Director who knows the drill

Director who knows the drill, by Lauren Martin - 7th August 2004
(Fairfax Digital)

On bad days on set Chris Kennedy is possibly the only film director who shakes his head and thinks, "Jeez, I wish I could be back extracting a molar."

The part-time Five Dock dentist has already packed three films between fillings - a throat-slasher (Glass), a dental splasher (This Won't Hurt a Bit, with Greig Pickhaver/H.G. Nelson), and the award-winning country and western culture-clasher Doing Time for Patsy Cline.

Now Kennedy is dashing off to the Montreal Film Festival, where his next film, a comedy called A Man's Gotta Do, has been invited to screen in competition. The festival begins later this month but, with the film not opening in Australia until November, Kennedy was back at his practice this week.

"I do a lot my thinking while I'm drilling," he said. But since many of his patients are in showbusiness - "a lot of the big stars," he teases, refusing to dish the plaque on anybody - it works.

"Britt Ekland showed me her crown and bridgework once," Kennedy laughed dryly. How was it? "Beautifully done."

Other producers tell Kennedy to stay tight-lipped about being a dentist, saying people will not take his films seriously. But he tells aspiring film-makers they should have another trade - "plumbing or something" - to save them living out of the back of a car for years.

A few film-makers, according the Screen Producers Association of Australia, are financed by doctors and dentists willing to punt on the product and take the tax losses, but Kennedy says he would be far too shy to ask any colleagues to be investors.

Still, his profession has been useful in unexpected ways. In A Man's Gotta Do the actor John Howard is a fisherman and sometime standover guy. He has struggling with his 22-year-old daughter's plan to marry "a sleazebag". Among the diary-snooping and disappearances that ensue, somebody ends up with a concrete netball attached to "their private parts".

The art crew was coy about this, so Kennedy says he made the parts out of dental materials. "They looked great," he laughed.

Better yet, the actor required for the scene was "very proud indeed".

And it did not hurt a bit.



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