Sunday, September 2, 2012

Small Mercies #2

Well that went pretty damned swiftly.

After so much thought and preparation, the shoot for 'Small Mercies' was over in a few brief moments of madness, focus, precision and bad jokes spread over a blur of a week.

By the time of shooting, we'd assembled a crew and cast that were beyond my hopes. Leading the film are Oscar Redding, Mirrah Foulkes and Finn Woodlock and each turned in beautiful, complex and damaged performances; not an easy thing in a short, but kinda essential in one as layered as this dense little adaptation of Winton's short story. And we were also very lucky to get great actors for the additional scenes; each of which had to add to those layers of memory, misconnection and mourning without altering the overall tone. We ended up with actors Carol Burns, Dennis Coard, Elena Pellone, Madeleine Ferme, Jasmine Knox and Harry Borland rounding out the full cast. I have to confess that for a chump who's been lost in non fiction for a while, it was a blissful thing getting to work on set with actors of intelligence and subtlety. It was a soft entry back into drama. And a soft entry made all the more easy being surrounded by a killer crew, lots of old friends, and the welcome warmth of the Killy locals.

So, now, I'm lying around the house in my trackies, watching deeply trashy movies, with a double hangover from the wrap party on Friday and the celebration last night of the return of Black Arm Band's 'dirtsong' to the recital hall in Melbourne... and I'm feeling exhausted, contented and confident that, for a brief, glimmering moment, all is good in the world.

While, in general, the whole week's shoot was pretty damned great (despite some howling antarctic winds and a few late nights thrashing the video jukebox in the local pub) there were a handful of highlights that should be etched into the stone of the blogospherical:
The views of the broken shorelines of Gippsland every morning on waking.
The aforementioned video jukebox in the local pub, stacked with equal parts Mamas and Papas, soft metal, Oz rock classics and Jay-Z.
Tormenting DOP Stefan Duscio with the frightening Carly Rae Jepsen first thing every morning so that it earwormed him all day.
An entire day spent working on the final scene of the film with Oscar and Mirrah that involved numerous layers of performance for the actors and a fair bit of agility for the rest of us to honour their staggeringly good work.

The nightly meals at the Killy pub, sitting around the fire telling confessional stories of high school lust and making bad jokes in Scandinavian accents while eating pork belly or impossibly huge chicken parmas.
The stoicism of young onscreen lovers Harry and Madeleine who had to be lusty, cruel and loving in faked summer settings while enduring the extremes of Gippsland glacial winds.
The pioneering of the film genre descriptor 'Scando Hotness'.
And, most certainly the true highlight: a final night in Kilcunda that involved a guys vs girls sing-off of 'California Dreaming' engineered by Hoss, the local publican; numerous props and wigs that seemed to only make people drunker; and a soul train dance off engineered by my sister from another mother Andrea Distefano, in which the sound recordist busted out the worm down the aisle and was promptly set on by the pub pit bull (and attempted ear bitings only accelerated the speed of the worm which was true courage under fire).
Humble thanks to all involved... Good times. Now to the edit...

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