Interview with Two People Director Rob Livings


 

07-july-2017-two-people-interviewInterview with Two People Director Rob Livings

Article: Actor Focus: Luke Thornley


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Interview: Luca Guadagnino (Filmmaker)


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Interview: Luca Guadagnino (Filmmaker)

Fringe World Interview: Ruven Govender of Comedy Boxing


South African-Indian comedian Ruven Govender is crafting a strong, influential career in stand-up comedy. The comic kicked off his career from an early age, sneaking in to comedy clubs at 16 and 17 years of age before finally being allowed in through the front door. His love of stand-up blossomed, graduating from the Class Comedians program with enough confidence and support to succeed. By 21, he had written and performed 5 shows for the NZ Comedy Festival.

Along with touring solo throughout Australia and the world, invited to TED X last year amongst many phenomenal successes throughout his career, Govender runs Laugh Mob Entertainment with tour mates/co-stars Sam Kissajukian and Kyle Legacy. After hit show The Black, The White, The Beard, Govender and co. return to Perth’s Fringe World 2016 with Comedy Boxing. Govender referees as Kissajukian and Legacy go head to head in a battle of scathing insults. The show puts the ‘punch’ back into ‘punchline’ over several nights of colourful, unique Fringe mayhem.

Reshoot & Rewind recently caught up with Govender about Comedy Boxing, life on the road, and the comedy’s scene’s welcoming aura.

 

9657547How did you first get into stand-up comedy? 

I got selected by the New Zealand Comedy Festival in 2004 through the Class Comedians program. The first gig I thought went horribly but I actually got signed to an agency after my first ever spot in the town hall. Charlie Pickering, the guy who used to be on the 7pm Project, he was actually my mentor and helped me write my first set and get my jokes out.

I got on stage, delivered my lines, and got these massive laughs straight away. I did the first few lines, got big laughs, and got really nervous because I didn’t expect such a wave of laughter. Then, I just forgot everything that I was supposed to say within the first 30 seconds. I then ran off stage and threw up. Everyone was like: “ok, that’s the end of that” and thought I had to get back on to finish my set and save face.

I got some really good gigs to begin with, but the age factor really caught up quickly. It was a challenge to be 16-17 and try to get into a comedy bar, and obviously wasn’t 18 years of age. That actually proved to be a huge problem, but once I was able to walk into pubs, bars, and clubs that’s when things really started to kick.

 

What have been some of the highlights and lowlights of performing on stage?

Last year, I was invited to speak at TED X. That was fantastic, it was 1000 people in an auditorium and an absolutely great gig, that was probably the highlight of last year I’d say.

A low point would probably include when I ventured out of New Zealand, which is a nice, little environment for stand-up, and into a market where I wasn’t well know, didn’t have connections, and didn’t have the backing of the New Zealand festivals. That was when I really got a taste of what it’s like to really do stand-up – hustle for gigs, having to beg, steal and borrow for stage time. That’s when I really got to understand how difficult it can be for comedy, because apart from that everything was kind of handed to me on a silver platter.

Coming into a market where nobody knew my name and no one was willing to really help me that was a big challenge. It’s a necessary evil to get me to start my own rooms, get a set-up, and hold hands with other comedians and local people.

 

Yourself, Sam Kissajukian, and Kyle Legacy run Laugh Mob Entertainment and perform together, how did you first realise your dynamic worked so well?

I actually found Kyle Legacy at a comedy club, I just found him to be a very funny human. I was surprised because I thought: “You’re very funny, you’re English etc.”, but he wasn’t getting any stage time. I saw him at a few clubs, he wasn’t going well, and I had a chat with him about what he’d done, where he’d been. I found out he was a writer for Russell Brand, he was on season 1 of Brand X and junior writer for Brand in that season.

As we did the rounds of the open-mic rooms I bumped into Sam. Was very much anti-working with anyone else, he didn’t want to work with anyone else, and wanted to his own thing. Myself and Kyle thought he was really funny, had a lot of doubts, was very intelligent. He had started comedy after us but got very good very quickly, and I thought: “This guy is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with”. We started to gig more, wore him down a little bit, and morphed into us three working as a very well-oiled, comedic trio.

 

What can you tell us about your latest Fringe world show, Comedy Boxing?

