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The process diary of film director Glendyn Ivin

Filtering by Category: Development

Adelaide Premiere pt2

Glendyn Ivin

The best way to describe what it felt like to show the film for the first time is that I felt just like I did on my wedding day. Nervous, a little scared and all those second thoughts etc, but ultimately knowing within myself that this is a really cool thing to do.

What I found really interesting about showing the film for the first time, was sitting there in the dark watching the film we had MADE, as apposed to the film we were MAKING. It was a really different headspace to be seeing it in. As everything to that point had been about making the film the best it can be. I felt this particularly in the 3rd screening on Sunday when my heart wasn't pumping as hard as it had been in previous screenings, I was able to sit back and look at all the decisions we had made over the past year. And in particular mid way through the edit where we really shaped alot of the film and gave Last Ride structure. These were the decisions that felt the most important now, not the smaller and far more obsessive sound and grading tweaks we had been making over the past few months. I've learnt alot in that regard.

It was really nice to share the film with other people. Like I said in an earlier post, it's been a really insular experience, and to finally hear and see people react in the cinema around me was the exciting part. And of course the after party, the handshakes, hugs and the congratulations were nice to. Very cool to have so many people come over to Adelaide as well, I really appreciate that! Although I never felt I was able to talk to everybody there properly. Also like my wedding day.

After the Friday night, Nick, Antonia, Paul C, Hugo W, John Brumpton, Tom and partners traveled up to Port Augusta where we showed the film to a whole bunch of people who helped us make the film from in and around the area. It was great to see some of the friends we had made along the way again. It was a really different audience as well, mostly people who wouldn't get to see a film like Last Ride, but they really enjoyed it and it was great talking to them afterwards. One guy hit an emu on his way to see the film (he drove for three hours!). You know your in the middle of nowhere when you hit an Emu on the way to the cinema.

We then all stayed up in Quorn, where we shot a big chunk of the film. I really love that little town. Then the five hour drive back to Adelaide, this time via the Clare Valley, I've never been that way before. Such a good drive.

The Quandong Cafe in Quorn. Best scones, ever.

On the way back down to Adelaide we passed through this really small town that had a run down Drive-In. Someone was living in the old snack bar / projection room. It would be pretty cool to live in an old drive in.

I think over the five days I was in Adelaide I had about 12 hours sleep. Pretty exhausting on all levels. Had a great time though, The Adelaide Film Festival is one of the best film festivals I've been to. And not because Last Ride was showing, it just has a good feel, and a most importantly a really diverse, but incredible selection of films. I'd love to go back and lose myself in the programme one year.

Adelaide Premiere

Glendyn Ivin

Wow... what a weekend...

The premiere and everything that went along with it was a fantastic experience. There was a really good buzz about the film and all 3 screenings had sold out well in advance. That was a good feeling in itself...
Much, much more to write, but right now... I need to sleep...

Ya Nervous?... pt 2

Glendyn Ivin

Just three more sleeps till the (SOLD OUT) prem in Adelaide. I wasn't really nervous (read entry below) but it's really starting to kick in now. It's a difficult thing handing something you love dearly over to someone else, let alone a whole bunch of people. I got a sneak preview of this a few months ago...

Towards the end of the edit we organised a little test screening. Just to see if we were making the film we thought we were, and to try and answer a few questions that we were not sure of. We hoped a small audience would help point us in the right direction. It was a really successful screening in that those questions were answered, and the discussions afterwards helped us focus on a few other things that we were not aware of as well.

But the really strange thing was, all of a sudden I had 65 other opinions to consider. Not that I had to take them on board, that could have been perilous, but the reality of them being there at all, I found quite overwhelming in itself.

Making Last Ride has been hugely collaborative. However, the process, particularly when I got into post, became very insular. The film exists amongst a handful of people. This is definitely the way it should be, but it makes handing it over to the outside world quite a strange idea, even though it's the very reason we have all gone on this journey. Why make a film if you dont want people to see it?

This Friday night there will be 400+ opinions of the film (and by the end of the weekend close to 1000). It's not so much that I care if people think it's good or bad or whatever (although of course I hope they do like it). It's more the idea of releasing it out into the world where it can be judged and also have a life outside of the strict confines of the post suites where it's lived quite happily for the past 7 months. I've been trying not to use the cliche about 'it's like giving birth to a baby', but alot of the same fears and paranoia apply.

While sitting here thinking and making myself more nervous I received a lovely message from a friend and wonderful actor Amber Clayton. She wrote...

