First Public Screenings!

Once again time has gotten away from me – so this news is a bit old now! But, hey – better late than never! The Sakooz trailer had it’s first official public screening on Tuesday 2nd of December 2008 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia as part of the Swinburne University Graduation Screening Program. And from all reports… everyone seemed to love it! It was a fantastic night, with so many quality films on show (12 student works in total – ranging from short films, to TV pilots, sketch comedies, etc.). Congratulations to all of the students who got to show their films at the screening, and thanks to everyone involved for putting together the event (especially James Verdon)!

To be perfectly honest, I was as nervous as all hell in the lead up to the screening. A lot of the cast and crew attending the screening hadn’t seen the trailer at this point, so I had no idea what the reaction was going to be. But luckily, no bricks have gone through my window, and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy the trailer. The general consensus seemed to be: “I loved it! It looked so cool! I really want to see the full feature! Oh, but I had no idea what it’s about”! Now, I’m not sure if that’s a problem or not. Right throughout the editing process it’s been a constant battle between “telling too much” and “not enough” when it comes to story telling in the trailer. The fact that we don’t yet had a locked down feature film script doesn’t help – but at the same time, trailers are meant to “sell a concept”, not just give away the whole plot. The fact that people seemed to really get excited about the whole idea is great – regardless of whether or not they knew what was going on. One of the best thing about listening in to other people’s conversations after the screening was hearing people arguing with one another about what it was actually about. Everyone seems to “read” the trailer differently, and come up with a whole of unique and intriguing meanings and metaphors. But the best thing of all is, that once both parties eventually give up arguing about what the film is actually about, they just agree to disagree, and say, “I guess we’ll just have to watch the feature film to find out”! Now, this is exciting! If people actually want to watch the feature film, then we’re onto something! Oh, and the fact that the audience clapped twice after the trailer is always a good sign (especially as none of the other films recieved the double clap!).

It was fantastic to see the trailer shown in a theatrical environment at such a great cinema! ACMI has to be one of my favourite cinema’s in Melbourne, simply because the visual and audio quality is faultless, the seats and comfortable, and it’s in such a great location. The trailer was shown in HD, via a HDCAM deck, so it looked and sounded amazing! One of the biggest things I noticed was how much faster it seemed being shown on such a big screen. Having watched it a billion or so times on a 17″ monitor, and a few times on various small scale projection screens, it seemed to run so much quicker on the bigger screen – which is actually great! It seemed so Hollywood – so action packed. Even I got excited watching it!

Sakooz made it’s second public screening at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, for another Swinburne event on the 4th of December. Unfortunately, the actual screening itself was fairly horrible, as the 12 students films were just played on a looping DVD player in a small section of ACCA, on a crappy little cheap projector with an incredibly bad sound system. It certainly wasn’t the best viewing enviroment to see the trailer, but even so, when Sakooz did play it certainly got a big reaction! As a lot of the other films were dialogue driven, as no one in the audience could really hear what was going on (due to the bad sound system, but also the huge amount of people in the venue chatting away, drinking and socialising), when Sakooz popped up, I think everyone was pleasantly shocked to see a piece that was purely driven by visuals. So once again, Sakooz made a reaction, which is what it’s all about!

So what’s been happening since ACCA? In terms of Sakooz, nothing really noteworthy. To perfectly honest, after several months of hell, I just needed a little bit of a break – not that I’ve been resting! I’ve been attending a lot of the other film school screenings the last few weeks (Holmesglen, VCA, RMIT, etc.) to “check out the competition” and see what other amazing up-and-coming talents are out there. As always with these kinds of screenings, there was some really great stuff, and also some really average stuff. To be perfectly honest, and I know this is going to sound biased, but I really feel like the Swinburne University screening was by far the strongest this year overall. VCA’s work was brillant as always, but there was a lot of films that seemed quite pretentious and “out there for the sake of it”, and I was also quite shocked that not all of the films were as technically perfect as they should have been. Normally everything out of the VCA is technically spotless (i.e. perfect sound – no nasty pops or clicks, no visual artefacts, etc.), but this year there were a couple of films that obviously missed quality control. That said, a couple of the films were terrific (for those that went, I really loved the opening film on Screening A about the boxes, as well as the film starring the killer wombat!). The Holmesglen screening had some really great films on display – but it also had a lot of average content. To be honest, the majority of the films seemed really amateur – almost verging on “home movie” quality. What was most surprising however was the 3D animations. I was expecting to see some really great stuff – but with the exception of two little shorts (one involving cups, the other involving a mime artist), the overall quality was fairly poor. But, as I said, with all these kinds of screenings, you had the good, and you have the bad. The scary thing is however, I can’t believe how many new film graduates are going to be trying to get a job next year. If you add up the enrolments from all of the various film schools in Melbourne – well, you get a lot of people all looking for employment.

So what’s in store for the near future? I am currently still trying to work out a plan of attack for the Sakooz feature film concept. I had a lot of ideas in the pipeline, and a few people that might be interested in getting on board the Sakooz freight train to help it get made. We are planning to release the trailer to the world on the 1st of January 2009 – although with everything else we do with Sakooz, this is subject to change. At this stage, we’re considering releasing the trailer through YouTube first, simply because it’s got such a good community, and word tends to spread fast between users. Obviously however, this brings up a lot of copyright issues, which we are currently considering. But rest assured, we’re certainly not sleeping – and Sakooz is very much an “alive and kicking” project! We’re also hoping to get some behind the scenes footage, and also some more information on our workflow, etc. onto this blog as soon as possible.

As always, exciting times certainly lay ahead! Onward and upward!


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