4790497Comedy Boxing is probably one of the most hilarious, ridiculous shows I have ever seen. Part of running our own agency is, Laugh Mob, is having the creative freedom to do these really wacky shows. If we were assigned to one of the other agencies, we probably wouldn’t have as much creative freedom. The show is basically Sam and Kyle full-on insulting each other in a structured format, which is the best thing. It’s pretty much the ‘why’ of Fringe and it’s just entertaining watching them insult each other.

Now, we have managed to put that format into a structure that everyone can enjoy. The biggest part of the stand-up is making it contextual to the crowd, generally, if people thought they were up there just insulting each other, people would think they weren’t friends and didn’t actually like each other. It’s quite the opposite, all three of us are best friends, and now Comedy Boxing has allowed a format that contextualises that for the audience and that’s why it’s so funny.

 

Diversity in mainstream media has been in the spotlight recently, where do you see this conversation going over the next year?

You’ve got key people that are really pushing for that, people like Kevin Hart – you’ve got people touring and working a lot harder at these things to breach those barriers. I think the non-white market for comedy is ready to explode and ripe for the picking. Seeing people like Kevin Hart, to me personally, is a massive inspiration. Seeing a short, black man go out there and do it and everyone love him gives me enough confidence to think that there is a market for it.

I feel I have a lot of this advantage in the comedy scene – people want to laugh at the racial stuff and when I get up there, whether I want to make fun of Indians or Africans whomever it may be, being South African I feel I may have the range to do that. Having that generally separates me from the crowd, when you go to a comedy club 99% of time it’s single, middle-class white guys complaining about stuff. The more diversity that you add to that I think separates you from the pack and elevates you from the crowd.

 

Comedy Boxing hits The Hidden Bar, Northbridge for Perth’s Fringe World 2016 from February 12th – 21st.

Photo credits: YouTube, Laugh Mob Entertainment

Fringe World Interview: Sam Kissajukian of Animals Attack Me


Sam Kissajukian has led an interesting life, a series of wacky events leading him from ambitious traveller to real ‘stand-up’ guy. The comic, spurred on by those around him, first stepped on stage three years ago. Telling of his experiences with animals, his stories of danger and curiosity quickly gained traction in Sydney’s comedy circuit.

From that first stage experience to today, Kissajukian regularly performs stand-up, long-form storytelling, and emcee work in Sydney. The comic, along with hosting two weekly comedy shows Live Baha and POS Comedy, is an essential part of Laugh Mob Entertainment. He, teaming up with fellow comics Ruven Govender and Kyle Legacy, is fast becoming a staple of Australian and world stand-up.

Kissajukian, fresh off the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival, and Edinburgh Fringe, is back in Perth for Fringe World 2016. His latest one-man show, Animals Attack Me, tells of life-threatening run-ins with Mother Nature’s most dangerous creations including Sharks, baboons, log-throwing chimpanzees, mountain lions, and the most fearsome of all – ex-girlfriends. This month, Kissajukian delivers seven nights of big laughs and valuable lessons for audience members great and small.

Reshoot & Rewind caught up with Kissajukin about his new show, burgeoning career, and awkward encounters with the animal kingdom.

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When did you realise you wanted to do comedy as a career?

That was actually after I started doing comedy, and fell into it accidentally. The show that i do is about being attacked by a lot of animals, so before I did comedy i was 27 and over the last 10 years I’ve been travelling and going on adventures. Just before I turned 27, we went to a storytelling competition, my girlfriend and I. Someone had dropped out, and she goes: “No, you should go in it, you should go in it”. The organizer was then like: “yeah we can put one more on”.

I went up and told a story about the time I got chased by a baboon with a machete and another time I got attacked by two sharks whilst spear fishing. I ended up coming second in the competition and then people invited me to do other storytelling nights. Then some said I should do stand up comedy and I started doing stand up and after I did that I thought: “This is great, I should just tell stories about my life”, and now it’s three years later and what I do for a living.

 

After your first few times on-stage, did you immediately adapt to it or did it get easier over time?

When I first started I started telling animal attack stories and that was great. Then I thought in stand-up comedy you’ve got to tell jokes, so I started writing jokes and went badly for a couple and then I got the hang of it. For the last two and a half years, it’s been pretty steadily increasing I definitely feel like I was more naturally a storyteller than a joke writer so its natural. I like telling long stories to pull people in, but now I do both – I do the stand-up comedy clubs and personal story shows.

