Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Diary of a Film School Student - Producing a Short film

I've been having brutal insomnia. I don't know why. Had a long day yesterday, went for a run with the girl next door, should have slept like a drunk baby. Ended up watching Mork and Mindy, the Dukes of Hazard and The Love Boat reruns till almost 5am.  Slept through 'an audition' which isn't a big deal because I'm not an actor and they had just asked if I wanted to try to fill in for a single scene in a student production. One of the guys is really pissed but to be honest I'm not here to make friends and I really don't care. Wow, thats callous! Ok I do care a little but really....

Had a meeting with my mentor today for my Producer's role. I thought I had everything together. Nope. Need to find a make up person, figure out catering and lock down my locations. I need to get my DoP to figure out our film stock, book the gear and get her crew together to practice. Need to get my Director and Production Designer talking. Need to get crew agreements signed. Need to decide on the cast so I have to book the applicants and then book a room and the film gear to do screen tests. It never ends. I don't think producing is for me. Maybe I should have gone to that audition. Hm.

So after the meeting I booked another meeting with my department heads for Friday and spent the next hour making notes about everything I need to do. Then I sat and chatted with a director from one of the other productions. I actually didn't think I'd like her (because I generally dislike everyone at first) but she turned out to be very cool and easy to get along with.

Fortunately I have a really good camera crew, for students anyway. They know their way around the camera and are excited about using it. My DoP is trying to figure stuff out already without being told so thats cool too. My Director and 1AD are a couple which is nice because they're both heavily invested.  My 1AD is also one of 2 people in the school who seems to want to actually do that when he's done.

Well, 19 days to go....we'll see what happens next.

Handling Swedish Bi-Curiousity at an Advanced age

When you go back to school in your mid 30s, things are definately different. I can't drink until 4 am and get up at 8 and go to class anymore. I didn't before but I COULD if I wanted to. But I slept in usually.

Another thing I've noticed is that I don't relate well to younger people. Right now I'm acting as producer for a short film. I'm the oldest person in my group by far. On other guy just turned 30 I think. My entire camera crew is 20 and under. One of them asked me the other day what I thought I'd do after film school. I said "Make movies". She said "Oh really? I thought I might go back to school and figure out what I want to do." Really.

A nude male infant swimming in blue tinted water toward a dollar bill which is attached to a string.Some of the people in my class were born after the first couple of seasons of Sienfeld. They never saw the Smurfs on Saturday mornings. Not even the later episodes when they were holding on for dear life and introduced smurflings and a stupid prince. Some of these kids were born AFTER Appetite for Destruction came out. Most were in the cradle when Smells like Teen Spirit hit the charts.

The other night I went out with these girls I know from school. Notorious party animals, but really good at the stuff we're learning. I get to the bar, which has $4 drinks all night,  and I can't find them because we're on 2 different levels. They finally find me and 2 of them are hammered. They go off to dance and I hit the bar with the 3rd. We get our drinks and look for the girls. They're on a couch making out next to the stage. I laugh and say, hey, your room mates are getting busy over there. So she just laughs and we head over. I figured they'd stop when we got there. Nope. The third one just joined right in.

So I'm sitting on a couch with three 20 year old swedish girls who are all making out. One ends up halfusitting on my lap for a while. Guys in the club are looking at me like I'm Hef. So they break it up for a while and this dude buys me a drink. He says, "I don't know which one's your girlfriend, but that's awsome mate!!" I just smiled. Later one of them would tell me I was the coolest 35 year old she knew. That made me feel good.... She then told me that if she was older, like 25 or something, she'd totally try to pick me up.

We get tired of the crazy loud techno/house/rap/dance/electronic 'music' we're being subjected to (to be honest I kinda liked it) and head to an Irish place called Scruffy Murphy's. I get wanded before I go in and have to pay cover. I hate paying cover. Most places don't charge here.

Now this place is weird, to get in you have to go through one door, up stairs, across the length of the bar, then back down stairs where there's another set of doors your only allowed to leave through. One of the girls decides she's too drunk about half way through. Right out of the blue. I go get her some water and she's just about comatose when I get back. Some dude was trying to pick her up. Then he acted like I'm an asshole when I told him to shove off. Oh, and her friends have ditched her. So I threw her in a cab. She invited me back to her place, but the shade of green she's turning tells me that that isn't a good idea. (Find out the next night she got kicked out of the cab for redecorating the back seat in a nice shade of sea food).

So, yeah, thats what I'm dealing with. How was your weekend?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Me And The Roaches BABY!!

