FROM WHERE WE ALREADY ARE

DIRECTING MY FIRST COMMERCIAL JOB IN THE US, THE QUIET PIECES THAT ALIGNED FORM A REASSURING PICTURE...


A few months back I won my first commercial gig in the States with the gorgeous people at Picture Farm: a couplet of small, quiet stories for an energy company focussing more on renewable energies.  With no VFX or overly present visual trickery, it was a discrete way to jump into the pool; not so much a dive bomb in the deep end or wailing scream thrashing my way past equally noisy children, but a no nonsense slip into the slow lane to begin my warm up. 

Teaming up with my long time collaborator and fellow Australian abroad, Josh McKie, they posed a quintessentially old-world wedge of Americana, one that I am entirely unqualified to say I understand, no matter how much Spielberg or Reiner I may have watched in my yoof. Yet in many other ways — and for those who catch my almost daily posts across social media — these stories are a natural next step; I know our future is with a healthier attitude towards our planet, with more women in the roles that shape it.  Whether it's going to Antarctica with a team of ambitious female scientists or cheering the successes of those nearest and dearest to me, I try to help that future come to bear in any small way I can.  Sometimes it feels like that's all I should be doing.

 

"NO ONE MENTIONED QUOTAS OR AGENDAS. IT JUST HAPPENED ORGANICALLY, WITHOUT ANY FIGHT, FUSS OR FANCY PANTING"

 

So it was a nice surprise to find ourselves on the second day of shooting these two spots with a group of smart, well intentioned creatives in a sleepy corner of Kansas, having the realisation that not one main character was male (in one spot the cast is entirely female) and that of the main cast, only one face was white. While the diversity happened with some deliberateness, the entirely all female cast was a complete accident (at least at our end).  No one mentioned quotas or agendas.  There was no discussion about whether we should insert a guy or girl in a scene.  It just happened organically, without any fight, fuss or fancy panting.  Not to mention the cast were all either first timers or actual Westar employees.  What naturals.

In that way, it was a small sign that in this day and age where it seems bullies hold sway as women share countless stories of male-inflicted torment, we can note a small sign that the future we are fighting for is already here, quietly slipping unnoticed into the pool to ensure, stroke by stroke, the future Us have a decent world to enjoy it in.

CREDITS
Client: Westar Energy
Agency: Callahan Creek
Agency Producer: Jon Hardesty
Agency Sr Art Director: Chris Ralston
Agency Sr Copy Writer: Kevin Faddis
Director: Kess Broekman-Dattner
Producer: Laura Cartagena, Tom Hipp
DP: Josh McKie
Post Supervisor: Leslie Yoon
Post Producer: Monique Robertson
Editor: Chris Boniello, Rodrigo Balseca
Assistant Editor: Matt Egan, Jose Roman
Audio Mixer: Explosion Robinson
Colorist: Roslyn Di Sisto, Nice Shoes
VFX: Claudia Perez

HORROSHOW'S END OF THE WORLD

MAKING A LITTLE LOOK A LOT WITH THE HELP OF A TALENTED FEW.

Crafting low budget music vids is always a challenge to my instincts and leanings (namely big and beautiful), but our clip for Elefant Trak's Horrorshow and their latest single Dead Star Shine went live over the weekend, and been doing well — much to our joy and surprise.  We knew we'd done something the band dug, but that fans out there have been responding so positively is a real boost.

photo.JPG

It's nothing unusual, but you pour your energies and time into doing something for weeks (and in this case, months) on end, so much that you lose almost total objectivity. For film makers that often becomes an exercise in faith, one that can cause all sorts of anxiety attacks and superfluous uses of the word "great" ... That said, there will always be beats in my work that I dig, and the final shot of this clip still makes me simmer.

Here, check it out.

YOUTUBE

OR VIMEO

After a 2 day shoot braving cyclone force winds and even stronger mosquitos (including a half day of pick ups), several weeks cutting with Method's Suga Suppiah and a whirlwind but satisfyingly luscious grade with Roslyn Di Sisto, I got to do some pretty cool tech stuff I've been wanting to try out for ages. 

Most starkly, shooting day-for-night (with the incredibly talented Josh McKie, now over in New York and soon destined for greatness), working on VFX that I'd intended to do inhouse at Collider, but due to scheduling had to farm over to Melbourne wunderkind Michael Shanks.  Much to my good fortune.  We spent hours in his bedroom, watching him drink tea in his underpants and finessing skies and meteors as much as humanly and financially possible.  Always struck time and again by his uncanny ability to instantly find ways through After Effects to create vision that looks almost Maya worthy.  If you haven't checked his trailer for Time Trap yet, I thoroughly recommend you do:

For me, Dead Star Shine has been the closest I've got yet to the sort of vision I want to capture.  Silky, stylised and fantastical, with wide angles, long takes and graceful camera work.  While there are things I would change and lessons I've learnt, I can say that the label's generous words that "the atmosphere and ideas were executed perfectly - something that's a little rare when working on a tight budget" feels justified.  

For me, this clip represents a pretty decent blend of capturing the attitudes, moods and personalities of a band (which is always my main aim and why the aesthetic and execution of the work can vary from song to song) with my own cinematic and narrative leanings.  

Not bad for something produced on the smell of a cupboard which once housed an oily rag box.

COO-EE

Coo-ee is a section I dedicate to moving you on to somewhere or someone in the world doing work I reckon you ought to check out.  So this post I cup my hands to my mouth and shrilly cryout: JOSHHHHHH MCKIIIIIIIIEEEEE

He's the guy who shot this clip and is now over in the states making a name for himself.  I've worked with quite a few DPs, but Josh is one of the few who brings an insane level of preproduction commitment, a near flawless sensitivity to vision, a tenderness with crew and cast and an impeccable visual eye.  He's still early in his career, but if I had my way, I'd work with him on everything.  Somewhere deep down, I pray for his entirely unlikely failure in the states, so we get to have him back here again.  Check out his work below.

http://www.joshmckie.com.au/

http://www.joshmckie.com.au/