If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 here.
So I’m gonna cheat a little bit here because I totally left this out of my May releases and it is close to being my favourite film of 2015. If you haven’t seen it then you should as it is one of the greatest dark comedies of the last few years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe and you’ll be exhausted by the end of it which is how a good movie should make you feel. It was also an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language film so there’s another wee incentive for you.
July was another quiet month in the sense that a lot of time was being put into Wizards with Hocking & Shanks whittling away at the show from Shanks place. There was a bit of shooting over the course of this month with pick ups for the Daperis boys music video The Swell and also a couple of commercials featuring AFL coaches Paul Roos, Rodney Eade & the national netball team – the Australian Diamonds. And it’s probably worth mentioning that Hocking was across ALL of these jobs which is probably why he looks a little weary in glorious technicolour…
And then of course, MIFF happened.
As always, the film festival consumed most of my life at the beginning of August. I saw a hell of a lot of great films however the above two stood out as my favourite narrative and favourite doc of the 19 day festival. The Lobster isn’t the kind of film you see a lot these days. It’s a wildly inventive premise that drives a very black comedy featuring stunning performances from an impressive ensemble cast. Like Wild Tales, it had me hooked from the word go right up until the final frame of the film. And as for Finders Keepers – I dare you to find a more bat shit insane true story that makes you cry with laughter whilst also making you feel all the feels.
August was a month of post for everyone at LateNite.
Hocking was helping the Daperis boys out with their music video whilst Shanks continued to pump through the never ending list of visual effects for Wizards. I was also in post on the commercials that we’d shot the month before so found myself spending my days in with the fine people at Method.
And just when i thought I was staring down the barrel of some downtime to do some writing, I got a call from Neighbours to see if i’d be interested in doing a directors attachment with veteran Neighbours director Tony Oscika. And so began pre production…
The second Australian entry for this year and it’s a good ‘un. The Dressmaker is yet another film that is a push in the right direction for Australian cinema. I remember asking my good friend and film reviewer Daniel Lammin what he thought and his response was simply “it’s bat-shit nuts. In a good way” – and boy did he hit the nail on the head. I don’t want to give too much away but seek it out if you can – it’s rising box office figures speak for itself.
So whilst I was busy learning how to direct 6 episodes of television a week on Neighbours (the cast and crew on that show are absolute workhorses!!!) the boys were busy doing some Wizards pick ups whilst continuing to fight the good fight in post. In particular, they shot some horse pick ups for our Irene character and also shot our Fishy Thursday plates for Episode 01. There really is nothing quite like a practical effect…
We also had some more festival luck this month with the Daperis boys film Hit getting accepted into the Greek Australian Film Festival and Palindromes continuing on it’s merry way with selection in the Heart of Gold Film Festival and Capricorn Film Festivals up in Queensland.
If you ask me I think Guillermo del Toro is a bit hit and miss. I can’t fault the guy for his world building and the design of his films but quite often I feel like his stories tend to plod along rather than inspire and excite. The exception to the rule is obviously Pan’s Labyrinth and potentially the Hellboy films, but otherwise I’d say he’s more miss than hit. So with that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised at Crimson Peak, a return to his gothic roots after a bit of messing around on the Hobbit films before Pacific Rim limped through it’s cinema run. And with the announcement of a “dark take” on Pinocchio, I’m looking forward to what the man has to deliver in the coming years!!!
So I finished up on Neighbours after 5-6 short weeks. I won’t go into great detail on my time there but what I will say is that I learnt a hell of a lot about moving quickly on a production. As I mentioned in one of the previous months, these guys shoot on average about 10min a day on location and 17min in studio which is HUGE in comparison to their network drama counterparts. What I did learn from Tony is the importance of blocking when it comes to shooting quickly and, when your back is up against the wall and you’re running out of time, how important it is to be able to use that blocking to make your coverage efficient.
And whilst all this was going on…you guessed it. Chris & Shanks were getting closer to the SBS deadline for Wizards, one VFX shot at a time. Look how happy they are!
Say what you will about Spectre – I had a bloody blast! Like any nerdy Bond fan, I raced to the midnight screening at IMAX to watch the gentleman spy on the biggest screen I could find and boy was I not disappointed. There has been a lot of discussion about the film moving away from the darker, more serious films in the Daniel Craig cannon and more towards the older, sillier, Roger Moore films of the 70’s and 80’s which to be honest, I’m totally fine with. I felt like the film struck somewhere in between, which is exactly why I loved it. For me it was a perfect balance between the old and the new and although Skyfall will still sit head and shoulders above the rest, I thought it was a solid entry in the 007 legacy.
November brought about the frightening realisation that the year was quickly evaporating and we had a show to finish, so Hocking and Shanks turned on the after burners and continued to work day and night to try and finish Wizards by the December deadline. The VFX shot list was very quickly evaporating and we only had one remaining character to shoot – Regimand, the father of our main character.
After months and months of trying to decide who to cast, Shanks & Hocking decided to go out on a limb and approach one of Australia’s finest – Bruce Spence. Bruce is a man that needs no introduction and his 100+ credit IMDb page is testament to that, and luckily for us – he bloody well said yes to our silly little television show!!
On top of all the fun and excitement of Wizards nearing completion, Shanks also had some more success with his popular short film Time Trap, which screened at the Lorne Film Festival and also the Forest Short Film Festival in Japan!
I would be murdered if I didn’t have this trailer as my December film. The excitement was high in the LateNite office, so much so that Hocking, Shanks and myself took our girlfriends and brothers to the midnight screening along with our good mate Cail Young (who very kindly got us the tickets after the IMAX website had a meltdown). Although I did have some issues with the film (Domhnall Gleeson was a terrible choice for Hux) it was a hell of a ride and I’m glad I got to see it in amongst all the excitement of the IMAX midnight screening. It’s a feeling you hardly get at the cinema these days, so many people who can barely control their excitement – I can only imagine what that must feel like as a filmmaker to have that many people excited about your work.
And so here is where we find ourselves.
2015 is almost a distant memory and the excitement and opportunities of 2016 are only a stones throw away.
This year has been a really hard year for a lot of reasons but it’s also been an incredibly fulfilling year. Only a few years ago, Chris and myself were working out of a kitchen at the front of a drama school that could barely hold the two of us. And now we find ourselves finishing off our first television series, with a bunch of projects ready to go next year and surrounded by incredible, like minded cast and crew whose work you can see in the Wizards trailer below:
We also have a support network that includes guys like us who are consistently raising the bar, forcing us to do the same. Guys like Oh Yeah Wow, Enzo Tedeschi & his team at Deadhouse Films, Dave Christison & Richard Hughes (The Woolshed Company), Maria Angelico & Lucy Hayes (the team behind the web series Movement) and of course I could go on and on.
I think the most important thing that I’ve discovered this year is that no one person makes a film.
It takes a legion of people with not only the skills but also the personality to be able to get ambitious projects across the line.
I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Chris Hocking. The Gentleman Workhorse.
He spent 2015 working harder than any person I’ve seen in my lifetime. He is the sole reason that Shanks was able to do The Wizards of Aus exactly the way he wanted and somehow he also found time to support the rest of us at LateNite.
And with that in mind I sign off the only way Hocking would want:
Onwards & Upwards