Yeah so, Australians don't put screens on their windows. And they don't seem to give a shit that Canadians can't deal with the kind of heat they have here when it's still minus 30ish at home, so we have to keep the windows open. I was getting pummelled by mosquitos in the night. Awful.

Also, theres a gap under my door, which leads not out into the hall but directly outdoors, thats about an inch high. So anything that crawls hops or slithers has free reign to come on in, have a beer and make itself at home.Which, from time to time, they do. One night I came home and two crickets were hanging out in my bathroom. It was funny, they were sitting very close to one another at 90 degrees. If there were a little tiny table in front of them it would have looked like a date. A creepy little date. Anyway, they died a horrible death before anyone could make up an excuse about having to get up early and probably should go home and get some sleep.

Another day a cockroach wandered in. I saw him coming. Face full of bug spray for you my little brown friend. As I was spraying him a cricket, collateral damage from the spraying, came banging out from under my fridge like he was on fire. Poor little guys. But if they didn't want to get gassed they should be insects, am I right? Of course I am.

So, and here's where it gets nasty, I was going to a photo shoot one day. Very uncharacteristically, I was late. So I got dressed, threw on my hikers and ran up to the train station. So I'm sitting there and my foot is itchy. Oh well. Train shows up and I got my little ticket and got on. So I'm on the train, cranky cause you dont get wifi down in the tunnels, exactly where you'd need it if anything went wrong on a the train, and my foot is itchy again. So I ignore it. Then i felt the itchy spot move. So I yank my foot out of my shoe, and this cockroach pops his head out, climbs down the heel of my shoe and went to find another seat on the train. I never saw him again. I have no idea where he got off, but I was horrified. I had bugs in my clothes dammit! I'm not a dirty person. That doesn't happen to me!

Oh well. Off to buy more bug spray.

The guy who won the oscar

So the guy who produced "The King's Speech" won an Oscar for best producer. He's on the board of directors and was into the school the other day. He didn't bring the Oscar. Dumb ass...

Anway, I got my picture take with him. It's actually a group shot. I'm kind of behind him. I've never seen the picture actually. But I remember it being taken. Because I was there.

The next time I saw him was on TV. He was meeting the Prime Minister and showing her the Oscar. He remembered to bring it there. I wonder if he'll even vote for her at the next election that's coming up.

So, in honour of that here are some fun facts about the Oscars. I'll put the answers at the bottom. I have to give credit to a guy from school who was posting some of these on face book and inspired me to steal. Thanks Robert.

1.Guess who won the most Oscars.
2. First woman to win Best Director
3. Most awards won by a single film
4. First African to win an acting award
5. First black actress to win for acting in a lead role
6. Most nominated living person
7. First X-rated film to win for Best Picture

Ok, i'm getting tired of this. Go look at the answers then pop some popcorn.

Emile Sherman Showing His Oscar to The PM of Aus.

Answers to Luke's awsome Oscar quiz. If you used Google you cheated. Bastard.

1.Walt Disney won 26 Oscars (22 competitive, 4 honorary). He also won the most Oscars in one year, with four. But c'mon, the guy was puting out 4 or 5 movies a year towards the end.
2. Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2009)

3. Three films won 11 Academy Awards. They are:
4.  Charlize Theron (from South Africa) won Best Actress for Monster (2003).
5.  Halle Berry won Best Actress for Monster's Ball (2001) 
      If some african had been in  Monsters Inc. they would have been a shoe in for best actress
6.  Film composer John Williams with 45 nominations. You can thank him for the Star Wars music   
     (somewhere a geek just got a chubby)

7.  Midnight Cowboy (1969). It was also the first X-rated film to be nominated for Best Picture.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Things I'm Learning At Film School

Well, the first thing I've learned is I'm almost always wrong. Which is a huge pain in the ass cause I'm used to being almost always right. Like clockwork. Hmmm.

Today I described music as ominous but the instructor said it was more unhappy. Damn
Then I said that I liked the way they used depth of field to create distance in their shots. He then explained that depth of field was how a camera's focus worked and that I was somehow mistaken on what I said. Hmmm.
I'm getting tired of being wrong, it doesn't sit well with me.

Also, film making is hard. We did a photo essay the other day. My partner and I, another Luke, did a spoof of a speghetti western called "Fist full of soda". Had to tell a story about 2 people in 10 shots with a 35 mm film camera using 100asa. We story boarded, scouted a location, bought props, and costumes, changed the aspect ratio of the shots to 9:16, downloaded sounds, recorded sounds, timed everything to go with the photos. HUGE pain in the ass the whole thing. But alot of fun. And it turned out pretty well. People apreciate hard work I think. Who knew?

