Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Changing Tack

These past weeks have been good to me.

Nothing is certain, nothing is ever certain, but it appears that my feature film 'Galore' - which I've been working on for longer than it is respectable to admit -  is in the process of 'getting up'. At the same time, 'The Turning', an omnibus film which I am directing a segment of, is also in the process of 'getting up'. What this means is that, for a time, the fear of not working has been quelled. I know what the year might hold and it's pretty damned exciting.

So, I anticipate and hope for a change in tack in some of the blog posts. Fewer ruminations on writing and solitude and more on directing and the world out there. Which, to be honest, will be a massive fucking relief. And, a blog is pointless without full disclosure so I am sure I'll spill fragments of process, glimmers of anxiety, and documents of spectacular stumbles as the year goes on. I can't promise I won't still rehash the words of endlessly rehashable wordsmiths or glorify these tiny pages with other people's beautiful images, but I will hopefully have some new tacks, new directions, new thoughts to spill.

We'll see.

 image: Roger Ballen

One Day

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Jack Kerouac

Monday, May 21, 2012


Centuries of Colonialism

"We make up a story to cover the facts we don't know or can't accept, we keep a few true facts and spin a new story round them. Our panic and our pain are only eased by soothing fabulation; we call it history."

Words: Julian Barnes
Image: Trent Parke

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Centuries of Imperialism

"I have discovered what undoubtedly comes as no surprise to anyone: that stories in the world, all the stories that are known and told and remembered, all those little stories that for some reason matter to us and which gradually fit together without us noticing to compose the fearful fresco of Great History, they are juxtaposed, touching, intersecting: none of them exists on their own. How to wrest a linear tale from this? Impossible, I fear. Here is a humble revelation, the lesson I've learned through brushing up against world events: silence is invention, lies are constructed by what's not said, and since my intention is to tell faithfully, my cannibalistic tale must include everything, as many stories as can fit in the mouth, big ones and little ones"

Words: Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Image: Peter Van Agtmael

Hauntings #2

Another long day of street castings. Some of the young people we saw humbled us with the most extraordinary stories; of heartbreak and strength, love and loss, of overcoming the most amazing obstacles, missing parents, madness, accidental death and, extraordinarily, murder. We weren't looking for any of these stories but as soon as you take someone into a room and ask for something of their emotions, something of what defines them or makes them who they are, these stories always begin to flow. These were just regular outer suburban kids but their strength and stories were staggering. As well as that there was quiet wisdom, unruly ambition and the usual jittery madness of being in your late teens. This kind of complexity is what made me want to make 'Galore' in the first place as, despite being a simple story, it is all about surviving love and loss at that age. And if all that wasn't enough, one young girl came in to the casting with her finger nails painted like Chuck Taylor sneakers which had to be one of the most achingly cool things I've seen of late. So, we had many reasons to sit back in awe. At the end of the day, after long hours in a freezing cold hall, and with a kind of grave respect for sharing in these moments, quietly, quietly, we went out and chased the last light at some places around town, then boarded a plane to come home. Such rare pleasures. And some more pics of this whole messy, beautiful process.

Hauntings #1

Back in Canberra once again, haunting the locations of this upcoming film, street casting for kids who might play the lead roles and street casting for kids who might be extras milling around in the background. We saw around 40 kids yesterday and then, before night fell, tried to catch last light at some of our locations. And we're looking to see another 40 or so today. At the same time, we're walking through the skate parks and shops and hangouts to see who might catch our eye and asking them to come along and talk to us about the film.

Charisma is a strange thing. Some young people just have a formidable presence as soon as you see them and then there are some who are all smoke and mirrors. I don't envy them their age and we all feel bad at the bundle of nerves they bring to the casting sessions. Yet despite the nerves and sweats, no matter what scene they come from, however, or how much confidence they give off, some kids have a weight and a presence to them that is undeniable. It is awe-inspiring. At that age, I could barely tie my shoelaces and I would never have agreed to talk to a bunch of filmmakers with a camera and a light. But something about these rubbish modern times has aged kids in their ability to communicate. They talk with an emotional sophistication that is part facebook/reality TV and partly some new kind of cynicism and awareness that I certainly never had. It is humbling and strange.

We've also been casting at the Woden Youth Centre, scene of some great old hardcore gigs, youth bands and where I also shot a bit of an old, strange little handmade film of mine 'Firestorm'. It's nice to reinhabit these places from childhood and remake them into fiction. It's the temptation of any kind of imaginative storytelling... to erase the past and make fictions that can carry on into the present.

Some snaps from yesterday (with some polaroids to come when I get back to the studio and the scanner):


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Knowing Something

"I want to make movies that you can't go to in a car or plane or a boat. You've got to buy a theatre ticket to go into that world, to have that experience. I would like to think you could be taken into a space that is film-space, even if it's only for a moment within the film and it needs all the rest of the film to make it happen. In this sound-and-picture space, you should know something, or have a feeling that you couldn't have unless there was cinema. I know there has to be a story. I'm interested in that. But I like the idea that film can be really film as we well as do the other things."

David Lynch
extract from interview with Henry Bromell in 1980 for Rolling Stone Magazine.