May 31, 2010

A Thesis Update, and Melbourne

I thought I was pretty set for this week leading up to the thesis production next Monday and Tuesday, but today presented a whole lot of new problems. For example, I still haven't locked down one of my locations, that being a classroom. Genesis, an ex-uni mate has been helping me delegate with the people who run the College of the Fine Art in Paddington, which is great since he is on the student committee. Other than that, I'm still missing my lead girl actor to play the role of Alex. It's difficult when the actor doesn't respond - it's hard to tell if they're disinterested in the role, or just plain busy.

I've also taken on two more projects, both of which fall in the same week of my shoot. At times, I wonder why I bother pushing myself into such challenging compromises. I guess you could say that I try to mould myself into a better person. I'm producing a thesis film titled Tree of Hurt, and production managing a thesis film set in Vietnam. A challenge and a half, no doubt.

Apart from doing busy things, I recently got back from Melbourne with Kieran. We'd spent last Monday to Wednesday there for a quick holiday. Mainly to see the Socceroos play New Zealand in a farewell friendly, and to celebrate our 11 month and pre-12 month anniversary (since he is going to South Africa this Sunday for a lengthy duration of the World Cup). We didn't do very much other than eat excessively and walk around the city looking for ways to make good use of our Metcard day-passes.

Our highlights would have been the Australian Centre of Moving Image in Federation Square. We browsed the Australian Mediatheque archives and watched classic advertisements (I had a great laugh at De-de-decore!), then spent a good hour wandering around their permanent exhibition Screen Worlds. Another big highlight was our anniversary dinner, which was supposed to be a pizza or two at D.O.C's Pizza and Mozzarella Bar in Carlton followed by a bit of ice-skating in Docklands. However, we were so knackered by the time we got home for tea that we over napped our way into the later part of the evening and decided to just have pizza at D.O.C's. It was great, by the way. I recommend anyone and everyone to check it out. They don't do reservations, so get in quick. They serve mozzarella in fistfuls. How could you say no to that?

Our quick sojourn down to Melbourne made me realise how much Sydney is lacking in everything. People are strangely nicer there, and there is so much focus on the arts and culture scene over there, which simply excites me. ACMI has their super Mediatheque program, where you simply walk in, take a seat in one of their very comfortable booths and flick through their archive of features, shorts, adverts - you name it. Melbourne has this incredible public transport system as well, similar to the intricate systems in London's Underground Tube. It's amazing, and not to forget - cheap!

And now we are back in Sydney, dealing with 90kmph gusts in the city and everything that goes wrong in a film production a week before it's shot. Such is life.

Will try to update more as I approach the D-Day, which is next Monday and Tuesday. For now, check out Kieran's blog. He updated, how rare!

May 21, 2010

That's A Wrap!

We completed the production shoot last Friday, exhausted and in need of a good sleep. Having started at 7:00 AM on the last day with most of the crew evolved into zombies (we finished at 12am earlier that morning), everyone including myself was relieved to have finally completed the four day shoot. Nothing feels better than wrapping up a shoot.

Overall the four day shoot went fairly well, minus a few tiny issues that came up throughout the course of the week. Such as my production designer falling ill on the second day and not being able to show up for any part of the day, leaving the already frazzled First Assistant Director and myself to spend more time on designing the set. Another 'tiny' issue that came up was the lack of time I organised for each day, which really wasn't my job in the end but for some reason it felt like organising the call sheets was my responsibility. Everyday apart from the last day started at 3pm (start shooting at 3pm, call times between 1 and 2pm) and was scheduled to finish at 10pm. We ended up finishing around 12am every night, which wasn't a good idea as I had Kieran and my younger sister also living in the flat who had to deal with a noisy and messy crew outside their bedrooms. It was stressful for me, as producer, to make sure both the film benefited from the time we had while making sure my home wasn't being ripped to shreds from C-stands and inconsiderate strangers. Face it, if it's not my home, then who cares is the approach everyone seems to stand by in situations like this.

