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The process diary of film director Glendyn Ivin

Filtering by Category: Last Ride


Glendyn Ivin

It's been a long time since I posted anything about my feature Last Ride. The film was actually the genesis for this blog back in August 2008 in the lead up to it's June 2009 release here in Australia. Even though Last Ride has travelled around festivals and sold steadily in territories all over the world, a U.S theatrical release seemed a distant if near impossible reality. Well it took some time but this weekend Last Ride opened in cinemas in the U.S (Chicago now and New York from Jul 6th).

Big thanks to Content and to Music Box Films and also to the legendary reviewer Roger Ebert for giving the film such a glowing review!

The U.S artwork takes a very different approach to marketing the film. There is a great contrast between the two pieces of key art and not just in the colour pallete. Infact I don't think you could get two more different approaches. The Australian poster which featured Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell sharing equal billing with the stunningly poetic landscape, whereas the U.S version sees the stars in close-up and and treated in a far more 'rugged' way. Interestingly they also added a rifle to Hugo's hand in the image below the title as well. (There was an interesting post discussing the pros and cons of the different posters here on Madman's Facebook page.)

I like them both for different reasons. The U.S poster definitely feels like it sells the film harder and for a 'small film' like Last Ride, perhaps thats exactly what it needs.

Last Ride also available on Video On Demand.

LA LA pt 1

Glendyn Ivin

Currently in L.A. on route to New York where Last Ride is screening at The Museum of Modern Art! More on that later... Also I've recently signed to SKUNK here in L.A for commercial representation in the U.S, so it has been a good opportunity to meet the team face to face and not via skype. SKUNK has a great roster of directors, including fellow aussie John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) and one of my favorite Belgian directors Koen Mortier who made a great film Ex Drummer a couple of years back (Such a freaky film, so wrong but so right. Watch the first 5 minutes here.).

I've only been to L.A a few times, but each time it creeps a little more under my skin. I can see why some people love it and some people hate it. Even though I find it a pretty tricky place at times, I'm really starting to like the place and all the possibility it holds.

Nat (below) is travelling with me and this is the first time we have been 'child free' for a long while. It's a good time. Of course we are missing the kids, but it's so good to spending  some quality time together!


Glendyn Ivin

I had a great time at the Vladivostok International Film Festival. The film was received really well. I always thought it had a bit of a russian thing going on in it. It's always nice to get feedback directly from an audience and I had a really lovely man come up to me after one of the screenings and say via an interpreter that he very much enjoyed the simplicity of the story, the more he watched, the more he realised there was more to the story than he first thought, and then in broken english he told me "In the final scene, my brain said 'yes', but my heart was saying 'no'..." I think that was what I was always looking for. I also had an interesting question in the press conference about the violence towards 10 year old 'Chook' (played by Tom Russell). The journalist asked "In Russia there is a saying where children tell their parents 'You did not beat me enough', meaning they have grown up to 'soft' and it is their parents fault. Do you think children should be beaten?" Needless to say there was an 'awkward' pause, before I went on to say that I could never condone any kind of violence towards a children. Not my own, and not to anyone elses. But then again, perhaps I'm one of the soft ones. It was an interesting cultural take on the film though.

I haven't travelled to as many festivals as I have been invited to this year for various reasons, but I was really glad to head back to Vladivostok. I hadn't watched Last Ride for nearly a year and although it was one of those screenings where I sat through and cringed at all the mistakes, the could have beens and I should haves and what ifs, it was really nice to be sitting in the dark and watching the film we made so far away from where we made it.

The photos I mentioned I was going to take have worked out well. I won't post any here just yet. But I wanted to say a special thanks to Dimitry who assisted me in finding a few a people and locations, as well translating and driving. It was really good getting to see another side of Vladivostok with him. Here he is posing with his cool russian made Zenit 35mm complete with a sinister looking 300mm lens and sniper like add ons. Thanks Dimity!

Chemicals and Light

Glendyn Ivin

I have been wanting to get some of the portraits of Tom and Hugo shot for Last Ride blown up and framed. As they were shot on medium format (Grieg brought his old toy Holga along) I was really keen to get them enlarged optically and printed old school stylee on fibre based black and white paper. I found a printer called Asko at CPL here in Melbourne. Asko is an artist in his own right. Carrying on the tradition of darkroom exposures, hand burning and dodging, and hand chemical development. What was once an essential photographic service (Asko told me in 1988 the company he worked for developed over half a million dollars worth of black and white prints!) is now quite a specialist area, as everything image based is in the realm of the computer. It was very cool to visit him in his dark room and see how the prints were coming along. The potent smell of the chemicals taking me back to my uni days spent in the dark up to my neck in developer.

