Australian director-writer Stephan Elliott sees his latest project, comedy “Flammable Children,” starring Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue, as “the ‘Priscilla’ reunion,” referring to his film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” an audience favorite at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994 and BAFTA winner.
“I’m going to see if lightning strikes twice,” said Elliott, who hopes to have it ready for next year’s Cannes. “My last two films have not been ready for Cannes, so they’ve asked me when the hell am I going to come back.” He is in Cannes this week to help sales agent WestEnd Films promote the project.
“Flammable Children,” which is produced by Al Clark and Jamie Hilton, reunites several of Elliott’s collaborators on drag-queen road movie “Priscilla,” including Pearce, who launched his international career with the film, Clark, Oscar-nominated production designer Colin Gibson (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), Oscar-winning costume designer Lizzy Gardiner (“Mission: Impossible 2”), BAFTA-nominated score composer Guy Gross (“Knowing”), and film editor Emmy-Award nominee Sue Blainey (“Lost”).
“Flammable Children” is set in an Australian beach suburb in the mid-1970s and centers on 14-year-old Jeff as he tries to find his feet in a world changing faster than his hormones, and deal with his crush on sensitive girl-next-door girl Melly. Meanwhile, their eccentric parents are catching up with the sexual revolution.
When Minogue read the script she agreed at once to join the cast. “I know where I am,” she told Elliott. He got a similar response from other cast and crew members. “The script means so much to a lot of people,” he said, adding that it appeals to the same fun-loving urge evoked by “Priscilla.” “It’s going to be as outrageous, noisy, colorful, fun and heart-wrenching.”
The starting point for the film came when Elliott watched Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm” in New York, and the partner-swapping scene brought back memories of the sexual antics of his parents and their friends. “I walked onto the sidewalk and threw up,” he says. However, the thing that stayed in his memory of his parents’ behavior was the unintentional hilarity it provoked. “It was just hysterical. So I said one day I’ll make that film in my own world and make it how it should have been… very funny.”
He started collecting stories from his childhood friends and their parents, and “Flammable Children” is the result.
Much of the humor stems from how his parents and their parent misinterpreted the sexual revolution, he says. Meanwhile the kids were left to run wild, and find their own way through puberty. The period helped define who Elliott is now. “It is almost about how ‘Priscilla’ came to be — a lot of stuff that happened at that time formed me as a person. I’ve been called the most fabulous car crash in the world, which I am quite happy to admit I am. My entire sense of humor comes from this growing-up period, which was brilliant, breath-taking and completely bananas.”
The film, now in pre-production, will shoot in the autumn.