Good Morning Vietnam!

Chicken Village in Vietnam

I can’t believe that this is my first post for 2010! It seems as if I’ve been trying to put together this blog entry in my head for months now… and the fact of the matter is, I have! Lots of things have been happening, and I’ve got lots to tell… So from the offset – please let me warn you that this post may be a bit all over the place, with lots of random ideas, and no particular direction. But, hey! If you actually read this, then this is the kind of thing you’ve come to expect by now!

The end of 2009 was crazy busy on both personal and business levels for everyone. After wrapping “Handle With Care” (our very successful 24-hour film festival entry – for those that don’t know, we picked up the “Best Script” and “Best use of Character” awards), we began proper post production on “One Flu North” – a Tropfest Entry Script written and directed by Nick Colla. Although we shot One Flu North earlier in the year, “real life” got in the way of things (as usual), and we kept on putting off the editing stages of the short. But, as always happens, time crept away, and before we knew it, December was upon us, and time was running out for the January Tropfest deadline! So after a crazy period of editing around the clock for several days, then suffering a massive hard drive crash (hint: always have several backups of everything in several different locations! I know, I know – you already know this – but come on!) and having to re-do all the visual effects, rendering and conversions (from 30P to 25P!), we eventually got there in the end. Despite the obstacles, the short film turned out exceptionally well – even though it didn’t make it into Tropfest this time round. We will be submitting it into several festivals over the coming months, so stay tuned! The end of 2009 was also busy for our friends at Pocketbonfire, who are still deep in post production for “There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake” – which we have been assisting with.

However, what made everything just that little more busy, stressful, and exciting in December 2009 and January 2010, was that I was planning a four month adventure away overseas! In fact, I’m writing to you now from a hotel room in remote Vietnam!

I have been planning this holiday adventure for a while now. Although I’ve been overseas plenty of times before, most of the time it’s been for business – so this is my first really massive overseas holiday holiday! Starting in China, I then travelled to Thailand, then Cambodia, then Vietnam. From here, the next stop is Laos, then Thailand again, then over to Egypt, and then down the North/East coast of Africa. I am travelling with my girl friend Karen, who’s keeping a blog of our journey at Melbourne To Moshi, if you’re interested in seeing any photos!

The lead up to the holiday was insane, because not only did I have to plan for over four months away (which was a challenge in itself), but I also had to train up a new staff member at The Butchery (a leading editing post production facility that I was working at full time last year – “i.e. my day job” which allowed me to devote so much time to no-budget latenite films projects!), and tie up heaps of loose ends so that both The Butchery and latenite films could run smoothly without me (you’ll be pleased to hear that both companies are running exceptionally smoothly – thanks Andrew, Jacqui & Nick!).

Originally I had planned to take these four months “properly off” – meaning no mobile phone, no e-mail, no contact. That lasted for a little while – but as Karen was keeping a blog updated, she had a computer with her, so it wasn’t long before I was checking my e-mails again. Luckily, Jacqui and Nick are getting all of my important business e-mails – so I haven’t had to do any real work whilst I’ve been away – just the occasional fun thing – like writing this blog!

So anyway, the reason I’m writing this blog is because something motivated me recently. I actually ended up in hospital in Vietnam. Nothing too serious! Like a lot of travellers, I ate something dodgy and got your typical food poisoning. After a few days of “bad things coming out of both ends”, I took some medication to help stop me spewing up. It worked for a couple of days, but then after one meal when I thought I had finally recovered, I got an allergic reaction to what I presumed was the food – but was actually the drugs. My body started freaking out, my throat started closing up, my tongue grew bigger, and I had serious trouble breathing. I hate hospital. No, seriously, I really hate hospitals. Nothing scares me more than needles. But, given that I couldn’t breathe, I had to be rushed to the doc by a very scared, but very calm and wonderful girlfriend, and an amazing Intrepid tour guide (which was handy as he spoke the local language – something Karen and myself haven’t mastered yet!). Luckily, after a scary few hours, the incredible doctors and nurses at the hospital fixed me up, and after two days, I was good to go on my way. Now… why am I telling you all this personal stuff? Because… and I hate saying this because it’s so cliche… but life is short! You never know what’s around the corner, so you really need to make the most of it. You need to make the most of every single opportunity. You need to push boundaries. You need to try new things – but not get scared when things go wrong. In life you just need to keep “bashing at it” – and film-making is exactly the same.

Chris in hospital bed

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading droidMAKER – the story of George Lucas, and the digital film revolution. If you need motivation – read this book! It’s INCREDIBLE! Almost every single person featured in the book is inspiring. Each talented individual was presented with a seemingly impossible (or at the very least, extremely challenging!) task – but instead of just giving up, they push boundaries, invented new things, and just “made it work”.

But making a film is not just about “bashing your way through” by yourself. It’s all about team work. It’s all about working with like-minded people to achieve a common goal. The thing I love about this book is not only the technical that’s being discussed, it’s not only about the art that they were all trying to make, it’s the relationships. It’s the people. It’s the friendly competition. It’s about working with people – not against people.