The prints are quite large, I'm getting some 24inch x 24inch and a couple 34inch by 34inch. I'll post some framed shots when they are complete.

The Black Pearl and Abbas Kiarostami

Glendyn Ivin

I guess the highlight of my trip to Abu Dhabi and the Middle East Film Festival was winning the BLACK PEARL for 'Best New Narrative Director'. It was a huge honor to accept the award not only because it came with a nice bit of metal, with a large black pearl mounted in the middle of it, plus a sizable and very generous cash prize, but mainly because it was awarded by a jury that was headed by one of the few true masters of cinema and hero of mine, the legendary Abbas Kiarostami.

Abbas Kiarostami (AK) has been a direct influence on me for many years. All his films (that I have seen) are like book marks in my continuing education as a filmmaker. I can recall each of them as a precise and life changing moment.
Needless to say that when I learnt that AK was to head the Jury at the Middle East Film Festival I was excited at the mere chance of meeting and perhaps shaking his hand. I never considered winning a prize or anything.
It was a cool experience just sitting in on the competition screening of Last Ride knowing that Abbas and the rest of the jury was watching the film in the audience with me. It could have been quite nerve wracking, but I felt regardless if AK liked the film or not, I could see parts of the film that he and his films had a direct influence on. It was a great feeling. I walked away from that screening feeling that if nothing else, it was very cool to have sat in the same audience with AK and watch my film together (even if we were on opposite sides of the dark cinema).
Any of AK's films are worth seeing, but the film of his that has had the most direct and personal influence on me was actually an extra feature on the DVD for his film Ten. The film is simply called Ten on Ten and it is essentially AK's 10 point guide to filmmaking, using the film Ten as an example, but I dont think you have to have seen the film for it to be valuable, but it would help, as Ten is an amazing film that I highly recommend! He filmed Ten on Ten himself with a camera mounted on the dashboard of his car as he drives through the hills surrounding his home town of Tehran. It's like riding shotgun, on a Sunday drive with one of the most incredible film makers, having them discuss their thoughts on technique, process and philosophy. Each section covers a different aspect of filmmaking: Camera, Music, Actors, Locations, Story etc..
As a fan, and as a filmmaker, it is a gift. All ten parts are on YouTube and if your a film student or interested in learning about filmmaking from a totally different perspective then it's the best hour or so you could spend. It's everything they don't teach you in film school. And if you buy into the rhythm, style and the content, the final two minutes of part 10 'The Final Lesson' is one of the most cinematic, profound and poetic moments I have experienced.
But it only really works if you spend the time working through the 10 steps. You have to spend the time for the payoff to be effective. And in this way its very much like all of his films. I hope I'm not building it up to much... it's actually a very, very small but in so many ways an illuminating conclusion, for me anyway.
I could go on and on about AK and the ways in which he has inspired me over the years, and not just as a director, but also as a photographer and as a writer. If you are really keen to learn some more, I recently found this great interview, featured on Facebook of all places.
I had the chance to have a good conversation with AK after the awards ceremony about Last Ride and bunch of other stuff. It was very cool to say the least. I'm not one for having fanboy photo's taken with people of whom I'm fans of, but this was one meeting I just couldn't resist.
One of the happiest moments of my life.
I've been lucky enough to travel to many film festivals all around the world, but I would have to say that the Middle Eastern Film Festival would be one of the best. It has been able to strike that great balance between shall we say 'hospitality' and cinema. It's what a great film festival should be. (And I must ad I was feeling this way before I won anything!)
We were made to feel most welcome and there was alot of interest in the film and in Australia in general. The nightly parties were spectacular but most importantly the selection of films were amazing. Such a high level of talent. So again I was as honored to receive any prize, as to just have Last Ride in competition was reward enough.


Glendyn Ivin

Just had a great week in Toronto. It's a cool city to visit and the festival itself is amazing, well organised, friendly and very passionate about cinema.
Last Ride screened three times to packed theaters (with the first screening Sold Out). For me it was great to screen the film to an audience that had no preconceptions of it as an 'Aussie film', and could just view it as 'A FILM'. The response was fantastic, and I had great feedback and conversations from punters directly after each screening.
I haven't discussed 'reviews' on this blog and I have generally avoided reading them, but it's been interesting reading some of the very positive international critiques coming off the Toronto screenings. Here are three that have been sent to me Movie Line, Twitch and Row Three.
Also some video clips of the Sunday Q & A. It's dark but the audio is clear...
The whole experience was great as I continued to learn more about this crazy yet amazing industry. I'm sure I have said this before, but I have learnt more about film making since I actually finished making the film...
On a totally geeky front with the help from my new friend Elisa and old friends Jane and Nick we tracked down a very important Toronto street from my childhood!

