Brian Medwin Trenchard-Smith
1946 (age 75–76)
|Alma mater||Wellington College|
|Occupation||Film director, film producer, screenwriter, actor, author|
Brian Medwin Trenchard-Smith (born 1946) is an English-Australian filmmaker and author, known for his idiosyncratic and satirical low-budget genre films. His filmography covers action, science fiction, martial arts, dystopian fiction, comedy, war, family, thriller, romance and erotica, and his works tend to be cross-genre pieces.
After gaining experience as a writer and editor of film trailers, Trenchard-Smith made documentary films for Australian television, many of which focused on stunt performers and martial artists, including his frequent collaborator Grant Page. He made his directorial debut with The Man from Hong Kong (1975), the first film to be produced as an international co-production between Australia and Hong Kong. Many of Trenchard-Smith's films over the next decade became notable examples of the Ozploitation cycle, including Deathcheaters (1976), Stunt Rock (1978), Turkey Shoot (1982), BMX Bandits (1983), Frog Dreaming (1986) and Dead End Drive-In (1986).
Trenchard-Smith moved to Hollywood in 1990, and has since primarily directed made-for-television and direct-to-video films. His other notable works include The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989), Night of the Demons 2 (1994), Leprechaun 3 (1995), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Happy Face Murders (1999), Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001), DC 9/11: Time of Crisis (2003), Aztec Rex (2007), Chemistry (2011), Absolute Deception (2013) and Drive Hard (2014). His debut novel, The Headsman's Daughter (later retitled Alice Through the Multiverse), was self-published in 2016. Several of Trenchard-Smith's films have garnered cult followings and have been subject to critical re-evaluation, and he has also been cited as one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite directors.
Trenchard-Smith was born in England, the son of a senior officer of the Royal Air Force (RAF), and lived for a time in Libya, where his father was stationed. His family moved to RAF Odiham, Hampshire and he made his first film at the age of 15 on 8mm, a 2-minute short called The Duel. The following year he made the ten-minute The Chase about a lunatic who escapes from an asylum and chases a boy around the countryside with a bayonet.
He was commissioned to make a film about his school, Wellington College, for prospective parents. He showed this around once he left school, and it helped him get work as an editor's assistant and camera assistant with a French news company in London. However he was unable to get into the union so he moved to Australia in 1965 (his father was Australian).
Australian television and trailers
Trenchard-Smith worked at Channel Ten as an editor, doing news, documentaries and station promos. He moved over to Channel 9 to work as promotions director, then in 1968 he returned to England and went to work in London as a junior writer/producer of feature film trailers at the National Screen Service.
In 1970 he returned to Channel 9 as network promotions director, and made his directorial debut with a French TV special Christmas in Australia. He followed it with a series of other specials: Marty Feldman in Australia (1972), The Big Screen Scene (1972), For Valor (1972), Inside Alvin Purple (1972).
After two years at Channel 9 Trenchard Smith formed his own production company, Trenchard Productions, borrowed $16,000 and made a one-hour television special about stuntmen called The Stuntmen featuring Grant Page. This was a success.
Trenchard-Smith was going to Hong Kong to make an $8,000 documentary on Bruce Lee called The World of Kung Fu but arrived on the day Lee died. He turned the documentary into a tribute on Lee, and in the course of making it met Raymond Chow. Trenchard-Smith made another TV special, Kung Fu Killers (1974), featuring Page and George Lazenby. Throughout this decade Trenchard-Smith also worked cutting trailers.
Trenchard-Smith made the sex-orientated semi-documentary The Love Epidemic (1975) which was made for $33,000. It was theatrically released and made a small profit.
The Man from Hong Kong
Trenchard-Smith's Hong Kong connections enabled him to make his dramatic feature film debut with the action movie The Man from Hong Kong (1975), the first Australian-Hong Kong co production. Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby and Grant Page, the film was made for The Movie Company, a production company half owned by Trenchard-Smith and Greater Union, and Golden Harvest. The film sold well around the world and established Trenchard-Smith as an action director.
Trenchard Smith then made the TV documentary Danger Freaks for the Movie Company before Greater Union pulled out of the organisation and it was wound up.
Trenchard Smith then made another action feature film, Deathcheaters (1976), starring Grant Page, which performed disappointingly at the box office. He spent nine months on a proposed film that never got up, The Siege of Sydney (aka Pillage Squad).
