Seven amazing, upcoming Aussie actors to watch out for!

David Black shares seven recent interviews he did with some amazing Aussie talent!

Hi everyone.  The main purpose of Oz Indie Cinema is to promote our local indie movie industry, but that hasn’t made me shy away from looking at various issues affecting the business.  Articles such as the ones I did on extras, crew and gender bias were very popular, very much to my surprise.  You, the readers, have determined that this is a niche blog, and I’ve found that articles which touch upon the big Hollywood productions end up going down like a lead balloon.  It seems that very few here want to read another story on the stuff that’s been done to death on the big mainstream sites.

Today, I have a serious issue to cover and I hope that it will be of interest to you.  It involves unscrupulous journalists who offer to sell interviews to actors who are hungry for the publicity.  Some approach Aussie actors because they know that in order to work in the USA that they must have a certain number of recent media outlets covering their work.  It’s made Australia a favourite target for these predators.

I first heard about this when reading facebook updates by some of the bigger movie industry bloggers who’d found themselves embroiled in vicious online fights for speaking out against the practice.  They were accused of preventing people from making a living.  It wasn’t that long afterward that I found myself being approached on various social media platforms by people offering to cover my projects for a fee.  Real journalists do not charge for articles.  They chase up stories that they feel are news worthy and present them to the public.

I decided that the best way to counter this practice for our local industry was to do the same sorts of articles for upcoming actors for free.  I had an account on a blog that I’d almost forgotten about and it was time to put it to good use.  It seemed a low risk place to do what I thought were going to be formularised, cheesecake articles – bunged out quickly and of very little value other than vanity for the interviewees.

It seems that I was wrong about the platform and the value of these articles and I’m glad to admit that.  In the process of doing these stories, I discovered some amazing Aussie talent.  I first thought that I was just interviewing back ground extras of little experience but this certainly wasn’t the case.  Some had done far more than I have in the industry and I got to share their amazing experiences.

In the process, I also found that the blog site itself was not just some crappy outlet.  The articles published actually did make it to the front page and got quite a good number of views.  They’d built a fair sized audience and I was lucky to be able to get a decent amount of views from their hard work.

So here I am, tail between my legs for having at first doubted the actors and the platform, but excited to present to you the first seven fantastic interviews I did with some amazing, upcoming Aussie actors on creators.co .

So …. Here are our magnificent seven!

 

  1. Rebecca Barrett – On the Highway to Hell? Or the Stairway to Heaven?

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4323415

RebeccaBarretArticle1

 

  1. Banging up a storm: My Interview With multi-Talented Actress Vanessa Gudgeon

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4324269

VanessaGudgeonArticle1

 

  1. Fern Beth Conquers Australia!

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4325281

FernBethArticle1

 

  1. Cyclone Shellee will blow you away!

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4327754

ShelleeKingArticle1

 

  1. Heads up British agents!

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4328482

CallumGaultArticle1

 

  1. Laurinda Osborne …………. nerd by day, super hero by night

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4329184

LaurindaOsborneArticle1

 

  1. Kooky British Actress makes her mark in Australia

https://creators.co/@David-Black/4337613

BrigitteJarvisArticle1

Four Successful Women Discuss Gender Bias

David Black chats to four successful women in the indie movie industry about the subject of gender bias.

Have you ever been happily trundling along, lost in a daze and feeling all is well in your own little world when suddenly ….. SPLODGE!!! You’ve stepped in it!  A sickly warm stench wafts up, assaults your nostrils and chokes you half to death while a swarm of angry blowflies appear out of the blue and circle around your head!

Well, ok, I haven’t had that quite happen to me on that scale.  It’s just the way I visualised a nasty situation that I recently found myself in.  It seems that one of the red hot issues in the Australian indie movie industry today is gender bias.

To put that into straight English, instead of the politically correct term of “gender bias” — some women feel that they are treated unfairly and not taken seriously due to being female.  They feel that they have lost out on opportunities they would have won otherwise if they were male.  It can even go further in that some feel that there is a casting couch, a glass ceiling in organisations and wage disparity.  Others feel that the roles that they are offered pander to stereotypes that are degrading to women.

So… how in hell did I manage to step into the stinky hot centre of such a distasteful issue?  Well, I had complaints that I haven’t given equal time to female film makers in my interviews, articles and movie reviews.  Also, on my recent Victorian Indie Movie Night, only one of the 11 film makers whose films were shown was female.  There is no refuting the numbers here, so I thought that to best explore the issue, I should just talk to some women in the industry and let them tell it in their own words.

Tonight, I will be chatting with Jackie Kerin, , Dia Taylor, Jessica Pearce and Raven Christina Corvus.

Jackie’s first IMDB entry has her appearing in Skyways back in 1979, but she started even earlier in 1976.  By comparison, Dia is pretty much the newcomer to the industry with 4 or 5 years industry experience.  Jessica is a producer and has worked on some large indie productions, such as Ben Hall. Between them, they can give us a good overview of the Aussie scene and how it has changed.

By comparison, Raven is from the USA.  She runs Fizzy TV and produces, directs and films White Noise Paranormal, Locked Into Darkness and Small Planet.  Raven’s answers should give us an idea if Australia really is just baby USA or if things are different here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jackie Kerin

DB – Hi everyone.  I appreciate you all being willing to talk about this subject. Can you each tell me a bit about your background?

Jackie – After growing up in Melbourne, I went straight from school to NIDA. It was 1973 and I graduated in 1975. I was young to be accepted. The focus at the Institute was theatre with a little radio and television training thrown in. In three years, we studied no Australian plays. I was aware that at least one Australian play had been written since ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ – ‘Don’s Party’. I didn’t imagine working in film, as there didn’t seem to be an Australian film industry.

Then in 1975,‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ was made. Suddenly acting in films seemed like a possibility. I Worked for 7 years in theatre, and television and short films and then in 1982 I played the lead in a horror feature, ‘Next of Kin’ directed by Tony Williams.

Around this time, I was feeling hungry for more education. The NIDA diploma was a practical course, my life had been sheltered and I was tired of my naivety. I traveled around Europe for a year, and on returning, lived in Central Australia on a remote community. I moved to Adelaide and studied for a Bachelor of Education and briefly experimented with teaching but soon drifted back into TV, making training films (John Cleese had turned corporate training films into a comedic art form), children’s shows and a mini series – ‘River Kings’. I moved to Fremantle and worked in theatre and eventually returned to Melbourne. I was away for 20 years.

For a while I worked on ‘Blue Heelers’ (when required) as the principal of Mt Thomas and had a guest spot on ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Dirt Game’. But these days I do the occasional ad and my focus is on storytelling in its traditional form and writing for children. I’m the current president of Storytelling Australia Victoria.

Dia – I’m a freelance Filmmaker and Videographer based in Melbourne.  I’ve been making films for the past 10 or so years but have only started in the industry in the last four.  To date I have Directed a feature film and 14 shorts and videos.

Jessica – I came from a Sales background. Originally from Brisbane, I moved to Melbourne five years ago and loved it. Still in Sales at the time, I had lost my passion for it and was looking for something different. I began to explore the idea of moving into the arts. I had never really thought of myself as a creative person even though I spent my child hood doing plays and in a house filled with music. After only one month of exploring options I found myself working as a Production Manager on music videos and short films. The phrase that I have used before, which can sound cliche but is accurate, I dipped my toe in the water and the river took me. 

I have since gone on to work as a Producer with an amazing group of incredibly talented people and launched a production company Running Panda Films with my first feature film The Legend of Ben Hall, web-series Waiting on Sound as well as six short films which have gained recognition internationally at a range of festivals. We have also launched in to the commercial space with our Running Panda Productions team. It is by far one of the most terrifying, exciting and rewarding things I have ever done.