 

What are your most alarming experiences in stand-up comedy?

I’ve had some great ones, one time I did a show, the audience didn’t like me, and I said: “If you guys don’t like me, I’m just going to subject you to dad jokes”. A woman yelled out: “No need, mate. You are your dad’s joke”. I thought that wa a fantastic heckle.

I had one that was very unfortunate, because it almost hurt me. It was in Newcastle, and the audience didn’t like me. I may have made a comment that the audience didn’t like and a woman at the back of the audience threw a bottle at me while I was on stage. It ended up being in the newspaper and became a bit of a hoo-hah, it was quite funny. Lucky it didn’t hit me. It still had beer in it, she threw a full beer at me.

 

You have toured across Australia and the world, how do the varying crowds and comedy atmospheres compare?

I spent a month in Edinburgh last year, I think it depends on the local audiences. Scottish people are so funny, they really are so funny and they’re so vocal and outspoken. I got a lot of heckles when I was in Scotland but they were great heckles. They were just so on point, so funny, and the Scottish people in general were just up for a laugh. There is just a real, fun drunk energy.

In another way, in somewhere like Hong Kong, that’s really interesting too because it’s such an international city. You get people who are expats, so I found that in Hong Kong it was like the comedians that did very well there spoke a lot about different races and sub-cultures in that respect. That seems to be the focus, somewhere like the Melbourne Comedy Festival that type of comedy doesn’t seem to as prevalent.

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How do yourself, Ruven Govender, and Kyle Legacy work together so well?

Comedy is just a lonely game, at the end of the day you’re an island and doing a lot of work alone and performing alone. We just decided that we would have a collective of guys working towards the same goal. We work on project individually but then, at the same time, we do a lot of stuff together. It help work on larger projects that you might not be able to do alone.

We are all very different people and we wouldn’t naturally, possibly be friends outside of comedy. I don’t know how I would have met these guys outside of comedy and, because we are so different, every situation we get into we find we have completely different perspectives on it and we really enjoy those differences. At the end of the day, they’re just good friends and I enjoy watching them succeed or fail on stage.

 

What can we expect from your latest show, Animals Attack Me

I’m delivering about 1o true stories about animal encounters. They are 100% true and I have just spent the last three years honing my craft so that I can tell them in the funniest way possible. I want to make these stories accessible and people that are interested in animals or had some animal experience themselves, there would be time to chat about that. I think everyone has a few in some regards to wild animals and I just want to dwell on the topic and open it up a little bit.

Sam Kissajukian’s Animals Attack Me is on at the Elephant & Wheelbarrrow, Northbridge from February 15th – 21st.

Photo Credits: samkissajukian.com, eveleighcomedy.com

Interview: Alex McAleer (Fringe World)


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Interview: Fringe World Fix – Ali Brice from Graeme of Thrones


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Article: Sue Brooks and Radha Mitchell Go Walkabout with Looking For Grace


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Interview: Tim Milroy of Teij (Music)


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Article: Fat Freddy’s Drop Back Themselves With New Material


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Article: Behind the Scenes – Spare Change


 

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Article – Shane Jacobson: Australia’s Leading Man & Loveable Larrikin


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Interview: Jack Sargeant (Writer, Programmer & Film Buff)


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Interview: Jeffory Asselin (Filmmaker)


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Interview: Lucy Tcherniak (Filmmaker)


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Article: Dirty Dancing Shakes Up Crown Theatre


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Article: #Curtinality – Matthew Darch


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Interview: Maziar Lahooti (Filmmaker)


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Interview: Daniel James Tenni (Tino Films + Greenfield Web Series)


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Interview: Ruby McGregor (Babaganouj)


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Interview: Sean Mackay (Black Stone From the Sun)


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Interview: Ariel Kleiman (Partisan)


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Interview: Tim R. Lea (54 Days)


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Interview: Johann Beardraven (The Beards)


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Interview: Dennis Kooij (Tell the Shaman)


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Interview: Robbie Rumble (The Love Junkies)


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Interview: Lady Malice (Live Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!)


