The process diary of film director Glendyn Ivin
Filtering by Category: Last Ride
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).
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.