Here's another thing I learned. Check your batteries. We went out to do a shoot the other day, I wasn't the director this time, just an actor filling in for some friends, and their batteries died on the 3rd shot. We have to go back out Wednesday.

Another thing to note. You're on your own. People will help you, but you gotta ask. No one reminds you of deadlines. There's no one to blame for anything but yourself if shit goes bad. You forget your one cares, at the end of the day you don't have a picture. Next. You forget to check your lighting and your film doesn't develop right? That sucks, but hey, that guy has his shit together. Next.

However, people are willing to help. People are very enthusiastic actually. Everyone wants to be involved. There are tons of actors willing to be in a film for free just to have some experience. There are tons of people willing to help out on a slim to none budget in the hopes that, hey, one day you might make it and need a sound guy, or DOP or whatever. Its a pretty cool industry all together.

Anyway, pitching a documentary and producing a 2 min script tomorrow. Should go home and sleep. Good night world!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Everything here is a lot like home but just a little different. Here's an example; they drive on the wrong side of the road here.

In 1971 Burger King tried to move in here, but couldn't because the name was already taken. Well kids, you just can't keep a good franchise down. They made a deal with this guy jack Cowan to run all the franchises here and gave him a list if names he could use. Hungry Jack was a name Pilsbury, who owned BK at the time, already owned so jack picked that but changed it to Hungry Jack's. Vain I'd say.

Anyway, it's just not the same. They don't use strips of bacon, they use these slices of back bacon that are more like ham. They don't have a creepy king in their ads either. They do have a whopper, and a whopper jr though.

In Australia they have drunk driving laws like we do. The limit is lower, .05 instead if .08. Oh, and they call it drink driving. No idea what that means. Drunk driving means your driving drunk. Drink driving means that you sound silly when you're saying it.

Oh, and the standard beer size here seems to be the schooner. However, for my Calgary friends, it's not a big ass beer. It's more like 3/4 of a pint. But more expensive.

Australia is full of bugs, and some are quite venomous. They don't put screens on their windows in a lot of places. I don't have any. I get bitten in the night.

You can drink beer on the streets here. You can sit on a park bench on a busy street in front of a gay boutique and drink a box if wine (that may have come in contact with nuts, eggs and/or fish products) and scream at people as they walk by without much resistance. There are alcohol free zones here though. During a big street party I wandered through one of said zones unaware, passing a phalanx of cops, and not one said a word. In Moncton the local Mountie would have thrown his mountain bike on the ground, seized the contraband, poured it's contents onto the road and given the author a stern lecture.

Australia is not a very religious country. In fact, one in 5 say their not religious at all. If they were all illiterate the missionaries would be quite busy. Unfortunately they are all quite educated and have rejected the idea of religion instead of being ignorant of it. The Vatican will have to settle for keeping the sex lives of poorer populations in check for a while longer.

Public displays of affection are common here. It's not odd to see a couple in the grocery store kissing. Oh Margret, this summer sausage is turning me on...Me too Gary!
The other night while having a drink on a patio overlooking the opera house a couple close to us was having a full on makeout session. I think he got to second. (that means he got boob) No one paid them much attention.

Flip flops are called thongs here. That would make the Thong Song a lot less risqué.

The bouncers here are friendly, professional and trained. Dear Canada, the rest if the world doesn't let steroid raging cretins with authority issues loose on it's drunks. Take notes.

There seems to be no end to Turkish take out restaurants here.

Many bars here are called hotels. I dont know why.

There are some similarities however. It appears that the phone companies here are run by assholes, just like home. Speaking of which, Bell can go fuck themselves. I sincerely hope their board of directors get some sort of painful disease that slowly causes them to go deaf and disfigured them in some horrible way. I'm thinking elephant man here, or that movie Mask that Cher was in, or like Gary Busey or something. Something awful. I would really like to kick their CEO in the balls. I'm not talking a little ankle flick here either, I'm talking coming off the ground a foot or two, Rochambough kick. The kind that hurts so much he throws up. I think there is probably a special place in hell for phone company execs. If Robert Picton was picking up phone company execs instead of hookers, a jury would have let him go. Probation at best.

Other than that Australians seem to be a fun group of folks who take things in stride and seem to have fun. I think I'm going to like it here!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Throw Shit At A Smoker Day

I remember working at the record store when I was a kid that the smokers all took 'smoke breaks' on a regular basis. This was outside the normal 15 everone got in the morning or afternoon. I thought it was just a thing because all the bosses, managers, anyone with any authority whatsoever smoked like a pile of Salem witches during the dry season.

