Desert Drag

One of my favourite films of the mid-Nineties was The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I saw it the year after I came to London in the ABC Cinema on Tottenham Court Road. There was a drag show before the performance which was, for me, the first time I had seen drag queens in the flesh. The cinema was packed and there was a great feeling of expectation as the film started. I was not disappointed and it remains one of my favourite films.

A short time after the film came out, the producer Al clark, wrote a book about the making of the film. I have been meaning to read that book for almost ten years and, finally, I got round to it.

Al Clark took over the role of producing Stephen Elliot’s 1994 film, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ from his wife, Andrena. This is the tale from the moments of the first location visits to the post-release euphoria that comes from success.

It’s extremely readable for both those who have and haven’t seen the film. You do not have to be a fan of the movie to appreciate the insight into making a film that this book provides. From two years or so of dealing with locals and bush fires, turning Terrance Stamp into a drag queen and getting the music rights to release the movie soundtrack, this book covers the whole experience of movie making.

It’s entertaining, amusing and informative. The only criticism is that it’s too short and there are occasions where you would like to have known more about the film-making process. Having said that, it’s written by the producer rather than the director, and that brings a different slant to the story.

If you’re interested in the process of driving a film from paper idea to multiplex release, this story will add to your understanding.

On this day…

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