Year In Review 2013 – Part 2

May

There is no better place to learn about building a sustainable film and television industry than Denmark. Those clever Danish folk have continued to build and shape their industry over many years to a point where 30% of the box office share is coming from homegrown Danish cinema and their number #1 film for 2013 in terms of box office takings was a Danish film. Compare that to the Australian box office share which hasn’t hit above 10% in the last 25 years and you could say there is a thing or two we could learn from the Danish. Anyhoo, that aside, The Hunt is without a doubt one of the best films of 2013. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, The Hunt is a beautifully crafted film which will have you shaking from anger by the end of it. It had a similar effect on me as last year’s Academy Award winning film In A Better World (also Danish) which was directed by Susanne Bier. Go and see it if you haven’t, it’s a very important film!

The month started with me heading off overseas on an adventure to my brothers wedding (and a side trip to London and Cannes Film Festival – more on that later) and the boys shooting another one of Shanks’ creations. The mockumentary style clip was the first of the Timtimfed collection which features dialogue. You can view below:

Meanwhile, whilst Jacqui was still sailing the Pacific Ocean and exploring the Galapagos Islands (half her luck), her documentary featuring Hocking #3 (David), was screening in Hong Kong. The screening of Divin’ Timor, supported by Agnes B, was a great success, raising awareness and funds for a Hummingfish Foundation project called Ai Funan.

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Over the other side of the world, whilst the others were getting up to their regular shenanigans, I was busy living it up in Europe. I was on the way to my brothers wedding so thought I would “pop in” and see some shows in London and also what all the fuss is about at the Cannes Film Festival.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a “Nick’s greatest hits of Europe” slide night, but more like a couple of relevant, choice experiences from my travels. Firstly, in London I was lucky enough to see a bunch of shows on the West End. The first one I managed to catch was the Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone who are those talented fellows behind South Park. The thing I love about these guys is their incredible ability to make searing satire from the most politically incorrect of places. The musical is loud, crass and deliciously incorrect but has a heart and message underneath the surface that is as important as your local arthouse offering down at the ye olde cinemaplex. If you’re in London or New York I highly suggest you go and check it out. The other two shows I saw that I think are worth mentioning are Peter and Alice, written by Academy Award winner John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall) and starring Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw & Judy Dench and The Cripple of Inishmaan, written by another Academy Award winning writer and director in Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) and starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Firstly, they were both phenomenal shows. McDonagh is my favourite playwright and can honestly do no wrong and this was John Logan’s next stage offering after the Tony Award Winning Red.

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However, what I want to quickly highlight is the performances. Radcliffe, Whishaw and the cast of both were all out of this world but the points on this occasion go to Judy Dench. I watched as she seamlessly shifted between playing an 80 year old and a 10 year old on stage, with my jaw resting firmly on the ground. She was beautiful, she was emotionally present and she knocked my fucking socks of (…sorry, I told Chris I wouldn’t swear but I think it’s appropriate in this situation).

Moving on to the pièce de résistance of my travels, the Cannes Film Festival was unlike anything I could’ve possibly imagined. It’s funny that you look at these festivals in the press and you expect them to be these amazing glitzy events with red carpet as far as the eye can see and celebrities looking fabulous 24/7. What I got to experience was the business of filmmaking. I had a couple of wanders around the Cannes Film Market where thousands upon thousands of movies were being sold. I observed people having meetings everywhere (I even snuck in one or two), market screenings where filmmakers desperately tried to hold strong as distributers would walk out of their 30 person screening after 10min of watching and each and every country trying to woo and schmooze other countries to come and shoot in their homeland. It was honestly something else and if any filmmakers are reading this I HIGHLY suggest that if you ever plan on trying to sell a film there, go and check it out first when you have nothing to lose!

03

Anyway I was lucky enough to see a bunch of movies there, the best of which I shall highlight for you below:

Inside Llewyn Davis is a MUST SEE when it gets released in Jan – one of the Cohen’s best. A beautifully nuanced film about music and art.

The Immigrant was another personal favourite, probably more because we watched the press conference immediately after the film with director James Gray and some of the cast. It was a fascinating insight into why he wanted to make the film which you can watch here.

And lastly was Nebraska, from one of my favourite directors Alexander Payne (who I spied from a distance in a screening of French film Le Passe, another favourite). The film, although probably a touch long, is a really beautiful story about a father and son roadtrip that gets sidetracked at the fathers small home town in Nebraska. Worth seeing just for the star turn by veteran actor Bruce Dern.

Shortly after one of these days, I managed to squeeze in a Skype call to help out the LateNite team as they attempted their first ever 48 EcoFilm Challenge. Both Mike Lutman and Chris sounded a bit broken so myself and my lovely girlfriend Lelda came to the rescue to the poor sleepless guys back at LateNite. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, Jacqui thought she’d also make an attempt at the 48 hour whilst on her documentary shoot with the TopToTop project. Both films made it in on time but unfortunately a blunder with one of the line’s made LateNite Team A disqualified.

