I was cleaning up my office and came across a dusty VHS tape of my student film Neverland. I made the film as part of a Post Grad in documentary (a course that sadly no longer exists) I completed in 1998 at the Victorian College of the Arts, an amazing institution that soon may also not exist. The year I spent at film school is up there with one of the best years of my life. I spent that year totally immersed in film, primarily documentary film. The VCA totally changed my life and set me up for the opportunities and experiences that have followed. Although Neverland is a little 'clunky' in places I really enjoyed watching it again after many years sitting on the shelf. At the time I made it I was obsessed with 'longitudinal observational films'. Documentaries that are filmed over a period of years and that take us deep into the lives of characters that no other kind of filmmaking can match. To this day I still believe that observational film / Cinéma-vérité is the most compelling and legitimate form of filmmaking. Fullstop. Films like Crumb, Paradise Lost, Bastardy, anything by the Maysles's brothers, or anything by the Pennebaker or Wiseman. Actually I'll stop this rant now... it's another post another time. Needless to say, Neverland was my attempt at longitudinal observation, shot over two weeks (course limitation), not two years.
Some of Neverlands' themes (growing up and growing older and the resistance to the responsibilities with which that brings) are themes I'm still fascinated with as a filmmaker and are ideas I'm exploring in much greater detail with the films I'm developing at the moment. One part of Neverland I was really drawn to at the time and I think still stands up is the interview with Eli at around 8 minutes where he is applying the final touches to his mohawk in the mirror. It's a sequence where what he is saying and what he is doing (literally) mirror each other. Where Eli's vision of his life in a broader sense and the details of his immediate life collide. I saw Eli a couple of years ago walking along the street. Still with a mohawk, still in leather. Looking older, but still 'the same'.
Eli above, Ron below.
Ron went back couriering and road for at least another 10 years. I would see him occasionally around the city. I haven't seen him for while though, but I imagine he still could be out there now pushing those pedals at a furious pace.