Patched, painting and plenty of coffee!
Maleny is home to many creatives, and this month Victoria McGuin caught up with a local artist and an actor/writer who, between them, have been nurturing a feature film and an Archibald Prize entry. Theirs is a story of friendship, forging a personal path and trusting that things will unfold as they should.
By Victoria McGuin
I first heard of Colin ‘Spida’ Dixon when he shared the news with other HT members of his independent feature film, soon to be filmed in Maleny. Keen to know more I arranged to meet with Spida over coffee, along with his good friend, Satya Demasson. And so began a symbiotic interview of praise, life stories and good humour.
“We’ve been having coffee once a week for years,” began Spida. “We used to sit outside the Upfront Club, the ‘unlikely lads’. It was a great place with live music.”
Spida has lived here for 22 years, Satya for 30; both from different paths. “I went to art college in Perth in the ‘70s,” said Satya. “Much later, in 2006, I studied portrait technique in Spain with world famous realist painter, Daniel E. Greene.”
Sayta ran a successful graphic design business for many years before retiring and focussing on his art again. “I exhibit at The Antique Guild, Brisbane, and sell a lot of my work there, the rest is mainly word-of-mouth.”
At this point Spida has his laptop open and I see a huge, striking painting of him. “This is Satya’s Archibald Prize entry this year,” Spida said, “he’s an incredibly talented artist, and I think he deserves recognition, although he won’t promote himself!”
For those who may not be aware, the Archibald Prize was the first major prize for portraiture in Australia, which began in 1921, with previous winners including Jon Molvig, William Pidgeon, Nora Heysen and Del Kathryn Barton.
“I like to express the beauty in life,” continued Satya, “particularly the human form in portraits.” Satya is also curator of the biannual Obi Art Prize Queensland, which will have its second competition this year.
Spida’s story is different, but just as interesting. A painter and handyman for years, he was living on the Gold Coast and came up to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for his honeymoon, the timing of which proved serendipitous.
“We looked at some real estate while we were in town, and the lease on a property here expired on the same day as our house on the Gold Coast.”
Then, about six years ago, Spida was asked to play a jail inmate for a day by a friend. “Can’t think why they’d cast me as that!” he laughed.
“I turned up, they started filming, then they asked me afterwards to come along for the next three weeks! After that I started doing small parts in adverts, a TV series, then feature films. I also directed a couple of ads and started writing.
“I wrote and produced a short film a few years ago, which was well received, and so I decided to write a feature, which I’ve been doing for the past three years. There were hiccups with the finances, so we’ve now gone with incredibly generous private funders, and we’re looking at filming for six weeks, starting in July.”
Satya interjected, “Watching Spida go through the process, from sitting over a coffee saying, ‘I’m going to write a movie’, to actually getting the backing, the director and the actors – I take my hat off to his consistency and passion.
“To take it from an idea to see it happen with the people he has…that was one of the reasons for doing his portrait for the Archibald.”
Spida said, “When we started talking about this, Satya had a role and I was the lead, but it keeps stepping up. Now I have a bit part and Sayta…” They both laughed and shrugged their shoulders.
The film is called Patched, and centres around a small town and a local outlaw motorcycle club. “It’s a dig at the government,” explained Spida. “New laws come in which causes local members to lose their business because they’re tagged ‘criminals’ because of their business.
“The law causes a reaction, which then cements the government’s belief. But they create the reaction.”
Spida believes biker clubs (“I don’t like the word ‘gangs’”) have been portrayed incorrectly. “About $400 million is spent on biker laws, but only $100 million on domestic violence – there’s something very wrong there.”
The film has attracted the attention of some impressive names in the industry, with Steve Mann (Blue Heelers) on board as director and actor Gary Sweet in one of the main roles. “Gary is happy to play a bikie, as he usually plays a policeman,” said Spida with a big smile.
One of the main cast members was in Sons of Anarchy, Spida added, “and actress Kim Wilson has also put her hat in the ring.” The list continues to impress, with Uncle Jack Charles, Tony Nixon, Don Bridges and Mirko Grillini all joining the cast.
“The greatest pleasure out of the process for me, is the willingness of major actors to come on board and help me fulfil my dream to make this movie,” shared Spida. “I think we’ve created a family atmosphere with this film.”
Support has also come from closer to home, with local businesses on board through sponsorship and the police are also supportive of the project.
“We did a post for being involved in a film in Maleny and over 1000 people applied. We have a few locals involved in acting and behind the scenes, which is great.”
The next few months will be busy and rewarding for these two friends, and Spida and Satya seem to almost express amused surprise at everything that has transpired of late – but with their tenacity, passion and humour, it doesn’t surprise me at all.
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