I live a few blocks from where 29 year old Jill Meagher was recently abducted (and then raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave ). It’s a terrible thing that has shocked our suburb of Brunswick, the city of Melbourne and the country as a whole. I visited a candle light vigil on Friday night at the baptist church just a few meters from where Jill was last seen alive. The vigil was set up in response as a man was arrested and charged with Jills rape and murder. Almost a week to the day after Jill was last seen alive.
Today (Sunday), I marched silently with 30 000 people down Sydney road in an emotional show of support for Jills family and friends. A sombre yet powerful display of a community making a stand against violence. In amongst the shock and sadness of the march there was something quite affirming about it. It was nice to know we live in a place where this kind of act can bring such an emotional and supportive response from ‘strangers’ on mass. Despite everything thats so wrong about this horrible crime, I came home from the march feeling there is way, way, way more good in the world than there is bad.
Above: the corner of Sydney Road and Hope Street last Friday night.
I started documenting the making of the show from the start. Like visual notes the photographs became part of the process of discovery of how the series would look and feel. From casting and location scouting to scene ideas, documenting a colour or how the light looked at a certain time of day. What worked, what didn’t. Portraits of actors I admire deeply. The people, places and things that make up the texture and tone of Puberty Blues.
Most of the time the photos were taken in the moments just before ‘Action!’ was called. Or in-between ‘takes’ to maintain focus and momentum throughout the stop / start rhythm of shooting. Brenna Harding (Sue) called it ‘the gap’. That small amount of precious time just before the cameras roll. I would sometimes take a quick shot just as that moment of transformation would take place, from ‘actor’ to ‘character’.
Sometimes the photo would become the key on how to shoot a scene. A way of trying to find the essence, or a reduction to a single image. An attempt to find stillness in and amongst the chaos of a film shoot.
From the foreword, written by Alice Bell… This book is not a behind the scenes look at Puberty Blues (2012). It’s much quieter than that. It’s as if we’ve been invited to visit a world within the world of Puberty Blues. A place where these characters live and breathe. In Glendyn’s gentle and collaborative way he has captured moments that otherwise might have slipped away, a fleeting glimpse of untamed innocence found somewhere between the sunlight and the shadows.
I tried to document ‘the extras’ on the set of Puberty Blues when ever I could. Wardrobe designer Emily Serensin and hair and make-up designer Chiara Tripodi did such a great job I felt compelled to momentarily bring them them to the foreground rather than just ‘background’.
A couple of posts ago I mentioned the Apocalypse Now mash-up featured one of my all time favorite quotes about filmmaking. Francis Ford Coppola dreaming of the day when the professional (out of reach) world of filmmaking would fall away and technology would allow “a little fat girl from Ohio” to make a beautiful film with her fathers camera.
There is no doubt the democratisation of filmmaking which Francis prophesied is well and truly with us. Some truly great cinema has been made with minimal ‘off the shelf’ equipment. I still get excited by a back-pack full of gear (camera, microphone, laptop) being all you really need to shoot and edit a film. With more recent cameras like the 5D greater aesthetic and quality control has been firmly placed in our hands and I’m in still in awe at whats possible with a DSLR’s these days.
But today I was sent a box which I believe contains the next giant leap forward in breaking down the technology wall. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is a very new and very exciting camera. It provides stunning, jaw dropping image quality (Pro-res or 2K uncompressed RAW) that is so far above and beyond what any DSLR can provide. It’s built like a brick and everything that plugs in and out of it has professional connectors that are strong and reliable. No more mini-jacks and fiddly HDMI. It records onto removable SSD and this version comes with an EF (Canon) lens mount.
The Blackmagic doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Infact it’s really basic in it’s design and feature set. Personally I find this refreshing. Anything it doesn’t do, and it does have limitations, in my mind is instantly erased by how much it costs, a mere $3000(!). I’ve seen this camera up against the Alexa in the grading suite and it’s comparative in look and feel. It’s different of course, but not $70 000 different. And way, way different to say a 5Dmk3 which cost the same.
I’m planning on testing the camera from a directors perspective as apposed to a cinematographers. I’m not overly technical though. I’m sure there will be a ton of sites out there providing all the specs and pixel peeping tests that will do a way better job of the geek speak than me. I just want to know it’s a reliable easy to use camera that provides good colour depth and gives me gradable detail in the highlights and in the shadows. I kind of already know the Blackmagic does this in spades. DOP John Brawley help test and develop the camera with Blackmagic Design and we used it a little on Puberty Blues. (John has a bunch of info and tests on his blog). But the camera we used then was a beta model and the one I’m holding below is the production one. It will soon to be flying off the shelves and into the hands and hearts of filmmakers around the world.
Nice article over on the Digital Pictures website with me and cinematographer John Brawley talking about ‘the look’ of Puberty Blues. People get obsessed with ‘the look’ of things, but a lot of the time I think and hope they are talking about ‘the feel’. I do love the way Puberty Blues looks, but I’m much more happy with the way it feels.
‘JB’ is not only a great DOP, he has over the time we have spent shooting ‘Puberty’ and other things become a good friend. He is a true and valued collaborator and someone who as a director you want and need at your side while fighting the daily battles of film production.
JB with boom swinger Mark Van Kool and cheeky Ashleigh Cummings poking her head in!