After a brief career as an amateur kick boxer and an even more brief stint as a soldier in the Australian Army, Paul Fenech was hired by ABC TV as a stagehand to sweep the studio floors.
For the following seven years, Paul worked his way up the TV chain, from sound assistant to floor manager, before realising his ambition of becoming a director. Paul has worked on many ABC shows such as Playschool, Police Rescue, Mother and Son and The Investigators. Paul then left the ABC to join the fledgling fox cable network on ‘Channel V’ in its very early days. Paul went on to produce ‘Channel V’ music videos for an extensive array of bands such as Boom Crash Opera, Nick Cave, Francis Dunnery and many of the first Australian R&B and Hip-Hop acts such as Boys in Black and Kulcha. Paul also worked on TV commercials for KFC and Toyota.
In 1995 Paul placed third in the annual Tropfest film festival with a short film called Pizza Man. The film recalled some of his bizarre experiences and exploits as a pizza deliverer, a part-time job he performed while at high school. The following year Paul made a short film called Space Pizza that went on to win the open section of Tropfest. The film also won the St Kilda comedy Film Festival. Inspired by his success, Paul then made another short film called Hero that took out first place at the Metfest Film Festival. This was a short film competition held by the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1998, Paul won first place at Tropfest with a film called Intolerance starring Austen Tayshus. The panel of judges included Jane Campion, Keanu Reeves and Samual L. Jackson. When the winners were announced, a drama ensued as Paul had entered the competition under a female pseudonym, Laura Feinstein, a fictional film student from the eastern suburbs. So, much to the embarrassment of John Polsen, Tropfest’s director, he announced the festival’s first female winner in front of 30,000 people, only to be greeted by the smiling face of Paul Fenech.
On the back of all these short films, Paul (or Pauly the pizza delivery boy as he was fast becoming known as due to the character he played in his short films) made his first low budget feature called “Somewhere in the Darkness”. The film starred Ernie Dingo and Leah Purcell. “Somewhere in the Darkness“ was the first Australian film to be selected for competition at the Slamdance Film Festival in the US. Slamdance is an indie film festival that parallelled the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
On returning to Australia, Paul began working at SBS on various documentaries. As a series producer, he oversaw various programs for SBS local production. It was during this period that SBS was seeking locally produced sitcoms that were in the same vein as Southpark, as the imported series was rating extremely highly at the time. Striking while the iron was hot, Paul decided to pitch his pizza delivery concept that had served his short films so well. The first pilot was never granted production approval. The second pilot was not converted into a TV show either until after the person, who was the decision maker on new shows, suddenly died. His subsequent replacement commissioned the show immediately and Pizza the TV series was born.
Since it’s inception, Pizza has received five Logie nominations across five series. Such has been the success of the show that there has also been two six-part travel shows produced, as well as the regular series, and five live Pizza studio shows (including an infamous multi-state strip-off called “The Strip of Origin"). To date, almost seventy episodes of Pizza have been made since 2000 when the series first went to air. The Pizza stage shows have travelled to every capital city in Australia and the pizza team has done live appearances at a variety of events from the Big Day Out, Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast and the Lord Mayor’s picnic.
Pizza, the feature film, is also one of the only Australian films to turn a profit recently, and is currently ranked twelfth in the list of Australian films that have performed well at the box office.
In July 2006 Paul broke the Guinness World Record for furthest pizza delivery taking a pizza from Madrid, Spain to Auckland, New Zealand to support the Cancer Charity Canteen.
Paul Fenech is also the genius behind Swift and Shift Couriers, a comedy series based on the employees and a typical working day within a courier company. Swift and shift features TV legend, Ian Turpie and female comedy genius Amanda Keller. In his usual style, Paul wrote, directed, produced and starred (as Mario) in the series, which rated higher than Pizza when it first went to air in 2008. A second series was completed in 2008 and SBS have now announced, will go to air in August 2011.
Superchoc, the production company created and owned by Paul Fenech, are currently in the development stage of the second series of the new comedy for SBS called “Housos of the Housing Commision”. Paul’s latest project gained media attention and publicity when Channel 9’s, A Current Affair program, mistook the comedy for a “government – funded reality show.” Channel 7’s Sunrise and Today Tonight program’s then also ran stories on the series, which further promoted the show. More recently, the show was yet again brought into the spotlight when The Sydney Morning Herald published an article stating that a Blacktown MP was in the process of taking a petition to federal parliament seeking to ban the show. Once again, a story ran on Today Tonight, which interviewed both Paul and the MP.
“Housos of the Housing Comission” is currently on air Monday nights at 10pm on SBS.
Paul Fenech is continuing now to work on his third feature film - a horror movie with the working title Demon.
As well as his main TV roles as a writer/director/producer/actor, Paul also MC’s many events such as kickboxing, corporate events and nightclubs.