Raven – I started filming and directing a reality show for my paranormal team White Noise. Then a few years later me and two friends started Fizzy TV to help people like us in the independant film industry get more exposure. Fizzy is now a Video On Demand site that is also on Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Play. I have been also filming and directing for Small Planet, Locked Into Darkness and a new project that will be submitted to a major netwok in the U.S. For now they all can be seen on Fizzy TV.

DiaTaylorWithCamera

Dia Taylor

DB – have you experienced gender bias in the film industry, and if so, how did you deal with it

Jackie – – I entered the industry shortly after the bar was lifted on married women working full time in the public service. Equality was a subject of conversation and debate. There was a shift in thought on what women could and couldn’t do. After graduation, I moved back to Melbourne and I worked a lot in TV. My memory is that women were thin on the ground. You’d find women working as make-up artists, wardrobe and on continuity. Men wrote, directed, produced and camera, sound, lighting etc. were all operated by men.

The roIes I was given and the narratives were revealing of the male imagination: I was asked to ride a stallion, bare back and topless, be stripped naked and tossed into a pool and I was rescued by police minutes before my jealous boyfriend tried to throw me over a balcony. I was rejected from a job because my breasts were too small I was dressed in jeans so tight I had to lie down to pull up the zip, and when I asked if I could wear something more comfortable, the director reminded me, ‘You are paid to wear what I tell you to wear’. And then there was the director who assured me that if he gave me a lift to the location he wouldn’t fuck me.

I was young and went with the flow. It had not yet occurred to me that things could be different and people, no matter what their gender, had a place in the story making industry, in front of and behind the camera. When I saw ‘Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!’ and watched the actresses talking light-heartedly about these films, I wondered for a moment, why I hadn’t been able to be so enthusiastic.

In Fair Game, the woman may get her revenge but I found it very hard to watch this all the same. In Next of Kin , I too, defeat my stalker, I blew off his head.  Still, sometimes when I’m watching film and TV, I mutter to myself ‘PBA’ (‘Poor Bloody Actress) when I see them being raped and murdered for the forensic teams to dig up and dissect. I remember walking on a kid’s show in the 70s and talking to a Chinese Australian journalist who was cast to play a role. Musing about the work on offer, she remarked dryly that I was still in front of the game, anyone of Asian appearance had little chance of being cast. In fact anyone that wasn’t white was maginalised. So how did I deal with it? I distanced myself, went away and did some growing up.

Dia – I have to admit I have experienced both sides actually.  I was once hired on a film simply for the fact that I was female because the director and Producer were male, they wanted a female AD to balance things.  I did once lose out on a producing job because they wanted a male producer – no explanation why.  The way I see it is if someone hires or fires you simply because of your gender and not because of your skill level or experience then they’re really not someone you want to work with again.

Saying that though, I was once hired on a film with a rather raunchy scene with an actress.  She requested an all female crew to make her feel more comfortable which I do understand, so there are of course some exceptions to the rule.

One thing that I have noticed though, more so with actors is a sort of gender bias or stereotyping of actresses.  There are so many films out there with weak female characters who honestly could be replaced by a sexy lamp.

And so many films out there fail to even pass the bachdale test.

Not only this, But I have been witness to actresses being over sexualised on set.  We have so many amazingly talented actresses in this city and in the world that can do so much more than just play the girlfriend or love interest.

I see films that have stunning female love interests next to average joe leading men.

Jessica – As a Producer, I have both experienced and witnessed Gender Bias in the industry. There have been some instances early on where I was told ‘ you are a young girl, you don’t have what it takes’ etc. At the time, they were upsetting and made me incredibly angry. I since have realised something that has made the management of these interactions a lot easier. I wish to be treated as a person like anybody else. I choose to not make these interactions about my sex or my gender. Even if someone seems to make a direct attack at my ability to redo my role due to my gender, I do not carry this.

Once I worked with a male production member who I was conflicting with. He was argumentative and dismissive from which I immediately assumed that it was due to my being a woman and his superior. After many weeks of working together, I stopped one day and gave him positive feedback for what he had done well. The facade crumbled and he slumped and said thank you. He explained that the low budget shoot had been incredibly grueling and he was feeling way over his head with the schedule. In this moment, I realised I had been interpreting his remarks and attitude as an offence to me as a woman but the reality was he was just struggling in his own world and as his boss he was feeling a lot of pressure within the role. This still did not excuse his behaviour but allowed me a light-bulb moment to how I can choose how I receive what people throw at me in the industry.

With all of that said – some people are just unhappy, male and female, and there is nothing you can do to change their world. The best thing you can do is not let them change your world perspective.

Raven – I have experienced the gender bias in the film industry more than I would like to admit. When I tell anyone, be it in person or online, you get pretty much ignored. I have noticed in forums when you mention you direct or film it seems like they always gravitate the questions to the men.

I even have to remind my friends and family that I direct and film shows.

I went to film locations and have been totally looked over and they will start asking the men on the crew questions and then they will have to tell them that I am the one in charge. You get the “sorry I just assumed” I don’t get mad, all you can do is laugh, and let your work speak for itself.

What is even funnier is when you tell someone you are working on a horror series that you are going to write and film and they just look at your dumbfounded. It is even more rare to have a woman in the horror genre filming and directing. We are just thought of making “chick flicks”

AJPierceBias

Jessica Pearce

DB – how has it affected the way you do things today?

Jackie – It affects what I choose to watch which means there is still a lot I avoid. In 1992 my daughter was born and as she grew, I started to really notice – like it was no longer a peripheral awareness it was now really in in my face – the lack of representation of women, their stories and stories of all genders, sexualities and cultures! We moved into the western suburbs of Melbourne and the people around us were from all over the world.

Nothing in film and television resembled Footscray or the lives of the people travelling the Werribee line! When we discovered ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, I remember my daughter was hooked. Here at last was a hint of something different. And in her later teenage years we stumbled across stories with Queer themes and characters that explored women and sexuality in a deep way, like ‘The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister’. And later NITV came along and now there is so much more to choose from on TV and in the cinema.

I attended a workshop some time ago, delivered by a young person who explained what it was like not to fit the gender binary we impose and strengthen with our storytelling and myth making. They described so articulately how it feels to be invisible in story. Like having no reflection, no artistic explorations or commentaries on how to be and live. This made a huge impact on me as I realised, it was not only women and people of colour and different sexualities but also people of non-binary gender who were missing from the narratives. It’s exciting to see changes, small though they may be happening in our story telling. I guess the 70s and 80s primed my brain to think about these things.

Dia – It has and it hasn’t.  I like working with a mix of people.  I have a tight little circle of people I like to work with often who are both male and female.  I don’t think either gender is better suited to a particular role.  It’s the person and not the gender that you should look for.  Though I have noticed a lot more male sound recordists and female make up artists, I think this as well just comes down to personal preference with what roles people want to go into though.

Raven – It doesn’t affect how I do things. It should never change how you conduct yourself or treat others in the industry. We have to remember for so long woman were though of being in front of the camera and not behind it. It wasn’t that long ago woman in America didn’t even have the right to vote.

Jessica – I find my role to be an important one for setting the tone of the interpersonal relationships and environment of a production. There have been other examples of what I would deem gender bias but I have often found that people respect what I am doing and the role I bring to the table. I make it clear from the outset how I like to work and the expectations I have of those I work with, not as a woman, as a film maker and professional. I find that this sets a tone and clear bench mark for what is expected and how the production will operate. It is not always easy but I have found that this helps me determine very quickly how well we will work together and if it is the right fit as well as weeding out anybody who is holding any gender bias.

Raven – It doesn’t affect how I do things. It should never change how you conduct yourself or treat others in the industry. We have to remember for so long woman were though of being in front of the camera and not behind it. It wasn’t that long ago woman in America didn’t even have the right to vote.

RavenGenderBias 

Raven Christina Corvus

DB – have you benefited from any of the women’s organisations or the media outlets created purely for women?

