Year In Review 2013 – Part 3

September

Woody Allen’s possible “loose retelling” of A Streetcar Named Desire starring a perfect cast consisting of award worthy performances by Sally Hawkins and Cate Blanchett and featuring a strong support cast with the likes of Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin and Louis CK? Yes please. Arguably one of Allen’s best of recent years – check it out if you haven’t had the chance, if only for the performances from Hawkins & Blanchett.

So the last third of the year was when stuff started to get a little cray cray. September was the month in which we would shoot our two most ambitious projects to date: Time Trap & Rocketman. Originally both films were meant for Tropfest but as things shifted and changed over the course of producing both, we ended up submitting only Time Trap for Tropfest and decided Rocketman would be better suited elsewhere.

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Regardless both films were enormous undertakings. Time Trap was basically a 7min visual effects masterpiece from the mind of Michael Shanks which would take minimum of a month’s work of around the clock VFX work from Shanks, Hocking and some other kind souls (especially Dave Tipper & Martin Sharpe) who devoted their time free of charge to help out on the project. Shot in a set built by a small team in The Magic Sound Company studios in Yarraville and also out on location in Heathcote, shooting took place over four days and looked a little something like this:

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Rocketman was the next cab off the rank and a daunting one at that. The script, written by my good friend Phil Enchelmaier from a story I dreamed up one morning over coffee, featured two young boys building a rocketship that, by the end of the film, would actually take off. Shooting late September, the beginning of the month saw Chris and myself team up with our production designer Nathan Wentworth to build a 7 foot rocket (designed by the amazingly talented and absolutely lovely Nidhi Chanani) that was to be lifted up against a green screen at the Showtech offices in Braeside (massive thanks to Tiny & Robyn!), with pyro supplied by Allan Spiegel. The film was set in the 80’s and therefore I wanted to do as much in camera as possible which made for a very exciting day one of the shoot…

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All in all the shoot couldn’t have gone any better if we tried. The production and costume design by Nato and Elissa Hullah were incredible considering the short time frame and small budget, the images from cinematographer Ben Hidalgo were some of the best we’ve seen on a LateNite project and the performances from our cast (young and old) were second to none. We have always been very blessed at LateNite to have such an amazing team and this was no exception – to everybody involved, I thank you with all my heart!

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And so with a rapidly closing deadline for both Time Trap and Rocketman, we all began busting our balls to get them finished. Hocking, working simultaneously between the two as Shanks continued with the enormous amount of visual effects on Time Trap and me working with Mike Lutman to lock an edit on Rocketman.

October

I think if I had’ve put up anything other than Gravity for this month I would have been ripped to shreds by most people and why the hell not I say, Gravity was without fail one of the best films of 2013. The cinematography, sound design and spectacle are all reasons for a hell of a lot of nominations come award season. If you haven’t seen this film on the biggest damn screen you can then you are quite simply a maniac!

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Anyway after weeks and weeks of everybody going above and beyond on our two shorts including our Time Trap sound designer/composer Craig Jansson (who was also simultaneously doing sound design and music on Jacqui’s TVC for Ogivly and the National Environment Agency of Singapore), Rocketman sound designer Sasha Zastavnikovic,  Composer Paul Dawkins and VFX artist Eugene Richards, we finally finished both films and sent them on their way to festivals. With everybody suitably exhausted and ready for a break what else should occur than Chris’ favourite weekend of the whole year. The 48 Hour Film Project.

Now to be honest, after literally finishing Rocketman 3 or 4 hours before the festival started, Chris and I seriously considered pulling out of the competition. We were exhausted, destroyed, on our last legs, however you want to put it – we were not overly keen on making another film in the space of 48 hours and not sleeping after already spending the last month barely sleeping. But with a lot of first timers and enthusiasm on our side (including Nathan Wentworth, Tegan Higginbotham, Daniel Daperis and Elissa Hullah) we decided, what the hell. It’s only one more weekend right?

