Archive for the ‘Stuff I make’ Category

A brief exploration of my protagonist’s past, and his discovery of the perfectionism of a photograph and its ability to distort memories.

The camera never lies… or does it? 
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The old photograph of my Mother is something I seldom look upon. When I do, I still doubt the sound exposure and fear the sun may snatch it away. I was barely fourteen when I took it, with some assistance, after pleading with the studio photographer who had just opened up his shop underneath our home. I borrowed his camera, and used one plate, and paid him a penny. A pittance for him, I knew, but it was all the money I had in the world.
The camera was new, but even so the exposure took four minutes. The little moustached photographer squinted at the sun through the window, and timed with his pocket watch. I remember him nod to me surely. My heart beat wildly as I twisted off the stiff metal lens cover. I could hardly believe that this funny little box could capture an image.
Waiting breathlessly, I still expected her to rise, to jump back to life. Even in death, with the grey pallor of her face and unnaturally posed limbs, she looked as always. Her hands lay twisted in her lap, as though plotting to grasp at my hair and beat me like a misbehaving school boy. Her severe grey dress, made from thick heavy wool and clasped at the throat, made her a dark and formidable form. She had always been an imposing woman, well-built and standing at nearly six feet tall. Brief sickness had not withered her.
I knew that never again would I be subject to her spontaneous and humiliating blows that stung for hours after the pain left my body. Yet even in death she looked undefeated, ruling her domain from the throne of her rocking chair.
Father wasn’t home. I knew he would be down the road, drinking at the tavern. I knew he was there mourning – in his own way. My father respected my Mother, though he never loved her. She never allowed herself to love him back. For all that, he had been a consistent and adequate provider, if rather stoic and distant – and with a penchant for gin. In some way, I felt some deep-seated pity for my Mother, in spite of her coldness.
I looked upon that grim tableau of death, and it seemed that something had changed in her. It unsettled me deeply, and I wondered if this was the case for all death. I didn’t have the nerve to ask the photographer as he packed away his things. I only realized what had changed after the plate was exposed, and lay in my trembling hands. The dim and ghostly likeness of my Mother, a week and a day after her funeral, had been brought back to life.
It was a look of peace, and of resignation. All the knots of motherhood and hard work and spite had softened. It was hard to imagine her limp arms being raised in anger. Her eyes, which stared past the confines of the blurry edges of the frame, seemed to look beyond our world. At times my eyes could trick me into seeing warmth in them. She almost looks like a Mother.
I slipped the photograph back into the deepest recess of my case.

No biggie. Just exploring the themes of my film. Several things have occurred to me:

  • Post-mortem photographs were important to those left living

but

  • A life lived is more important.

Which leads me to my question: What is the point in memorializing a life that has not been lived?

Hi there! This was a quick piece I whipped up after an interesting interaction whilst waiting for a tram in the city. It is fairly accurate, but some parts are missing, and slightly changed because I couldn’t remember the context of everything.

I found the character Fleck to be quite interesting. I’m not quite sure why it is, but I seem to give off vibes to complete strangers that they should talk to me, and they offload their entire life story. Maybe they know I’m just too polite to tell them to fuck off. But I’m glad this guy stuck around and spoke to me. I wrote this quickly, with little editing, hoping I could capture him instinctively through his words and voice before my memory faded. I wish he’d stayed a little longer.

Here it is: Bloody Chips (It’s a PDF. WordPress is being a bit weird, so you’ll have to click through twice)

It’s a bit long, at six pages, but mostly dialogue. Time is compressed in places too. I don’t fancy anyone wants to read about me eating chips for seventeen minutes!

As sure a sign of my procrastination as anything, I ventured down to Korumburra last weekend for a location recce for a script that hasn’t been written yet. My excuse is inspiration, but it was not all a waste.

Coal Creek Heritage Village is located on the outskirts of the small town of Korumburra, incidentally near where my Dad grew up. I sadly discovered that the village itself is next to a reasonably busy highway. I’m not sure how much of a problem this noise could cause. The facilities are surprisingly well maintained, given that it is mostly staffed by volunteers. The front end of the park is quite polished and touristy. It gets a bit wild and wooly down the back around the tramway line, but I found these parts to be much more authentic looking.

The most unavoidable problem with the village is probably the era. Most of the buildings and objects were a little modern, many sitting around an early 20th century period. I’m not sure how such anachronisms would affect a film, or how noticeable it would be. I unfortunately do not have the historical knowledge to be a good judge of that.

In addition to the tramway in the park itself, there is a local tourist railway that operates between some of the local towns. I’m not yet sure if this would be an appropriate facility to use, as I couldn’t find much information about it.

Overall, the district itself from first impressions isn’t what I have envisioned. The land seems far too heavily farmed, an I’d like something that looks like it could be sitting on the edge of society. Whilst the village is great, I would probably need to expand to other areas. I’m sure there is probably some beautiful locations in the area. I want something wild about the land, almost a sort of Western style sort of landscape of colonialism and wilderness and the unknown.

Tom McCathie as Frank

Here are a few stills from the 48-Hour Film Project shoot I was a part of a few weeks ago. And what as awesome and exhausting 48 hours it was! With our genre of Black Comedy, along with the character Frank, a magnet, and the line “let me tell you a secret”, this crazy little thing happened!

Saara Lamburg, Tom McCathie and Captain Boots

Gotcha!!