The Extras

Glendyn Ivin

I have had my head down finishing a batch of commercials and working on all the bits and pieces for the release of the Last Ride DVD (released November). Strange that it is still in cinemas around the place but we are working on the DVD. I always thought this kind of thing happend much later, but the lead time is very long for production and distribution.

It's going to be a really sweet 'Filmmakers Edition' package. 2 discs, featuring amongst many things, a great 50 minute behind the scenes docco made by my friends Jono and Tim, deleted scenes, my short films Cracker Bag and The Desert, oh yeah and the film!
Also in the pack will be a 50 page book which I'm almost finished designing (see front cover above) with photographs, a great conversation between screenwriter Mac Gudgeon and novelist Denise Young and some ramblings by me.
I'm off to the Toronto Film Festival next week, where Last Ride will have it's international premiere! Very excited to say the least.

The First and Last Photo of Tom Russell. And one other...

Glendyn Ivin

THE PHOTO ON THE LEFT is the first photo I took of Tom at his screen test in Adelaide in May 08. We had seen quite a few kids around the country but the moment Tom walked into the room I knew there was something different about him. He gave an 'OK' screen test, but it was who he was on either side of the test that really stood out for me. He was and still is just such a regular kid. But through the lens something else happens. He takes on a different life, like there is something going on behind his eyes, like he has seen a lot of things.

THE PHOTO ON THE RIGHT was taken on the last day of shooting about 3 months after the first one. I'm still amazed at how different Tom looks. So much more hard and steely eyed. There is a fair bit of hair and make-up going on in that shot but essentially it's the character Chook well and truly on his way...

I have cast alot of kids and worked closely with the same casting director, Fiona Dann for many years. But there is still no hard and fast rules on how to do it well. I think I even googled "How to cast children in feature films" at one stage during pre, just to see if there was any help out there but I didn't find anything useful. In the end it comes down to a gut feeling.

However, a few of the things we took into consideration with Tom were...

1. Even though he had no film experience, he had recently been in the Adelaide production of Les Miserables, so he new what it meant to go through a production process, work hard and late etc.

2. Tom's parents are very grounded and supportive. When you cast kids you also cast their parents, and we were very lucky with Kate and Wally C.

3. Tom is the youngest of 4 kids. He has three older sisters, ranging in age from 16 to 26. So he spends alot of time with, and is very comfortable around people older than him. This was really important, as he essentially spent seven weeks on the road without a bunch of adults and no other kids.

4. He is a really, really regular and normal kid, who is confident both on and off camera. Even though he really wants to be an actor / performer, he doesn't seem to place any real pressure on himself to do so.

The shot above is of Tom a few weeks ago. His head is shaved because has just finished his second feature film playing a kid who has leukemia. I saw him and his folks when we over in Adelaide for a screening and they all came back to watch At The Movies in the hotel room afterwards.

Tom was pretty excited to see himself on TV, but I think he was much more excited about being up late so he could watch Family Guy once At The Movies was over.

And release...

Glendyn Ivin

Last Ride is released into the cinemas today. I never thought I would ever say this but I think the film is ready to be out there. I feel we have done everything possible to try and make the film, and it's release as good as it can be.
As much as I have fussed and fretted over every detail over the last year and half it's now time to cut the apron strings and ease the film out into the world. I think it's strong enough to look after itself.
It's a weird feeling, I can feel myself detaching from it, not that I care any less, I just know there is little more I or anyone else can do. It now just needs to be out there in cinemas so people can go and see and discuss and love or hate or what ever it is they want to do with it.
Regardless of success or failure from critics or the box office, personally I am so proud of the film and everyone who helped make it.
The last 5 years of development and in particular the last year or so where I have been on the film full time has been the most exciting, anxious, creative, stressful, inspiring, exhausting, humbling, terrifying, satisfying and ultimately the most privileged time of my life.
Every minute of it (even the really bad ones) has been a dream come true.

Meet the Press (pt 1)

Glendyn Ivin

The last couple of weeks Hugo and I have been on the press tour. It's been a pretty intense but interesting time. Kinda tiring getting asked the same questions over and over, but the interviews that are the best are the ones where you really get to talk about not only the film, but cinema as a whole. Or even better they don't feel like interviews, but more like really inspiring conversations.
Highlight for me so far was my interview with Margaret from At The Movies. I've watched that show religiously for years, so I found it quite surreal to be seated in front of a camera and under lights and hearing her voice (and that laugh!) coming out of the darkness in front of me. Nervous and excited about when the film is reviewed on the show on the 1st of July, the day before the film is released.
Still another two weeks of press, Word Of Mouth screenings, Q&A's and jumping around from city to city. Pretty cool time!