Martin Fabinyi

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Martin Fabinyi
Occupation producer, director, screenwriter
Years active 1972–present

Martin Fabinyi is an Australian film and television producer and director, songwriter and screenwriter and has written books on the local rock music scene. He was the chief executive officer of Mushroom Pictures from its formation in 1995 to 2009. His film projects include the features Chopper (2000), Gettin' Square (2003) and Macbeth (2006). In 2001, Fabinyi was named one of the top ten international producers to watch by Variety and one of the most influential people in the Australian film industry by Screen International magazine.

In 1978, Fabinyi and composer, Cameron Allan, formed the Regular Records label, initially for releases by pop and R&B band, Mental As Anything, which were soon managed by his younger brother, Jeremy.


Martin Fabinyi was born in Melbourne, the second son of Dr Andrew Fabinyi, who left Budapest in 1938 and arrived in Melbourne in 1939. He was to become one of the most influential book publishers in Australia, discovering new writers such as Joan Lindsay, David Malouf, Robin Boyd, Alan Marshall and many others.

Andrew Fabinyi was president of the Australian Book Publisher's Association and president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Married to Elisabeth Robinson in 1940, he had five children. His eldest, Margaret, and second daughter Janet, are social workers and eldest son Gavin is a leading neurosurgeon and former President of the Australian Society of Neurosurgeons. The youngest, Jeremy, was a filmmaker in New York and Milan and returned to Australia to manage the band Mental Anything. He subsequently became the managing director of Festival Records and Head of the Performing Rights Association in Paris and then London.[1]

Fabinyi was educated at Wesley College, Melbourne, he then spent two years studying drama at Flinders University in Adelaide from 1969 where he founded and edited the student newspaper Empire Times and mobilised the student body against the Vietnam war.

In 1972 he moved to Sydney and joined the Filmmakers Co-op, which at the time not only counted experimental film makers such as Albie Thoms, Aggy Read and Mick Glasheen as members, but also filmmakers who would become some of the most popular and commercial directors including Peter Weir, Phillip Noyce and Bruce Beresford. Fabinyi, who had shot independent works in Adelaide, received a grant from the Experimental Film Board to make The Vacuum, one of the first projects in Australia to be shot on portable videotape. A satire on the personalities behind religious cults, featuring a game show starring Johnny O'Keefe and drag act Sylvia and the Synthetics, the video premiered at the Co-op and toured universities with a live performance from the Synthetics and Fabinyi's earlier work, including the controversial TV Dinner, which polarised audiences due its uncompromising and unerotic sexual subject matter. Fabinyi, who was influenced by German artist Otto Muehl, continued to work in video and was a founding member of Bush Video, the group which wired up and broadcast on-site during the 1973 Aquarius Festival in Nimbin, an event that has become the epitome of the hippie movement. In 1974 Fabinyi received a grant to screen a selection of Australian experimental films in London which was warmly received.

He continued working with the group Sylvia and the Synthetics in performance art and was invited to participate in the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1975. His piece, which involved nudity and video (the audience only seeing the video and therefore not sure whether the event was live or not) was staged in a tent next to the Torrens River and attracted the attention of the local police who claimed they could see behind the screens and charged Fabinyi with "Aiding and abetting an indecent act". Whilst the Adelaide Festival organisers debated whether to show the video across the city (that year monitors screened events on most city street corners), Fabinyi was in court. Eventually, after an appeal was lost, he was sentenced to three months hard labour. This was reported in Sydney by Richard Neville in the Nation Review as an outrage, prompting still more debate.

Fabinyi returned to Sydney and the world of rock and roll, teaming with photographer Philip Morris for the book, The Bumper Book of Rock. He and Philip designed record covers, photo shoots and documented the 1970s Sydney scene and the life of Johnny O'Keefe.

Fabinyi began writing scripts for directors Phillip Noyce, Jim Sharman and Michael Thornhill, and with composer Cameron Allan. Allan and Fabinyi also shared a passion for pop music and Sydney-based band Mental As Anything became the first signing for their new label, Regular Records, formed in September 1978.[2] The band were soon managed by his brother, Jeremy.[1][2] Although distributed by Festival Records,[1] Regular Records remained as an independent label for fifteen years, breaking artists such as Icehouse, Austen Tayshus and Kate Ceberano. In 1986, with music journalist, Toby Creswell, he co-wrote Too Much Ain't Enough, a biography of pub rocker and former Cold Chisel vocalist Jimmy Barnes.[3]

In 1990, Fabinyi was appointed editor of Follow Me Gentlemen, the men's fashion version of Follow Me. Changing the name to FMG, the magazine was a precursor to men's fashion and general magazines. In 1999, Fabinyi and Creswell co-authored The Real Thing, a history of Australian rock and roll between 1957 and the late 1990s.

When Regular Records was sold to its distributor, Mushroom Pictures began with documentaries, for the ABC, Discovery Channel and the Nine Network. Titles such as Tribal Voice featuring Yothu Yindi, Kate Ceberano & Friends, Next To Nothing and Nothing to Hide (on lingerie and swimwear) and The Singer and The Swinger (the story of Johnny O'Keefe and Lee Gordon) cemented Mushroom's documentary credentials.

In 2000, Mushroom Pictures produced and released the horror feature spoof Cut starring Molly Ringwald and Kylie Minogue, which was sold worldwide and achieved box office success in Europe and Asia. Mushroom Pictures' second feature, Chopper, which Fabinyi executive produced, was the first Australian "R” rated feature to go No. 1, grossing over $5 million. It became a worldwide cult phenomena and launched the careers of both director Andrew Dominik and actor Eric Bana. Mushroom Pictures moved into local distribution with Russian Doll. In 2003, Fabinyi produced Gettin' Square, directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and starring David Wenham and Sam Worthington, which garnered box office success and critical acclaim. This was followed by Geoffrey Wright's take on Macbeth, also starring Sam Worthington. Mushroom Pictures moved back to television with Great Australian Albums Volumes 1 & 2, an eight-hour documentary set of the most influential Australian bands for SBS Television. It was described by Graeme Blundell in The Australian as one of the most important local documentary series ever produced. Mushroom Pictures distributed the US documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil and Cedar Boys, and will distribute the Australian feature Mad Bastards in 2010. Fabinyi left Mushroom Pictures in 2009 and works independently as both a producer and writer.



  • The Swinger and the Singer (1999) (Executive Producer)
  • Cut (2000) (Producer)
  • Chopper (2000) (Executive Producer)
  • Horseplay (2003) (Executive Producer)
  • Gettin' Square (2003) (Producer)
  • Wolf Creek (2005) (Executive Producer)
  • Macbeth (2006) (Producer)
  • Great Australian Albums (2007) (Executive Producer)
  • Bait (2011) (Co-Executive Producer)
  • Dirt Music (2011)

Awards & nominations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nimmervoll, Ed. "Mental As Anything". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Mental as Anything'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 13 August 2004. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Creswell, Toby; Fabinyi, Martin (1986). Too Much Ain't Enough. Milsons Point, NSW: Random House. ISBN 0-09-182818-X. 
  4. ^ "X". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Bumper Book of Rock". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "Too Much Ain't Enough". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 19 March 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Real Thing: Adventures in Australian Rock & Roll". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 19 March 2009. 

External links[edit]