Marc Fennell is the epitome of the Modern Australian Renaissance man. His face and words are ubiquitous on Australian TV and radio, presenting and appearing on shows such as The Feed on SBS, technology journalist with ABC’s Download This Show and as triple j’s cinema critic.
He’s also a published author with That Movie Book being released in 2011 with another on the way. A notorious TV channel surfer and major consumer of all music, Marc is a man of the modern world – with an exceedingly precocious personality. But for all his success, he insists it all comes down to making a connection with the audience.
Marc’s background is a melting pot of global cultures, initially uniting Irish with Chindian – Asian Singapore Indian – in the backstreets of Canberra. With parents as a computer high-school teacher and a photographer, there’s no surprise that technology is a significant feature in Marc’s life. His parents also inspired his passion for movies. “I have really vivid memories of staying up late watching TV with dad,” Marc recalls, “discussing movies and television shows – particularly episodes of Star Trek. I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago how important that was in terms of being a movie critic: plot arcs, special effects and when they are used well. It was informative in terms of talking about film, media and technology – and how they work together.”
Marc’s instructive journey is a result of his personal experiences and drive. During high school, he took out the award for the Australian Film Institute’sYoung Film Critics Competition leading to a stint with Sydney community radio station FBi Radio. It was here he first learned the basics of broadcasting. But it was after applying to SBS that he was selected as one of the presenters for the revamped version of The Movie Show following David and Margaret’s exit. “What makes broadcasting work is when you feel like someone is talking to you,” Marc reveals. “Passion should be infectious. It should feel like somebody is there in the room talking directly to you. I like to think I’m starting a conversation – with you finishing it. I’m just the person who sees a movie a week or two before you, then adds context around it. You’ve got to find a way to entice listeners,” Marc notes. “It’s about making cultural criticism; making the conversation around movies acceptable that everybody can get involved in. Movies, television and media are an everybody game. I thought it needed a voice that was down-to-earth.”
“If you are honest and passionate,” Marc continues, “there’s nothing more engaging. People respond better. Whether they agree with that person is a separate issue. When you see somebody being incredibly passionate on screen or on the radio, you gravitate towards them. It’s why talk radio is so powerful. It’s some guy ranting about his opinion and it’s a challenge to you to have one of your own. I try to make TV and radio in a way that will engage. I want it to be conversational. I want to make sure that I keep your attention so you can listen to this thing that I think you should care about. I’m not a comedian. I don’t necessarily crack jokes. I just know there’s a set group of things that I can do which I trust will make people laugh. At the end of the day, I want you – listener, reader, viewer – to care about this thing. And that’s all that really matters.”
Cast with his dry wit, Marc’s multicultural traditions, general geekiness and passionate drive unite to form a uniquely, down-to-earth yet cosmopolitan appeal. “I’m a different boy giving an opinion,” Marc declares as an account for his individuality and charm. “I’m most excited about what you the listener or viewer has to say. Anybody that has ever read or heard a review or seen the TV show, I want to hear from you. I live for the community we build around media. That’s what I love.”