Not Quite Hollywood’s Mark Hartley retiring from docos after Electric Boogaloo

Cult film documentarian Mark Hartley, best known for Not Quite Hollywood, will make the move full-time to narrative features after completing his “crazy trilogy” about cult films.

The Melbourne-based, award-winning filmmaker, who also directed Machete Maidens Unleashed!, plans on one last documentary – this time telling the story of indie studio Cannon Films.

Cannon Films was the studio created by two “movie-obsessive” cousins from Israel – Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – who moved to the US to produce feature films. Their mission: to compete with the majors. They produced more than 120 films between 1979 and 1989 and were known to have an aggressive pre-sales policy.

“Their legacy really does lives on in Hollywood to this day and in some ways their…impact has been forgotten so hopefully this documentary will shine a spotlight on them and give them some newfound respect,” the passionate film-lover told IF.

“As a kid I grew up in the video era so I was certainly well aware of the Cannon films.”

Those films included Missing In Action, the sequels to Death Wish, The Delta Force, Runaway Train, Masters of the Universe, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Lifeforce and Australian production Evil Angels, directed by Fred Schepisi. The latter would never have been made without the two Israeli filmmakers.

Even with actress Meryl Streep attached, producer Verity Lambert had trouble raising finance. After almost three years in trying to get the pic up, the UK producer was about to shelve the project – about the Lindy Chamberlain story – for good, but then Cannon Films came on board.

“They were the only studio really that had the guts to make it – the producer took it to all the majors and they all turned it down and it was only Cannon that had faith in the project,” Hartley said.

It’s now time for their complete story to be told in Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films.

MGM, who currently has the rights to the Cannon Films library, is also on board the project, which is currently in development. All US rights for the doco have just been picked up by Drafthouse Films, through worldwide sales agent Celluloid Nightmares.

Electric Boogaloo will be produced by Veronica Fury, who worked with Hartley on Machete Maidens Unleashed!.

“The Cannon Films phenomenon is universal; everyone knows Chuck Norris’ name,” Fury said from Tasmania, on a break from shooting docu-drama First Fagin.

The feature-length "wild, untold" documentary, executive produced by XYZ Films, will spell the end of an era for Hartley who will make the move to narrative features.

“After I finish this crazy trilogy of mine with Electric Boogaloo, I’ll leave the documentary filmmaking to real documentary professionals,” the AFI and ARIA award-winner said.

Hartley is currently gearing up to direct the gothic horror re-working of the 1978 cult film Patrick around June/July next year. The project received Screen Australia funding, which was announced on Monday.

He said the “re-working” would be a great tribute to Richard Franklin – the director of the original Patrick film who Hartley interviewed for Not Quite Hollywood. Franklin, who also directed the first sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, unfortunately died about a month after the interview.

“We’re incredibly equally thrilled and equally thankful to be able to know that we’re going to be stepping on that set to make it….it’s a big thrill for me because the director of the original was a huge childhood hero and mentor in some way,” Hartley said.

The original producer, Antony I. Ginnane, is back as well as some of the crew who worked on the cult film.

“We’re trying to be as faithful to it as possible but also amping up the thrills and amping up the scares and making it for a new generation,” Hartley said. “We want it to have a similar impact that the first film had.”