Flinders’ film expert Dr Nick Prescott has interviewed some of Tinsel Town’s biggest names and analysed some of the world’s greatest blockbusters, as this year he chalks up 15 years of reviewing films for ABC radio – alongside his university role that keeps his feet planted firmly on the (Flinders) ground.
Course Coordinator of the Bachelor of Creative Arts at Flinders, Dr Prescott has witnessed a number of changes in screen since his earliest forays into film-reviewing as a Flinders undergraduate reviewing films for the Empire Times.
“I hope that the fascinating trends we are seeing in mainstream Hollywood now – with films like Black Klansman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Crazy Rich Asians – will continue,” he says.
“These films are changing the way audiences see the representation of gender and different cultural groups on-screen.
“The #MeToo movement and the Weinstein affair has publicly revealed a terrible underbelly of exploitation and corruption that has actually always been a part of Hollywood. Thankfully it hasn’t been the dominant part, but it’s always been there to some degree. Now, though it’s taken the better part of a century, Hollywood finally seems to have gained self-awareness.”
Dr Prescott notes that numerous important issues, including the representation of people of colour onscreen, the paucity of female filmmakers and the lack of powerful central female characters, are now being addressed by the most mainstream of films.
“This can only be a good thing,” he says.
“There’s still a long way to go, but the increasing maturity and inclusivity we have been seeing lately is, I think, a very positive phenomenon.”
Starting on air in 2003, Dr Prescott’s credentials as a film reviewer were cemented after he interviewed Matt Damon, lead actor of the iconic Jason Bourne films – whom he has now interviewed on three separate occasions for the first three films in the franchise.
Currently a regular Thursday evening fixture on ABC891, Dr Prescott looks forward to each week’s segment with the passion he’s always had for film.
“The medium of film is so powerful and it can be so aesthetically beautiful, that one never runs out of things to say about it,” he says.
“It really is a combination of a number of other art forms: photography, writing, performance, music, and so on – it’s an extraordinarily rich art form and I love being able to celebrate it.”
In addition to working with the ABC, Dr Prescott has reviewed for the Australian Book Review, The Conversation, InDaily, and a book called The 100 Greatest Films of Australian Cinema.
Amongst the big-name films he has analysed, some favourites include Fahrenheit 9/11, The Tracker, 10 Canoes, Zero Dark Thirty, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Tree of Life, and Master and Commander, all of which he says are “undeniable masterpieces.”
“More recently, I had the privilege of speaking about Christopher Nolan’s remarkable Dunkirk, Alex Garland’s extraordinary film Ex Machina, and Guillermo del Toro’s stunning Crimson Peak and The Shape of Water,” he adds.
Interacting with some of the biggest stars of film is an enormous perk of the job, with some of Dr Prescott’s interviewees including fellow alumnus Scott Hicks, actress Michelle Monaghan and director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III), Heather Graham, David Wenham, Phillip Noyce, Rolf de Heer, Ray Lawrence, Fred Schepisi, poet and screenwriter Nick Drake, and even Al Gore (co-writer of An Inconvenient Truth and former US Vice President).
But his favourite A-Lister to interview?
“I think my most nerve-wracking and exhilarating moment came when I was able to speak to David Lynch in 2015. He is one of my cinematic heroes, and being involved with interviewing David for the ABC was an extraordinary experience.”
However Dr Prescott says he will never forget two events – meeting the hilarious Dylan Moran of Black Books fame for an in-person interview, and a long conversation with Rutger Hauer, a lead actor of his one of his favourite films of all time, Bladerunner.
“I spoke to Rutger for the release of the five-disc restoration set of Bladerunner, and it was like speaking to someone who had just walked out of the screen of one of my most beloved films!”