I was talking to sone people the other day, watching some lady sucking back her milligrams of tar for the morning, and it turns out 'smoke breaks' is a very common phenomenon. It also turns out that it annoys non smokers tremendously.

I recently worked with a woman who is frequently away from her post. About half that time she's wandering the halls doing nothing but trying to look busy, the other half is unabashed smoke breaks. No one thinks anything of it.

So how is it that someones filthy habit becomes a viable and socially acceptable because for them to take mire time off than the rest if us. Is it because it's an annoying, unhealthy habit that one has to partake in away from their coworkers so as not to annoy them and or poison them? If that was the case my new habit (should I ever decide to work again) is going to be sex.

Sex is a great habit, and alot like smoking. It makes you grumpy if you don't have it, happy when you do, it can be addictive, your Visigoths don't want to be around you when you do it, and it's potentially fatal. Especially when you get older. Thanks to Viagra it can cause heart attacks.

I think a sex habit would foster good employee morale too.
"hey, I'm going on a sex break"
"ok, want some company?"
"sure Jane. Steve if you can convince someone to come along you can join us too"
"oh sure you dont want me just to come now..."

Sexers would be way cooler than smokers too. Our tent would be nicer and smell better. There would be no ashtray, just a condom machine and some handi wipes.

It would be a great icebreaker at parties and bars.
"I'm gonna go outside and take some sex, you wanna come?"

Another thing that pisses me off about smokers is their firm belief that the world is their ashtray. A lady in front of me on the side walk finished her cancer delivery system then pitched the butt at a tree. Imagine if you did that with a food wrapper, water bottle or some other garbage. People would lose their minds. At the very least someone would say something.

Smokers just toss their refuse any old place with reckless abandon. You could be at the most beautiful place in the world and it's guarantees that some jackass dick head fire breather has tossed a butt nearby, and it's still there making the world an uglier place.

So, I am declaring today, march 10, Throw Shit At A Smoker Day. Anytime you see a smoker standing in the cold when they should be working, or tossing their filtered end out in public, you have the right, no, duty to throw some sort of garbage at them. Anything you have on you that you don't want to keep is game. Water bottle, gum that's lost it's flavor, dead hooker, anything at all that you've finished with will suffice.

I don't know if this will change the world, but I'm willing to bet that after getting pelted with disguarded tissues, wrappers or hypodermic needles, your average smoker might have the common decency to carry their tobacco garbage the extra block and a half to the nearest ashtray or garbage can, and dispose of it properly.

Throw Shit At A Smoker Day. It's my idea to make the world a better place. I wider if I could get one of those Pepsi grants. I think I'll apply.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sydney's amazing music scene

I'm from a town of about 80,000 people. Once a year some monster rock band, the stones, def leppard, meatloaf, someone like that will traipse through town and do a festival concert and everyone loses their minds and french guys put extra light on their cars and buy new ball caps with the name of the band on it so that everyone knows who they're going to see.

So here I am in a town of 5 million. The other day I saw the Trews were coming to town. Thats cool, they're from halifax, I used to hang out in Halifax once in a while, its fairly close to home, not a bad band, good canadian boys and all that. So I picked up the local music rag to see where they were playing. Holy shit. The music scene here is insane.

Here's a little taste of who's coming to town. These are just the people I know of. I am no longer aware of the latest shitty pop act that the Much Music/MTV zombies are being spoon fed because, well, not my job anymore.

Deez Nuts
Third Eye Blind (the beatles broke up at one point but these geniuses have the nerve to stay together all this time and TOUR? You had one song. Maybe. Its time to let it go...or did they have a recent hit again? Ok two songs...die!!)
Queens of the Stoneage (sold out, shit!)
The Trews
Chemical Brothers
Ke$ha (someone say shitty zombie fodder?)
DOA (going to this wearing my team Canada jersey, I don't care if its lame)
Mark Ronson
Afro Celt SOund System (at the opera house...tempting)
Eddie Vedder
Neil Diamond
Stone Temple Pilots
Chris Isaak
Lionel Richie
Doobie Brothers
Motor head (going to this one becase I think Lemmy's already dead and they just haven't told him yet)
Cyndi Lauper
Uriah Heep
City and Colour ('nother good halifax band I think)
Jimmy Eat World
Cherry Poppin Daddies
Good Charlotte
Dead Kennedys
Weird Al
BB King (tickets are outrageous....second job maybe)
Elvis Costello (be worth seeing)
Grace Jones

Tribute to Hendrix, another to Miles Davis

And thats just between now and the 20th of April
I've also seen signs around for Iron Maiden, House of Pain, Sum 41 (last night)Social Distortion, Michael Buble, Tim Robbins (he's got a band, who knew) and Alan Jackson

Then there's about 10 music festivals.