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Interview: Rory Lowe


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Interview: Tina Segner & Kenneth Fall (Tumble Circus)


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Interview: Ronan Freeburn (Freo Royale)


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Interview: Brooks Neilsen (The Growlers)


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Stephen Amis (Director) Interview – Reaching for the Stars


Stephen Amis, Camera operator Con Filippidis & Director of Photography David Richardson.

Back in 2012, I got the chance to meet Australian true-blue filmmaker Stephen Amis. Promoting his latest cinematic effort at the time, his independent cinema seminar transfixed a room of enthusiastic press folks and cinephiles. In addition, his sci-fi extravaganza, The 25th Reich, took the Revelation Perth Film Festival storm. So, with a couple of years having past between then and now, I made it an all-on-the-line mission to, once again, get in touch with Amis . I chatted to this underrated genre-cinema icon about his love of filmmaking, his multiple production roles, and the Australian Film Industry’s response to big-idea projects.

Where did the idea of the 25th Reich come from?

I made the 25th Reich as a kind of sci-fi homage to the Super-8 movies I made when I was a kid. It was also a celebration of the B pulp films I grew up with – made by directors like George Pal and Sam Fuller…

What are the major challenges with financing a film such as this in the Australian film Industry?

It was very difficult financing the movie – but isn’t that the case with every movie? Australian film agencies generally see genre films as being ‘soft’ as the box office – so it was hard convincing them to come aboard, and ultimately they didn’t. In addition, with Aussie films barely finding any cinema space these days, and DVD sales plummeting, The 25th Reich was a very tricky film to produce and distribute.

How did your plan for the film come together in the script writing/pre-production stage?

Our budget was tiny compared to what you would ordinarily have to spend on this kind of production, and consequently our crew was limited. I wore many hats – co-writer, director, co-producer, not to mention post-production supervisor – so I was the only one who really had the entire film ‘in my head’. I also have a solid background in cinematography, so I was able to very clearly write on the page what I knew could be achieve in production for the specific budget.

What were the highest and lowest points of the production?

For me, the highest point in the making of The 25th Reich was getting the music composed and synchronised – that’s when the magic happens and all the hard work comes together – particularly as this film was very music driven. Up until then, you’re always asking yourself will it work, is it emotionally engaging…

And the low point? Shooting was very difficulty and treacherous. 50 degree days and 2 degree nights in the wildness. Scorpions, snakes, spiders – it was quite arduous!

How did you create the visual effects and set designs on location?

I set-up 8 small VFX teams worldwide to produce the visual effects. We worked mostly by cloud computing and developed a lot of short cuts and new tools to bring the film in on budget. Oddly enough, we barely used any green-screen as this was too time consuming on set and I decided quite early in the production to rotoscope everything in post – when ended up achieving a better look than traditional green screen keying.

 How did everything come together in the post-production stage?

Post-production was like pushups – particularly in regard to the VFX. Every VFX shot you do, is one less you have to do… It took 18 months to finish all of the special effects, along with many edits of the film and replacing and refining each VFX shot from previz, to crude animation, to final animation to fully rendered animation.

How important are genre films such as yours in the image of Australian independent cinema?

I think genre films in general are important worldwide. Genre films, as opposed to other kinds of films, have the unique ability to contain sociological subtext about the times they were made in: Think about the subtext in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, made during the cold war, or the original ‘Planet of the Apes’, made during the Vietnam war. The 25th Reich is no different, and was made in an era of out-of-control right-wing, neo conservative ideology. In terms of subtext, The 25th Reich has more to do with contemporary fascism rather than specifically Nazi Germany.

How did you distribute the film?

The film went through the conventional distribution route – with international and domestic sales. But that old model is dying, and I’ve just setup a new distribution company called ‘Label’, to distribute my next film. Label will be using an unconventional mix of old and new distribution techniques to get films into the market and to attract and engage audiences.

How do you see social media outlets aiding the distribution and advertising of independent films such as yours?

We had a social media campaign running via Twitter and Facebook. The film had quite a good showing on the festival circuit, and I found our social media campaign helped drive and consolidate that. Aside from being able to speak directly to our fan base, which is hugely important to me, there are also other businesses based issues of specifically directing your target audience ‘somewhere’ to achieve an identifiable goal – whether that may be buying a cinema ticket, purchasing a DVD or the soundtrack…

How important to you is the fan base that it now has?

