"You've got to put those pieces together and make a picture."

First Cut 1, Ch 6, Pg 117. Geof Bartz.

"People don't realise that somebody sits there and makes thousands and thousands of decisions before what they see ever gets on the screen. That they've gone down hundreds of wrong paths before they've ended up with the final film. The thing that's most annoying is when people say, 'So you're the one that cuts stuff out'. As if there was a big long thing and you cut it down to size. Often there is just a big mishmash of material. It's as if somebody gave you all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and no picture of what that puzzle is supposed to look like. Maybe there's three or four jigsaw puzzles all mixed up. You've got to put those pieces together and make a picture."



"It really is magic."

First Cut 1, Ch 4, Pg 77. Carol Littleton.

"When I'm in the dark, alone, and I'm looking at the film for the first time, it's very exciting. Then when the director comes in, you're dealing with the mind and heart of the person who has the most intimate knowledge of the film. You go through problems together, talk, hash it over, find solutions. It's you two at the end. It really is magic. We're sort of alchemists. We put a lot of elements together, and we're hoping to make it gold."


"Life needs an editor sometimes."

First Cut 1, Ch 3, Pg 59. Tom Haneke, documentary editor.

"To be an editor, you need the ability to see connections between things and a desire to order them. Life needs an editor sometimes. If we could only montage this party, cut to the core of this graduation speech. If we could only get this next to that, everything would be clear. You can't do that, but it's appealing to think about."



Films from this year's 48 Hour Film Project

A large number of the films from this year's 48 Hour Film Project Melbourne are now up online. If you're only interested enough to watch the film I worked on, then check out "Measure Of Success", and let me know what you think of it. Check out my post on the experience for more info about both the film and the festival.

However if you're up for watching some more, there's quite a few that are definitely worth watching. Don't forget that these films were entirely conceived and created in one weekend, because you won't believe it for some of them. I'll break them up by genre. Here's my pick of the ones currently online:


BOBBY by Wake In Vegemite: Took out the award for best music. Was also a big audience favourite. It's pretty cool. :)

STAIN by Oh My: Nominee for Best Film, this one is a bit dark but I found it compelling and very well crafted. Done entirely in one shot (not counting the opening).

DATES OF OUR LIVES or KINDLING (depending on whether you go by the slate or the closing titles) by From Rushes With Love: More of a rom-com than a drama, this should have taken the award for best editing. Brilliantly scripted and edited, good performances, and quite funny. I'm discovering that I'm very drawn to fast-paced dialogue and editing, which is probably why I loved this short. Unfortunately the audio is not of consistent quality, but the idea and execution help the film transcend this issue.

WRONG WAY RIGHT by LateNight Films: Winner of Best Film. These guys basically win every year. :) They're a highly skilled production team. Also a little dark in nature, reminiscent of "The Butterfly Effect". While their entry is definitely shot beautifully and skilfully crafted, I thought the ending left a lot to be desired. I can see why it won, though.

FILM DE FEMME (A genre they made up for this year, designed to promote strong female characters)
CASSETTE by 54th Story: The film everyone WISHED had won! Took the audience choice award. Really fun flick. Well shot and acted, and quite funny. It's also amazing they managed to make this film at all. While everyone else started scripting and planning on Friday night, these guys only managed to find their lead actress - via Twitter - on midnight of Sunday. And, in a bizarre life-mirrors-art twist, at one point their car broke down and they had to call for assistance. And yet they still managed to produce this. Pretty fucking incredible.

SUBSCRIBING by Failed Productions: Woman decides whether social norms are for her. Come for the social commentary, stay for the best credits music of the 2014 festival.

FINE by Cameralla: Nominated for Best Film. Funny and quite touching piece, with a very impressive performance from the lead that is emotional yet not melodramatic. I thought this one was really, really fantastic.

THE BEARDED DETECTIVE by Blue Box: Took the prize for Best Use of Genre, and you can see why. Hard shadows, desk lamp light, hard-boiled PI, a dame in distress, southern American accents; this thing oozes noir. I think the plot twist is a little bit fuzzy/hard to follow, but overall it's a cool little noir piece.