Jackie – – Not that I can remember, or perhaps not directly. Now on the rare occasion when I walk onto a film or TV set (I still make ads), I see women taking on all kinds of roles. Men still dominate behind the camera but I’ve worked with female camera directors, sound, directors, writers etc. and they are no doubt finding places in the industry because of the work that has been done for them by schools, individuals, organisations and women etc.  The sets I walk onto these days are more respectful of all crew and cast, children are better protected (I was involved in some TV when I was about 13 and looking older than my age.  There was no supervision of young people and the only advice I was given was to steer clear of ‘men with octopus arms’!) Respect on set is a nice thing, after all every job is needed to create each piece of the puzzle that is slowly gathered, take by take. Recently I was asked if my shoes were confortable. Seems like a small thing but it made me pause for a moment and I remembered those tight jeans. The last time I saw anyone humiliated and bullied (and it was a woman) on a set was 1991.

Dia – Not as of yet but that’s simply for the fact that I haven’t personally looked into them.  I think as well there should be male versions of such things too so as we can have true equality.

Jessica – I have been incredibly grateful and supported by both the female film making community and the women’s organisations. It is definitely worth noting though that the same obstacles apply in terms of funding and applications due to credits and connections. Personally, the idea that I would receive funding or an upper hand because I am a woman actually makes me very uncomfortable. I would like my project or team to be rewarded because of their hard work and merit of the project, not because of gender. HOWEVER, I understand how important the initiatives and organisations are in creating a social change on the perspective of female led stories and content. I hope that one day it no longer matters. I am completely aware how idealistic that sounds.

Raven – No but there are good programs out there. It helps even the field that is saturated with one gender. It is nothing to be ashamed of or thought of as biased. These programs help encourage woman to get into the field. It can be hard enough in the indy scene.

DiaTaylorHero

Dia Taylor

DB – Do you have any advice for women entering into the film industry?

Jackie  – I feel, as I am distanced from the industry these days, there is not much I can say. Acting requires resilience and most of us have to work on that every day. Stick with it; we need to hear stories made by and about all kinds of humans and all genders. Call out sexism and bullying when it happens – don’t be afraid. I was and so regret being silent. Young people, I believe are vulnerable and the work can muck with the head; a mentor is a good thing. Think about your boundaries. You don’t have to accept the job if what you will be asked to do is uncomfortable for you or gratuitous. I’m sounding like a Nana. Making film and TV is fun. Where else would you get to go to work alongside, artists, writers, electricians, sound experts, camera experts, designers, carpenters, business people, pilots, inventors, animal wranglers, historians, old people, young people … and they all on ACTION do their thing! Magic

Dia – Yes I do actually.  We are a rare breed; don’t let the world tell you that you can’t do what you love.  There are some absolutely amazing female filmmakers out there… Sofia Coppola, Julie Taymor, Catherine Bigalow, Catherine Hardwicke, and Floria Sigismondi are just some examples to look up to.

Less than 10% of directors in Hollywood are female and even less are producers and DOPs.  Be the change.  Don’t let the industry sexualise you or change you in any way

Jessica – A common mistake, and one I have made is trying to define myself to others and personally based on my gender. The more you define yourself as what type of person, film maker and artist you want to be regardless of gender it will help frame your relationships in the industry. Make content. Keep making stories that you find interesting. Hire that female crew.

Raven – Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let yourself grow a chip on your shoulder. Woman should be seen no differently than men in a perfect world, which it is not. It should be all about the finished product and not about your gender.

albertinterviewPic8

DB – Thanks everyone for chatting to me today.

Any links you have can go here:

Jackie

Fair Game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQuHBbUz6Cc

Next of Kin trailor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFcdd3VCIaM

Storytelling Australia Victoria:  http://www.storytellingvic.org.au/

http://www.jackiekerin.com.au/

 

Diayoutube.com/diataylorofficial/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6595521/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

http://diartaylor.wixsite.com/portfolio

 

Jessicahttp://runningpanda.com.au

 

Ravenwww.fizzy.tv

www.whitenoiseparanormal.com

 

 

 

a SON OF Australia talks of ANARCHY

David Black chats to Andy “Gypsy” McPhee

DB – Hi everyone.  Today I am going to be chatting to Andy “Gypsy” Mc Phee.  He is well known for being in Sons of Anarchy (hence the strange title) as well as having been in many other movies.  I met Andy on Richard Wolstencroft’s set, “The Debt Collector.”

Before putting these questions together, I had a chat to Andy via online chat and phone.  So this one is going to be a different interview than most as it seems to me that it is more of a spiritual path where all past experiences have led to today.  Sort of like finding balance in the universe through trying many different things and continually evolving.  So get ready folks.

SonAnarchy1

DB – Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time to chat to Oz Indie Cinema today.

Andy, your story seems to me to be one of an Aussie battler from Adelaide that went through a number of different jobs before finding acting.  In another interview that you did, it mentions that you were a pool life guard, bouncer, pro wrestler and scrap metal merchant.  I got the impression that like many of the great achievers, such as Einstein and Winston Churchill that there were many set backs before you found your path.  Can you tell me about these early days?

AP –  I was born in Melbourne and moved to Adelaide at 17.  I was a very angry child growing up.  There were things I didn’t deal with as a young child. I am a very kind loving person but the defensive anger caused many relationship breakups and caused problems with some of my kids.

I have 7 beautiful kids from different relationships.  All wonderful kids.

Started as train driver locos…

Very rebellious

Angry at something always found balance the true me but the underlying anger also found trouble

Gangs

Bike clubs                                                                               

Drugs

Strippers

Night clubs

Pro wrestler

Martial arts

 

SonAnarchy2

DB – The first listing on your IMDB, from 1990, is Return Home.  How did you end up falling into acting?

AP – Acting was a saving grace something I fell into at 38 from an ad for hungry jacks.  I loved it no training just found my own way in.

 

DB – You’ve done quite a lot here in Australia.  Your IMDB is that full that there is only room here to list and discuss a few.  Instead of me asking, can you tell us about Wolf Creek, or Blue Healers, or McLeod’s Daughters, it might be best for me to leave it to you to tell us what the highlights were for you.

AP – I was pro wrestler and got add for hungry back as pro wrestler.  Found an agent and just went for it and work kept coming. And blessed it still does.  11 jobs in 5 months!

 

DB – You ended up going to live in LA and ended up in Sons of Anarchy and Criminal Minds.  Can you tell us a bit about the decision to move to LA and your experiences there?

AP – it was because of kodi he won afi.  Then we all moved and just went for it

KodiAfi

DB – You’ve done quite a bit on Neighbours and Home and Away until 2012.  Did something change that year or soon after?  I see that you started moving from the soapies into the local indie movies after that.

AP –  not sure.  Transition I guess.  More life experiences changes us.

 

DB – You were telling me that all the acting experiences have led you to today.  You are now doing a number of different, related things in acting and life coaching.  Can you tell us about this?

AP – Over years of now I have started healing with myself and other relationships with family. I have my faith now I ride with bikers for Christ. I am introduction leader with landmark which was a big change in helping shift that past.  I now coach and mentor and Work Iinternationally.

Things aren’t always smooth but you have to deal with cause and have a new effect on people around you.

Currently I am in Nashville filming but will be back in Melbourne in August for more work and an actors retreat in Sept on magnetic island.

My personal battles and things I have caused have led me into my faith, my coaching, my healing and healing past relations. Which helps me mentor for others and offer chance for others to see the real person in the crap that can cover us.

Bikersforchristpatch

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today Andy.

Andy McPhee Imdb – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574173/

Extras! Extras! …… read all about it!

