I have a few heroes. Pete Townsend from The Who (please do watch all 9 minutes of that clip, live rock n’ roll doesn’t get to much better!) is one of them. Just flicked through his recently released autobiography in an airport and was struck by the wonderfully simple and inspiring ‘coda’ right at the of the book.
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.
Spent a few hours sitting with my Dad in Gosford hospital yesterday. He was much more together mentally than last weekend, but far more frail overall. At least we were able to have a chat.
Topics covered as he drifted in and out included. Forgiveness and regret. What constellation ‘heaven’ might be part of. About how it seems he decides on whether a film is good or bad by how much swearing there is in it. How big a mouse has to be before it’s a rat. And how his illness might be in some way related to the fact that no-one in the hospital will give him strawberry ice-cream (the only food he seems interested in).
Kind of pleasant in a weird way. And perhaps some of the better time I’ve spent with my Dad over the last decade or so.
Tonight while having a break from the edit we watched an episode of Australian Story about the very different lives led by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey who wrote Puberty Blues (a truthful account of their teenage exploits growing up in Cronulla in the 70′s) The book was published when they were only 18 years old. Soon after the book was published they had a huge falling out and haven’t really spoken since.
While I understand that people can grow apart it seems strange that two friends that were so close and shared so much could not have spoken for over 30 years! Regardless I find their stories really fascinating. Especially Gabrielle who has had one incredible chapter after another.
I must say it breaks my heart to think that the Debbie and Sue in our version of Puberty Blues could ever ‘break up’ with each other. They are so beautiful onscreen together. And it’s been an absolute pleasure as a director bringing it to life on screen.
So… I’m directing a film on the Beaconsfield mine rescue (if you are from Australia you should know the story). The film, to be screened on Channel 9, is being produced by John Edwards (Southern Star) and Jane Liscombe and is written by Judi McCrossin. While I’m still in the thick of developing Cherry Bomb and other things, the offer to direct a project like this was to good to refuse. I dipped my toe into the world of commercial TV with Offspring last year and really enjoyed the experience. So I’ve been keen to do more when the timing and the project was right.
I’ve been in ‘pre-pre-production for the last month or so (scripting, casting, crewing) and official pre-production starts next week. We start shooting in just under 7 weeks for a scheduled 23 days. The film will be around 2.5 hours in length. Fast and furious to say the least. But that’s how it rolls in TV land.
I’m heading back to Beaconsfield in the north of Tasmania today and will be going down the mine for the first time to have a look. The kid in me is quite excited about going a 1000m underground into the dark and the heat. The older, perhaps slightly wiser part of me feels a little uncomfortable about it. Much more to come…
Have just returned from a week in Adelaide where I was invited to be part of The Hive, which is a bit like a creative think tank encouraging the ‘cross pollination’ of ideas amongst artists from different creative disciplines. For five days I was in the ‘lab’ with a bunch of really inspiring people. Film directors, theatre directors, choreographers, artists, actors and musicians.
I felt very lucky to part of the talent pool but perhaps the greatest thing was the time that we were given to just talk about ideas, with no real quantative outcome in mind. To see how for example choregrpahers Meryl Tankard or Gideon Obarzenak would approach a story idea or just ideas in general. It was a great amount of time very well spent. I went in with a film idea and came out with an idea for exhibition, one that I had been thinking about for a while but it was only half an idea, now I have a full idea and I’m very keen to develop it further. It was so nice to be in a development based workshop that was about ‘ideas’ and not funding or structure or distribution strategies.
It was held in conjunction with the Adelaide Film Festival, which has fast become the best and most progressive film festivals in Australia. We launched Last Ride there two years ago this week. Festival Director Katrina Sedgwick is one of the coolest people I know. I saw her introduce world premieres, launch programmes and funding initiatives, drive guests around and hug the caterers. Katrina has a the very special quality that I have tried to implement in my own life where when she is talking with you, it feels as though you are the most important thing at that time, regardless of the room full of people around her, or the hundred other things that might be taking up her headspace. She is very present in this way and I find it a most generous quality in her and in people in general.
Like most of you, I procrastinate. Otherwise, why am I writing this and why are you reading this? No doubt, a part of my motivation to have a blog is to somehow legitimise the amount of time I spend fucking around on the internet, and not doing the things I actually want and need to do. While I love the internet and all the great things it has brought us, I hate the way my already gnat like concentration span can be even further reduced by the constant and nagging promise of something awesome that might be just a few simple clicks away.
But… I have found some heavy duty artillery in the war against time wasting. A little bit of ‘free’ software called Self Control.
It essentially does what I can not. It cuts me off from the endless stream of distraction that the interwebs provides. Sure you could unplug yourself, or switch off your wi-fi. But as I have found there will always be a valid reason (best cat youtube clip ever) for you to ‘re-connect’.
The genius of Self Control is that once you start it up and you bar yourself from the internet for the allotted time you have set, there is NO WAY of unblocking it. You will get no email, no web, no nothing, not even if you quit the software, not even of you restart your computer!!!Once you are offline, you stay offline until your time is up. So be really careful before you start off with setting the time limit to the maximum of 24 hours!
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 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.
Life is chaotic at the moment. There doesn’t seem to be enough minutes in the day, and my work / family balance is most definitely out of whack. But I was very happy to give 3 of those precious minutes over to this wonderful short film that a friend emailed me. Such a beautiful balance of tone. Playful but underpinned by cool ideas big and small. It made me feel good.
I think it’s a Wim Wenders book of photographs called Pictures From The Surface Of The Earthwhere in his introduction he asks the reader to view each photograph as the opening frame of a movie. Not a still image from a film, but the opening frame from the opening scene of a film.
It’s a really interesting exercise to get you thinking about ‘stories’, about the things that may happen after a particular image. Or, as in the photos below, what may have happened before…
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your typewriter
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or fame,
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.
don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
Last week I finally finished the ‘Soundmaker’ short film. It’s had a much longer post production period than originally planned, but I’m really happy with the finished film. Overall it’s a been a great experience. I’ll post (or link) to the film when I can… soon.
No, you are in the right place. You haven’t clicked on the wrong the site. GlendynIvin.com is now Hoaxville.com.
Why the change…? Well I originally grabbed www.GlendynIvin.com as a URL for the obvious reasons, mostly cos, like, it’s my name and it seemed the right thing to do at the time. But for some reason the idea of publishing blog content under my name never really felt right. HOAXVILLE feels to me more like a destination, a place you can ‘visit’. Under this new banner my plan is to post more often on a slightly wider range of things. HOAXVILLE will still be my process diary and a place to dump the things that have caught my eye or inspired me. But HOAXVILLE feels a little broader, a place than can grow and slowly manifest into something bigger. Lets see how it goes.
In migrating all the content from the old site to here alot of the formating has gone. I’ve gone through and fixed the last page or so of posts, but the nature of blogs feel like they should exist in the here and now. So from now on I’m loving the freedom WordPress has given me over Blogger. Bigger pictures, better layouts and total control, well as much control as my crummy html skills provide me with.
I’m doing a stills shoot for KNOG in a couple of weeks. I’ve been casting people for the different roles. KNOG has given me a crazy amount of freedom to do things the way I want. I love that level of trust. It’s hard to find in commercial work.