April 25th, 2012 by Glendyn
Mid way through my first block of Puberty Blues. Long days and nights battling schedules, budget, time, the sun and the surf and the rain. Not that I’m battling against those things, it’s just the reality of production. I guess the trick is (and I’m constantly reminding myself this) is to try and remain flexible and work with it and around it as you go. Push as much as you can, but allow yourself to be pulled when you have to.
‘Time’ even on the most luxurious and well organised of shoots is rarely on your side and I’m reminded each day of the reality ‘it’s not how good a director you are, it’s how good a director you are while under the pump and having to make things work, with very little time’.
Some days I feel like I get it right, others times I spend the drive back home to Newtown from Cronulla wondering how I could have made it work better, more efficiently, given better direction, revealed the drama and/or the onscreen relationships better. Each day on set brings it’s own unique set of challenges, you win some and enivitably you lose some. But hopefully it balances out.
Luckily for me I have an incredible cast (and scripts!) I can rely on to make the job a whole lot little easier! I am constantly amazed and full of gratitude when actors bring out their best in pressured situations. It does more than make it easier, it makes it a privilege!
We have had more than a few ‘ambitious’ shoot days. A mass of extras, large interior and exterior locations, all period dressed and set for 1977. Throw in some horses (girls riding bareback), shooting day for night and night for day, stunts, low loaders, fireworks and all the safety and restrictions that brings, so they are full on days to say the least.
In my limited experience, it seems most TV drama is designed around and works most efficiently when you have one, two, maybe three people talking in a room together. If you have the right script and cast and you are prepared, you can work through those kind of scenes pretty quickly. Making the drama work and make it look good as well. But the moment you involve anything else, it takes more time than you have. And by ‘anything’ I mean an extra person, an effect, or a stunt. Or the moment you go outside (or underground) or rely on weather or natural light, a fight, surfing(!!!) involve a car, water, freaking horses or anything other than two people in a room talking. It slows down really fast.
Which is why I guess a lot of TV consists of a couple of ‘people talking in a room’, then it cuts to more people talking in rooms etc. After all it is an almost limitless set up for story and drama.
Regardless, I do love finding myself amongst the organised chaos of shooting. Surrounded by talented artists and technicians, I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. Stealing shots, racing against the clock and making every second count. In fact somehow using the sense of urgency to create an atmosphere on set that despite all the push and the nessecity to be ‘moving on’ will feel alive and very much in the moment when on screen.
April 22nd, 2012 by Glendyn
…under the Puberty Blues school desks. By the looks of it some of that chewing gum it might have been there since the 70′s!
April 9th, 2012 by Glendyn
We had a media screening for Beaconsfield a couple of weeks ago. The miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb who’s real life experience the film is based on were there and they watched the film for the first time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to sit in the comfort of a cinema and watch (a version of) the worst experience of your life playout in front of you.
I was a little nervous, not about the media seeing the film for the first time, but of what Todd and Brant might think. They were the only ones who experienced it all first hand and lived through it, so in the end, it’s their opinion I value the most.
I wasn’t worried about getting all the rescue procedure and technical details right, but more about how both men go through quite extraordinary and emotional journeys while they are buried alive and many of these details have never been revealed or discussed publicly. Todd and Brant are not ‘emotional’ guys, Todd in particular is a man of few words and as stoic as they come. So I suspect the idea of your lowesest emotional point broadcast across the country isn’t that exciting for either of them. And from past experience if they see or read something that isn’t right, they speak up and be rather direct about it.
But thankfully, they really liked what we have made. In fact they were really moved by it. Both Todd and Brant feel we captured the atmosphere and the emotional state of the fourteen long days and nights they spent trapped side by side a kilometre underground in a truthful and realistic way. Brant told me he had no idea how we crammed so much emotion, the highs and lows, the anguish and even laughter into two hours. Todd gave me a firm handshake and said we had ‘..done good mate’.
Perhaps the nicest compliment I received was from Todd’s wife Carolyn. She has never been in the limelight and remained very much out of sight during the whole ordeal but is of course now featured in the film (played beautifully by Michala Banas). I asked Carolyn after the screening that even though “…it’s not you on screen or your house, your furniture, your kids, your words etc… but was the film kind of what it was like?” and she said “Thats exactly what what it was like. The whole atmosphere and the feeling is right…’. Good enough for me.
And good enough for the media as well, and I say with a sign of relief. As seen here on Hoaxville, Beaconsfield was a really tough film to make creatively, financially, logistically and physically, so it’s nice to feel some love after all the blood, sweat and tears. There was a great feature review in The Australian (above) this weekend and some other nice words have popped up here and there.
Beaconsfield airs on Channel 9, Sunday, April 22nd.
UPDATE : Just saw this A Current Affair story chatting to Todd and Brant after they saw the film…
April 4th, 2012 by Glendyn
A few people sent this short film to me this week and I only just had a chance to watch it. It’s a beautifully shot and constructed portrait of an American tv ad director as he travels to Shangai and makes an ad selling Mc Donalds to the Chinese.
Scary how much of this is familiar to me and perhaps some others who may read these pages.
Makes me want to get back to Shanghai asap as well.
UPDATE: Bummer. For some reason this video has become ‘private’. If I come across another link I’ll replace it…
April 1st, 2012 by Glendyn
Couldn’t wish for a better beach location to set Puberty Blues. Although I think it’s insane that anyone would cut into such a beautiful coastline and build a refinery, I just love the way that it forms this beautifully industrial backdrop to the natural beauty of the beach. I love how it was featured in the film and it’s perhaps one of the few visual consistencies between it and what we are doing with the series.
It serves as a not so subtle geographic metaphor for much of the ‘casual brutality’ that features in the scripts.