"...Enjoy that you have such an amazing project that you have worked so hard for. You cant control what others think, just how well you've done! This is my new philosophy in dealing with the constant approval, disapproval, rejection and rejoicing in everything that we do as artists. It can send you seriously bonkers. So I try to enjoy the fact that I have something worth being terrified about."

It such a good way of looking at it. It IS a wonderful thing to have something to be terrified about in this way. The whole idea of being an artist is about taking risks and they wouldn't be risks if they were not scary to some degree. In this way I feel so fortunate that I have been able to create the film the way I wanted it to be in the first place. Where as so many amazing would be artists are fearful to make even the first step. The fear of failure, or exposing oneself sets in before they even commit pen to paper, or paint to the brush, or act, sing, photograph, dance etc. (Kind of on this subject, this talk by Author Elizabeth Gilbert is well worth the 20 minutes! thanks Struth!)

And speaking of handing your work over. Denise Young who wrote the book The Last Ride which the film is based on, handed her work over to the producer Nick Cole about 8 years ago. She came and visited us on set during filming and it was very cool having her there. She has written a very thoughtful and eloquent recollection of her experience of not only her visit to the set, but about the process of handing your work over to other people.

WEEK 2 / August 10th 2008

Glendyn Ivin

Week 2 done already? Does it feel like we have shot 1/3 of the film? Freaky - if its true.
Shot some beautiful scenes this week, both from a visual and performance aspect. A couple of dawn sequences where the weather looked after us. Magic hour here is just that, the way the light and mist hangs onto the landscape is amazing, freezing cold, but amazing! We have a great crew on board and we have been able to shoot in sequence through the transition of pre-dawn > dawn > sunrise. A very fast and exciting way to work.
We also had the pleasure of having Anita Hegh with us for 3 days for the role of Maryanne. It was such a joy to see her work with Hugo and see them both lift their characters and their broken relationship off the page. Maryanne is only on screen for a short time but she needs to resonate through the rest of the story. I think Anita delivered such a wonderfully rounded and honest performance that will stay with the audience throughout the film and hopefully well after the credits have rolled. The only bummer about working with Anita was that she was with us for a such a short time. Her energy and presence onset was so warm and friendly. We joked about keeping on to assist the Gaffer just to have her there.
We also shot a very scrappy but brutal fight scene with Hugo in a packed pub (full of locals, who couldn't believe they could get paid to hang out in their pub for a day). Hugo does his own fight and stunt work (Hello Agent Smith!) and it was very cool to see the chaos unfurl. I've never really shot a fight scene before but I am really happy with the level of energy and the 'wrongness' in which we were able to choreograph the action so it felt nasty, fast and scarily real.
I'm finding many differences between making a feature film and short films and commercials etc, but the biggest difference is that with the shorter form I find I can always have all the elements of the production in my head. So when you are shooting you can gather all the pieces kind of knowing how they may fit together in the end. But with a feature you have so many different pieces it's near impossible to have all of them in your mind at once. I really felt this towards the end of this second week. The more we shoot and the further I work my way through the script the harder it is to see the overall story working cos you are fixed on making the the 190 or so separate scenes work as best they can. On more than one occasion I have found myself losing my view of the bigger picture, forgetting that we are telling a story, rather than these seemingly random shots. I trust though, this is a normal, and just another part of the process.
Stock, shooting ratio and time are still pressing down on, and perhaps will be for the entire shoot. It's the one and only constant battle so far. A couple of times throughout the week I was trying to summon up the spirit of Nash Edgerton and his way cool ability to block through stunning one shot steadi-cam sequences, but since we are punk-ass and cant afford all the toys all the time (not that Nash can either I 'm sure : ), we are devising simple and hopefully just as effective methods for getting quick and cuttable coverage without compromising performance and the film in general. This is where I really feel I'm at the coal face of that old filmmaking equation, the constant juggle of time, money and quality. However, I feel very confident being surrounded by my cast and crew that we can squeeze every last drop of goodness from the resources and time that we do have.
We are still based in Quorn and we are slowly taking over the town. The locals are great though and very friendly, Jane did a great job wrangling a bunch of people for the pub scene and we feel very at home and welcome. The air is clean. the sun is shining. Mid week we move to Mt Ive Station and Lake Gairdner (Salt Lake!).

ps: Against good advice I rewatched Lost In La Mancha this morning... no matter how hard making this film gets, it's comforting to know it will never be this hard...


