Stephen Wallace

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For those of a similar name, see Steve Wallace.
Stephen Wallace
Born Stephen Henry Wallace
(1943-12-23) 23 December 1943 (age 73)
New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Film director

Stephen Wallace (born 23 December 1943 in New South Wales) is an Australian director. His 1984 film The Boy Who Had Everything was entered into the 14th Moscow International Film Festival.[1] His 1986 film For Love Alone was entered into the 37th Berlin International Film Festival.[2]

Short and feature film career[edit]

Stephen Wallace made several short 16mm fiction films and worked at Film Australia as a production assistant and director of documentaries.[3]

Wallace made a series of feature films. His first short feature film was The Love Letters from Teralba Road (1977). His feature directorial debut took place with Stir in 1980, a film based on incarceration and a subsequent Royal Commission. The film proved popular and Wallace stated that it made a profit.[4] In 1984, Wallace directed The Boy Who Had Everything. Wallace's experience of this film was to be one of his first difficult encounters within the directing field; he was unhappy with the casting and found one of the actors hard to work with:

Diane Cilento tried to play working-class, but it just didn't work. Robyn Nevin wanted to play that part, and I think she should have. Jason Connery was very young then and he was very nervous about the film and thought it would ruin his image, and he was never very friendly to me. He did the film, but he thought I was ruining his career.[4]

In 1986, Wallace directed the film adaptation of Christina Stead's novel, For Love Alone. The film was beset with budget and rewriting issues, and Wallace was disappointed by its reception, especially in reviews from feminist and women's magazines.[4] Wallace harboured a regret that he didn't handle the treatment of this film more boldly.[5]

Wallace made Olive in 1987 and Prisoners of the Sun (also known as Blood Oath) in 1990. For the latter film, Wallace felt the writers were not true to the original story, which rendered the film less interesting than the real-life story.[4]

Wallace's final feature film before taking a hiatus from directing was Turtle Beach. Wallace was hired because the financiers who had invested in his movie Blood Oath loved his work and saw him as a good choice. Yet, Wallace said:

I loved the book and I really wanted to make the film. I think in the end the script really wasn't good enough and I had a terrible run-in with the producer on it. It was just a nightmare. I wanted to make a film about Asia again, because I thought Asia was misunderstood in Australia and I thought the more light we can shed on Asians, the better... But unfortunately in the film, it all went haywire because the reason to make the film was wrong... The producers all wanted to make Pretty Woman. I said, "It's not Pretty Woman, it's a film about Asia." I had to fight to get an Indian to play the Indian; it was a struggle from start to finish. There was plenty of money, but I kept compromising on it. I kept compromising about the place where the beach was, about the roughness of the set. I wanted it really rough. Then there was this whole thing about the disco place, which was actually the producer's idea, something he'd seen in Thailand... Also the massacre on the beach. Everyone was worried, the massacre had to be built up, whereas the massacre was wrong - emotionally and morally wrong. All this was pushed and I felt I'd lost control of the film.[4]

Wallace finished the film. He made his cut but was fired from the film and extra scenes were shot. Wallace was given advice to remove his name from the film but didn't:

I should have taken my name off it. I got advised by my agents not to, but I should have. I don't feel the film is mine. A lot of the shots are mine, but extra stuff was shot and my name is on it, so I've got to take responsibility for it. But it's the one film I've made that I feel ashamed of... it was the producers who made it.[4]

Wallace did not direct another feature after Turtle Beach until 2014. At the time, he considered that making this film wrecked his feature film career.[4]

In 2014, it was announced that Wallace was directing again. The low budget film, The Body in the Yard, was set to begin shooting on 28 August 2014, with an all-Australian cast.[6] This film is based on an Australian newspaper story Wallace read back in the 1980s or 90s, about the murder by a husband of his wife; the husband buried his murdered wife in the backyard and continued to live with his girlfriend in the same house.[6] Wallace may look to screening in France first, then consider Australia.[6] As at December 2014, the film was still in the editing stage.[7]

Career beyond feature film directing[edit]

Wallace has worked as an occasional tutor director for Screenwise Australia and as a senior project manager for the Australian Film Commission.[6] He directed 16 full-length plays for schools, as well as directing various TV series, including nine telemovies, four of which were made for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).[6][7] Wallace also runs a workshop known as Growtowski Workshop.[7] Currently Wallace works for the Impulse Theatre Company.[7]

Wallace is on the board of the Australian Directors Guild.[7] He chairs the Australian Screen Directors' Collecting Society.[7]


Stephen Wallace was awarded the A.M. (Order of Australia) in the 2005 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his contributions to the Australian film and television industry as a director and to the Australian Screen Directors' Association.[4][8]



  1. ^ "14th Moscow International Film Festival (1985)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  2. ^ "Berlinale: 1987 Programme". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  3. ^ Danny Torsh, "Love Letters and Stephen Wallace", Cinema Papers, January 1978 p221-223
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Interview with Stephen Wallace", Signis, 21 November 1998 accessed 21 November 2012
  5. ^ David Stratton, "Margaret Fink", Cinema Papers, May 1986 p42
  6. ^ a b c d e "New Film for Screenwise tutor Director Stephen Wallace!", Screenwise, 7 July 2014 accessed 14 December 2014
  7. ^ a b c d e f Stephen Wallace, LinkedIn accessed 14 December 2014
  8. ^

External links[edit]