I was so lucky that I ended up in hospital with such a good team behind me. In all seriousness, if I wasn’t travelling with such amazing people, then even such a simple thing as taking some dodgy medication that doesn’t agree with you, could have caused me fatal problems (to put it lightly!). Having a good team, a good family, behind you in vital.

When you travel through rural places in Cambodia, where large families have very little income, and as a result little food, but still survive and smile, you realise how important belonging to a supportive community is. It’s hard to get through things by yourself sometimes. But if you’ve got a group of people beside you, who are going through the same issues – the same problems – then you no longer feel alone. The old look after the young – and the young look after the old.

When you learn about the Vietnam War, and how the Viet Cong defeated the American Soldiers with the assistance of complex tunnel systems, and deadly & horrific (but also scarily ingenious) bamboo traps – you realise that power and brute strength isn’t everything. Sometimes you need to just think outside the box. You need to get together a team of like-minded people, and come up with new ideas. You need to innovate. Experiment. And educate – so that others can learn from your mistakes.

Ok… so this blog entry is really going a bit all over the place, so apologies if you’re completely confused as to what exactly I’m trying to say. I guess my point is the same as it always is. Film-making is all about working as a team to achieve a common goal. It’s about pushing boundaries. It’s about trying new things. It’s about failing, but then getting up and trying again. It’s about enthusiasm and excitement. It’s about the thrill of the chase! But it’s all very well to just say this – it’s another thing to truly believe it.

One of the biggest problems I found at film school was that the majority of the students weren’t motivated. They wanted to make movies, but didn’t want to join the film-making community. They wanted to get their ideas on the big screen – but they didn’t have the passion to really push boundaries. Which brings me to my final point (I promise).

Travel. I have never believed it before now. Everyone always says travelling, and exploring the world is one of the most important and brain-expanding things you can do. I never thought it was true. I always thought I was “worldly” because I’d been to several different countries, and experienced “local” things. But the more travelling I do, the more my mind is becoming active. It’s seems cliche (again!), but travelling helps makes everything clearer (and I’m only in the few stages of my holiday adventure!). It gives you time to relax, and rejuvenate. It gives you time to consolidate all the ideas you have in your head.

I’ve always known that team-work and community was important, in both film-making and life in general. Hell – it seems like common sense. However, it’s not until now that I really UNDERSTAND that importance.

So in summary. I highly recommend working your butt off for a while, then go travel. Go somewhere far away. Go somewhere new and exciting. I highly recommend Cambodia! Leave your phone. Set up an e-mail auto reply. Escape. Relax. Enjoy. But also don’t be scared to jump straight back on the bandwagon when you need to. Because, at the end of the day, as much as I needed a holiday, doing stuff like writing this blog isn’t just a job. It’s a way of life. I enjoy what I do. In fact I love it. It’s not just a job. It’s not just a passion. It’s a way of life. Film-making, technology and the PEOPLE behind both is the reason I get up in the morning with a smile. It’s the fuel that keeps me going right through the night.

A few months ago I read a great article on Chris Jones blog discussing separating work life from home life. That although film-making can become addictive, it shouldn’t become more important than living. I now tend to disagree. Please stop me if I’m getting a little too deep and meaningful – but there are lots of people on this Earth, and they are all going to be doing different things. I believe that if you have a passion for film-making (and lets be honest – in the scheme of things, only a few select people truly have the passion and the drive), then you should just go for it. If you love doing it – then do it. There’s no reason to stop for breaks. “Shop till you drop” I say!

Anyway, that’s probably enough discussion for today! Let’s wrap things up by looking at what’s in store in the months to come…

Well… despite my absence… lots! Nick Colla and Jacqui Hocking are seriously full steam ahead on several exciting projects – including “Shotgun”, a feature film concept that’s been floating around outside of latenite for years now. Nick also has some serious acting jobs in the pipeline, as well as his radio show. Jacqui is about to head overseas, and has been knee deep in post production on several projects. Her new blog should be up again shortly, so stay tuned for that.

As always, things are busy. Things are exciting. Every day brings with it new challenges, and new adventures. Despite the fact that I’m personally far away from the latenite bunker, I can honestly say that I’m probably in a better head space for film than I’ve been in years (which is both surprising, and wonderful!). I’ve already started planning several special projects that will kick start as soon as I return to Australia in late June.

So don’t despair – the latenite camp is not sleeping. Things are happening. Things are busy.

Well… that’s all from me today. I’ll be in Vietnam for the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll be heading off to beautiful Laos. The adventure continues! However, while I’m away, make sure you keep an eye on the latenite site, as things are certainly going full steam ahead in my absence!

Onwards, Upwards and always spinning, spinning, spinning…!

Best Regards, Chris!

One Response

  1. David
    Mar 09, 2010 - 12:20 PM

    Hey Bro!
    Keep up with the Blog posts, can you stick up photos (or more on Karens of you two!)
    Glad your having a great time and that you’ve survived so far!
    The hospital photo is kinda scary, but hey, it’s always good to have some extreme travel stories (provided everyone survives).
    Keep having fun and enjoy yourself!


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