Onside With Australian Film

A whole community pitches in to help make Offside, a new Australian film about family and football. Filmink catches up with its producer, Matthew Salleh.

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Aussies love a good underdog film, a characteristic reflected in Australian culture time and time again with films such as The Castle, Crackerjack, and Two Hands. So it comes as no surprise that first time feature filmmakers Matthew Salleh (producer) and Gian Carlo (Writer/ Director) are going the full Aussie hog with their debut feature, Offside

The film however takes this idea one step further, garnering immense unconditional support from local football teams, local businesses and the community, which not only made the film achievable, but something the neighborhood could be a part of. Also helping with the promotion of the film was the Adelaide United Football Club who attended various screenings of the film.   

The film follows Charlie, played by Terry Rogers, and his brother Frank, played by Peter Evangelista. Charlie is a winner, or he at least wants to be. Frank, who is also the coach of the flailing soccer team, believes in the beauty of the game despite being on an exceptional losing streak. Football is life for these men...  especially because they don't have one. This team wants more than to win, they are pursuing excellence, and that's a much greater challenge.

With Australia in the 2006 World Cup finals, the team is inspired. Battling the inane distractions of jobs, girlfriends and wives, the men strive to pull together and defy the odds to win the coveted comp cup.

"To me, this film is all about those die-hard football fans we all know and love," says Producer Matthew Salleh. "They're who this film is based on, and they are the ones that want to see this film, so we're looking to them, as opposed to the mainstream film industry, to help promote this movie. With the World Cup soon upon us, Australia will once again become soccer mad, and local soccer communities will also go mad for this movie."

Offside captures the spirit of the underdog, and reflects the low-budget nature of the film which was made on a rationed budget for a 27 day shoot and sponsored by local restaurant Fatsa Pasta. Similarly, the soundtrack is entirely complied of local bands including Laura Hill and Tracer.

The support of the local soccer community, who provided players, locations and costumes for the shoot, is evidence that the film will mean more to Australians than your average blockbuster. Producer Matthew Salleh explains. "I think there is a big misconception out there about what audiences can be found for local film content. Offside is proof that there is an interest in mainstream stories, and that audiences want to see themselves reflected on the screen."

He continues. "One comment we hear again and again from people who have seen Offside is that they see their friends and family in the characters and stories, and they don't see that in other locally produced films."

The film screened to two sold out shows at the 2009 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival as part of the South Australian Screen Awards (Offside was nominated for Best Feature), and was well received at the recent inaugural Australian Film Festival in Sydney.

Director Gian Carlo reveals his passion for film and soccer alike, explaining, "For me, football and film are my two passions. Offside is a culmination of years of playing football and making films, suffering both the highs and lows, but just like the Aussies in the World Cup, you never give up, and I think this film is a testament to that."

While the film is completely home-grown, Salleh believes that despite its heavy Aussie content, the story has a broad spectrum that almost anyone can relate to. "The story in Offside is a fairly universal one; I'm confident it will resonate with people everywhere," he says. "Beneath the fun and entertainment I think there are themes of growing up and growing apart which people can reflect on."

Whether you're a die-hard soccer fan or not, Salleh is hopeful that audiences will leave the film with a "smile on their dial."

The theatrical release of this film is still under negotiation but Salleh hopes it will find its way into cinemas this year. More information about the film can be found here.

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