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HOAXVILLE

The process diary of film director Glendyn Ivin

Filtering by Category: Beaconsfield

BEACONSFIELD on air

Glendyn Ivin

We had a media screening for Beaconsfield a couple of weeks ago. The miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb who's real life experience the film is based on were there and they watched the film for the first time. I can't imagine what it would be like to sit in the comfort of a cinema and watch (a version of) the worst experience of your life playout in front of you.

I was a little nervous, not about the media seeing the film for the first time, but of what Todd and Brant might think. They were the only ones who experienced it all first hand and lived through it, so in the end, it's their opinion I value the most.

I wasn't worried about getting all the rescue procedure and technical details right, but more about how both men go through quite extraordinary and emotional journeys while they are buried alive and many of these details have never been revealed or discussed publicly. Todd and Brant are not 'emotional' guys, Todd in particular is a man of few words and as stoic as they come. So I suspect the idea of  your lowesest emotional point broadcast across the country isn't that exciting for either of them. And from past experience if they see or read something that isn't right, they speak up and be rather direct about it.

But thankfully, they really liked what we have made. In fact they were really moved by it. Both Todd and Brant feel we captured the atmosphere and the emotional state of the fourteen long days and nights they spent trapped side by side a kilometre underground in a truthful and realistic way. Brant told me he had no idea how we crammed so much emotion, the highs and lows, the anguish and even laughter into two hours. Todd gave me a firm handshake and said we had '..done good mate'.

Perhaps the nicest compliment I received was from Todd's wife Carolyn. She has never been in the limelight and remained very much out of sight during the whole ordeal but is of course now featured in the film (played beautifully by Michala Banas). I asked Carolyn after the screening that even though "...it's not you on screen or your house, your furniture, your kids, your words etc... but was the film kind of what it was like?" and she said "Thats exactly what what it was like. The whole atmosphere and the feeling is right...'. Good enough for me.

And good enough for the media as well,  and I say with a sign of relief. As seen here on Hoaxville, Beaconsfield was a really tough film to make creatively, financially, logistically and physically, so it's nice to feel some love after all the blood, sweat and tears. There was a great feature review in The Australian (above) this weekend and some other nice words have popped up here and there.

Beaconsfield airs on Channel 9, Sunday, April 22nd.

UPDATE : Just saw this A Current Affair story chatting to Todd and Brant after they saw the film...

Done.

Glendyn Ivin

Finished Beaconsfield today...! Although that old saying does spring to mind... "You don't ever finish a film, you abandon it..."

Don't have an on air date as yet... but I suspect it will be early-ish next year maybe.

Some snaps taken during production that haven't made it here after the break...

 

THE DARKNESS

Glendyn Ivin

Been spending the week sitting in the dark, colour grading guys sitting in the dark. Most our conversation about the grade has been about how 'dark' we can make 'the darkness'. I wrote  a few months ago about how black a mine really is and I know if we were grading for 'cinema' we could perhaps go a sniff  darker than we have. But as Beaconsfield is for broadcast we have to take into consideration that people may watch the film, heaven forbid, with a light on or even wierder, they may not be watching the film on a 'broadcast calibrated monitor'.

Regardless, I'm really happy with the direction the grade is heading and it feels great to be on this side of a long production schedule and to be almost 'finished'.

REED-CORE

Glendyn Ivin

Spent some time in Sydney over the last week with Stephen Rae who is composing the soundtrack for Beaconsfield. Being a story that takes place predominatley underground, early conversations were about 'elemental' and 'organic' sounds. The sound of rocks, air and water and music that forms in and out of the environment. For the past few weeks (amongst our discussions about cameras, watches and motorbikes) we have been working through demos and musical sketches and these ideas are now becoming more defined. Through Stephens sonic explorations we have settled on the clarinet as one of the key instruments. I must admit I've never been drawn to the clarinet, I tend to steer clear of  'reed instruments' in general, (except I'm quite fond of the oboe), but  the way Stephen is using it is really different. Then I realised there is a whole album I love that uses the clarinet in a beautifully textured and ambient way. So I'm really looking forward to see how it all keeps progressing.

Below: Sydney mid afternoon storm, recording studio flowers and Peter Jenkin (lead Clarinet of the Sydney Opera) recording clarinet sounds for Stephen to compose and edit with. 

LOCKED OFF

Glendyn Ivin

Who ever said "... you never finish a film edit you just abandon it..." knew the feeling of locking off the Beaconsfield cut over the weekend. But I think the feeling is always there whether you have 10 weeks or 10 months or  just 4 weeks as we did on this project. There is always something to tweak and explore and I don't think you could ever feel 100% 'finished'. This is what the film looks like... all 125 minutes of it.

Huge thanks to editor Andy Canny who was a pleasure to work along side. Andy put in so many extra hours to try and make the film as good as it could be in the time allocated. Over the many late nights, early mornings and a few of all nighters, I appreciated his objective eye and attention to detail.

BEACONSFIELD, WEEK 5 'Wrap!'

Glendyn Ivin

Wrapped the shoot last Friday! Our final week took me back again to Beaconsfield, Tasmania. This was my 4th trip, but this time I had some cast and (a reduced) crew in tow. As well as shooting some key sequences in the streets of Beaconsfield, we were most importantly able to shoot 400 meters below ground in the real Beaconsfield mine as well as some other scenes on the 'brace', the area underneath the now iconic triangular poppet head of the mine, including a recreation of the famous footage of the boys coming out after fourteen days trapped below ground.

I think overall we have done very well. From the start we approached the script like a feature film, even though we only had a 'TV' budget and schedule. In most parts I think we have succeeded and if we haven't it wasn't from not trying as hard as we could.

