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Watch: The Early Works of ‘The Great Gatsby’ Director Baz Luhrmann

Written by on May 9, 2013 

All directors start somewhere. Whether it’s music videos, commercials or short films, the stepping stones for a filmmaker leading up to their feature debut can provide vital exposure and a hint of what’s to come. With our recurring article The Early Works, we dive into the beginnings of a director who has a new film landing in theaters the upcoming weekend.

When one sees the flashy, lavish worlds of Baz Luhrmann, one may have believed this talent had an upbringing not unlike the lifestyle of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s character in The Great Gatsby. But this Australian-born director had rather humble beginnings, growing up in the farm-filled countryside, as his father ran a gas station, as well as a local movie theater. It was here where our director first fell in love with the cinema and enrolled in National Institute of Dramatic Arts.

While he didn’t get behind the camera until 1992, the director earned his chops, unsurprisingly, in the world of theater. Intiallly debuting as a one-act play in 1986, the first iteration of Strictly Ballroom grew into a hit on stage and then became his directorial debut and first film in his “Red Curtain” trilogy. Ranging from his acting debut to a memorable music video to an record-budgeted commercial, dive into Luhrmann’s early work below, as we extend the definition to include his non-feature directional output. And make sure to read our review of his latest film.

Winter of our Dreams (1981)

For our first example, Luhrmann’s debut early work was a decade before he even jumped in the director’s chair. Perhaps little known outside of his native land, his inital foray into the world of cinema was an actor. As a teenager, he made his debut in the John Duigan-directed film Winter of our Dreams, which followed a junkie prostitue in Syndey. Shot in just five weeks, the film was actually a modest hit in Austrialia and one can see a clip of a young Luhrmann and co-star Judy Davis below.

Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (1999)

If you grew up in 90’s then it was impossible to avoid this song. Taken from Mary Schmich‘s 1977 Chicago Tribune column, Baz Luhrmann transformed the text to song format with Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (also referred to as the “Sunscreen Song” on his 1988 remix album Something for Everybody. With the backing of the song Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) by Zambian musician Rozalla, Luhrmann recruited Quindon Tarver, who contributed to his Romeo+Juliet soundtrack for this work. Check out the music video below in all of its MTV glory.

See more from Luhrmann on the next page >>

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