I was a 14 years old when I first saw Pink Floyd’sLive at Pompei. It blew me away then and it still does now.
The clip below has been such a strong influence on me as a filmmaker over the years. I like the pureness of it all. It’s more about capturing the energy that is there, rather than trying to fabricate what isn’t. It’s about tapping into the essence and documenting it in the most unaffected way.
It’s funny how random things inform and inspire what we do. It’s usually (and hopefully) such a random mix of things that the culmination of them all manifests to become something new and not derivative of the sources.
One week into shooting Puberty Blues 2, I’m drawn back to have another look at Echoes. This clip is like a compass to me. If you want to cut to the chase, jump to 6:30… Magic happens.
Do yourself a favour and watch the whole film here… (Directors Cut!)
Not only did part of our Puberty Blues school location burn down recently… but what remains still standing has been vandalised beyond repair.
Got to give the kids some credit though, they obviously worked very hard and put alot of time and effort into this particular project. Every room, every surface, inside and out of the entire school has been smashed, tagged and sprayed.
I can see their individual report cards now… “If only he put as much energy into his school work as he did his vandalism!”
Slow posts of late… Firstly I got a new laptop so I’ve had the joy of transferring, updating, re-finding, sourcing software and plug-ins etc. All seems to be working fine now. But seriously, screw you iTunes. Surely there is a simpler way to transfer a music collection from A to B. Still missing huge chunks of my old library… argh! And why can’t you export your playlists as a group and not individually. Dull.
Also, I’ve re-located to Sydney and in pre-production for Puberty Blues 2. Let the games begin!
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.
Have finished editing my first two episodes (eps 1 & 3) of Puberty Blues today and tomorrow I head back out for another 15 days of shooting episodes 5 & 6.
I’m really happy with how the first two episodes have come together. The first introduces us to the world and the characters of Puberty Blues, set deep in the heart of mid 1970′s Cronulla, Australia. And Ep 3 takes us further into that world with Debbie and Sue, two teenage girls who are most definitely old enough to know better, yet to young too care!
Big thanks to my editor Deb Peart who very quickly tuned into our collective sensibility and approach to the show. As always I’ve really enjoyed the collaborative and explorative process of editing. I feel like we have made something really special here!
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.
You can’t do Puberty Blues without a trip to the ‘Drive-In’. We needed to find a fully operational drive-in and luckily for us the one in Blacktown (below) is not only one of the original but also one of the last remaining drive-ins in Australia. It’s still pretty much untouched looking and feeling much like it always has.
From our recce the other night it appears to be a popular option for ‘first dates’ and ‘double features’. Tuesday nights, 2 films for 10 bucks! Bargain!
I couldn’t help but think of the transformative power of that giant outdoor screen. I wonder how many people may have been moved or who’s lives have been changed while gazing through their windscreens up towards the flickering image.
Head down in pre-production. Locations, script, camera tests, casting and more.
Location scouting and recce-ing has been the main focus, but all the elements including wardrobe and make-up are coming into play. Because we are recreating 1970′s Australia, everything we see through the lens has to be considered and designed.
We have houses, businesses, streets and a whole high school to lock in. Luckily the ocean and parts of Cronulla beach are the same as they’ve alway been : )
It’s actually quite amazing how many houses are out there essentially ‘untouched’ and still ‘living in the 70′s’. Homes where newly weds built the house, moved in, bought all their stuff and then were just content to keep it that way. Quite nice really. So far removed from the consumerism of today. It says something about the period as well. Things were built to last then and why replace it, if it isn’t broken?
Moved to Sydney this week to begin pre-production on Puberty Blues! We are making eight, one hour episodes inspired by the original book. I say ‘the book’ as opposed to ‘the film‘, not that I don’t like the film, I think it’s great! But it’s a different approach to take when going back to the source material, rather than ‘remaking’ a film.
The book doesn’t necessarily tell a great story (although it does), nor is it beautifully written (although it is), I guess to me what is unique and special about the book is that it provides a wonderfully blunt and extremely honest recollection of what it was like to be a teenager, growing up on the beaches south of Sydney in mid 70′s. Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey wrote Puberty Blues when they were only eighteen years old. It’s a detailed autobiographical account of their shared misadventures of when they were just thirteen years old (!!!). It’s the authenticy that leaps off the pages. No-0ne else but those two girls could have written such a vivid account of the highs and lows of the sex and drugs and surfing with such detail, naivety and the unbridled enthusiasm of youth.
Puberty Blues ’the series’ (produced by John Edwards and Imogen Banks and written by Tony McNamara, Fiona Seres and Alice Bell) will still be set in the seventies and although it will feature many of the details, characters and narrative beats of the book, essentially it’s a ‘re-imagining’ of the world documented in the book in all it’s sad, funny and at times brutal truths.
Currently in New Zealand directing a commercial. Exit Films recently opened an office here in Auckland so it’s cool to be here in a home away from home.
I love NZ. Something about it always reminds me of Australia from when I was a kid. It’s maintained an innocence to a degree and somehow remains ‘simpler’ in the best possible way. Not to mention the Kiwis are heaps nice.
We have spent the last week shooting on sets built in a huge warehouse in Yarraville. The main set is ‘the 925′, which is the name of the drive (925 meters underground) that collapsed on Todd and Brant in the Beaconsfield mine in 2006. Even though we shot in a real mine, we could never create a ‘collapsed mine’ in a mine, so we had to build it.
I’ve never really shot on sets, in fact I’ve made a point of not shooting on them, but I’ve learnt so much watching The 925 develop from inital recces and research, to rough sketches, to drafted plans and ultimately construction.
Production designer Jon Rhode has done an incredible job not only designing but also stretching our very small budget a very long way (over 50 meters end to end!) on this set and all the other smaller ones. Standing on the set of the 925 when it was lit and dripping with water felt alot like being in a real mine, I kept feeling like I needed to put my hard hat on.
Last day of pre was on Friday. Shoot starts tomorrow. Weekend was spent soaking up some family time and last minute script tweaks with writer Judi McCrossin.
There was a good energy in the office on Friday. Everybody seemed reasonably calm and on track as much as could be expected. I’m usually pretty nervous the night before any shoot, but I’m actually pretty excited! I’m looking forward to getting on set and getting some of this story out of our heads and into a camera!