Having been slowed by tiredness and the rlelentless 6 day weeks we bashed our way through the exhaustion and gave it one last blast along the home stretch. We spent most of the last week in the heavenly surrounds of the Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges. After the treeless, dusty desert of Leigh Creek the sight of the giant river gums were humbling. So much so that with some encouragement, I changed one of the main locations in the film overnight so we could make use of the size and scale of the massive forests. Hugo and Tom look like miniatures within a land of giants.
If you haven't been to Wilpena or the Flinders in general, I strongly recommend it at some point. It is such a beautiful place. A couple of times we had to hold off from shooting because we had kangaroos and on one occasion a family of Emus wandering through our set! Very cool.
Our very last sequence was shot just outside of Adelaide at this weird 'extreme activity' park where you can go and jump motorcycles and race go-carts and do other extreme things. We finished shooting in Woomera in the am (where we spent 2 days in the flatlands) and then raced for 5 hours to catch the light at dusk at the half-pipe. However, about an hour out we headed into the darkest storm clouds and eventually pelting rain. It was looking like it wasn't going to happen, but I really believed it was going to, I couldn't accept that we had gone this far and I was going to lose my last scene due to freaking rain. And sure enough as we turned off the highway we drove into breaking clouds and eventually a stunning sunset and dusk. All the rain from that day and previous days had gathered around the skate ramp giving us these amazing pools of water which surrounded the ramp, it looked better than I could have ever imagined!
It was very hard to call 'cut' for the last time. Infact I did one extra take just cos I wasn't quite ready to let go. And even on that 3rd take I was hoping that Greig or the sound guys would give me some technical NG so I could go again with reason. I had such a good time shooting this film, it really was a magic time, and I knew all to well that it will be a long time before I'm on set on my next film, I was very conscience of trying to be in the moment for that very last moment. It was a huge relief though to call wrap finally. More a relief in terms of Tom. The whole film rested on this 10 year old boy, and he came through above and beyond what we could have hoped for. He stepped up to every challenge with confidence. I think in many ways he was an inspiration to us all.
I'm totally in awe of the films cast and crew who helped me through one the most challenging of experiences. People worked so hard to make it happen as best it could. Special mention to Antonia Barnard (Producer) and Louisa Kors (Productiion Manager) for their expertise and support. And to Hugo who gave us a gift in his performance and was a dream to work with both on and off set. I'm thankful for every waking moment that everyone worked on this film with me.
I've learnt alot about what it means to be a director, about people, and what can and cant be in my control on and off set in a production like this. And even though I have months of post production ahead of me I feel as though i have completed something that I set out to do over 20 years ago. Whatever becomes of the film, I feel real good about the marathon that I and 30 odd others have just run.
The dust. The cold. The mud. The rain. The sun, The salt. The tears, the blood and the sweat. The early mornings and the late nights. The last 6 weeks seem to be a blur, but I can remember every detail. In some ways I'm glad it's over and in others I wish it would have never ended.
When I close my eyes I see a never ending mosaic of shuffling images. Beautiful and brutal. Into the edit now with Jack to try and make sense of them all.