Outside music...Billy Connolly is at the opera house doing stand up for a few nights, theres an Annie Leibowitz exhibit at the museum, the terra cotta warriors at another museum and half a dozen film festivals.

I have no closing thoughts on this, I'm just amazed, thats all. here's a link if you're curious

Gay Pride Down under...heh

In a bar studying notes on aperature and focal lengths. Need a break.

Down the street Australia's gay community is slowly and quietly working itself into a fervor. You see mardi gras is this week. There's a parade. Gay people LOVE parades. I just made that up, but it sounds believable enough I think. However, in Australia, Mardi Gras has become a gay holiday. Gay Lesbian, bi sexual and transgendered I think is the correct category. Christ, if the Republicans are right I'll have to add Dog Marriers to the list. They're usually right about these things too. That will be a long acronym. Anyway, its a gay holiday. There's a gay parade. The town has slowly been filling up with incredibly fit guys in shorts and wife beaters, drag queens, and moustaches.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I live about 4 blocks from the gayes neighborhood on the continent. There are dozens of stores selling pink boxers, tank tops, protein shakes (careful), and ball caps that say "BOY". In case you forgot. There are also fetish shops near by too. One has a manequin lying on its side in sort of a frozen, "I used to be crawling but i'm now frozen and have fallen over sideways" position. This poor fellow is wearing leather knee pads (heh), leather boxers, some straps, a collar, little leather mittens with no thumbs, and a leather dog mask.

It says 'woof' on the other side of that
cartoon bubble
Imagine if you were doing your thing, straight or gay for this one I suppose, so you've got your little bags on your hands so you can't use your fingers, and you're fetishwear, and you know, of course, your dog mask. Imagine all that, and you died somehow.Left the oven on and the gas is leaking. You and your partner both have massive heart attacks. That whole autoerotic aphyxiation thing went totally wrong.... (Completely unrelated but I heard they're making a movie about Micheal Hutchens)... and thats how they found you. All leathered out with knee pads and a dog mask.

"We regret to inform you of your son's death. We think it was heart worms. Or maybe he got into some chocolate in the garbage. Naaaah, he was just gettin a little freaky with the dog mask ma'am! Have a nice day!"

Oh hell, I'll take a picture on my way to school tomorrow for you guys to see. I wonder if google adsense will start putting ads for sex shops on my blog after I post this story. Speaking of which, click on the links around here once in a while so I can get paid for writing this. You don't even have to look at the link it takes you to or anything, I don't care about that.

Anyway, its 4 am and I have a 10 am class. Bars here are open all night it seems. Maybe I'll do a documentary on leather dog fetishes. What style should I do it in....

Trippy house music fetish hounds of oxford

I'm sitting in a bar with a friend from Finland. We just paid $9 each for a pint of tiger. I paid less than 3 for almost a litre of the stuff last month in thailand. This kills me. I'll get over it. But it kills me.
The table we're at is covered in graphiti. There are people lounging on a sort of couch/bed covered in pillows and cusions behind us. Weird modern art is covering the walls.

We're surrounded by what look like art students maybe...four bikers, who might actually not be bikers, just gay guys, or both, are taking up a table beside us.

On the other side is a spanish couple. They're sitting on these ancient old chairs that look like they were built in the 30s. Ornate support exposed and literally framing the upholstery, claw feet, carvings at the apex of the curve on the back. At one time the chair and loveseat would have been covered in velvet. Someone, many years ago replaced that with leopard pattern. Its worn through in spots showing the foam beneath. They're fighting about something. She wants to leave but he's happy where he is. She's getting very animated. I almost hope she causes a scene.

There is a, I guess you'd say, band playing. A dj with a Mac setup with a deck and a digital scratch disk is laying down beats. A keyboard player with a crazy bank of midi is pecking out baselines and playing some strange melodies. On its own you would expect a rider on a camel to show up to see some sultan in a movie from the 70s. The whole thing creates this funky chill atmosphere.

Then a violin player steps up from the crowd, he's got a pick up on his fiddle. This has our attention. Outside a beer garden in Judic Cape Breton, when's the last time you saw a guy play a violin at a party? The guy gets up and pulls the bow across a string. One long note. And its got reverb. And its completely dischordant (is that a word). Then he pulls another. It sounds like in a horror movie when something is about to happen. Awful. Ruined the whole thing. Oh well, it was fun for a while. And the bartender wasn't bad looking.

As we were leaving, I noticed this place didn't have a name. Just a question mark over the door.

Probably should go home and get some sleep. School in the morning.