December 22nd, 2008 by Glendyn
As I mentioned below, we did our final sound mix at the South Australian Film Corp sound studio. It was good to return to the building we did our pre-production out of 6 months ago. This time I could lift my head and have a look around at where we were, I wasn’t burdened with the stress of the impending shoot.
As weird as it has been spending alot of time away from home and family, I really enjoyed returning. I don’t know much about the history of the SAFC, but a walk around the corridors with their halls hung with rows of film posters that have been in some way influenced by the SAFC or in particular been created in part in the building, it felt great, even a little humbling. Perhaps I’m overly sentimental and too much of a fan boy, but I love the fact that some of the films that have influenced me over the years were created within the same walls where I was now attempting to make my own film.
One of the posters that kept jumping out at me, no matter how many times I walked past, was Storm Boy.
I remember clearly seeing Storm Boy at the Tamworth Regent Theater when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It connected with me the same way that it connected with everybody who saw it, it was such a simple story about a lonely boy and his friendship with a pelican (Mr Percival). I remember being totally aware of it’s use of visual storytelling rather than dialogue. The film had a lot of space and Storm Boy as a character had this universal appeal of being every child. We all knew how he felt.
It’s funny how these sort of stories bury themselves deeply within your psyche. I know for sure that Storm Boy has had a deep influence on me as a filmmaker. When it became available on DVD years ago I re watched and even though it was a little more rudimentary than I remembered there were some beautifully poetic sequences and amongst some clumsy plotting towards the end, was a film that felt cinematic and still universal in it’s portrayal of childhood. Very much in the same vein of The Red Balloon a film which is a great influence as well. Interestingly like The Red Balloon, Storm Boy was directed by a french guy Henri Safran. Perhaps it’s a European sensibility and an outsiders eye to the landscape and story that brought that special quality to it.
It’s no secret that one of the things I liked about Tom Russell (who plays Chook in the film) when I saw him the first time was that he reminded me of Greg Rowe who played Storm Boy. So much so in fact that when I cast him we decided to cut his already long hair into a very similar style to that of Greg in Storm Boy. It’s a very heartfelt and sincere reference and perhaps even a homage to a film that planted one of the earliest seeds of film making deep within me. Last Ride and Storm Boy are very different films, but thematically and in a desire for simplicity and visual storytelling they are quite similar. I can only hope that Last Ride shares some of the endurance and a place in peoples hearts and memories the way in which Storm Boy has.
The other film poster that I almost bowed to every time I passed it was Rolf de Heer’s Bad Boy Bubby (click if you dare). Man, what a film. I went and saw it soon after I moved to Melbourne in 93. I went with my friend Hools to the Hoyts on Bourke Street and we sat in the back row. I don’t think I blinked for the first 30 minutes. Surely the first act of that film is one of the most brutally intriguing openings to a film. Ever. It’s one of my most fond cinematic moments. At the end of the film I don’t thing Hools and I said anything to each other for a good hour or so. We were just so stunned… and I still am just thinking about it.
I also love this french poster for Breaker Morant. Co-incidentally I saw Bryan Brown in the halls while we were in pre-production in June and he was half way through shooting Beautiful Kate in the studio. He asked me how long we had to shoot our film? “Six weeks.” I said. “Six weeks eh… allot of film makers complain that six weeks isn’t long enough to shoot a film. But we shot Breaker Morant in six weeks and we had the fucking Boer War in the middle of it!” It was a hilarious comment and a very encouraging one. It filled me with some confidence, what ever we were heading off to do for the next six weeks, at least I didn’t have to worry about staging a full scale war in there somewhere. Thanks Bryan.
And speaking of Bryan. Another film I love, that was also based out of the SAFC in the 80′s and that shares some similarities to Last Ride, particularly in it’s themes and locations (and that Antonia Barnard, co-producer of Last Ride was the production manager of) was The Shiralee.
ps: I wonder where Storm Boy is now…?