Monday, 10 September 2018

You Do You (Darwin International Film Festival Spark Film 2018)

This year I was lucky enough to produce and co-direct one of the Darwin International Film Festival's five "Spark" films. These are five ten minute scripts that are picked to be produced over a short three months and screened as a part of the festival in September.

It was a hoot having all these actual school kids play fake school kids in the film. The magic of cinema.
I entered several project ideas into the program this year, and the one that was picked to be produced was "You Do You". This is a short film I've been thinking about, vaguely, since late last year. When I tried to write it earlier this year however, I found myself to be not very confident with the voice of the main character, a teenage girl. So I asked long-time collaborator Lexie Gregory to write it for me.

Here's Lexie herself, with DOP Nathaniel Kelly and star Koko Lawton
Turns out that was a great decision. Because what Lexie wrote was quite unlike my original plans, and quite unlike the films I've made before, but felt genuine and personal. The story is a little more honest than the stories I usually write myself. I was very excited to work on something that wasn't my usual speed though. This experience was unique. The first time I've directed a film I didn't write myself, too!

Koko, me, and hey look it's Max Conaghan
Anyway, we shot the film in July. Worked with a bunch of lovely people. Shooting had its many challenges, as shooting always does. We had to be pretty disciplined about schedules because most of the crew currently resides interstate and were only in Darwin for a couple of weeks. There were some difficult times but overall it was actually one of the smoothest shoots I've been involved with. Co-directing with Lexie was lovely not least because it took some of that crazy pressure off my shoulders.

Koko, Joseph Baronio (beautiful producer), Nathaniel, Johanna Hayes (beautiful assistant producer) and Lexie
Additional shout-outs to Joseph Baronio and Johanna Hayes for being good producers. Oh man don't you just love producers? Also Koko Lawton, who starred as the character Mickey. Koko is You Do You. If You Do You is anything it is because of Koko. The boppin' soundtrack is by my favourite music-wizards, Natalie Gall and Thomas Field.

You Do You, and the four other DIFF Spark films, will be screening this Friday evening at the Deckchair Cinema. Nervous-excited to see what people think of what we've made!

In the meantime, here's the trailer:

Darwin Fringe Show: Vaudeville Knockout

Yes, this was the sequel to the 2017 Fringe show I was a part of, "Vaudeville Variety".

This was several months ago now, but better late than never!

Vaudeville Knockout took the production to new heights for two evenings of wacky old-fashioned humour at Darwin's Brown's Mart Theatre. Many of the same cast and crew returned, but the characters were honed and polished a little further.

Russell (Charlie Chaplin) practising his boxing with new co-star Josh (Buster Keaton)
Russell and myself performed Who's on first again, just like last year. And of course there were songs and there was comedy and a big silent comedy set piece in which I played the villain.

I'm the one with the massive cape and hat and pirate cat
Thanks to all the lovely cast and crew, and of course everyone who came along to see the show. In many ways these ambitious little Fringe shows with a lightning-fast turnaround and little-to-no external support are more exciting than anything else.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

We're Family Now showing at Deckchair Cinema

Nathaniel Kelly's debut feature film, which I had several key roles on, will be screening thrice at Darwin's wonderful outdoor Deckchair Cinema in May.

We're Family now is about a lovable little suburban family. It was shot entirely in Darwin.

Check it out on 12 May (with Q&A), 18 May or 26 May.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Corrugated Iron's Whiplash

This week I attended a talk by Indonesian film director Garin Nugroho. One of the many things he talked about was a kind of theatre in which the actors rock up 30 minutes before the show and are given the story and characters there and then. There is extremely little preparation time, but the director briefly shares their plan, then the actors make the show.

This Corrugated Iron skit show, "Whiplash Theatre", has felt a little like that, as preparation time has been sparse. But like the theatre Garin Nugroho was talking about, it hasn't been a bad thing!

The show is a collection of disconnected scenes and skits, most of which centre around a bit of a "road safety" theme. I really enjoyed working with these two excellent young performers (above), who brought to life a really wacky skit.

That's a picture from a skit I appeared in myself, which included a video projection of me which keeps distracting the live actors who are trying to perform Shakespeare.

Final show (of three) tonight.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

How to make a feature film in just 5 minutes every couple of weeks

I'm always down for an ambitious podcast idea, so when my filmmaker friend Jacob Hazeldine agreed to spend five minutes each fortnight developing a feature film, we had to do it.

It is basically what it sounds like. Every fortnight we record a five minute episode, in which we talk about and develop the film we're going to make (starting from scratch). We cannot actively work on the film outside of those five minutes. And we've got to get the film done in five years, by 2023.

We've done a few episodes so far, and we stream live at Check it out there, or below, or subscribe on your favourite podcast catcher.

The Crucible @ Browns Mart Theatre

Last night was the final performance of The Crucible, directed by Merrilee Mills and staged at Darwin's Browns Mart Theatre.

All of the brilliant cast and crew were an absolute riot. They say it was one of the largest casts Browns Mart has ever had.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Excuse me but, We're Family Now

It's all very exciting. Nathaniel Kelly's debut feature film "We're Family Now" is going to be premiering at Darwin Cinema next week! I'm very proud to be assistant director and sound recordist. It's a lovely little drama with a bunch of heart.

Nathaniel directs stars Phil and Joseph, while Max weirdly hovers in the background
If you happen to be a resident of Darwin, you can book tickets here.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Making a Vignette

"Vignette" is an experimental (well I mean, they're all experimental aren't they?) short film I've been working on, which introduces ideas I'd love to expand into a much larger work down the track. I suppose it's a fantasy/adventure/drama concept. Involves a group of girls who fight demons, I mean why not?

I've been thinking about these ideas for a few years now. It's wonderful to see it become something tangible. Here's a little demonstration of the progression from my sketches to the real life actors!

I expect to share this wacky short film next month.