My Local World article – Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man

Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man is screening at the Chauvel Cinema

Everyone kind of adores the Loveable Loser in film and TV.  They’re those hapless characters who, on the surface, look like they’ve lost everything, but still they manage to place one foot in front of the other and carry on. They’re endearing because they remain hopeful for their future, regardless of their current circumstances. This is the case for Rafael in the new Australian film, Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man, played by Felino Dolloso. Directed and written by Dicky Tanuwidjaya, the film follows a man who has hit rock bottom – he’s lost his job, marriage and home – but is hellbent on pursuing a new career in music and acting.

Dicky explains, “He has hit rock bottom, so he has nothing to lose, and he has all the freedom to pursue his rock star dream. But is he really happy? Is the rock star ambition just a facade to cover something that he really chases?”. It’s a character we’ve seen play out before (think Walter White), but why a happy homeless man?. Dicky says, “Because a grumpy homeless man would be boring! It’s about someone who doesn’t give up on chasing happiness despite losing all the material things”.

Felino and Dicky have known each other for years, working together in some short films and working on a feature film that was released in 2010. “We have a good understanding of each other’s style of work and skills and we like working with each other” says Felino of Dicky. Dicky’s pretty happy with their working relationship, too. “Aside from having fantastic acting skills, Felino is so humble and very easy to work with”.

Not only is this a great little indie film made by and starring great local talent, Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man is also of note because it features such a diverse cast and crew. And if there’s ever a time to make a point about diversity in film and television, it’s now.

Felino says working with a diverse cast and crew was important for him. “I want to see diverse actors showing their skills, I want to showcase the talents of diverse actors” he says. “I don’t see a lot of diverse actors in major roles so if I get a chance to create opportunities for us to shine then I will”. Dicky believes the cast’s diversity came together organically. “People that I cast are based on merit, rather than any other factors. It just happens that Australia has diversity of skilful actors”.

If only other Australian filmmakers and creatives thought this way. An article from the Sydney Morning Herald called Ethnic diversity on Australian TV: are we finally ready for colour on our screens? made mention of Lebanese-Australian actor Tyler De Nawi, whose real first name is Mustafa. He’s appeared in The Principal and Here Come the Habibs, but says that he would be getting an audition every 3-4 months, whereas his caucasian colleagues would be getting about 3-4 a week.

So why is diversity on screen so important? Personally, I think it’s because it makes all people visible in the media. It means characters you see on screen (TV or film) are relatable. It makes stories more authentic. Homogenous entertainment is, quite frankly, boring as batshit. I’m harping on about this because My Local World is all about getting outside the world you live in and promoting multicultural experiences, and that means making all voices accessible. There’s also the LGBT community, Aboriginal population and other under-represented (or misrepresented) communities who we don’t hear as much from because the access to platforms for communication just aren’t there.

Felino is of Filipino background and he’s eager to work with more people from a range of different backgrounds. “I think acting is a lot about confidence and constant practice and use of the craft, and you have to keep working in projects to level up in your skills. I guess not enough opportunities are being presented to us diverse actors to develop in projects and become good at what we do, so I decided to create opportunities for myself and other diverse actors. If no-one else will give us chances then I’ll create our own chances for us”.

What originally began as a web series then became a full-on feature film project, and Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man took a year to make, from pre-production to finalising it all in January of this year.  “We filmed weekends, sometimes some weeknights every 2 weeks or 3 weeks”, says Felino.

As an indie project, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. “There are definitely significant challenges when you have so little production budget, because extra money also means extra time”, Dicky says. “I wrote a story that could be filmed with such little budget. I wrote characters that I was confident that the actors were able to pull with minimum rehearsal time. Huge credit(s) to the cast who performed brilliantly; and huge props to Ferry Lie, our DOP, who’s always calm, cool and collected on set, and also Leon Hooke, our co-Editor, who’s supportive”.

Felino says it was important to get the support of your nearest and dearest during this time. “Understanding from your loved ones that it’s a labour of Love type scenario project (was important). But everyone involved gave it heart and soul, it was a beautiful experience for me, you know – no egos, no ass kissing, just doing the work and enjoying it without all that fake bullshit talk that happens in some productions”.

The character of protagonist Rafael was based on a previous character Felino had worked on. “You know the Homeless Man is actually loosely based on a character I played a long time ago in a Filipino Theatre production”, Felino says. “The character was a brash, kinda sleazy but endearing Filipino uncle called Tito Boy. So there’s definitely bits and pieces of him in the Homeless Man role”. (FYI that play was called Aussies of the Magic Mic and Adobo Kind which I co-wrote. It opened me up to the talented community of artists and performers in Sydney, and it made me realise how much I loved writing about my culture).

Although Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man is a dark comedy, Dicky was keen to give the film more than a comedic element. “The top layer of this movie is a dark comedy as the entertainment layer, but underneath the comedy, there’s a drama layer. Something that would make people think about their lives”. Felino, ever the comedian, explains, “Does it have to have a message? Can it be just be a story about a lost soul trying to find some kind of light in an otherwise very dark world? Hang on a minute, was that a message?”.

While Dicky and Felino are happy to let Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man have its time in the sun for now, they’re still working on projects in the pipeline. “If we have very little budget”, Dicky says, “Horror is the genre that we can easily sell to North American market because it a genre that doesn’t require significant budget. If we somehow manage to secure a decent budget, I want to do an edgy drama/thriller”.

Adventures of a Happy Homeless Man makes its world premiere to the public on Monday, 18th July 2016 at the Chauvel Cinema (249 Oxford St, Paddington, cnr Oxford St & Oatley Rd). It will run until Thursday, 21st July.

For tickets, visit

Starring: Felino Dolloso, Aleksandra Voronina, Rico Banderas, Iwona Abramowicz, Nathan Bowen, Eliza St John
Directed and written by Dicky Tanuwidjaya
Produced by Felino Dolloso, Ferry Lie and Dicky Tanuwidjaya

About Felino Dollosoo - Actor

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