Our fan base (and genre film fan bases in general), are very loyal. It’s an important base which we plan to take with us on the next instalment of the movie which we are now writing. So in that context, we are trying to harness and grow our fan base across the franchise.

How important are national film festivals to independent film-makers such as yourselves?

With Australian films struggling to find cinema space (it’s now almost impossible to book a movie) , and the DVD market plummeting – the festival circuit is one of the last avenues for filmmakers to showcase their work on the big screen. It’s important that Australian film festivals showcase more Australian content. At the moment, the large festivals pay lip service to Aussie films, but not much more. There are many Aussie films seen each year that don’t see the light of day and they really should.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Australian independent film industry?

The disadvantage is that we have no protection for Australian cinema. It’s not like in France where film is considered a cultural art form and protected by a fairly rigid quota system. North Korea set up a quota system too, and like France, their industry is now thriving. We desperately need a quota system here in Australia to protect Aussie cinema.

What is your next project?

I’m developing a small number of projects. Two science fiction films and one big broad Aussie comedy – all to be shot in 3D…

Has anything in the industry, major or minor, changed in the industry over the past to years?

There’s been many many changes – many of the big obvious changes on the distribution landscape and the way content is seen and disseminated. Film is not the cultural pop icon it was 20 years ago. It’s competing with many other consumer products now. And that is really what’s at the core of the revolution we are now having. I wouldn’t say film is dead – but it’s certainly going through some kind of metamorphosis…

Official website: The 25th Reich

Tom Conyers (Director) Interview – Working-class Cinephile


Australian filmmaker Tom Conyers.

At 2012’s Revelation Perth Film Festival, I got the spectacular chance to chat with Victorian Filmmakers Mark White and Tom Conyers. These two, promoting their new flick The Caretaker, were as approachable and professional as possible. So, a couple of years later, I took it upon myself to get in touch with them to chat about their past, present, and future successes. Conyers, the director, was lauded for using Victoria’s searing landscapes to his advantage. Building an influential bottle film, Conyer’s style brought a tight-knit cast and crew together for this explosive genre event. Recently, I caught up with Conyers to talk about the movie, his career, and the places he’s going next.

How did you begin your career in film-making?

I wouldn’t call where I’m at as having a career in filmmaking, more a residual existence, but I’ve always been interested in the craft, from way back as a kid making super 8 movies.

Where did the idea of the caretaker come from?

I was trying to think of a cheap script. ‘The Caretaker’ is basically four people in a room with a vampire. We were able to make it a lot more cinematic than that with great locations, by shifting much of the action to the outdoors, and putting in a few scenes with extras, though. I also wanted to try to bring up issues that aren’t usually the preserve of genre films. To me ‘The Caretaker’ is about domesticity. Whether the house is always a home. Is marriage something that must be sanctified in a church or whether it can exist as an idea between couples. I wanted to look at less salutatory aspects of Australian culture, particularly to do with masculinity. And to invert the idea of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold into domesticity, as anyone will understand who’s seen how the film ends. Even the vampire is domesticated, being let out like a cat at night. One of my favourite plays is ‘The Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen and I think that fed into the film somehow.

Were your inspirations/ideas by the current popularity of vampires in any way?

I wouldn’t say I’ve religiously followed vampires. My favourite vampire novel would be ‘Carmilla’ by Sheridan Le Fanu. Very subtle, which it had to be for the time. In terms of vampire films, ‘The Hunger’ and ‘Martin’ are my two favourites. And they’re quite old now. So I wasn’t terribly aware of the current trends.

How did your plan for the film come together in the script writing/pre-production stage?

It mostly came together pretty well despite great obstacles. I feel I got about 70% of the film I wanted, and the rest I can live with!

What was it like to work with such a close group of people during the film’s production?