I'm so impressed with the crew that I have had around me. I'm looking forward to the time I can work with each and everyone of them again. On all levels they have delivered above and beyond what was expected. It's been a gruelling schedule to say the least and I know I could not have  made it through the shoot without a bunch of guys and gals around me who worked as hard and as fast as they did while still maintain a high level of creativity and craft. Thanks to everyone on the crew, from the production office, to the unit boys, right through and up to the heads of department!

Now into the edit... more fun and games...

BEACONSFIELD, WEEK 4 'THE 925'

Glendyn Ivin

We have spent the last week shooting on sets built in a huge warehouse in Yarraville. The main set is 'the 925', which is the name of the drive (925 meters underground) that collapsed on Todd and Brant in the Beaconsfield mine in 2006. Even though we shot in a real mine, we could never create a 'collapsed mine' in a mine, so we had to build it. I've never really shot on sets, in fact I've made a point of not shooting on them, but I've learnt so much watching The 925 develop from inital recces and research, to rough sketches, to drafted plans and ultimately construction.

Production designer Jon Rhode has done an incredible job not only designing but also stretching our very small budget a very long way (over 50 meters end to end!) on this set and all the other smaller ones. Standing on the set of the 925 when it was lit and dripping with water felt alot like being in a real mine, I kept feeling like I needed to put my hard hat on.

A few more snaps after the break...

 

 

Just a sample of the bucket loads of fake rocks that had to be moulded, sculptured and painted...

 

BEACONSFIELD, WEEK 3

Glendyn Ivin

Returned on Saturday from a week shooting deep down underground. Filmmaking takes you to some pretty cool places, but I'm still trying to comprehend not only where we have been, but how on earth we got there. To even step foot in an underground mine is difficult enough, but to gain access and take fifty cast and crew for a week of filming under ground is a thought almost to crazy to consider, particularly on a schedule and budget as tight as ours. Mines are dark, wet, small and full of safety, technical, geological and physical considerations. A crew member with over 25 years in the industry said to me during the week that what we were doing was the most logistically and physically tough shoot he had ever been on. Which on one hand excited me, and on the other made me realise just how hard everyone was working to make this happen as smoothly and efficiently as it could.

The underground environment goes against everything a film crew needs to work; flexibility, accessibility and time. But what the mine took away from us in logistics, it gave back ten fold in providing a location that visually and structurally we could never have recreated in a studio. Speaking of which this week sees us back in Melbourne filming in the relative comfort and convenience of a set built in a huge warehouse in Footscray.

A huge thanks to A1 Consolidated gold mine, tucked high up in the hills about 4 hours drive from Melbourne (just near Woods Point, which is dying for a Deliveranceremake to be filmed there!). A1 essentially shut down for the week to facilitate the shoot and give us mostly free reign on their very cool place. And also a huge thanks to location manager Chris Stanton and the rest of the production team who help seal the deal!

And a massive thanks to the cast and crew who endured the cold, the mud, the dark and the insanity of it all.

More snaps after the break...

Director of Photography Toby Oliver, grinning and bearing it...

Make up designer Fiona Rhys-Jones doing final checks on Syd Brisbane. Everyone below ground had to wear a helmet, cap lamp, steel cap gum boots, safety vest and most importantly an OxyBoks self rescuer that thankfully no-one had to use!

BEACONSFIELD, WEEK 2

Glendyn Ivin

We are half way through the shoot. This week we shot all the scenes of the boys in 'the cage', all 62 of them! We built a set that was the exact dimensions to what the real cage was, it's such a small space that Todd and Brant had to endured for over two weeks. All the news reports at the time, depicted the cage more like a prison cell size, or a least a space they could sit up and casually sit back in. But it was more like a coffin sized space that two big guys could just fit in, when lying down. They could not straighten out, nor sit up, and had the constant threat of thousands of tons of rocks hanging just centimetres above. I think it was Brant who described the situation as similar to having someone point a loaded gun at you for two weeks. Never knowing when or if they might pull the trigger. I had my mind set to build our cage exactly how the real one was, or as close to as possible. And even though we could remove walls and the roof etc to assist us with shooting it was still a really tight fit. It was built on quite a complex rig that could be shaken, jacked up and dropped. It was like this living thing, a bit like a theme park ride. The real Todd Russell dropped onto set and gave us the thumbs up, which is good enough for me. He joked earlier that we was going to get into the cage, but after he had a good look around it, I suspect that he didnt need to re-live the experience even if in the realms of make-believe.

Above: The Cage

We have been shooting between 10-13 scenes a day and I think we got up to up to 13 minutes of screen time on one day. I thought shooting in such a restricted space would reduce time, but because it was so small and there were so many special physical effects (rock falls, dust, water, 'seismic' activity, blasting etc) everything took much more time than I expected. But we got most of what we needed in the end. I hope we have captured some of the true horror of what it would be like to be trapped and buried alive a kilometre under ground.

Despite the long hours and the pressures of the schedule, I'm really enjoying myself. Fingers crossed the good experience continues for the next 2 weeks!

Lachy and Shane Jacobson (below, who plays Brant) are doing a great job as Todd and Brant. I've been so impressed with their approach to the characters and their performances. It was hard to shoot the scenes when they actually left 'the cage' I wish I could have spent another day or two with them on that set!

We are heading to shoot in a working gold mine this week for five days. A very cool but remote location about four hours drive from Melbourne.

 

END OF PRE...

Glendyn Ivin

Last day of pre was on Friday. Shoot starts tomorrow. Weekend was spent soaking up some family time and last minute script tweaks with writer Judi McCrossin. There was a good energy in the office on Friday. Everybody seemed reasonably calm and on track as much as could be expected. I'm usually pretty nervous the night before any shoot, but I'm actually pretty excited! I'm looking forward to getting on set and getting some of this story out of our heads and into a camera!