David Black chats to a group of extras from around Australia

A few weeks back, I did a story called “Unsung Heroes”, and it really hit a chord with a lot of people.  The messages came in so hard and fast that it was like a loud, collective sigh had been released because someone had finally shone a spotlight on the crew.  Well, there is another group, far more numerous that sit at the very bottom of the pecking order on movie sets.  They don’t make the headlines unless something goes terribly wrong and they are maimed or killed.  Even worse, when depicted in TV shows, they’re just ridiculed mercilessly.  Sometimes referred to as support actors, supernumeraries, or even flesh furniture, I call them extras and am not ashamed to have been one, or too proud to do an extra spot if needed.

DaveTeachRolls

David teaching rolls to zombie extras for The Last Hope

In Ricky Gervias’ tv series, “Extras,” we see the rivalries between extras, the desperate toadying up to directors, producers and stars in the hope of getting some dialogue, and we cringe at the terrible treatment dished out to them.  In French and Saunders, we see grandstanding by extras so desperate for some camera time that they destroy scenes in the most spectacular way.  A google search gives you some newspaper articles that describe a bland, bottom scraping job that is bad for your self-esteem at best and absolutely soul destroying at worst.  Although there are elements of truth in these depictions, it is far from the reality.

To start off with, the job of being an extra is of vital importance.  You can’t have a convincing street scene in a movie and not see people on the sidewalk, entering buildings, buying newspapers and getting out of cars.  Even a café scene needs that hand in the foreground stirring a coffee with a spoon, the waitress walking past and a couple of people chatting away in the background.  But simply filling a scene with people isn’t going to make the scene convincing.  Without skilled background actors interacting with each other and the environment, all you have is a bunch of mannequins.

Often it’s the extras themselves reacting to the main action that guides our emotions and helps the star deliver their performance.  Just watch the 3 stooges when Moe is working with Curly or Shemp.  Larry is always there reacting to everything.  His face contorts with confusion or pain, and we find ourselves following his lead.  If you don’t believe me, just watch a scene on youtube and block out Larry.  When you watch Moe and Curly on their own, you don’t find yourself reacting as strongly.  You probably never noticed it before and a good extra often does go under the radar as they are not there to steal the scene.  That’s why they are support actors.

DaveCultGuard

David Black as an extra on the set of Cult Girls

Anyway, enough of this overly long intro.  I’m chatting here today with Cullen Gorman and Sarah Griffin from South Australia, as well as Laurinda Osborne from Victoria, Will Gabriel from NSW and Simon Chamberlain from Tasmania.

DB – Hi everyone.  I’d like to start off by asking each of you to tell us a bit about your background and the films that you’ve been extras on.

Cullen – I’ve been an extra on several advertisements, many short films and also in The Babadook and the Chinese series Speed. I’ve been acting for eight years in plays, short films, independent projects, sometimes amateur work and sometimes paid, hoping to make acting my primary career.

CullenExtra

Cullen

Sarah – I’m a 17 year old student from Adelaide and I have been taking acting classes since the age of 8. Acting is my passion and so I have been getting involved with anything around Adelaide. Sometimes my age gets between certain acting opportunities for main roles so I will always ask if extras are needed. I have been cast in a short film as the lead, as well as an extra in feature films, online commercials and short films. I have also been an extra in Thom Lion’s music video, I was cast as a monkey. This was one of the greatest experiences so far.

SarahExtra2

Sarah

Laurinda – I have always wanted to act and did drama in school and drama school outside of school. It wasn’t until last year I was lucky enough to get cast on a movie set as a zombie extra. I have done a range of short films, music videos and feature film shoots, playing a range of different characters.

LaurindaExtra

Laurinda

Will – In 1983, I studied Producing and Directing at a private Film Academy affiliated with Macquarie University and AFTRS for 3 years.

I later worked in Film & Television Production as an assistant Film editor and worked for most of the TV Networks and many post production suites across Sydney from 1985 to 1999 as a Tape Operator and Editor and also worked for Fox Sports for many years as a Senior Presentation Coordinator. I ran my own production company in North Sydney from 1990 to 2000 producing and directing corporate’s and low budget TVC’s.

In 2006, I decided I needed to be serious about this and went on a search to find a challenging drama school which with no doubt I found, to say the least. After 6 years of studies I graduated in the “Meisner Technique” at an advance level in 2013.

WillExtra1

Will

Simon – Well I’ve been a musician for years and felt like spreading my wings a bit, and try new roles. I was in a Supernatural movie filmed in an old mental asylum, (Willow Court) where I was a guard, in the short film Alptraum. I also did Photography in a short here, called Zombie Movie, but my latest role is of a soldier in Jennifer Kent’s new movie ‘The Nightingale’ set in Tasmania in the 1820’s.

SimonExtra2

Simon

DB – What is your typical day like on set as an extra?

Cullen – Normally I arrive early, but still later than most of the crew. Then go to wardrobe, get fitted in whatever the costume may be, then get sent to a waiting area. Often I’ve been told to bring my own costume, just neat casual attire or whatever. Once in the waiting area I’ll get acquainted with the other extras and the person in charge of where we go throughout the day. Then it’s into the shooting location where we get told where to walk and where the cameras are, and when the director calls action we walk, then we reset once cut is called and continue doing that until told otherwise. Then we do the same thing at any other locations until no longer needed on set, often when it’s starting to get dark.

Sarah – Being on set as an extra is really fun and it motivates me to keep persisting with my goals of becoming an actress. Actors and crew on set are nice and are great to chat to about the industry. Being on set usually consists of a lot of waiting around for your scene to begin filming but this is great because I get a chance to be in the moment and really enjoy what I do. It’s such a great experience to see what goes on behind the camera.

Laurinda – It would depend on the shoot I am doing. But it usually includes an early start. As an extra, you can be anything from just a background extra to no lines, to extras close to the camera with a speaking line. After arriving on set, you would get into costume/make up on and go through rehearsals with the cast, before shooting commences. The shoot could last anything from a few hours to a full day of shooting.

MischaQwinzMeeka1

Ummm …. the ones at the back are the extras

Will –

  • Be prepared for very long hours of just waiting.
  • Well you arrive on time if not 15 minutes earlier.
  • You meet with the 2nd & 3rd AD’s and they will brief you on the day’s procedures.
  • Fill out your tax forms and any forms necessary.
  • You then go to wardrobe & makeup if necessary. (most of the time you will be asked to bring your own selection of clothing as specified by them prior to arriving) Pain in the arse.
  • You have breakfast (crew first) as they are onset first and need to setup. Same goes for lunch and any other meal breaks. (Get over it going last)
  • You will then be briefed for OH&S procedures.
  • Then you may wait for a few hours or maybe not so long before you go on set.

(there is generally a lot of waiting, so bring a good book or your study materials, best time to get things done.

  • Many numerous long conversations with other extras.
  • Falling asleep onset waiting for something to happen (I recommend you don’t do this too often)
  • Your main role on set is “not to be seen, not BE seen”.
  • As a professional extra one of your major skills is to listen to directions for blocking and repeating this over and over again for as many takes and angles needed. Continuity is another skill you must have (replicate your exact movements every time) that makes you a professionally paid extra.
  • Do not speak to the actors as they are focusing on their role.
  • Keep quiet on set at all times. You are there to do a job not have a social event, that’s

“Show Business” but still enjoy yourself.

Simon – Make up & Costume early, sometimes a breakfast then get ready for the day’s shoot. Your always ready at short notice to go on set, as your always in costume and make up. You always remember to be quiet around the set during takes. You’ll go thru, screens a few times, then with different camera set ups, so it can be quite time consuming, but you get to help out to make the scene come to life a little, your sometimes well looked after by extra staff like hair, make up, on set, as well as catering. Sometimes, you can also be on set, many long hours.

TheBabadook

 

DB – How do you feel the treatment is for an extra, compared to others on sets?

Cullen – Extras are usually overlooked by everyone, but I don’t thing we’re treated too poorly. In some films or series, like anything filming outdoors in the cold or wet, extras are last to be under a tent, as usually the tent space is taken up by the cameras and other equipment that can’t get rained on, and that’s a b it unpleasant, but usually were just there, treated decently by everyone.

