Friday, May 17, 2013

Galore Post Script #3 - Gifts

Getting to make a film in itself is a gift. It's possible to convince yourself that you've earned it after a long period of slugging it out with investors and redrafts and doubters and hardship. But when you have a cast and crew assembled around you, all working to help you realise those ideas and images sketched out in your brain long ago, you quickly realise that being able to helm a film is the greatest gift. And hidden inside that gift are an endless parade of more, not the least of which are the people you get to share it all with. But in the making of Galore, there were more gifts. So fucking many gifts. Here are a few that come to mind from the recent months of production and post production (in no particular order).

“Crying all the time had made her more beautiful. Grief will do that sometimes. Not for me. Loretta had left months ago and I still looked like hell.”
I love the short stories of Junot Díaz. I read Drown when it was first published in Australia and, to be honest, it blew my mind at just the right time. I've gone on to read just about all of his published words, essays, novels, stories. But Drown was a heartstarter for me in its combination of casual lyricism, emotional asskicks and the way it loped between lofty ideas and the casual desires and dreams we tangle with at street level. So, I wanted one of the characters in the film of Galore to give the book as a gift to one of the others. 
“It would have broken my heart if it hadn't been so damn familiar. I guess I'd gotten numb to that sort of thing. I had heart-leather like walruses got blubber.” 
Somehow it felt right. The worlds are a thousand miles apart but something inside his perfect words is the everyday lyricism we've been striving for in the film. So we wrote to him to see if that was cool. His gift was a casual fuck yeah and a breezy warm wish for it all, casually noting that one of his first stories was about a bushfire in Australia; one of the central images of our flick. What greater gift can you get from someone you admire from afar and whose words have given you so much. Fuck yeah.
“They sounded a lot like me and my old girlfriend Loretta, but I swore to myself that I would stop thinking about her ass, even though every Cleopatra-looking Latina in the city made me stop and wish she would come back to me.” 

An old friend of mine Darren Richmond is a crazy great graphic designer, artist and backyard tattooist. We've worked together for a while now on a number of projects but we don't get to cross paths enough. In Galore, he designed all of the beautiful note books in Galore and his images and words helped to inspire Danny's approach to the world. I don't know how he channeled the 17 year old aspiring artist, romantic and skater but he fucking killed it. The book itself has become this incredible cherished object for me since the end of the shoot and, fuccck, I have to make sure I never lose it!


One of our central characters 'Laura', played by Lily Sullivan, writes obsessively in her journal. To help with her character, she filled the journal with thoughts and notes and favourite song lyrics and quotes. Between takes, she would often go and scribble something new. In the madness of shooting, I rarely had time to look at the notebook and the things that she had written. But hidden in those pages was a surprising insight into the character and the world of the film. So many of these pages were a gift in ways they glanced light back onto the things we were hoping to capture. I've already featured a photo of my favourite page on the blog... but here it is again:


I've ranted about her before but I love the words, work and design of Portuguese artist Rita Gomes AKA Wasted Rita. Partly, the reason I love her work is out of gratitude because...

...but mostly I love her work because it's full of fire and lyricism and wisdom in the most simple, distilled forms. She prints her shit on t-shirts and posters and walls and it always feels epic and resonant and funny and hectic. So, it was a kinda amazing gift that she agreed to let us put her work on some of the T-shirts worn by one of the characters in the film - Danny, played by Toby Wallace  (who is certain to take over the acting world at some point very soon). Due to the intimate way the film was shot, you don't often get to see her work, but I fucking love that it's there...


Some of the stories that are passed to us are gifts, others are burdens. We have to know which is which… Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between the two. One makes us feel a lightness that can make us love and laugh and invite others into our worlds. The other drags us down and makes us twisted dirtbags with bitter thoughts and broken hearts. Both offer themselves to us in the beginning with infinite possibility but we don't know the paths they offer up to us. The stories we get told when we're trying to tell our own are the true gifts. This happened too many times to count while making Galore. People whose houses we used, actors connecting with their roles, crew members killing time, passersby trying to make conversation. Bigger, stranger, more complex stories than the one we were murdering ourselves trying to bring to the screen.


What better gift than being able to include one of your favourite songs by one of your favourite bands in a heartbreaker scene in your flick? Hope you get to see the flick at some point so can you hear it...


Every frame should have a heartbeat. One moment that pulses through it and activates it. When that happens, those accidents - a flutter of an eyelid, a hesitation, a breeze kicking up, an accidental flare of the sun against the lens, a stutter, a passing car, a dog bark, a bird that wheels and dives through the sky - form the pulse of the film. They make a moment live within the frame and, then, when edited, the rhythms of those pulses forms the heartbeat of the film as a whole. We had a lot of those on Galore. On a couple of occasions, when we needed to evoke a blustering heat, the wind kicked up or a gust of dry earth scurried past. When a character was taut with emotion, some intrusion or other would interrupt the tension of the frame. These moments became so tied into performance that it seemed like a couple of our actors could control the elements (which wouldn't have surprised me) so that, on the moment that an emotional beat hit hard, the wind wrestled with their fringe or disturbed a tree behind them. These accidents - pure chance offered up as some kind of orchestrated environmental bliss - are the purest gifts to the achingly slow mechanics of filmmaking.

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