We are ENORMOUSLY proud of both films and couldn’t have done it without the hard work of the usual suspects and the added director awesome that is Mike Lutman. You can all have a cheeky look at both below:

And what about that handsome Shanks devil? Well he had a pretty quiet month by his standards. Just spoke at a talk for the Australian Screen Editors Guild and won Best Independent Music Video at St Kilda Film Fest for a second year running with this beauty:

Like I said…not a big month for him!

June

It was a pretty lacklustre US Summer Season this year with a bunch of non event blockbusters released. I know Shanks will disagree but I actually didn’t mind World War Z in comparison to a lot of the other releases. The ending was a bit bullshit and the product placement was a touch absurd (the scene with the Pepsi machine well worth a mention) but otherwise it was a good fun popcorn movie.

Anyway onto June and my glorious return to welcome LateNite newcomer Daniel Daperis who had been working with Chris whilst I was away. Dan is the brother of Jared Daperis who I have known for many years after we were in a kid’s tv show together. As well as being an amazing director, Dan is also an incredible actor having started when he was just a wee boy. He is a very exciting newcomer to the team as not only is he very talented, he is a wonderful guy who we are very excited to add alongside Shanks and myself as a LateNite director. Dan in particular was a huge help stepping in as director of our Behind The Scenes work on the ABC/BBC kids series Worst Year of my Life Again…!

04

While the boys were doing their behind the scenes thing, Shanks’ was up to his usual tricks with another one of his timtimfed video’s which was shot on our newly acquired BMC camera. Hocking did a nice little write up for BMC which you can check out here.

The result of Shanks’ genius can be seen below:

With myself returning from overseas it was time to say goodbye to our office in at 16th Street Actors Studio where it all started. We’d like to say a big thank you to Jamie Zamudio and Kim Krejus for allowing us to use their old kitchen as our first ever office! Here are some photos of us moving into our sexy new space in Collingwood! Huge thanks to Mara Kapsis for helping pick all our furniture and design our office space and to Karen Mead for building our main edit desk!

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July

This is the End was a funny movie for a couple of reasons. Number one it was a cleverly written, cameo filled comedy from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and number two, it bore a striking resemblance to our 2012 48 Hour Film Festival short To The Heavens.

If you’ve seen the movie have a watch of our short below and let me know what you think. They were shot at the same time so nothing dodgy, just a few funny little coincidences:

July was a slightly quieter month at LateNite with the team working towards some deadlines with our advertising work and also participating in a talk at PAX Melbourne. The talk featured Shanks along with Chris and timtimfed DOP, Sam McCabe, speaking to a packed out audience at the PAX event in Melbourne. Thanks to all the people at PAX for making the event happen and to everyone that came along to hear what the team had to say!

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July was also the very beginning of my favourite time of year…

AUGUST

As always when MIFF rolls around I can’t choose just the one film for the month as I saw a shitload. Of the 40 odd films I racked up in the two weeks my favourites were:

Mood Indigo was a really sweet film from the brilliant mind of Michel Gondry. Love him or hate him, the man has an enormous imagination which always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Fruitvale Station was the darling of this years Sundance and a hugely important film for our time. The film is a very subtle, almost voyeuristic look at the shooting of an African American man by a white police officer in the early hours of New Years Day in 2009. Based on a true story this film is a must see.

Valentine Road is the most important documentary of this year. A powerful doc about a 14 year old boy in Oxnard, California who gunned down his classmate Lawrence King who had started cross dressing at school. If you haven’t caught the doco put it down on your must see list.

…and my three absolute favourites:

In lesser hands my gut feeling is that Stoker wouldn’t have been as great a film as it was. Park Chan-wook, the cult director behind the original Oldboy, has taken what I think was possibly a sub standard script by Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller and put his unique spin on it to make it a taut, suspenseful thriller and one of the years best films. Worth seeing just for the production design, cinematography and amazing sound design.

This movie broke my heart. With stunning performances by Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgard and newcomer Onata Aprile, I challenge you to walk out of this movie without shedding a tear.

Without a doubt one of the best Australian movies of the last 20 years. If any movie is gonna get Australians back into the cinema it should be this one. A beautiful, poignant little film about a young Laotian boy who is thought to be the “unlucky” twin after the other twin dies during child birth. It’s funny, dramatic and just plain beautiful.

So now that we’ve covered that, what else happened this month?

09

Well Shanks had a busy month with his first television commercial shooting late in the month and also he began prep for his first short film outside of the 48 Hour Film Festival entitled Time Trap. Both projects were to be shot by the incredibly talented Ed Goldner who would be making his cinematographer debut on a LateNite project.

I also began work on a Fringe Festival show with John Richards (writer of ABC series Outland) and Lucas Testro (director of Winners & Losers) and started prep with Chris and Daniel another big LateNite short in Rocketman. Jacqui meanwhile was back in Singapore to direct a TVC for advertising agency Ogilvy and the National Environment Agency of Singapore.

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