First American films
Trenchard-Smith then made a film in the US called Stunt Rock (1978) which he once called "probably the worst film I have made" although it has become a cult classic. It starred Grant Page and the US band Sorcery.
He followed this with Day of the Assassin (1979), where he replaced the original director just before filming began.
Trenchard-Smith returned to cutting trailers for various Australian films. Producer Antony I. Ginnane hired him to cut together footage of films during production to raise additional finance. These included Harlequin and The Survivor. Ginnane then hired Trenchard-Smith to direct Turkey Shoot (1982).
His work on that film got him the job of rewriting and directing the children's film, BMX Bandits (1983), which starred Nicole Kidman. He was announced as director of Blowing Hot and Cold but did not make it in the end.
He followed it with a melodrama which he co-wrote, Jenny Kissed Me (1985), then another action film, Dead End Drive-In (1986). Neither was successful at the box office but the latter has developed a strong cult reputation.
Trenchard-Smith was hired for another "rescue operation" when the decision was made to sack the director of Day of the Panther (1987) during filming. This film was shot back to back with a sequel Strike of the Panther.
Move to Hollywood
In January 1990 Trenchard Smith moved to Hollywood. He has said that when he left Australia "I was possibly a medium-sized fish in one of cinema's smaller ponds" and when he arrived he "immediately became plankton." (In 2001 he wrote "I believe I have now evolved into a sardine. My career goal is to become a dolphin, playfully cruising through a variety of genres on adequate budgets.")
He established himself by attaching himself "to as much material as possible. Sling enough mud at the wall, something will stick." He also earned a reputation for reliability. "Deliver the goods, above and beyond creative and fiscal expectations. Mr Reliable is a popular guy. Specialise in the difficult. No task too great, no budget too small. Work breeds work, particularly if you leave your producers smiling rather than unhappy. Low-budget genre film making does not mean you have to check your personality at the door."
He returned to Australia to make Official Denial (1993) on the Gold Coast. Back in the US he did Night of the Demons 2 (1994) and Leprechaun 3 (1995). He went back to Australia to make Sahara (1995), then did Escape Clause (1996), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Doomsday Rock (1997), Atomic Dog (1998), and Voyage of Terror (1998).
Trenchard-Smith made the true crime film Happy Face Murders (1999), which is one of his favourite movies.
Since 1975, Trenchard-Smith has been married to Dr. Margaret Gerard Trenchard-Smith (née Enger), an American Byzantine historian and retired actress whom he had cast in Deathcheaters, Stunt Rock, Out of the Body and The Siege of Firebase Gloria. They have two sons, Eric and Alexander, and live in Oregon, where they own pet deer. His hobbies include history and épée fencing, for which he has held a lifelong passion.
Trenchard Smith once said this of his own films:
There is something you always get in a Trenchard-Smith movie: pace, a strong visual sense, and what the movie is actually about told to you very persuasively. Whatever I do, I'll still be applying a sense of pace: trying to find where the joke is and trying to make the film look a lot bigger than it cost.
He says his main advice for directing is:
Be a good leader, kind father, energetic brigade commander to your cast and crew; no one gives their best in an atmosphere of blame and fear, as happens on big star driven movies; humor is much more effective in team management; try to make your own enthusiasm for the project contagious to everybody. Then pick locations that have natural production value... Plan well. Shot list. Make every hour of shooting count.
His favourite among his own movies are The Man From Hong Kong, BMX Bandits, Dead End Drive In, The Siege Of Firebase Gloria, Night Of The Demons 2 and Happy Face Murders.