THE COLLECTOR by Blazing Arrow Media: Not exactly sure how you can call this one a 'romance' film, it's really more of a drama, but either way it's pretty good. A story that just pleasantly washes over you, well delivered from the main actor, and nicely shot. Nominated for quite a few awards, but didn't manage to win anything.

TURNIN' TRICKS by AstralVision: Heheh. This is an extremely silly film. You'll only enjoy it if you go along with it. For example you need to buy the fact that the dude complains about how he's never stolen a car before while trying to break in to it, and then in the next shot he is driving it. I guess the keys must have been in there? Ah who cares, just roll with it. ;) They did a good job on actually making the music and lip synching it too, considering the timeframe. I guess that's why they delivered their film past the deadline.

If you only feel like watching a few, I'd say at least check out CASSETTE, FINE and BOBBY.


There's some other decent ones if you can be bothered - REBECCA, a touching story about a boy and his goat, will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the "Charlie The Wonder Dog" segments from The Late Show, SHIP OUT OF LUCK is a sci-fi/comedy about a man trying to buy insurance for/repair his currently-crashing spaceship, and UPSTREAM is a bizarre and slightly surreal time-travel film where all of the people either don't know, or don't seem to care that they have just inexplicably travelled through time.

Unfortunately one of my favourites, about a portal to a noir world that just shows up one morning in someone's lounge room, still hasn't been put up online. It was made by someone I'm in touch with on Twitter, so I'll have to bug him about it at some stage. I will update this entry if it's ever put up.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of any of the shorts that you watch. :)


48 Hour Film Project 2014

A couple of weeks ago someone posted on the Australian Screen Editors page on Facebook. They were looking for a video editor to work as a part of their crew, who were competing in the 48 Hour Film Project. As the name implies, the 48HFP gives you 48 hours to script, shoot, edit, score, mix and master a short film of between 3 and 7 minutes. It was something I had been looking in to as I thought it would be quite an interesting experience, but I wasn't entirely confident about being up to the task so I didn't pursue it further. Just because I lacked confidence, though, didn't mean I couldn't do it, and here was an opportunity staring me so hard in the face it was impossible to ignore.

I got in touch with the post's author, Errol, and discussed the details. After ensuring the footage they would be shooting and the workflow they were planning on using matched my experience and laptop's capabilities, I signed on for the project. I met with some of the crew and cast at Beer Deluxe one night and we discussed some logistical details. I was immediately impressed by how organised they were. My expectations were low given that some of the crew were students and I was under the impression this was all a bit last-minute, but they had all the gear they needed, the actors were locked in and we had a rough schedule. The writer / director, Chrissy, also had a bank of scripts to call upon to leverage should we need them.

On the Friday night, a group of us gathered at Chrissy's house while our producer, Farhad, went down to ACMI to sign us up for the competition and to gather all the information we would need to start pre-production. Like other film competitions, there are things every team's films must contain. For the 48HFP, those things are a character name, a profession, a prop and a line of dialogue. This year it was Thomas or Tammy Cox, motivational speaker, a ruler and "A promise is a promise". Farhad relayed the info to us by text and we started talking about potential ideas.

The last piece of the puzzle was the genre. There are sixteen genres, which are split as evenly as possible across all teams. We were extremely surprised to learn there were 55 teams competing. That's massive! We drew "romance" as our genre. After everyone groaning a little bit, we got down to brainstorming ideas for a rom-com (we did briefly consider doing a sci-fi/time-travel/romance which I think still has a lot of potential as an idea, but in the end went with something a lot easier to achieve).

Our film is called "Measure of Success", and it is the story of three motivational speakers who attend a speed dating event. Thomas and Tammy Cox, who are recently divorced, and Kieran Long, one of Thomas' more successful rivals.

One of the locations we had planned on using fell through, so we spent a fair bit of time just figuring out where we were going to shoot the next morning and how it was all going to work. It was decided that we would shoot some sequences outside our main location first, and then move inside when it was available to us. After it was mostly figured out and it was just the details that needed to be locked down, I left them to it. I had to get a decent night's sleep (and a bit of a sleep-in). I was going to be editing on set while they were shooting, but that still meant there was nothing I could do until they'd shot at least a tape's worth of material. Plus I would be up all night editing.