There was good and bad. The depressing thing is that not only does a vast proportion of the public and critics write off Australian films, but so too do many actors and crew working on them. It means that making an independent film is just one long torturous uphill battle. There were a handful of people we worked with both in front of the camera and behind it who were great, and there have been some really supportive champions of the film since. But Australian films are never going to really thrive till there is better support at home. Which is a shame, because there seem to be independent films getting made all the time in this country but most people wouldn’t know it. I don’t know why the ABC doesn’t set up a channel like the Indigenous one they’ve now got, but devoted exclusively to homegrown, independent content. It might just be that Australian film generally fails because no one gets to see it. The problem with this stupid world where protectionism has been deemed a dirty word, where the market is left to decide what lives and dies, is that instead of the greater choice and lower prices this purportedly offers, instead we are left with monopolies dictating the publics’ tastes with increasingly homogenous and overpriced fair. But that’s how this dumb world works. ‘The market, the market.’ Likes it’s this living thing we have no choice but to be in thrall to.

What were the highest and lowest points of the production?

The food, the mice, the skepticism were the low points. The high point was just the thrill of making a feature film finally, and working with those people who were enthused and doing a great job.

How did you create the visual effects and set designs?

In terms of visual effects, we tried to do as much in-camera as possible and then enhanced things later on computer. But the real impressive computer graphics were done in Brazil by a friend of mine, Verginia Grando, and her team. The sets were put up and taken down and redressed in record time by the producer Mark White and set-dressing duo Jane Cherry and Jessica Moran.

How did everything come together in the post-production stage?

We took a year editing the film. We’d probably do it much faster if we had it over again. But because you’re feeling your way in the dark, you make mistakes like having your sound files in the wrong format and discovering you need to recode them and so on. Plus we had one big continuity problem. One of the actors in the film doesn’t have any costume changes. He’s in the same gear from start to finish. No one was really watching his continuity but the actor bizarrely kept rolling his sleeves up and down!

How important are genre films such as yours in the image of Australian independent cinema?

I don’t know. I suppose genre films are appealing to the independent filmmaker because people will still watch them even if marquee names aren’t attached. The genre crowd generally seems less snobbish. I’ve seen some really good independent dramas and comedies that just don’t get a look in at all because no one knows any of the actors in them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Australian independent film industry?

There are almost no advantages. There are almost an overwhelming number of disadvantages. I’m still trying to think of the advantages.

What is your next project?

I have multiple projects. Whether any come to fruition is another matter. But they are in all sorts of genres and styles. I’m taking to a few people, and there are a few people doing their best to make some of them real, but we’ll see. I won’t believe I’m making another film till the first day on set and it’s too late for investors to pull their money out.

Has anything in the industry, major or minor, changed in the industry over the past to years?

I think it’s become a lot cheaper to make a good-looking film these days. I starting out making 16mm shorts and the cost of the film stock, processing and telecine was exorbitant. Our whole budget for ‘The Caretaker’ would probably have gone on those three things if we hadn’t been able to shoot digital. But while digital has been a godsend in one way, it also means people can copy your work without any degradation in quality. Making money out of movies for the independent filmmaker still seems like an uphill battle.

Official website: The Caretaker


 

 

Mark White (Actor/Producer) Interview – Diving In Fang First


Actor/producer Mark White.

Back in 2012, I got the chance to meet, and chat extensively with, actor/producer Mark White. At the Revelation Perth Film Festival, his latest feature The Caretaker was on display for critics and cinema-goers to take in. The movie, dropping a bunch of ordinary people in a vampiric apocalypse, pushes the very best of Australian genre cinema to the edge. With a restrained budget, cast, and crew on offer, the production was lauded as being valuable and intrinsic to the Australian film industry. Calling Victoria home, Mark White graciously agreed to an interview about his motivations, the feature, and everything concerning the industry today.

How did you begin your career in film-making ?

IT WAS A VERY FLUID PROCESS FOR ME. AS A DANCE STUDENT I TOOK ALL THE TELEVISION COMMERCIALS AND BIT PARTS I COULD GET TO HELP KEEP A ROOF OVER MY HEAD. OVERR THE YEARS THE WORK BECAME MORE SOPHISTICATED AND I BEGAN TO GRASP THE VAST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEATRE AND RECORDED MEDIA, AND THE VERY DIFFERENT TYPES AND INTENSITY OF PERFORMANCE FROM ONE TO THE OTHER. AS MY DANCE SKILLS DEVELOPED OPPORTUNITIES TO CHOREOGRAPH AROSE, INTRODUCING ME TO PRODUCTION. AT THAT TIME I WORKED ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY WITH SILVER-SCREEN AND JEFF DIXON BEGAN TO ASK ME TO CAST UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS. IVE HAD NO FORMAL TRAINING AT ALL.