WEEK 1 / August 3rd 2008

Glendyn Ivin

All is good. Having a ball actually.
In the lead up to the shoot I got really nervous, which left me with no real perspective on the film at all. I had been quite calm in the months and weeks leading up to the shoot, dare I say even enjoying myself. But a few days before the shoot, it seemed like such a daunting task. This is my first feature film and I'm leading my cast and crew on a 5000km journey through the deserts of South Australia. So much to think about and work through, so many questions, not enough answers... But now at the end of week one (of six) it's feeling great.
I'm just beginning to find a rhythm and also learning what my role really is as a director, other than dreaming up the dreams and working with the actors. Talk about learning on the job. I've never shot so much, so quickly. But I'm feeling good about what we are creating and what the film is becoming. I guess this first week has been about trying to find a style and approach that works within the massive time and especially stock restraints I have (I have an official shooting ration of 1:12, which is kind of just enough, but as I wanted to shoot on 35mm this is what it has to be... and on Tuesday we shot close to 1:40 of which I was subtly reminded by Nick and Antonia (Producers) that some wildlife documentarians may not shoot as high as that...). So Greig and I are trying to establish a shooting style where we can shoot minimum coverage, with minimum takes but still find an interesting approach without stitching Jack up in the edit.

It's quite a weird feeling shooting this story finally. I've been with this film for almost four years now and there are some images and scenes burnt into my mind since the first time I read the script. So it's very cool seeing these characters and images literally come to life. The scary thing is when the time comes to shoot that image or that scene I have 45 minutes or so to do the whole scene. Which means nailing everything with that minimum coverage and with 1 or 2 takes. Scary, but invigorating. Alot of the morre dialogue heavy scenes (of whcih there are not that many in the film) we have covered as long takes with no cutaways or coverage. Which puts the onus on the Hugo and Tom to get it right in the performance. Kiind of feels the way it should be.

Last night Hugo had to hack all his hair and beard off with a pair of scissors. We only had one take obviously, and that take is one of the most mesmerising things I have seen. Intense, scary and beautiful. There have been a couple of shots where we have only had one take, and I really love shooting that way. The scene is charged with a very special energy. I love the fact that everyone, cast and crew have to hit the right notes. If anything I think it actually relaxes everyone as they know that whatever happens, happens and they know that they will not be standing around doing multiple takes.

Tom the 10 year old boy is constantly surprising me. As a young boy he is incredibly focused and present even more than I hoped he could be. On screen he delivers above and beyond what we would have ever expected. The other night we shot through till 2am, and even though he was really tired. Like falling asleep on the spot tired, he delivered. He had to sit at a table in a fast food resturant and vomit (an idea I introduced to the scene late that day...). Again one take, one mouthful of chicken and vegie soup and he nailed it. Perhaps the best vomit performance I have seen, and being the father of 2 young kids I've seen a bit of good vom action. It's a big relief to know he can bring the character to life and do it under such pressure.

On the flip side, one of the first scenes we shot involved Tom out hunting rabbits. We had a 'animal guy' go out and catch us six proper wild rabbits to use in the scene. They arrived in a animal cage etc. and left in the spot out in the feild where we were going to use them for the shots. When we arrived to shoot. Five of the rabbits had chewed their way through the plastic cage and escaped. Leaving one very scared and stressed little bunny who couldnt do what we wanted it to do anyway. Kids and Animals?

Shooting is a battle against time, money and the elements (90% of our film is exterior! Hello Winter!). Working with Greig (DOP) is the dream you'd think it be. As is working with Jo Ford (Prod Design) and Hugo W (Agent Smith). Infact I know the whole crew is fantastic, and I know I have the right army by my side to fight the good fight so the film keeps moving forward in the best possible way.
It's Sunday afternoon in Quorn population 700. Freezing cold and raining. Rain all you want to today, cos tomorrow we begin week 2 at 4:30am outside in downtown Port Augusta. I'm sure someone in the office has booked the clear skies : )
ps: The images aboved are for the geeks. A car rig designed by Skull (Grip) including an A-frame set up, no low-loader on this shoot. Also note Greigs lighting set up. If you need proof that we are working on a tight budget, every light you see has been bought from Bunnings and modified by Greig and Ari in his hotel room. Christmas lights, poly and gaff tape, thats how we roll on Last Ride! Infact we are using very few film lights on the shoot. Everything is available from your local electrical outlet. And it looks SO good because of it!