I wrote about The Burning Leaves a while back. I used a song of theirs called Home on the closing credits of Last Ride. I was totally obsessed with that song for a long while and I still feel lucky I was able to make it part of the film.
It’s been a long time coming but I recently received a copy of their self titled debut album. I thought it would be good, but was I wrong. It’s freaking sublime! Recorded at home with vintage gear, listening to this album feels like discovering a forgotten classic from the 70′s.
The Burning Leaves to quote one reviewer “make haunting, melancholic vignettes that sound like they might break if you listen to them too loud.” It’s an accurate description. For me they tap into something so achingly beautiful with such simplicity that it seems all to effortless, but I’m sure they have sweated over every heartbeat of the 41 mins of the album.
My one complaint is that the album is only available through their MySpace page (Fifteen bucks! Free Postage!) For better or worse these guys are fiercely independent and so far have done everything themselves. No label. Which I’m more than impressed with, but it’s a crime that this album isn’t in every record store, in every city (both on and offline). I fear it’s going to become an undiscovered masterpiece. But what do I know… I’m not a musician nor am I in the music industry. Enough rambling.
I didn’t take the photos below, but I wish I did. I hope to work with Indie and Craig again soon.
Last week I went to a taxidermist to research an element of a film I’m developing which I haven’t mentioned here (yet).
Needless to say the place was pretty fascinating. I’ve always found taxidermy and the process itself interesting. This particular place was large and sterile and they delt with a huge number of dead things from both here and over seas. It was very ‘factory’ like. I’m actually looking for something a little more, shall we say ‘backyard’.
Also… on this same day while riding home from the office I crashed my motorcycle when a driver changed lanes and didn’t “look left, look right, look bike’! I ended up slamming into the gutter and breaking my arm. So while I may not be as stuffed as our little friends above I am a little battered and bruised and will be typing with one hand for the next five weeks or so. Bummer.
I’ve spent some time recently taking photographs on the set of my friend Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s feature film Hail. It’s been really inspiring sitting on the front line and watching Hail come together. Amiel is known for his wonderful documentary films and this is one of the few times he has directed ‘fiction’. And I’m sure from what I have been seeing the lines between documentary and fiction will be well and truely blurred. If you are a regular reader, you’ll know this is the kind of approach to film that really gets me excited. Amiel is working with a very small crew of only about five people, allowing him to work intuitively and spontaneously. I like it a whole lot!
Below are some portraits I have taken of ‘Dan’ who not only ‘stars’ in the film, but the story of Hail is drawn closely from his life and those around him. The film is currently in post and will premiere early next year. Can’t wait.
I was cleaning up my office and came across a dusty VHS tape of my student film Neverland. I made the film as part of a Post Grad in documentary (a course that sadly no longer exists) I completed in 1998 at the Victorian College of the Arts, an amazing institution that soon may also not exist. The year I spent at film school is up there with one of the best years of my life. I spent that year totally immersed in film, primarily documentary film. The VCA totally changed my life and set me up for the opportunities and experiences that have followed.
Although Neverland is a little ‘clunky’ in places I really enjoyed watching it again after many years sitting on the shelf. At the time I made it I was obsessed with ‘longitudinal observational films’. Documentaries that are filmed over a period of years and that take us deep into the lives of characters that no other kind of filmmaking can match. To this day I still believe that observational film / Cinéma-vérité is the most compelling and legitimate form of filmmaking. Fullstop. Films like Crumb, Paradise Lost, Bastardy, anything by the Maysles‘s brothers, or anything by the Pennebaker or Wiseman. Actually I’ll stop this rant now… it’s another post another time. Needless to say, Neverland was my attempt at longitudinal observation, shot over two weeks (course limitation), not two years.
Some of Neverlands’ themes (growing up and growing older and the resistance to the responsibilities with which that brings) are themes I’m still fascinated with as a filmmaker and are ideas I’m exploring in much greater detail with the films I’m developing at the moment. One part of Neverland I was really drawn to at the time and I think still stands up is the interview with Eli at around 8 minutes where he is applying the final touches to his mohawk in the mirror. It’s a sequence where what he is saying and what he is doing (literally) mirror each other. Where Eli’s vision of his life in a broader sense and the details of his immediate life collide. I saw Eli a couple of years ago walking along the street. Still with a mohawk, still in leather. Looking older, but still ‘the same’.
Eli above, Ron below.
Ron went back couriering and road for at least another 10 years. I would see him occasionally around the city. I haven’t seen him for while though, but I imagine he still could be out there now pushing those pedals at a furious pace.
I have really enjoyed looking through the short films and images at CameraBag.tv. A site that aims to “Celebrate image makers and highlight the beauty and style of the camera”. The profiles find a nice balance between creative process and camera geekery. There are only four photographers profiled there at the moment, but it looks as though it will continue to be updated.