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So with Horror as our genre, and after Nato and my “Killer Turkey” idea got shut down, off we went on the Friday night to start shooting our fifth 48 hour film festival entry with Dan and myself directing and acting alongside Nato, Tegan, Lelda and one of the stars of Rocketman, little Rory MacKenzie.

I gotta say this was my favourite of the films that we’ve done for the 48 hour over the years. It was such a pleasure working alongside a team that were just so excited to be creating something together in 48 hours and who were willing to do anything to make not just a great 48 hour film, but a great film! I did learn one enormous lesson though – trying to scare people is bloody hard when you know when the scares are coming. I found it near impossible to work out whether the film was scary or not. Alas with the film making it in comfortably on time, we had to play the waiting game to see if our film would indeed make the audience jump out of their seats like we hoped.

As usual, half way across the globe, Jacqui was busy working with Gone Adventurin’, covering a bike ride from Ankor Wat in Cambodia, through Thailand and ending in Vientiane in Laos. It was a project that managed to raise over 102,000 USD to end avoidable blindness through the initiative Seeing Is Believing. Amazing girl that Jacqui!

November

How does one take a famous tween novel and not completely screw it up like those lovely fellow’s behind the abomination that is Twilight. It seems you take a great series of novels, trust the drama, add brilliant actors including one very strong female hero in Jennifer Lawrence, add a touch of violence, shake and serve. The first Hunger Games film very much impressed me and this one was no different. A really fantastic tale littered with good performances, some amazing set pieces and a riveting story. Fantastic thinkers popcorn movie!

So with the craziness of the previous two months now done and dusted it was back to the development drawing board as we tried to catch our breath. Jacqui returned with the Gone Adventurin’ crew to do a meet and greet with myself and Chris and exciting young creatives were using the LateNite space to explore their projects. I also began my directors attachment on the high rating ABC show The Doctor Blake Mysteries which stars Craig Machlachlan. I was attached to an incredible director by the name of Ian Barry and you can read all about my time on the show here.

And then came the big one. The 48 hour awards night in which we would discover whether our film was actually the scary horror film that we set out to make. With such a strong field this year, we all agreed that regardless of the outcome, we were amazingly happy with the film we’d made. There was a very strong audience reaction to Flash (probably the strongest one of our films has had in the festival) which made us all feel very proud of what we’d created.

What happened next surprised us all quite a bit. We took out the awards for Best Sound Design, Best Editing, Best Director, Best Film AND the Audience Award. The film now goes on to compete in New Orleans in March at the International 48 hour film festival along with 100 other films from around the globe. A huge thank you to the Melbourne 48 hour team and all the other teams that competed. There were so many amazing films this year and we all feel very fortunate to have come away with what we did!

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December

I’m not going to lie to you. I was a wee bit “meh” about David O Russell’s latest offering. The performances (like in all of his films) were absolutely stunning but I felt the story for such a simple premise was a little convoluted. I have picked this one though cause the month of December has been slim pickings for my movie going so it’s the best I got!

And now we find ourselves in December. Never staying in the same place for more than a few weeks – Jacqui headed off to West Java to film for “The Learning Farm” – a project which helps troubled youth and street kids from all over Indonesia transform their lives through organic farming and life skills.

For the rest of us, with our enormous year coming to a close we have spent most of December getting ready to launch into next year, with all guns blazing. We have (finally) updated our website and showreel and have sat down with our LateNite team to discuss our plan of attack for next year. And let me tell you, if our end of year planning meeting was anything to go by, next year is going to be HUGE.

So to everybody that has supported us, helped us and become a part of the LateNite family in the last 12 months, we honestly cannot express our gratitude enough. You have been what keeps us going when times have gotten tough and are the drive for us to keep getting bigger and better.

2014 is going to be a big year for us and we hope you all come along for the ride.

Have a great New Years and we will see you all in 2014!

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