Year in Review 2015 – Part 1

So this is pretty weird.

I’m writing to you from the end of the year.

THE GOD DAMN FUTURE.

Well that’s what it feels like anyway. I swear I just wrote one of these end of year things only a few months back, but then I guess that’s the perfect way to describe this year. We started with our biggest project to date in January and from there the year has sped by, bringing us to a point where we find ourselves on the verge of releasing our first television series unto the world in a little over three weeks.

Bizarre.

JANUARY

It’s funny to think that Birdman was released here in January considering the director’s next film The Revenant is gearing up to be unleashed onto the world this coming January. Regardless, Birdman is a filmmaking masterclass, a director right at the top of his game which is why it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and also won this bloke about $50 bucks. Yup. I gamble on the Oscars – what a douche.

So January started with us getting the green light for what would become Michael Shanks (and our) first foray into television, the epic The Wizards of Aus. So as you can imagine, we spent a hell of a lot of time doing what we’ll call pre pre pre pre pre PRE production. The early stages of having conversations with crew, mulling over scripts and generally freaking out any time Shanks & his co-writer Nick Issell came back with episode revisions that were bigger and more epic than the last incarnation!

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Whilst that was going on we also had our short films Palindromes & Rocketman screening at the prestigious Flickerfest in Sydney and of course Shanks still found some time to knock out this wee little gem:

FEBRUARY

So aside from the fact that the script was full of plot holes, Samuel L Jackson’s character having a really bizarre lisp and a weird anal joke at the end of the film – Kingsman kicked some serious arse. It was explosive, fun, beautifully executed and far from what anyone I think was expecting. It was also another tick in the very slick cannon of Matthew Vaughn films.

So whilst pre-production was still motoring along on Wizards, Palindromes managed to screen at the Peninsula Film Festival out in Rosebud which is run by Australian actor Steve Bastoni. A very cool young outdoor festival (like Melbourne’s version of Tropfest), the film was screened to over 4,000 people and we managed to take our second runner up for Best Short Film.

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And shortly after that Hocking, Shanks and myself jumped on different planes and headed over to the US of A…

MARCH

Now this wasn’t necessarily my favourite film of this month HOWEVER it was one of my favourite trailers (Hugh Jackman with a mullet – SHIT YES!) and it was also a film I got to see in LA with Shanks, Hocking and a host of other friends at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. So it’s a little sentimental which is nice.

Anyway March was a crazy month cause not only did we spend 2-3 weeks over in the US, we also started production on Wizards when we returned. So whilst over in LA, Hocking (who actually only stayed in the US for three nights) was constantly on the phone with our lawyers, accountant, Screen Australia and the team back in Melbourne, whilst Shanks was working on storyboards and having similar conversations with our head of departments. The US was a whirlwind trip but to give you a bit of an idea, Shanks spent the time having meetings at ridiculous studios and production companies (HE VISITED BAD ROBOT FOR GOD SAKE) whilst we were there supporting a bunch of our shorts that were doing quite well on the festival circuit.

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Again, Palindromes screened at the Academy Award accredited Cinequest in San Jose, our 48 Hour Film Festival short Wrong Way Right was screening at the International 48 in LA and on top of that we paid a little visit to the Fox studio lot to watch our award winning short Terarrial screen in one of the screening rooms at Fox.

ON TOP OF THIS (bare with me) we also shot our very first Wizards scene with Shanks behind the camera and Chris on sound, shooting a scene with our good friend and Spartacus leading man Liam McIntyre. Arn’t they both handsome?

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And then on March 16. The fun and games began.

Now I could spend the rest of the blog highlighting just how bloody incredible the shoot was for The Wizards of Aus. I could tell you how the crew went above and beyond, helping us to create the world that Shanks & Issell had envisioned from the very beginning. I could also tell you how humbling it was having a cast that stretched from industry legends like Guy Pearce, Bruce Spence & Mark Mitchell right through to established actors that would arguably be considered “up and comers” like Menik Gooneratne, Mark Bonanno, Rhys Mitchell, Matylda Buczko and Nicolette Minster.

But that’s not for this blog – we’ll have more Wizards BTS than you can throw a stick at in the New Year, so stay tuned! And instead of any sneaky BTS photos I leave you with this. An EXCLUSIVE photo of the entire Wizards crew helping to lift Eve’s (art department) car out of a ditch. You’re welcome.

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APRIL

Again not my favourite but April was one of those months where you’d be hard pressed to find another film that really blew my socks off. Avengers is like any other Marvel film these days. Sure it’s entertaining as hell but it’s a bit same same. We’ve seen all those battles before, the storyline feels vaguely familiar and it’s the same old faces playing the same old characters. But like I said – still entertaining as hell.

WE WRAPPED. WE BLOODY DID IT!

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After a very long, difficult but incredibly fun three and a half weeks, we finally wrapped production on The Wizards of Aus. Which is amazing right? I mean after the first four months of this year you’d be forgiven for thinking that we took a few weeks off and were all sipping margherita’s on the beach somewhere. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

Hocking & Shanks dived straight into post production and Sumah and myself handed ourselves over to those pesky Daperis brothers for a rather big music video they had in the works. So whilst Shanks & Chris were working on cutting edge visual effects like below:

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The Daperis boys were constructing an underwater bar… yep. You heard me.

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MAY

And so came May and with it the much anticipated Mad Max: Fury Road and boy did it not disappoint. Honestly, if George Miller doesn’t win a whole swag of Academy Awards for Production Design AT THE VERY LEAST, then something is seriously wrong with the world.

And so it came time to sink the huge underwater bar that the Daperis boys had pre built for their music video for relatively unknown Melbourne duo American Doubles. The clip is for their upcoming 2016 release The Swell and was one hell of a concept. We basically sunk a pre built bar in a diving pool with the help of some professional divers & riggers (the same amazing team from Showtech Australia who helped us launch our rocketship for our short film Rocketman). It was a tricky shoot as we were basically working inside a little hot box and with some amazing free divers, a lot of whom hadn’t acted on camera before but somehow the Daperis boys pulled it off with their regular collaborator Shelley Farthing-Dawe (with the help of underwater camera operator Jon Shaw) shooting pretty underwater pictures.

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And on top of editing Wizards, rotoscoping goblins and setting up an underwater communications system, Hocking managed to take the time out to talk on a Post Production panel at St Kilda Festival for the ASE (like he wasn’t busy enough already!).

JUNE

So there were some questionable big budget releases this month. I know Hocking will disagree with me but I was a little underwhelmed by Jurassic World, Terminator Genesis and Ted 2. There was a lot of expectation for all but for me they all missed the mark. Inside Out however was a surprise packet, making me feel all the feels when i went to see if with my mum. I know, I’m adorable.

June brought us some more festival success (Palindromes again killing it, screening at the prestigious Palm Springs short film festival), more shooting (some sketches for Melbourne comedy duo Girls Uninterrupted) and you guessed it, more Wizards post production with Hocking and Shanks continuing to work around the clock to get the show done, one visual effects shot at a time!

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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