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!
The very best of luck to the Puberty Blues cast members who are nominated in tonights AACTA Awards. Puberty Blues has scored seven nominations all up, including Best Drama Series. Very proud of these guys (and all of our cast of course!).
Flaming Youth, Photographs from Puberty Blues is now also available as an eBook here for AUD$4.99 (or click on the book cover, top right, for more info). The eBook is pretty much the same as the hardcover version except you can’t feel the weight of it in your hands, or the texture of the paper on your fingertips or press your nose firmly to the page and inhale the sweet perfume of freshly printed ink.
The eBook also costs a fraction of the price of the physical copy, which is a true indicator of the cost of nice paper, ink and boutique printing these days.
I could have just created an eBook, but I love, love, love the printed page and buy photographic books almost obsessively. Apart from actually taking photos (or making films), sitting and observing the work of others is the best education there is!
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’.
Just in time for the premiere of Puberty Blues (on air tonight!) comes the republishing of the original book by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey. Long out of print and off the shelves, the new edition has been co-published just in the nick of time by Text Publishing and Random House.
“Puberty Blues is raw, humorous and honest: a compelling account of teenagers navigating the chaos of life. It is one of the great coming-of-age stories in Australia, and it remains as relevant now as when it was first written over three decades ago.”
Even though the series was developed to expand the world of the characters beyond the pages of the book, it’s the brutal honesty with which the story is told on the page that is the very essence of the story and we were very conscience to bring that same essence into the eight hours of TV.
As a huge fan of the book I was very chuffed that one of my photos of Debbie and Sue (taken on set while directing Episode 3) was used as the front cover image!
The first image below is of Ashleigh Cummings, who plays Debbie. I took the photo when I first met her at Mullinars Casting for her initial screen-test November, 2011. Second image, Sue (Brenna Harding) and Debbie going nowhere fast in the front seat of a panel van.
I arrived back home in Melbourne today after locking off my last episodes in Sydney yesterday. And tonight Network Ten aired a three and half minute (!!!) ‘sneak peek’ of Puberty Blues.
I think we were all a little nervous of what a ‘first look’ might be like. But I think it sets a nice and inviting tone. It feels like the show in that it’s ultimately warm and character based and there is just a sniff of some of the darker territory the actual show delves much deeper into. Cool that Ten are supporting the series so early on with such a generous chunk of airtime!
Both Ashleigh who plays Debbie and Brenna who plays Sue called me immediatly afterwards shrieking down the phone giddy with excitement!
Wrapped shooting on my last two episodes of Puberty Blues during the week.
I found directing this block (Eps 5 and 6) different to my first (Eps 1 and 3). The first eps were all about finding what the series was. What it looked liked, how it sounded, how the scripts translated, how the drama worked, where the performances should sit and how to work with each actor. It was such an exploratory process yet at the same time we were making the series as we went along. Which I love.
But by the second block a lot of the things I didn’t know the first time, which kept my eyes open wide, I now knew. This made it a little less exciting, or because it was more familiar it didn’t feel as ‘special’ maybe and perhaps even trickier than usual to remain aware and in the ever elusive moment. But on the other hand, because we had edited and finished the first two eps, we could refine what was working and push harder on the elements that we wanted to see more of.
In some ways this was a little like my dream model for making a feature film. Where you shoot the film, cut for a period and then go back out and shoot more. The idea being, that the first shooting period is all about finding the film, the second is about refining and adding to what you have already discovered. Building on what the story has become rather than what you thought it might be.
The downside here is that everything that was once exciting, new and fresh, isn’t so much the second time round. There is a tendency to become complacent or just used to whats going on around you. I had to remain focused and often remind myself just how beautiful it is what we are doing and within the tight schedules and budget there are wonderful opportunities still there ready and waiting and well worth exploring!