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Documentary on dwarf 'James Bond' becomes international hit

FAME BECKONS: Maroochydore filmmaker Andrew Leavold is attracting international attention for his documentary The Search for Weng Weng.
FAME BECKONS: Maroochydore filmmaker Andrew Leavold is attracting international attention for his documentary The Search for Weng Weng. John Mccutcheon

A THREE-foot Filipino film star may have launched a Maroochydore filmmaker's international career.

Andrew Leavold embarked on a seven-year overseas odyssey to track down Weng Weng, a scaled-down Filipino 'James Bond', a star Mr Leavold had been intrigued by his 15-year stint running a Brisbane video store.

The Search for Weng Weng, a documentary put together by Mr Leavold over almost a decade, has been overwhelmingly received by international audiences, taking Mr Leavold on a whirlwind ride around the globe.

"I became obsessed with the film (For Your Height Only, a Bond spoof starring Weng Weng),'' Mr Leavold said. "Out of all the films in the shop, that was the one I kept obsessing about.

"He came from one of the poorest parts of Manila and for a short period of time he was a superstar.

"He died in the early '90s, just before his 34th birthday... he died in complete poverty and anonymity. His ending was really quite sad.

"It took seven years to piece together all of the half memories and made-up memories to find the real story."

The former Burnside High School student, who studied film at university, managed to crowd-source $35,000 to finish The Search for Weng Weng, and set the fuse for future filmmaking adventures.

"I really thought that it would be a niche film for a very specific audience," Mr Leavold said.

"It's a timely reminder not to ignore the little guys, not just the physically small... everybody's got a story."

Out of the jet-setting adventures that followed the release of The Search for Weng Weng, Mr Leavold's next documentary, again set in the Philippines, has already been funded, and he plans to shoot a feature film.

"I don't care about Hollywood, I'm more interested in 'Manilawood'," he said.

Topics:  documentary


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