy Australian nights and raucous party games and brief belligerent punch-ups and beery romps on the Holden bonnet all ensue.

John Wood plays the beeriest office ocker, making bets on the seduction of the coolest, sexiest typist (Kate Fitzpatrack).And the two teenagers in the office, a timid office boy and shy switch girl, have their own course during the crazy proceedings.

Director and Writer: Tom Cowan
Producers:  Richard Brennan and Tom Cowan
Cinematographer: Michael Edols
Editor: Kit Guyatt 
Cast:  John Wood, Kate Fitzpatrick, Max Cullen, Philip Deamer, Patricia Kennedy

Tom Cowan has a distinguished film career as a director and as a cinematographer. While a trainee at ABC-TV in the early 1960s, he directed The Dancing Class. It won the AFI's Best Film of the Year, and also a First Prize at the Commonwealth Awards in Edinburgh.  In the ‘70s, he was part of the 'Larrikins in London'. With Germaine Greer, Robert Stigwood, Martin Sharp, Arthur Boyd, John Weiley, Richard Neville and many others, he worked (as Director of Photography) on Philippe Mora's wacky musical feature film Trouble In Molopolis.

Cowan wrote, co-produced and directed four feature films at this time. His Journey Among Women won the AFI's Most Creative Feature Film Award in 1977. The other feature films as director are The Office Picnic, Promised Woman and Sweet Dreamers. Tom was also the support system to other directors in the '80s. For John Duigan he photographed four features including the seminal Mouth To Mouth and Winter of our Dreams with Judy Davis and Bryan Brown.

Over the years, Cowan has worked as a cinematographer on numerous productions, in various countries:  the Indian film Samskara (directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy), which won India's Best Feature (President's Award) and many international prizes including the Silver Lion at Locarno; the IMAX film Antarctica, which won the Prix du Jury at the Festival de la Geode and has taken over US$100 million at the box office; the IMAX film Africa's Elephant Kingdom for Michael Caulfield, which stayed in Variety's Top 50 grossing list for over two years and netted Cowan the Australian Cinematographer Society's Gold Award; the TV series Survivor 2 - Down Under, which gained Cowan an Emmy nomination in 2001; the Disney film The Young Black Stallion in 2004; among others.

His first Local Emotion Picture feature film entitled Orange Love Story was made in 2004 and was a big hit at film festivals.

An intriguing piece of work, witty, meticulously detailed and finally mysterious in its etching of urban life.” – Colin Bennett, The Age

A luminous, engrossing and largely flawless Australia feature film.” – Bob Ellis, Nation Review.

from IMDb:"Beautifully photographed b&w surreal black comedy is set in an Australian Public Service office in the early ‘70s where hierarchy and gender divisions quiver portentously, prematurely climaxing in disaster in the yearly swillathon. Real human beings emerge from public service straightjackets. A forgotten gem of Australian bizarreness."

 

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