Dealing with actors and their big egos was a big lesson I've learned from this production. We had an actor who was constantly disobeying the directions of the director, and it was difficult to see him stalling the director's vision especially when we had to stick to a tight schedule. The problem with student small budget short films such as Grey Zone was the known fact that we are amateur film-makers, and experienced actors will pick up on this. Some, like in our case, will actually exploit this and that is not what you want on your production, no matter what level of experience the crew have.

Another issue I found was the lack of assistants I'd organised prior to the shoot. This was a stupid, stupid mistake and probably would have helped in situations like my ill and missing production designer and having someone help clean up at the end of every day, instead of doing it myself. We didn't have an assistant production designer, 2nd assistant director or runner, so a lot of times I found myself doing the running around and organising the food etc. It's a good lesson to learn that a small crew doesn't necessarily help with anything, as I was under the impression that such a small apartment begged for a small crew to occupy it.

As producer, I organise the crew to 'get organised'. To be honest, I didn't do this quite right. On the day before shooting, I'd said to everyone that I would be picking up the equipment from all hire centres. Problem was all hire centres were spread out across town and I had no access to a car or driver during that time. So I paid $180 from the budget to catch a taxi from the city to Manly, to Lindfield and back down to the city. It was not the best option, but it seemed like I had no other choice especially when I had to be at all hire places to sign documents and pay insurances. I realised that what I should have done was organised a courier which would have cost me less than half the price I paid for that taxi. I've also learned that sometimes you need to know the right people, and it was in the last day that Kieran's sister offered to organise a courier from her work for me. Amazing when you know the right people.

Otherwise, I think in the end I worked with a great crew (minus the mishaps along the way). My camera department was a Swedish team of great ideas, and they were always on the ball no matter how important the issue. If your first assistant director tells you to fuck off on set, then you've made the right choice about them being there. Otherwise I probably would have sacked my script supervisor (continuity) for his lack of anything on set, if I had the power to.

I'll keep you updated on how the editing process goes. Apparently we shot around 100 hours of footage over the 4 days, which is excessive but considerably normal for a digital film shoot.

In the mean time, I've been working on my thesis film which was just finally green-lit by the Head of School. I've also chosen my lead actor to play the role of Justin (whose name I am now deciding to change), which was exciting because I knew I wanted this guy to be my lead when I first met him. I'm going with the gut feeling, so I hope anything outside of that doesn't let me down.

More updates on my thesis soon.

May 9, 2010

Raelene, Producer and Megalomaniac

With only two days to go till Day 1 of production, our major drama Diploma film is coming along well. I'd say it's a lot better than it was two days ago considering we've done our call sheets, shooting schedules, finalised shot lists and rehearsed actors. However, in this world, nothing is ever close to perfection.

I'm still missing extras to be a part of the film, and confirmations from one supporting role actor and a make-up artist. It's been a long and tiresome journey, and I've many stories to tell about this road of pre-production. All to be revealed in a week from now, or so.

Other priorities at the moment include figuring out how I am going to get myself all the way to Manly, then to Lindfield for camera equipment. Then down to Alexandria, to school in Redfern, and back to the city. This is going to be a long ass week.

That aside, I think the most challenging part of this project so far has been my inability to deliver the wants to satisfy everybody's needs. An ordinary day would see this glass in my head being filled and filled and filled till the water meets the brim but does not overflow. At the end of that day, the water would come gushing out like a violent river, leaving the glass half empty. Half empty. I want to make a superhero reference here, but I honestly don't know anything.

Four weeks later, I still wonder why I have put myself in a producer role again. It is as if a little, motherly part of me wants to test my limits by pushing me to the very edge. I don't like it, but I know I'm going to learn shitloads. A self-punishment kind of purpose, bordering along the lines of megalomania and masochism.

I promise to come back after production week to tell you all about it.

May 8, 2010

May 2, 2010

Le Haricot Bleu

"The blue bean is a wonder of nature.
The depth and intensity of its colour makes this poisonous mushroom all the more deadly since it is attractive.
Having friends is a wonder in life.
What more natural than to share the small joys with those we love.
True friends are after their devotion; it is through them that I knew that the blue bean was delicious and edible!"

May 1, 2010

The Art of the Last-Minute Panic

Calvin knows exactly how it's done.