Sarah – Extras are treated well and are appreciated greatly. Of course the main focus is on the stars of the shoot, which extras totally understand and so we respect all that goes on during filming.

Laurinda – – I have found that we are treated equally as respected as a main cast character but as an extra, you may not be in a many scenes or have as many lines as other characters so you are not under the pump or have much pressure put on yourself as a main cast member.

Will – Well this is a quite an open question because many have an opinion about their personal treatment on sets.  My personal experience onset was fine, just be professional at all times.   I did have some issues at times which were extreme but that’s life.

Every set will have its own challenges.  Professional conduct from both parties is imperative.

You must understand and deal with that, (you are the bottom of the chain of events, once you grasp this (even though sometimes you have every right to feel mistreated or not valued) only then will you be fine with the situation of being JUST an extra.

Simon – I felt that you’re treated fairly well on a movie set. Your part of the bigger picture, and feel accepted by all the other crew and actors. The Main cast are always friendly, and are really just trying to focus on an emotional scene or take. We just try to help convey their message, and add to the atmosphere of the scene or shot.

LaurindaZombies

Laurinda as a zombie in “Dark Night of the Zomboogies”

DB – What is your best memory of being on a set as an extra?

Cullen – Honestly I’ve made so many great friends on set, so whenever I’m making my own short films or working with people who say “we need actors” I have people I can call. Also I’ve heard about multiple job opportunities through the people I’ve met, so the people you get to associate with a really the best part.

Sarah – My best memory of being on set as an extra was for the music video I did in 2016. The entire day, from start to finish was such a great experience. I was amongst professionals within the makeup, music, and film industry. My makeup was amazing and the conversations I had with the camera person, producer, musicians, and other actors were really inspirational and motivating. I didn’t want the day to end!

Laurinda – Getting to see all the behind scenes of a shoot and meeting and making friends with a range of different people!

Will –  From my 1st time on Home & Away, the main actor didn’t turn up so they asked me to do the role, which scared the crap out of me but at the same time excited and thrilled me to be given this opportunity. The cast & crew were so supportive because of the last-minute lines to learn and my nerves but we pulled it off and it went to air. I had only just started drama school 2 weeks prior.

Simon – Being a part of some great films and ideas. Getting a chance to bring that to life on screen is amazing. To work alongside great Casts and Crews. To meet and work with amazing Directors, that I’ve admired for a long time.

SarahExtra

Sarah, as an extra, in a music video

DB – Is there any advice that you can give to film makers about how to work with extras?  By that I mean everything from recruitment to being on set to even after the film is released?

Cullen – I think the more extras on set, the better scenes are. Streets don’t look populated if the only three people in the background are the same every shot. So recruiting lots of people is very important, and while on set, having designated areas for everyone, not just extras, is essential. Providing food is nice, but not really that crucial, and its always great to hear from the Coordinator or an agent a little while after the shoot saying “come to the premiere.” It’s a sign of good faith and shows that the extras aren’t completely nameless to the higher-ups like the Director.

Sarah – My advice would be to reach out to any Facebook pages with casting calls for extras. This helps to get in touch with anyone interested and is such an easy way to build contacts for more work opportunities. When on set with extras, don’t be afraid to make conversation because everyone starts from somewhere. When the film is released, be sure to let the extras know somehow, because all extras want to show their friends and be proud of what they helped create. Even if the extra is only in one scene in the background, we want to watch it!!

Laurinda – – Always keep the extras you’ve worked with in mind when you have more shoots. We are more than willing to come back for more!

Will – Only advice choose extras well, treat them with respect and they will respect you back and give you more than you would have hoped for. Pay them, feed them well and make sure they feel valued as in “without them this film would be not great”. Be clear in your directions.

Simon – The whole process can be pretty daunting, but with lots of helpful, friendly advice from staff and crew it goes along smoothly. An extra is usually happy with the whole film making process, and very keen to see the end result.

LouiseDead1

Being an extra can be murder!

DB – In wrapping up, was there anything in particular that you wanted to say that I didn’t cover in my questions?

Cullen – I think its very important to make sure the extras are credited, I’ve been in a couple of things where I’ve scoured the credits and not found myself or anyone I was acting with. The credit is almost more important than the money, as its how people acting in extra roles can prove that they’ve been on sets and have experience, so they have more chance of being cast in bigger and better roles.

Sarah – I would like to finish with saying, we value the experience so much, so please advertise extra roles

Laurinda –  Being an extra in film is one of the best things I have done. I highly recommend that anybody thinking of doing this, do it. It’s not everyday you get to be an extra in a film. Who knows where it can lead and it’s a great opportunity to do

Will – Well I might have mentioned a few things that you didn’t in my lengthy answers already. One word it’s all about your ATTITUDE. Enjoy the ride and WHY you chose to do extras work.

Simon – Being an extra is a big responsibility but very rewarding. Sometimes you get formal training, for a certain scene. I had military training for my role in ‘The Nightingale’ and sometimes you may have a speaking role.

 

DB – any links you have can go here:

Sarah’s Links:

Instagram: sarahgriffinofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCesQ8RH_tZk2s5bEl8eXMqQ

StarNow: https://www.starnow.com.au/sarahgriffin11

Laurinda’s Link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8358286/

Will’s Link: https://www.williamgabrielactor.com

Simon’s Link: https://www.starnow.com.au/simonchamberlain1

From Russia With Love

David Black interviews one of the most prolific actors of the Australian indie movie industry – Albert Goikhman!

Hi everyone. Today I am going to be chatting to one of the hardest working actors in the Australian indie movie industry.  I met Albert Goikhman a year ago on the set of “The Last Hope.”  I was still new to the industry and feeling nervous.  I’d been on the sets of “Cult Girls”, “The Perfect Nonsense” and “Universe Stellar Birth” before, but those had all happened within the previous week or two, so I hadn’t had time for much to sink in.

Albert was very welcoming and supportive to me, so I didn’t flee the shoot screaming in fear.  He was the veteran actor that everyone was looking up to.  I was the newbie and outsider, and really didn’t feel like I belonged on the set.  I think that some newer actors and extras tend to feel that they need to set the pecking order straight and establish their dominance straight up by giving the new kid a bit of shtick.

AlbertInterviewPic9

I’m not singling out “The Last Hope” either as a movie that I felt unnerved on as an extra. One “veteran” actress gave me the worst glares I’d ever seen each time I went to enter the green room on Cult Girls. It wasn’t until a later shoot, that she wasn’t on, that I was able to enter and mingle with the others.  Without Albert having been so welcoming, I might have just simply given this whole industry a miss and never discovered how much fun it can be.

Albert himself was once the newcomer too, being originally from Moscow.

DB – Hi Albert

AG – Hello David and everyone else. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved and share my experience.

DB – Albert, I don’t think there are any other actors in Melbourne that are active on so many sets currently, or have completed so many shoots over the last few years. What is it that motivates you and where do you get all that energy from?

AG – I seriously don’t think I work on so many sets, but I am trying to do as much as I can to support Indie Films in Melbourne. My main motivation is to get better. I work full time as oncology nurse and don’t have time to attend any classes to improve my acting skills, so I’ve decided to do more films and learn from other actors.  When I am on set, I am constantly learning by observing others or rehearsing with them, or even just watching others doing their thing.  We often discuss different acting techniques while waiting on set.  I also believe doing more films and being involved in more productions, is the great opportunity to network and meet new directors, DOPs or other crew members.  That relationship might lead to new collaborations and projects in the future. The energy is just there for me and comes from my love and passion to acting. And I wouldn’t be able to do it without support from my family.

albertinterviewPic8

DB – You have an extensive history in acting and showbiz that predates you coming to Australia. Did you want to give us a bit of a run down on that?