List of works
Theatrical and video features
|1975||The Love Epidemic||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Semi-documentary|
|The Man from Hong Kong||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Role: Martial Arts Heavy|
|1976||Deathcheaters||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Role: Hit & Run Director|
|1978||Stunt Rock||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Role: Himself (uncredited)|
|Hospitals Don't Burn Down!||Yes||No||No||No||Semi-documentary short film|
|1979||Day of the Assassin||Yes||No||No||No|
|1980||The Dangerous Summer||Yes||No||No||No||Documentary short film|
|1982||Blood Tide||No||No||Co-producer||No||Also creative consultant|
|Turkey Shoot||Yes||Uncredited||No||Yes||Role: Officer arresting Paul (uncredited)|
|Jenny Kissed Me||Yes||No||No||No|
|Dead End Drive-In||Yes||No||No||No|
|1988||Day of the Panther||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Strike of the Panther||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Out of the Body||Yes||No||No||No|
|1989||The Siege of Firebase Gloria||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|1994||Night of the Demons 2||Yes||No||No||No|
|1996||Leprechaun 4: In Space||Yes||No||No||No|
|2001||Megiddo: The Omega Code 2||Yes||No||No||No|
|2006||In Her Line of Fire||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|2009||Pimpin' Pee Wee||Yes||No||No||No|
|2013||Absolute Deception||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Role: Police Commissioner (uncredited)|
Television and web
|1972||Marty Feldman in Australia||Yes||No||No||Documentaries|
|The Big Screen Scene||Yes||No||No|
|The World of Kung Fu||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inside Alvin Purple||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1974||Kung Fu Killers||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The Making of Stone||Yes||No||No|
|1976||Danger Freaks||Yes||Yes||Yes||Documentary miniseries|
Also additional photography and self
|1984-5||Five Mile Creek||Yes||No||No||2 episodes|
|Silk Stalkings||Yes||No||No||5 episodes|
|1993||Time Trax||Yes||No||No||2 episodes|
|Official Denial||Yes||No||No||TV film|
|1994||High Tide||Yes||No||No||Episode: "Sitting Ducks"|
|The Last Bullet||No||Yes||No|
|Voyage of Terror||Yes||No||No|
|1999||Happy Face Murders||Yes||No||No|
|The Others||Yes||No||No||Episode: "Unnamed"|
|2002||Seconds to Spare||Yes||Yes||No||TV films|
|Sightings: Heartland Ghost||Yes||No||No|
|2003||The Paradise Virus||Yes||No||Yes|
|DC 9/11: Time of Crisis||Yes||No||No|
|2006||Long Lost Son||Yes||No||No|
|Malibu Shark Attack||No||No||Yes||TV films|
|1977||The Last Wave||Promotional consultant|
|1991||Delta Force 3: The Killing Game||Creative consultant|
|2000||Crash and Byrnes||Second unit director and creative consultant|
|2007||Ice Spiders||Creative consultant|
- Alice Through the Multiverse (2016, originally published as The Headsman's Daughter): ISBN 978-1983540868
- Adventures in the B Movie Trade (2020): ISBN 979-8674846086
- Bad Fruit (1976) – he was to be executive producer on this proposed $350,000 Keith Salvat project about people in Sydney in the early 1950s.
- Siege of Sydney (1977) – project written by Michael Cove which Trenchard-Smith wanted to make after Deathcheaters about ex-CIA operatives who plant a nuclear device on Pinchgut Island and demand $5 million. The intended budget was $450,000, and Trenchard-Smith raised $200,000 from Cinema International Corporation, but they pulled out after the box office failure of Black Sunday (1977)
- Time Warp (c. 1980) – a $20 million science fiction film for The Walt Disney Company which was to be made in 1982 but was put on the back burner after the disappointing performance of The Black Hole (1979)
- Blowing Hot and Cold (1984) – originally announced as director
- Avengers of the South Seas (1984) – $4.6 million action adventure to be set in South China seas to reunite him with the producer and writer of BMX Bandits
- Roadwars (circa 1987) – film about modern gladiators set in the near future from the producer and writer of BMX Bandits
- The Executioner's Daughter (2003) – a "time-twisting paranormal thriller" for which Trenchard-Smith wrote a screenplay that was twice optioned for considerable amounts of money, but could not enter pre-production when neither Scarlett Johansson nor Keira Knightley could be engaged to play the protagonist. The rights were sold back to him, and he rewrote the screenplay as a novel that was self-published in 2016 under the title of The Headsman's Daughter. A revised and expanded edition of the novel, Alice Through the Multiverse, was released in 2018.
- Weekend Warriors (2013) - thriller about a young soldier who must save his comrades and brother from his vengeful mentor, announced as an Australian/UK co-production between Trenchard-Smith's frequent colleague David Hannay and The Spice Factory. Although casting was announced to be underway in 2013, no further announcements have been made.
- Sword Point (2013) - sports drama about a Chinese gymnast who takes up fencing; the project was intended to be Trenchard-Smith's tribute to the sport. Although he and Stunt Rock producer Martin Fink shopped the film to several Chinese production companies to have the film made as an Australian/Chinese co-production, no further announcements have been made.
