It’s hot all across North America this morning and the air hangs heavy even in the pre-dawn hours. Unlike those who complain about the heat, I revel in it; born in the Great White North but with a life compass endlessly seeking Marguerittaville.
The intensity of this current heat wave, however, got me thinking of the day we wrapped my last episode on “Beastmaster”, filming a battle scene with elephants at 130 degrees and the humidity hovering around 98%.
I was in Heaven.
Besides the perfect weather and opportunity to spend my days with tigers and elephants, one of the great joys of that series was being exposed to Australia’s magnificent artistic talent pool.
It never ceased to amaze me how a country half the population of my own continuously churned out not only such a high calibre of talent, but talent so self-assured and independent.
Like Canada, Australia faces the same threat of cultural dominance from Hollywood and the American media. And like us, they’ve put all kinds of support systems in place to help their artists present their nation’s uniqueness to the world.
But unlike us, I never heard the constant whining about cuts to funding or saw artists panic or go into paroxysms of depression when the Government didn’t seem to be backing their dreams.
They just found another way to follow that dream, a different method to tell their stories, another level of talent to bring to the fore.
Among my favorite actors on “Beastmaster’ was Jackson Raine, not only supremely talented but the kind of guy who regularly saves a production’s ass in the time and budget strangled world of series television.
As the Beastmaster’s more cerebral sidekick Tao, Jackson had a thankless role. His muscled buddy always got the big action scenes, the best of the villains and the girl in the end. He mostly got to be beaten up, kidnapped, dumped in jeopardy and threatened with imminent death.
But he was also the “go-to” guy whenever we were in trouble. Because no matter what kind of pages you handed Jackson or the fact that you put them into his hands moments before they needed to be shot, he always transformed them into TV gold.
For me, he also always symbolized the Australian artistic spirit that said, “Nothing will keep me from reaching my audience”.
Since “Beastmaster”, Jackson has gone on to other notable TV and movie roles as well as writing and directing.
This week a music video he produced and directed for Australia’s “Crooked Saint” (featuring Tim Wheatley formerly of “The Sparrows”) made its debut – suitably matching the zeitgeist by being titled “Hot & Heavy”.
It’s a great song, nicely augmented in its video version. Perfect for either those moments when the heat lays you out or finally lifts on a momentary hopeful breeze.
Available on iTunes or right here – where nothing stops us from reaching our audience either.
Enjoy Your Sunday.