AG – I was encouraged to read a lot from a very young age.  I read a lot of books.  And we went to the theatre a lot.  And cinema as well, actually – Bollywood and French movies were really popular back in Russia when I was young.  I come from the country where every child was acting and performing since young age.  It is part of the Russian culture. We start preforming in child care in front of our families, then in primary school in front of the students and teachers.  

As you grow older, you start to choose if you are more interested in dancing, theatre or music and slowly every person does what they feel comfortable and love.  So as all others I started performing and child care.  I was very afraid and shaking every time I was asked to do so.  As I grew up, I understood that being on stage will be the best option to fight against my fear of stage.  So I started to perform more and was involved in almost every single school production.

albertInterviewPic7

After graduation from the secondary school in 1986, I’ve decided to become a doctor as my mum and was accepted in one of the Medical Schools.  But the passion to perform was unstoppable and I also joined theatre group at the Local Drama Theatre in city Perm where I first learnt about Stanislavsky and his Method.  In 1991 my parents and I immigrated to Israel and my acting career stopped for almost 14 years for different reasons. When I came to Australia I’ve realised that passion is waking up again and I’ve joined Slava Miller Russian Poetry Theatre in Melbourne, where I met my first voice coach Elena Michailov, who later became founder and director of Russian Melbourne Theatre Company , where I am currently involved in few shows. I’ve also attended Checkov Drama Studio in Melbourne in 2008 and 2009 where I’ve learnt Michael Checkov acting technique from Dmitry Pronin.

AlbertInterviewPic5

DB – Your first movie role in Australia was around 2010 on a Russian language film called “Deeper Than Yesterday.”  Can you tell us a bit about this?

AG – We filmed it in July-August 2009 and it was released in 2010 at Cannes Festival.  Up to date it is my best memory.  Ariel Kleiman was a 3rd year VCA student who was making a film entirely in Russian and needed some actors.  He came to Dmitry Pronin Drama studio early May 2009 to cast as he said “real rough Russians”.  After the first round of selections, I was invited to my first ever audition.  Believe me, I had no idea what I am doing, but he trusted my feelings and what I’ve learnt from all my teachers.  After workshopping few times with different actors, Ariel told us that he will be in contact and the “wait phase” has officially started.  One evening I’ve received a call from Ariel asking me to come and meet him.  It was one of those café meetings and he asked me “You’ve read a script.  What do you think about the lead character Oleg?  How do you see him?”. I’ve answered him and he said “That is exactly how I see him and I would like to offer you the role, but I want you to know that I am planning to win Cannes Film Festival with that film and you will need to help me”.  And we started long preparations for the film that later on wins more than 25 International Awards including Cannes and Sundance and was even short listed for Academy Awards.  We shot it over 4 weekends (9-10 shooting days) in extreme weather conditions.

AlbertInterviewPic4

It’s hard to describe why that film lingered for so long above the others. Perhaps it was the cinematic look of the film that makes it feel big – a contrast to its claustrophobic setting.  Filmed on a dark, cramped, decommissioned military submarine with 35mm cameras the film tells the story of a Russian crew who suffer a rather savage form of cabin fever. The soundtrack also delivers to make this project a great cinematic experience.

Despite the damned impressive craft of the film (Ariel Kleiman advised that you NEVER think of shooting on a submarine), it is this psychological complexity and moral murkiness which elevates “Deeper Than Yesterday” into the canon of modern short film. Unforgettable experience.

DB – When it comes to going over movies you have done, or are working on, you’ve got around 63 released and over 20 in pre-production, production or post production on IMDB. We both know that IMDB’s are often incomplete, so the true figure would be much higher. This means that it would be impossible for me to go over them all. Can you select a few highlights to discuss here?

AG – I’ve recently updated my Acting Resume with all my up to date films and projects and came up with a 3 numbered figure. Every film leaves a memory. It could be a person I met on set, or a script that I like, or even one shot that was created by the director of photography.  For me it’s all about the team effort that elevates the film to a higher level of success.  I don’t like myself in most of the films, as I always think I could do better and there is constant learning from every role you play. I have many films that won multiple awards in the International Festivals and can mentioned films like “Goldfields” directed by Alan King where I had to speak French, “The Disappearance of Willie Bingham” (2015) director Matthew Richards, “Nathan Loves Ricky Martin” (2016) directed by Steven Arriagada – my first film I did after I had a heart attack in October 2015, short film “Love in Motion” directed by Leanne Campbell that got me Nominated for a Best Actor in Drama at Top Indie Film Awards recently, and my appearance in “Fat Tony & Co” well known Australian TV series. But the most memorable appearance for me was in feature film “How to Time Travel” where I had to run naked in the hallway to help lead character to escape psychiatry facility. I cannot forget the look on the face of Tony Adams (my co actor in that scene), who was playing the guard and whom I had to chase.

There a few upcoming projects that I would like to mentioned to keep your eyes on: feature length films “Cult Girls” by Mark Bakaitis, “Tracy” by Derek Erskine and Naomi Lisner both in post production. And also 2 films in pre production that I am involved now: “Twisted” by Leanner Campbell, “Lucifer Killing” by Gary O’Toole and “Westermarck Effect” by Saara Lamberg.

AlbertInterviewPic6

DB – Albert, you’re in a better position than most actors to discuss the current indie movie industry in Australia, having been on more sets than anyone else I can think of. Can you share your thoughts about what we are doing? How it can be improved? Are we heading in the right direction?

AG – Australia doesn’t have anything like the studio system to help fund local productions, meaning almost every film produced locally is either a low-budget independent feature or has to jump through the multitude of cultural hoops in order to be supported by Screen Australia.

The difficulties in producing films here, there are still many that are made, but nobody watches them.  This means that filmmakers never recover their losses on a production, the crew doesn’t get paid and the production company is less likely to support them in the future meaning that group of filmmakers is much less likely to ever make a film again.

I am hoping this will change, as there is no shortage of talented people in Australia, but there is a severe shortage of money and productions getting off the ground.

AlbertInterviewPic2

Many of the Aussie films that succeed at the local box office tend to feature foreign actors.  I think if we want to resurrect Aussie Films we first of all need to re-evaluate the process by which foreign actors are cast in Aussie movies, and its outcome could determine a lot about the future of our film industry.  The simple reason of bringing in more overseas superstars is that it will mean more movies getting greenlit, more production jobs, and ultimately, a bigger share of the pie for everyone.

The problem starts with our young talents not wanting to stay in Oz land and help moving the industry forward. All of them want to go to LA or Canada. Old cliche about how Australian films are just auditions for our actors before they make it big overseas still appears to be true.

AlbertInterviewPic3

What we can do to improve it? I can suggest few things I’ve recently read in one of the blogs and totally agree with it:

1) We need to start with creating graduated process to develop filmmakers from the entry level to international. Currently, filmmakers spend their own cash to do a handful of shorts before trying to jump straight into the deep end and doing a feature, often pouring every asset they own into getting it off the ground and rarely seeing a return on that investment.  Screen Australia needs to create programs and fund several contingents of filmmakers as training programs where they can progress from making short films to making features with adequate support and the knowledge of how to do so effectively.

2) Greater support for local productions from Foxtel and Stan to create local productions with an international reach.

3) The death of festivals, like Tropfest, which encourage mediocrity and cheap comedy, and consists of a tight group of favourites that makes it difficult for other filmmakers with good stories to succeed.

AlbertInterviewPic11

4) The introduction of some kind of “apprenticeship” system for the film industry. The video production industry is massive, and constantly growing, and many of the skills on set are “trade skills” and don’t need to be learned with an expensive university degree. A formalised system of training and graduated employment for the industry could help get skilled workers into the jobs that we need on film sets to allow us to grown competent and world-class film crews.

5) Stricter requirements from funding bodies that require international productions to utilise a greater percentage of local crews in order to qualify for government funding.