- US/UK movies: Landraiders, Crossplot, Mission: Impossible vs. the Mob, Once Upon a Time in the West, A Man Called Sledge, Destiny of a Spy, Run a Crooked Mile, Take a Girl Like You, The Last Grenade, The Virgin Soldiers, The File of the Golden Goose, Hell Boats, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, The Horror of Frankenstein, Moon Zero Two, The Vampire Lovers, Julius Caesar, Kill Them All and Come Back Alone, The Bellstone Fox, The Italian Job
- Australian movies: Libido, Sunstruck, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mad Dog Morgan, The Love Epidemic, The Man from Hong Kong, Deathcheaters, Petersen, Break of Day, Summerfield, The Irishman, Snapshot, Thirst, The Survivor, The FJ Holden, The Journalist, The Last Wave, Money Movers, Blue Fin, Long Weekend, My Brilliant Career, In Search of Anna, The Fourth Wish, Stone
Brian Trenchard-Smith had cast certain actors in more than one of his films.
|The Love Epidemic||Kung Fu Killers||The Man from Hong Kong||Deathcheaters||Stunt Rock||Turkey Shoot||BMX Bandits||Frog Dreaming||Dead End Drive-In||Jenny Kissed Me||Out of the Body||Day of the Panther||Strike of the Panther||The Siege of Firebase Gloria||Night of the Demons 2||Leprechaun 3||Sahara||Leprechaun 4: In Space||Happy Face Murders||Megiddo: The Omega Code 2||Absolute Deception|
- Not Quite Hollywood
- Brennan, Richard, 'Brian Trenchard-Smith', Cinema Papers, Dec-Jan 1979-80
- Jones, Brian, 'A Horse for all courses', Cinema Papers, March 1986 p 27-28
- "Alice Through The Multiverse Kindle Edition". Amazon.com. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- Moore, Tony (16 August 2008). "Larrikin streak". The Australian. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2008.
- "Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview", Daily Grindhouse accessed 8 February 2013
- "Interview with Brian Trenchard Smith", Joblo.com, 5 August 2011 accessed 8 February 2013
- Jones p27
- "My Interview with Brian Trenchard Smith", Soldier of Cinema, 26 December 2010 accessed 24 October 2012
- Brennan p599
- Brian Trenchard-Smith, 'Kung Fu Killers', Australian Centre for the Moving Image – Australian Perspective Essays, August 2008 Archived 28 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "BATTLING IT OUT— HUNG FU STYLE". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 41, no. 48. Australia. 1 May 1974. p. 21. Retrieved 29 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- "WHO'S DOING WHAT". Filmnews. Vol. 7, no. 6. New South Wales, Australia. 1 July 1977. p. 5. Retrieved 29 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- "WHO'S DOING WHAT". Filmnews. Vol. 7, no. 3. New South Wales, Australia. 1 April 1977. p. 14. Retrieved 29 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- on YouTube at Film Australia's You Tube channel
- Brennan p602
- Brian Trenchard-Smith, 'No Film for Chickens', Australian Centre for the Moving Image – Australian Perspective Essays, 23 June 2008 Archived 28 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- 'Check out a 16-year-old Nicole Kidman! Her first director says she had 'IT' by Chris Nashawaty, Inside Movies, 6 March 2011
- "Whitely to star in film". The Canberra Times. Vol. 58, no. 17, 744. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 28 April 1984. p. 18. Retrieved 29 August 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
- Trenchard-Smith, Brian (11 August 2001). "HOLLYWOOD SURVIVOR". Daily Telegraph.
- 'Brian Trenchard-Smith on 'BMX Bandits,' Forgotten Gems and the Current State of the Film Industry' by Peter Hall, Cinephone, 21 Mar 2011
- Trenchard-Smith, Margaret. "Margaret Trenchard-Smith". Academia.edu. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- "The Wizard of Oz: An Interview with Brian Trenchard Smith", Screen Highway, 22 May 2012 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine accessed 24 October 2012
- Bryan Van Campen, "Interview with Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith", Ithaca.com, 14 November 2012 accessed 8 February 2013
- "Production Survey", Cinema Papers, June–July 1976 p61
- Brennan p601
- Brennan p603
- "Production Survey", Cinema Papers, August 1984 p259
- "Production Survey", Cinema Papers, September 1987 p66
- Groves, Don (19 June 2016). "Tarantino Favorite Brian Trenchard-Smith Publishes 'The Headsman's Daughter' Novel". Forbes. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- Ramachandran, Naman (20 June 2013). "Trenchard-Smith boards Weekend Warriors". SBS. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- Groves, Don (24 June 2013). "Brian Trenchard-Smith looks to China". IF Magazine. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- Brennan p674