It's all in good fun!

A Weekend in the Country: A History of the Meredith Music Festival (2006)

Director: Robert McCafferty

Tagline: One of the world's greatest music festivals finally on screen

I admit I have not had the opportunity to go to Meredith as yet as it always sells out really quickly and I never seem to know anyone who is going. I have been closer to it than I thought though as I stood right next to Chris Nolan and his family at the Dirty Three concert at the Spanish Club. The way Joel Silbersher talked to the family that night I knew there was something special about them.

The documentary kicks off with a bang with You Am I's performance in 2005. One of the best things about this film is that it shows full performances of the bands in question. It is always frustrating in music documentaries when they only show clips from a band as it is meant to be about the music and it is a total tease to not let you see that.

The archival footage of the first few years of the festival was great as in 1991 the festival was held from the back of a truck with about 200 people in back paddock. There are some great stories told by the organisers and through the footage of that time (I liked the sheep story), and also the photos from the festival are very well chosen. If I went to the festival myself I would probably spend most of the time taking photos of people around the festival site and might take a couple of shots of bands if I had the time.

Other bands that featured in the film were the Powdermonkeys (2004), the Fireballs, Spiderbait (2000), Dirty Three during a thunder storm (2004), Beasts of Bourbon (2003) and Hilltop Hoods (2004) amongst many others. I also recognised someone from one of the crowd scenes which is another thing which makes this DVD great as a lot of people will buy it to look for themselves in the crowd.

The Meredith Gift footage was very funny as was the coverage of JK's nude marathon from Langwarrin to the Meredith that took 22 days (he arrived on the last day of the festival.)

As the director of The Harder They Come said, there is something special about being the first person to represent a culture on screen. Although there might be other films about Meredith in the future, this one will be the people remember as it was the first one to bring it to the screen and share some of the experience with people who may not have gone there before.

Rating: 8/10

Q & A session

How did you choose which bands to include in the documentary?
Not a lot of choice some years. Only started to be filmed seriously after first few years. Relationship with the festival important and if they fitted the time period covered.

What next for Rob?
No idea as yet, is thinking of doing a Spencer P Jones documentary. Doesn't want to get in the way of the story.

Was Spencer P Jones really responsible for the Meredith Gift?
Yes, he started it by turning up late one year.

What have you learnt from the experience?
Lots of technical skills and met lots of people while making the film over three years.

(question for the organisers) What made you choose international bands?
They just had to be a good band.

What next for the film?
Madman Entertainment have picked up the film for a DVD release and it will include a lot of extra band footage and extensive coverage of the Meredith Gift.

(question for the organisers) How have you managed to maintain your standards?
No standards to start with. Just wanted to have a party and everyone to have fun.

(question for the organisers) How are you going to maintain crowd levels?
Crowd reduced for this year's festival (2006). Will stay that way for a while.
Another event may be on the horizon if the situation warrants it.

(question for the organisers) Any regrets?
Often. Mainly when they are in the planning and preparation for the festival as it is so stressful.

(question for the organisers) Any news for the line-up this year?
No comment.

Will Rob still be filming the festival now he has finished the documentary?
Yes, will be getting some help though. He is still surprised by the line-up every year.

(question for the organisers) Did JK have his own sunscreen attendant?
Yes, he had a full support crew on his run.

This site is definitely not affilated with the Melbourne International Film Festival (DUH!) or the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.