6) For some reason, we keep making “dramas”, which is such a broad definition as to be meaningless, but where are our sci-fi, horrors, rom-coms, and comedies? These types of films already have established fan bases and easily understood genre tropes that engage the audience on a base level. Sure, they won’t win Academy Awards, but they get people into the cinemas and make a return on investment for the filmmakers.

AlbertInterviewPic10

7). Local distribution will almost certainly be forced to change, as it has in the US where video-on-demand and a shorter theatrical window are commonplace for independent films.

Film in the cinema is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath there is a great proportion of people who legally — and unfortunately illegally — gets DVDs or download and watch them at a time and in a format that suits them.

According to 2011 analysis by Screen Australia, only nine per cent of all viewings of Australian films occur at the box office. The other 91 per cent are spread across TV and DVD.

DB – I’ve noticed that you’ve attended a few of the overseas film festivals that have run here too Albert. Maybe more of them than anyone else that I know. How do you feel Aussie indie films compare with the rest of the world?

AG – I think we have a very strong presence in the world of independent filmmaking.  Our films and directors are constantly recognised at the International Film Festivals. We run multiple Internationally Acclaimed Festivals like MIFF and St Kilda Film Festival.  And also Australians clearly want to watch Australian content, because they are watching it on television. But when we go up against Hollywood and try to make internationally-oriented films, we lose. And we lose because our production budgets aren’t big enough; we lose because we don’t have big enough actors to cast.

DB – Just to round up here, can you give some advice for all those actors that are new to the industry?

AG – Let me summarise it in a few points:

  1. Find a joy and follow what you love. Believe in your goals. Because if you don’t believe it, it’s definitely not going to happen.
  2. Auditioning is an opportunity to practice. Treat auditions like rehearsals
  3. Don’t try to be someone else. Draw from personal experiences to make characters different from others. We all have something special in all of us which makes us different from others. Use it for your favour.
  4. Don’t wait for casting director or agent to call you – Go ahead and produce your own work.
  5. Put faith in your director, enjoy the collaboration
  6. Explore the world outside acting. Find other creative outlets. Feed other parts of yourself. Write a script, paint, do crew jobs.

AlbertInterviewPic12

DB – Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today Albert. It’s rare that I get the chance to pick the brains of someone that has done so much in this industry in recent times.

AG – Thank you David. It was a great chat and I hope for a better future for our Local Australian Independent Film Industry.

Any links you have can go here:

1. IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3776270/

2. Link to “Deeper Than Yesterday”: http://www.dinamagazine.com/film/short-film-deeper-yesterday-ariel-kleiman/91

3. Article in “Red” Magazine: http://redmagazine.com.au/home/albert-goikhman-the-man-who-struck-the-perfect-balance-in-life/

 

The Horrors of Pre-Production!

A look behind the scenes of an indie production, by David Black

Hi everyone. Once again, I haven’t found the time to get a few pieces in reserve to keep the Oz Indie Cinema stories, reviews and interviews running to deadline.  I feel a bit embarrassed but I do have an excuse. I was so amazed at all the activity and fantastic shoots happening within the local indie movie industry that I got involved in everything that I could. Some of this included creating my own projects. And that brings us to my blog update today.

OpeningAnimationScreenCap
One of the things I’ve been working on is called Horror House. It’s a hosted horror show that is reminiscent of the old ones with all the bad taste jokes and props. Australia used to have these in most states. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane all had one called Deadly Earnest.  It was a different actor in each state and the characters they played varied quite a bit, despite all using the same name. The shows ran from around 1961 – 1978 and were very popular. I chose to have two hosts for my show. Count Funghoula and Mistress Boobiyana.

DeadlyEarnest
The reason why I decided to create a horror show was due to seeing so many local short horror movies that were amazing. Most only had youtube as an outlet and were unlikely to get onto tv or be released on dvd due to being too short. I thought that if there was an old style hosted horror show, then these could be grouped together and put into a half hour or one hour episode. I mentioned this on my facebook as a status update and the idea just took off.  Before I knew it, I had all the talent needed for the show to go ahead.

_MG_4647
The amount of work that goes into creating something like this is substantial.  It was just mind blowing as to how much time goes into pre-production, in order to create a few short minutes of footage.  This project deepened my appreciation for all of those local films that I’ve seen.  I’m hoping that by going over some of this, that it will help deepen your appreciation too.

LoungeRoomBefore

The first thing that I did was to commission an animated intro and outro for the series.  I felt that to get local film makers to give me their best work that I would need something spectacular to show them.  I went with Lorne Colt as the animator, and we worked remotely via email and facebook. This process took around a couple of weeks. The music in the intro was taken from an instrumental section from one of my Darkness Visible songs.

CamerasBeingSetUp
The next step was to look for short movies.  I put messages up on a number of the facebook groups that are dedicated to the local indie movie industry.  To select the films for just the pilot show was another 3 weeks.  It was fun to chat to so many film makers and watch their movies, but, it wasn’t all beer and skittles.  I did get the odd film maker that was not happy that they didn’t make selection.  So I made a few friends and gained a few enemies.  I was advised by so many colleagues that have been working at the higher levels of this industry for years that you have to develop a thick skin if you want to be a director/ producer, and I’m working on that.

SetDressing1
Whilst I was selecting the movies and writing the script, I was putting together the cast and crew.  Most that work in this industry at the indie level do so on a volunteer basis. That doesn’t mean that the project was going to have zero cost as the animation was already a few hundred dollars.  I recruited the cast and crew over a few nights.  I’d end up in long discussions with this one or that one, until late in the night over the next few weeks to get all the workflows and deadlines together, as well as getting people working with each other.

HorrorHouseMakeUp1
There’s a long line of tasks that need doing on a project like this and each person does their bit and passes it onto the next.  It only takes one person not coming through and one work flow can get jammed up, causing delays in many other areas. Yep, I had this problem too, and ended up having to replace my original co host. This resulted in another person upset, more fights, false accusations and the loss of friends that I’d introduced to her, who just couldn’t accept that I was now a director and had a job to do.

By this stage, I was really starting to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears of local film makers and understand some of their war stories of difficulty with cast and crew.   I didn’t quite get to the nervous break down stage, like some, but this was just a one day shoot and not a full feature film.

HorrorHouseCrew2
It was a learning curve for me to realise that I should have had auditions and then made short lists. With anyone selected, I should have followed up with the directors they’d worked with before to make sure that they were professional in their behaviour.  I realised that you can’t just do a movie and give friends parts if you want to have a decent chance of having a smoothly run project that will be produced to a professional level.

SetDressing2
Once the previously cast hostess had been replaced, things moved into high gear. The new Mistress Boobiyana was Tritia DeViSha.  She is an award winning actress, seasoned presenter, producer, as well as a writer/director/filmmaker.   Tritia immediately got us rehearsing, filming the practice runs, re scripting and discussing props.  We were able to share the footage to the work group where the crew were able to decide what equipment they would need and their methods of shooting it. I was now getting a better understanding of how much more needs to be done and the way to do it.

HorrorHouseTrishMua1
Discussions of make up and costume now got underway and it was probably a week or two of the make up artist discussing in chat the ideas with Trish and I.  Sketches and pics were exchanged, discussed and altered.  By the time we went to shoot, we knew what we were doing there but were ready to make whatever alterations would be needed on the day.  And as usual, things do change. There is a helluva lot of thinking on your feet that goes on as you have to accommodate things that just didn’t quite go to plan.

SetDressing3.jpg
For a week before the big day, I was moving stuff out of my lounge room, getting props together, keeping contact with everyone and even arranging extra helpers for the day.  Even then, on shoot day, there was heaps to do, but we transformed a lounge room into a movie set and got our footage done.  All up, I would say the amount of hours I put in alone would equate to two weeks full time, jammed into after hours.  Costs involved would have been around $600 – $700 . And that is just pre-production and the one day shoot.  There is still post production to go.