As producer, how did you finance The Caretaker?

INDIE FILM IS ABOUT AD TOUGH AS IT GETS. I CAN YELL YOU THAT IT IS EASIER TO RAISE $20 MILLION THAN IT IS TO RAISE $200 THOUSAND. I’M CONSTANTLY STUNNED BY THE PERCENTAGE OF ARTLESS CRAP COMING OUT OF THE BIG MONEY END OF THIS INDUSTRY. EASY COME EASY GO I GUESS. I BEGIN EVRY INDEPENDENT FILM, BY BEGINNING! THERE WAS NO MONEY AT ALL. SO WE PULLED IN A FEW FAVOURS, ASSEMBLED A SKELETON CREW HIT THE ROAD TO MAKE THE TRAILER FOR THE FILM. IN MY OPINION THAT IS THE WAY TO GO. SHOW POTENTIAL BACKERS WHAT IT IS GOING TO BE, THE STYLE AND FEEL, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY….THAT YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU SAY! PEOPLE SAW THE TRAILER AND WROTE US CHECKS. THE FIRST THREE PEOPLE WE SHOWED IT GAVE US $345,000. I DONATED FOUR YEARS TO THE PROJECT AS WELL AS SHAVING COSTS BY ACTING – IN REAL TERMS, THAT REPRESENTS A MINIMUM OF $1 MILLION, AND THE DIRECTOR’S CONTRIBUTION WOULD BE THE SAME. THIS IS WHAT CAM BE SO MISLEADING ABOUT INDIE FILM. THE REAL COST IF YOU INCLUDE THE PRODUCER/STAR/WRITER/DIRECTOR/EDITOR ETC WOULD BE CLOSER TO $3 MILLION.

What are the major challenges with financing a film such as this in the Australian film Industry?

I’LL BE FRANK. THE VAST BULK OF AUSSIE FILMS THIS SIZE NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY, OFTEN SHELVED WITHOUT BEING COMPLETED. THEN IF YOU GET THERE IT’s DAMN TOUGH TO GET AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTORS AND AGENTS TO CONSIDER YOU. THE CARETAKER IS IN THE UK, NORTH AMERICA, CANADA, JAPAN, SPAIN, GERMANY AND MORE…PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE, EXCEPT AUSTRALIA. NOT ONE DISTRIBUTOR WAS INTERESTED. WHILE IT’s NOT EXCLUSIVE TO AUSTRALIA, THERE IS A GATEKEEPER MENTALITY IN MOST ARTS COMMUNITIES HERE, SO THAT INSTEAD OF ENTHUSIASTICALLY SUPPORTING THE TENACITY OF DYI NEWCOMERS AND EMERGING TALENT THEY ARE OFTEN IGNORED

You not only produce but play an important character in the film, what is it like to work with such a close group of people during the film’s conception?

EXHAUSTING. I WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MOST EXPERIENCED PERFORMER BY TWENTY YEARS AT LEAST. IN ADDITION OF COURSE ITS MY DUTY AS PRODUCER TO INSURE THAT PRODUCTION ORBITS MY PERSONA IN SUCH A WAY AS TO PROTECT THE DIRECTOR AND HIS VISION. IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT THE ACTORS NEVER FELT THAT THEY WERE FILMING A SCENE WITH THE BOSS I HAD TO REDESIGN MY PRODUCER ROLE INTO ONE MORE PLIANT…NO DOWN TIME.

How did/do you distribute your films?

AS YOU’D BE AWARE. THE INDUSTRY IS AT THE MERCY OF SUCCESSIVE REVOLUTIONS IN MEDIA TECHNOLOGY AND INTERACTIVITY. ANYONE DISTRIBUTING FILM WITHIN PIRACY BEING FRONT AND CENTRE IN THEIR STRATEGY WILL FAIL. SO GIVING A DISTRIBUTOR NEARLY HALF OF YOUR REVENUE WHEN THE FILM IS ON EVERYONE’s COMPUTER BEFORE THE RELEASE DATE AINT GONNA CUT IT. THIS WAS PROBABLY THE LAST FILM THAT I WOULD DISTRIBUTE TRADITIONALLY. THAT SAID, THERE WAS NOTHING TRADITIONAL ABOUT OUR PROCESS. RANDOMS SUBMITTING UNSOLICITED FILMS TO DISTRIBUTORS IS SIMPLY NOT DONE. BUT YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN EHAT YOU DO, AND CONVEY THAT BELIEF. WE HAD THREE SOLID OFFERS FOR DISTRIBUTION AND A GLOBAL AGENT WITHIN A MONTH OF COMPLETION.

