Vincent Monton revisits ‘Point of No Return’

‘Point of No Return.’

Vincent Monton is understandably chuffed that Australians have the chance to discover – or rediscover – his telemovie Point of No Return 25 years after it premiered on Network 10.

Umbrella Entertainment released a digitally restored version of the drama written and directed by Monton, which starred Marcus Graham and Nikki Coghill, on DVD and VOD this month.

Graham played the dual roles of Grady, a former soldier who is traumatized by his experiences in war and prison, and his murdered brother Kristian.

Grady escapes from custody after attending Kristian’s funeral. Coghill is Kate, the girlfriend of the protagonist who later hooked up with his brother.

The producer, the late Phillip Emanuel, had raised the budget to make a telemovie about a prison break but was not happy with the script so he approached Monton. The offer was to write a screenplay in three weeks, which he could direct if Emanuel liked the script.

Instead Monton came up with the concept of a man who is on the run as he tries to figure out who killed his brother, and he shot the telemovie on 16mm.

Several few years ago the DOP, the late Louis Irving, arranged the digital restoration in 4K.

“If it wasn’t for Umbrella it would have disappeared into the mist,” he tells IF from his home in Melbourne. “There has never been such a hunger for product, including Australian product.”

Monton started his career as a sound recordist in 1969 at the age of 19, initially as a summer job at Crawford Productions, when there were 28 people on staff.

He quickly moved into the camera department and later as a DOP, churning out 48 episodes a year of shows like Homicide, Matlock Police and Division Four.

When he left Crawfords five years later to go freelance, the company had 350 staffers. He shot numerous features including Phil Noyce’s Newsfront and Heatwave, Richard Franklin’s The True Story of Eskimo Nell, Road Games and Fantasm, Henri Safran’s Norman Loves Rose and Michael Pattinson’s Moving Out and Street Hero.

“I was just so lucky. My generation was in the right place at the right time as the film and television industries took off,” he says.

“If anybody came to me today and said they want to get into the film industry I would say ‘think about this because it will be a tough gig: the opportunities aren’t there.'”

Among his other directing credits were Windrider, starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Burlinson, and Fatal Bond with Linda Blair.

He spent 10 years in the US until he returned to Oz in 2018. Although semi-retired, he is developing a feature, The Martini Shot, with Pattinson.

Set in the 1970s, the comedy follows two dumb Aussies who go to the US intending to make a movie. They have done a recce in LA and some preliminary casting.

“It’s slightly autobiographical,” he says. “Michael and I have been through this.”