Ccam1HorrorHouse

*Update – Horror House has been accepted by Foxtel Aurora to run in early 2018!  More updates will be available on their facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/HorrorHouseShow/

 

A new actors experience

The following article is re-blogged from the Indie Activity blog, with permission http://www.indieactivity.com .  It is an interview with me.   So far, all the interviews I’ve done have been with people who have been around a long time and achieved a lot.  I think this one will give a nice contrast.

Pic1David

David Black started his acting career by doing a role as a cult guard on horror feature movie, Cult Girls. It certainly was an experience too. David Black remembers getting to the film location and seeing cranes, dollies, giant lights and a few stars, like Jane Badler from V. Prior to this he’d been in a theatrical horror rock band called Darkness Visible since 1994 and although he has produced, directed and appeared in 9 music videos, David Black didn’t really feel connected to the movie industry before, so Cult Girls was the start and Darkness Visible has been something that gave him the experience to make a movie career take off. After Cult Girls, it seemed like David was in one movie after movie. Universe – Stellar Birth, The Perfect Nonsense, The Last Hope, Order of the Wolf, Scene Through My Eyes, The Resurgence ….. David Black went from extra to featured extra to cast in what seemed like a very short time. This was followed by writing, producing and directing his own short movies. It’s been regular progress from extra to actor to director. Each time, it’s’ been a baby step up, but it’s also been at a breakneck pace too.

Did you study what you do
I didn’t really study for what I am doing now, unless you count having been in stage plays at school. So far, everything I’ve learned has been on the job. I have worked with many experienced people so I’ve always had someone there to guide and advise me. One of the brilliant things about the indie movie industry in Melbourne is that there are a lot of supportive people. As long as you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew and its just a little bit of advice or guidance here and there, you’ll find that there is always someone to help — as long as you have networked well, that is.

Pic2DaveScared

What is your filmmaking process
I didn’t go to a school, so I don’t have a name for my process. I started learning from my very first music video. That one was a simple one. We had a studio recording of the song, “Flesh” and I teed up a couple of camera guys to come to a gig, film it and edit it. The follow up clip was a bit more complicated. I had the recording of “I Nehemia” and an idea that there had to be travel in it. So I wrote a script where the band are the travellers, going to a gig. I booked a horse carriage ride in the city for one night, a boat at Studley House Boat House for another night, found a spot at St Kilda beach for one shoot and a bit of bushland for another, arranged a venue to do a gig. I advertised for a month or so for 30 extras and set up live photography and booth photography at the venue. In organising this, every single step seemed like common sense. It was a case of – what do we need to shoot this and then arranging it. It was only after Cult Girls and working with movie industry people that I started to learn the terminologies and processes of the movie industry.

Tell us about the work you have produced
I’ve produced 9 music videos for Darkness Visible. The first 8 can be found on I Bleed Indie for free. http://ibleedindie.com/category/music-videos/ . The 9th one, Breaking Point, is soon to be released and you can find all the information on the Breaking Point page – https://www.facebook.com/BreakingPointVideo . Movie industry wise, I’ve produced 2 segments for Shane Ryan’s “Ted Bundy had a Son.” I wrote, directed, produced, filmed and acted in one segment. It was a found footage piece of a man going to his girlfriends place and the two finding all her house mates dead. The main filming was by Alex Zemtsov with my iphone footage being cut in. As a follow up, I co-wrote, produced and acted in another segment where the boyfriend is interrogated for the murders. This one was directed and filmed by Steve Russell.

Pic3DavidZombie

After this, I wrote, co directed and was an extra in Dark Night of the Zomboogies. This was one of those things that I just fell into. It was intended to be a throwaway piece to be filmed at the end of the Boogie Nights movie industry night in Abbotsford. The idea was just do do a film shoot quickly there for fun in order to bring more people to the night. Well, we really did have to shoot the whole movie in just 2 hours, with lots of restrictions, such as not being bothering patrons — which means no recorded dialogue due to not being able to call “Quiet on Set.” Well, that one grew! We had a pro sound crew from Soundworks in India that wanted to do a sound track. It then debuted at the Warrandyte Film Feast, within a week of being completed and did well there. It also is going out as a bonus extra on SRS Cinema’s release of “Peek a boo, then I strangle you.” And if that wasn’t surprising enough, it is going onto a horror show that goes onto Foxtel and Ch 41 in Adelaide.

Other projects that I am working on are not finished yet, but there is Daemonic Twist – a coming of age horror/ comedy to highlight youth suicide. Drugs ‘n Dildo’s, a comedy web series about what happens when a retired horror actor moves into the Dunshaftin Nursing Home for retired Porn Stars. And last, a series of short movies called “Obsessions of a Shattered Psyche” that is based on the series of short stories of the same name that I had published in the 1990’s in Dark Angel Magazine.

Do you take courses to improve your craft
I’ve been learning on the job, as mentioned, but I have spent quite some time reading about the industry online.

Pic4DaveBand

How do you combine acting and writing
If I’ve written the project that I’m acting in, then it’s a natural process because I already have the character living in my head before the script is even broken down. I suppose it changes somewhat according to who I am working with and how the characters interact. I hadn’t really thought of how to combine both because once a project starts, it pretty much go, go, go, and a lot is done on auto pilot.

How did you get into the film business
I mentioned Cult Girls earlier and my band, Darkness Visible. Those two are linked. The director of Cult Girls, Mark Bakaitis, is also in a band called Psych Carni. I’d known Mark for years through his band. Our bands both played locally within the same scene and I’d probably booked them at a night I ran called “The 3rd Degree.” I didn’t know that Mark was even better known as a director and had made numerous movies, documentaries and music videos. Mark asked me to be an extra in his movie, Cult Girls, and that’s pretty much where it all took off.

There were earlier things such as doing extra spots for some tv shows that were filmed in my street in the 980’s and an extra spot in feature movie back in the 1990’s, but once again, I didn’t feel connected to anything from them.I just turned up, did what I was told and left. There were no explanations of the movie making process and no connections to anyone afterward. One thing hadn’t led to another either. Cult Girls really was the start of feeling that I was a part of the industry. It was where I met people and was offered more roles. It got the ball rolling and that ball hasn’t stopped yet.

Pic5DaveVampire

How do you turn an idea into a screenplay
I’ve only done short movies so far, so I couldn’t say. The longest script I’ve written is 25 minutes. I wrote the idea down in brief, then worked out where it needed to go and broke it down to 10 main scenes. When you know what you want to achieve in a scene and have broken something down to  something that small, then it becomes easier. Once they are altogether, you just read through to make sure they all fit together and flow.’ I will be doing a feature movie for Obsessions of a Shattered Psyche, but the approach there will be to join ten short stories together, as chapters, to make the movie. Each story is sequential and using the same characters.

Explain your writing process
I start out with a sentence or two of the main idea. With Daemonic Twist, I wanted a movie to highlight youth suicide. That meant that I needed someone young who was going to be contemplating suicide. From there, I thought, who are the people that surround this person. Family, school friends etc. I then spent time on thinking
about what I could do to make this movie different and interesting. How all the different ideas came to me and then gelled together is beyond me. It was like the script wrote itself. In fact, the same could be said for all the other scripts I wrote as well. I have no idea how ideas come and why they come in floods.

What writing tip or idea can you give young writers
Just start. Don’t worry if you have made a mess with it. It’s from the messes that you start learning.

What do you want to change about the film business
Rather than change the industry, I want to learn more about it so that I can do better with getting funding, building a following and getting distribution.

What do you want to be remembered for
I’m not worried about being remembered. I think that in a world of 7 billion people that anyone believing that they should be remembered after death is being a bit arrogant.Life is for living and if I make a movie that is enjoyed by people today, then that is enough.

 

http://www.indieactivity.com/interview-with-david-black/