I arrived on set the next morning and things were slowly moving ahead. I chatted with Farhad and a few of the actors while waiting for things to get to a point where I could start working. Eventually we moved inside and I got set up to work. The location we were using was Howler Bar, a place in Brunswick. I used the backstage band room as my edit room.

During the course of editing on set, it became apparent that the first scene we'd shot would be one of the harder ones to edit together, for a number of reasons. One big problem was that the camera angles they had got made the background massively blown-out and white, and incorporated a lot of negative space. It was amateurish and, in my eyes, a big problem.

Our audio guy Mark came up to check on me and to see if his sound was syncing with the footage as we'd planned. I showed him the shots and he agreed that they were bad. He said "If you think they're a problem, speak up. Eleanor is still here and we might be able to re-shoot them." Since our child actor, Eleanor, wasn't required throughout the day I figured she would have already left. I pounced on the opportunity at once, getting the director, producer, and DP up to view the shots. They agreed that they were awful and planned a reshoot at once.

The reshoot basically saved the scene, which was a relief. I couldn't do anything about Eleanor's fairly flat, monotonic line delivery, but at least the scene worked. We wrapped shooting, went out for dinner, then I headed home for a long night's edit.

I probably started editing at around 8pm. After a lot of experimentation with the way scenes could be cut together, after a lot of yelling at the DoP for not framing shots differently, and after far too much Red Bull than anyone should drink during the course of a few hours, by 3am I had the film cut and had also done a light colour grade.

Up at 6am and over to Greensborough to show Chrissy, Mark, one of our camera operators Kevin, and one of the cast, Chris. After repeated screenings of the film, and discussions as to what worked and what didn't, we made a few changes and some additions. The more we tweaked, the happier everyone felt with the film, until finally we locked picture and I could hand off to Mark who would be mixing the dialogue and adding music to the film. Kevin started work on an additional colour grade, and I worked on some text elements.

Mark really pushed the time he had very close to the wire. Overall it was a great sounding mix. There were a couple of elements that I thought could have been tweaked differently, but time didn't allow for it. After he was done it was back to my machine to add in the final mix, Kevin's graded footage, and push it out to a couple of memory sticks for submission.

First I did an export that was slightly too large to fit on a memory stick, so I had to drop the quality down fractionally. After about six minutes that was done, and I started copying to the first memory stick, and it was going to take 20 minutes. THAT was a problem - if BOTH memory sticks took 20 minutes, we weren't leaving ourselves much time to get from Greensborough in to ACMI and submit. It was decided that I'd continue copying the file over in the car. I left my gear set up at Mark's and everyone piled in to cars and headed in. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but in the end the second memory stick only took about 7 minutes to copy the file across and we made it with about half an hour to spare.

It was a pretty amazing feeling, dropping the film off, surrounded by people that were feeling the same way we were, as well as people who had brought their laptops in to ACMI with them and were doing all the final transcoding and exporting in the submission room. After submission we all headed over to Young and Jackson's for some post-film drinks. I went and grabbed my laptop and we had a screening of the film for the cast and crew who hadn't seen it yet. Not the best, playing a film from a laptop in a noisy pub, but people still enjoyed it. A few people commented on just how damn happy I was. I couldn't stop smiling. It was hard not to feel happy. It's not the greatest film, but it's still an achievement. I'd happily work with most of that crew again too, and there was already talks of other scripts we might develop.

Mark and I got a lift back to his place with one of the cast, I packed up my gear and headed home, very tired but very happy.

From the 48HFP Melbourne's Facebook page:
"At 7pm last Friday 55 teams started the challenge of making a short film in only 48hours.
Some are new teams to the Melbourne competition and some already have up to six years experience.
45 teams made it on time, with 2 teams handing their film in at the very last minute!!
7 teams came late but are still stoked to have had the 48 experience.
3 teams did not complete their films.
Now the judges will get to work....
Make sure you're coming to see the films at ACMI between the 22nd - 26th of September and the Awards night/After-party on the 3rd of October. Screening groups will be announced this coming Friday."

We've been given our screening date: Wednesday 24th of September. 13 films will screen, including ours, starting from 7:30pm. Go to this page on ACMI's website if you'd like to buy a ticket to come along. It will be the first time anything I've cut will be shown on the big screen. I've got a festival pass and plan to see all the films made for the festival, both to inform my own editing, and to see what ideas other teams had.

