Backstage (1988 film)

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Directed byJonathan Hardy
Produced byPeter Boyle
Geoff Burrowes
Written byJonathan Hardy
Frank Howson
John D. Lamond
StarringLaura Branigan
Michael Aitkens
Noel Ferrier
Rowena Wallace
Music byBruce Rowland
CinematographyKeith Wagstaff
Edited byRay Daley
Release date
  • 30 March 1988 (1988-03-30) (Australia)
Running time
94 minutes
BudgetA$7 million[1][2]
Box officeA$8,000 (Australia)[3]

Backstage is a 1988 Australian film starring American singer Laura Branigan. The film was written and directed by Academy Award nominee Jonathan Hardy, who had also written Breaker Morant.[4]


The plot centred on American pop singer Kate Lawrence (Branigan) wanting to embark on a career as an actress. The only job she can find is playing the lead role in an Australian theatre production of The Green Year Passes. The hiring of an American causes conflict with her Australian cast and crew, and the chagrin of theatre critic Robert Landau with whom she has an affair.


In 1981 Frank Howson set up a company, Boulevard Films, with a view to making movies. He wanted to make a film on Les Darcy, Something Great, and collaborated with Jonathan Hardy on the script. They could not secure financing but Hardy showed Howson some other scripts he had written, including Backstage. Backstage had originally been meant to be directed in 1982 by John Lamond starring Max Phipps, Jill Perryman and Steve Tandy but the film did not eventuate.[5]

Howson and Hardy decided to work on Backstage together, with the story being relocated to the music world. Howson got Laura Branigan interested in the lead. The Burrowes Film Group needed to make another film before the end of the financial year and offered to raise the budget.[6]

Frank Howson original thought that the involvement of the Burrowes Film Group would be limited but found they wanted to have more creative control. "I knew very clearly what audience it should be made for", said Howson, "but all of a sudden I found myself dealing with production by committee. To even make the smallest decision required everyone sitting around the table."[7]

Matters reached an impasse when Howson and Burrowes fought over who would compose the music. Burrowes fired Howson's composer, John Capek, and replaced him with Bruce Rowlands, then Burrowes bought Boulevard out of the film.[6]

Filming started 7 March 1986.


The film was briefly released theatrically in Australia, before being released on home video internationally. Allmovie calls it an "insipid and cliché-ridden romantic comedy", although Variety conceded the film was "well crafted in every department". David Stratton called the film " neither funny nor romantic, and will do little for the careers of anyone involved in it."[8] The film received bad reviews generally.[9]

Branigan also performed several songs in the film.

The funding of the film was investigated in an episode of ABC's Four Corners.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Australian Productions Top $175 million", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p64
  2. ^ "TV.CHESS.X WORD". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 5 January 1986. p. 12. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Australian Films at the Australian Box Office", Film Victoria Archived 9 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine accessed 24 October 2009
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (30 December 2019). "10 Aussie '80s Films That Attempted to Jazz Up Things with an Inappropriate Rock Soundtrack". Filmink.
  5. ^ "Pete Smith". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 24 February 1982. p. 124. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p196-197
  7. ^ Paul Kalina, "Boulevard Films", Cinema Papers, November 1989 p42-43
  8. ^ David Stratton, "COMEDY OF HORRORS", Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 1988 p 12
  9. ^ "Is there creative life after 10BA?". Filmnews (Sydney, NSW : 1975 - 1995). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 1 May 1988. p. 8. Retrieved 24 December 2015.

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