Precious Captain Boots

Saara Lamburg plays Mrs Miranda Von Barrington

Director and Cam Op at work!

The Madman himself!

That blasted cat!

Family Portrait?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you are intrigued enough to see what we got up to! The film, Captain Boots, will be screening along with all the other entries this coming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night at cinema Nova, more info here! You should come and check it out!

A quick piece I cobbled together from various snippets I have written over the last few days. This is not so much a story but a brief look into the world of the people I want to write my script about. I am not too sure on the technical aspects of the photography, such as the mechanics and exposure, but the sentiment is there. There is a story behind every photograph…

The old man’s eyes looked off into nowhere in particular. He sat slumped, his fragile spine crumpled under his dead weight. He’d been dead not twelve hours, but the sickness had already drained most of the colour from his face. His shoulders still seemed tense, even in death. The only part of him that seemed at peace were his eyes. He had resigned to his fate, he had reconciled with all his demons.

I turned to see the waiting family. A casket was open, and ready to receive him. This was the last of the formalities. I tilted my head, imagining the photograph. “Shift his head about, he looks like he is all twisted up”. Wordlessly, his wife obliged. His head was turned, and he gazed over to his family in a sort of dignified silence. His wife sat down next to him, supporting his drooping body.

His hands lay in an open bible. If one had only briefly glanced in his direction, one might hve thought he was reading, deep in thought, only to be disturbed by some sound or movement. One could imagine him reaching up to adjust his spectacles, or perhaps scratch his wiry beard. But of course he did not move. His wife placed her warm, wrinkled hand over his cold and work weathered hand for the last time.

Satisfied, I pulled the slide out of the wooden holder and placed it the camera. It slid home with a satisfying click as the metal clips snapped around it. I nodded wordlessly at the old man’s wife. She gave a tiny smile. “Stay completely still, this is the most important thing”. Feeling she had understood, a reached around the camera body, and quickly removed the lens cap. In the sunny sitting room, four minutes ought to be plenty of time for exposure. I checked my watch. The wife sat with absolute stillness, as though it was the most important thing that she had ever done.

(source: photo.net)

Occasionally her eyes would flick to her dead husband, but mostly she stared straight down the lens of the camera. I could see how in life these two would have sat around the fire, or held each other close in the evenings.They seemed to fit so comfortably into one another, despite one having moved into the next world. I imagined them laughing together, their wedding day… This was their final moment, and the memory that would last for many years to come.

I placed the lens cap back over, sealing the image away from the destructive light. I would process it momentarily. The wife’s lip quivered as her daughter tried to pull her hand away from her husbands. Two strapping young lads lifted the frail old man’s body easily, and he was laid into the casket as though sleeping. The bible was tucked into his hands. I saw the wife bend over to kiss her husband goodbye. Her hand trailed across his forehead, tucking away loose hairs.

I tucked the slide holding the precious plate into its case. I would return in the morning with the last picture of this husband and wife, the only picture of this husband and wife. I tipped my hat and paid my final respects, before turning and leaving for my studio.

With my most recent film, My Boy finally finished and off to be sound mixed tomorrow, I can finally take a load off. It is such a relief to be finished with the project I have been working on for nearly a year. It is interesting now that I have finally created a film in which I haven’t compromised anything in the script. It has been far more encouraging and interesting to write whatever the hell I wanted and take some risks, rather than play it safe. It has been a while since I did that. Perhaps that is because I now know the reality of the filmmaking business. The costs to do everything, the requirements, the festival submissions, the distant glimmer of paid work…

I’d say the last time I made something ambitious and really enjoyable was when I was blissfully naive, and armed with nothing but a video camera and an idea:

GET OUT – A short film by Stacey Quine

 

This short film, which uses a combination of live action and photographic stop motion footage, was created and submitted for VCE Media in 2010. It recieved top marks and I submitted it to Top Screen, but I was unsuccessful there. I now wish I had thought back then to try some more avenues. It was for a while exhibited in the Gippsland Art Gallery, along with other artistic works by secondary students in the area.

I developed an interest for surrealism in cinema, and always intended on using stop motion animation in some way. I chose to explore the meaning behind dreams, and the importance of facing up to fears. It was quite a simple idea and story really.

It boggles to think, now compared with what I am doing, that this film was made with around $50, two cast members, and no crew other than myself over the course of several nights over several weeks. All the lighting was done using a couple of flood lights, prac lamps and burning through a lot of cellophane.

My actors were friends, begged and bribed, and most props I either had on hand or borrowed. Editing was done on basic software and the music was free and found on the web (Thanks Kevin Mcleod!).

I remember racing against time as I was trying to avoid kitchen/lounge/laundry renovations that were happening at the time that I shot. You can see stripped back concrete floors in some shots if you look closely.

I had very minimal technical skills at this point. I had recently worked out the powers of white balance, and I try to use it creatively. Did it work? You be the judge. The stop motion was shot on a gutsy “compact” camera with a zoom lens. I just kind of made up how to use the manual settings as I went along.

I’m not sure that if I tried to create this film again, it would work so well. Sure, I could really boost the production values, an maybe even make the storyline clearer (it isn’t terribly clear), but I quite enjoy the ambitious, amateur feel about this. It’s optimistic and I like that. I used this film to get into my course at VCA, so I quite literally would not be where I am today without this film.
This was when I really became excited about film making. Lately I feel like I’ve been bogged down in the reality and technical side of film making, but I think I am getting excited again.