Overall it was an excellent experience and I'd definitely compete again. In the meantime, I have a bunch of new contacts and may work with them again in the future, and a film that I cut together screening in a cinema. So yeah. Life's pretty rad. :)


Rainbow Serpent Festival 2011: Overview

So the video is finally done. I've been sitting on it for a few days whilst bouncing emails back and forth with Tim Harvey, one of the Rainbow organisers. They have decided to officially endorse the video, and want to chat to us about the footage we shot this year for AGM. Tim's been promising to call but is apparently crazy busy (unsurprisingly), so I guess that news will have to wait for another post.

As for the video though, I just can't sit on it any longer, so it's out. Hopefully Rainbow will get around to promoting it on their website and Facebook page eventually; in the meantime it's up to all of you to rate it, comment on it, and share the hell out of it. We're also asking what some of your own festival highlights were - what made 2011 different from other years? Comment over at YouTube and get the ball rolling for us!

Here's the obligatory embed, but as always I'd recommend going over to YouTube and watching this one in either 1080p or 720p high definition quality.

Enjoy! :)

Internet - FilmCow Llamas With Hats - Ap

Aelita Andre

This is the first I've heard of artist Aelita Andre. A video of her is currently trending on YouTube, which is how I came across her. It depicts her at work in her studio:

It goes for about 14 minutes - I didn't bother to watch it all, I watched the first few minutes then skipped through it. It is the height of indulgent wank, regardless of the debate it accompanies.

Naturally my first reaction was one similar to the commenters on YouTube. Surely this is a child who has been heavily indulged, and many other children could produce similar work when given the same opportunity (surprisingly and to a certain extent, it turns out her father agrees). At the same time I was intrigued to find out how she had come to have her own exhibition at only age four (the above video is something of a promotion for it).

So I looked for articles and found this one from 2009, when she was initially discovered, and this one from 2010, detailing how her story had progressed over the year, and a proper interview with the parents to get their input, which was especially interesting. As I mentioned, this year they are holding an exhibition of her work, at the Agora gallery in New York.

Reading the interview with the parents raises some interesting questions. What is "art"? Does art need to have an intent to be legitimate? Personally I feel art is an expression, whether with intent or not. Why should something need to have purpose to have meaning? Since the way we feel about artwork is subjective, aren't we all finding our own meaning from art anyway? WE give it meaning via our interpretations. If the widely-agreed purpose of the majority of art is to challenge/entertain/inform etc., then Aelita's artwork is entirely legitimate, even if she had no intent for it to be so.

Are Aelita's parents ones who, thanks to some training in the arts, recognised in their daughter a talent, and had the means to give her the opportunity to develop that talent and the contacts to get her talent noticed by the world at large...

...or are they indulging and/or exploiting a child and trying very hard to make it seem like they aren't, and at the same time having a go at parents who don't indulge their children or attempt to help them develop artistic skills?



MICF2011 - First round of shows

These are the shows I'm intending to book tickets for today:

Tuesday 29 March
Wil Anderson, Athenaeum Theatre One, Tue 29 Mar 2011, 09:45 PM - 10:45 PM

Friday 1 April
Felicity Ward, Melbourne Town Hall, Fri 1 Apr 2011, 08:15 PM - 09:15 PM
Steve Hughes, Melbourne Town Hall, Fri 1 Apr 2011, 09:45 PM - 10:45 PM

Tuesday 5 April
Jason Byrne, Athenaeum Theatre One, Tue 5 Apr 2011, 08:30 PM - 09:30 PM
(Unless Corch decides to book Danny Bhoy on this date, in which case I'll push this back to another date)

Wednesday 6 April
Bob Franklin, Melbourne Town Hall, Wed 6 Apr 2011, 07:15 PM - 08:05 PM
Rich Hall, Capitol Theatre, Wed 6 Apr 2011, 09:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Wednesday 13 April
Nina Conti, Capitol Theatre, Wed 13 Apr 2011, 07:30 PM - 08:25 PM

I've got Kat down for Friday 1 April and Kupp down for everything... anyone else interested? Just be aware that putting your name down is a commitment to pay me for that ticket, and your ticket is your responsibility (i.e. if you can't go, it's up to you how you deal with your ticket). So make sure you're sure. :)