How important to you is the fan base that it now has?

ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF STARTING SO YOUNG AND GROWING UP IN THE BUSINESS IS A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIST AND AUDIENCE. A STRONG AND GROWING FAN BASE IS AN INDICATION THAT YOU ARE MOSTLY GETTING YOUR JOB RIGHT. NOT PERFECT, BUT RIGHT. ALSO, NOW MORE THAN EVER WE NEED THE FAN BASE TO VALUE THE FILM, BECAUSE MOST OF THEM TORRENTED IT. THE FUTURE OF THIS RELATIONSHIP WILL RELY ON THE END USER CHOOSING TO GIVE THE PRODUCER MONEY.

How do you see social media outlets aiding the distribution and advertising of independent films such as yours?

DIFFICULT. WITHOUT THE MANPOWER AND CAPITAL FOR A SUSTAINED BLAST TO ALL AVENUES OF SOCIAL MEDIA IT IS DIFFICULT TO REACH CRITICAL MASS. SO, AGAIN WE HAD TO DO WHAT WE COULD AND THEN LEAVE OURSELVES IN THE HANDS OF THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY. FB FANS ARE JOW GROWING OF THEIR OWN ACCORD, MANY OF THEM TORRENTED THE FILM, BUT DECIDED IT WAS WORTH SUPPORTING.

How important are national film festivals to independent film-makers such as yourselves?

HAVING A HANDFUL OF LAUREL LEAVES TO PLASTER OVER THE FRONT OF YOUR MATERIAL IS A GOOD ATTENTION GRABBER iIN TERMS OF BOTH AGENTS/DISTRIBUTORS AND AUDIENCE. I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT FESTIVALS. ONE NEEDS TO BE AWARE OF HOW MANY COPIES OF THE FILM ARE OUT THERE. IM CERTAIN SOME OF THE SHONKIER ‘FESTIVALS’ ARE NOT MUCH MORE THAN A FRONT FOR PIRATE BAY. WHILE THE A LISTS ARE A QUAGMIRE OF NEPOTISM. AS FOR THE B AND C LIST…IF YOU ARENT CERTAIN YOULL TAKE OUT BEST FEATURE, WHY BOTHER? THE EXPECTED ANIMOSITY BETWEEN MAINSTREAM AND ALTERNATIVE FESTIVALS OFTEN MEANS LIMITED UPWARD NETWORK MOBILITY. IF YOURE NOT GOING TO WIN, DONT PUT IT IN.

What is your next project?

HAHAHA. THAT WOULD BE TELLING! BUT I CAN SAY THAT IT IS CONFIRMED AND FULLY FUNDED AT MANY TIMES THE BUDGET OF THE LAST. AND THAT I WILL BE WORKING WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR ONCE AGAIN. I ANTICIPATE THAT WE WILL HAVE COMPLETED PRODUCTION BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR.

Has anything in the industry, major or minor, changed in the industry over the past to years?

EVERYTHING IN THE INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS. TECHNOLOGY….ON ONE SIDE AS RELENTLESS WAVES OF TECHNICAL REVOLUTION CRASH OVER THE INDUSTRY IT GETS EASIER TO DO MORE FOR LESS, WHICH IS GOOD, BECAUSE ON THE OTHER SIDE-THOSE SAME WAVES CRASH OVER THE MARKET AND MAKES IT EASIER TO TAKE EVERYTHING AND PAY NOTHING. TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW CELLPHONE CAMS WILL HAVE THE SCOPE AND CAPACITY FOR FEATURES. WE HAVE ENTERED A PERIOD WHERE ALMOST ALL THE TECHNICAL HARDWARE FROM EVERY DEPARTMENT IS REDUNDANT BY THE END OF EACH PROJECT, WITH BETTER, CHEAPER VERSIONS WAITING FOR THE NEXT.

Official website: The Caretaker


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