Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sydy Streets

See what I did there? Sydy? Pretty clever right.
So, last week was our break. I needed break, hell I EARNED a break. I've been working my ass off. Its 1am and I'm still at school. I work, go to class, do school work, work at my other job and then go to sleep. I didn't take a break, I decided to work. I need the money and its been too long getting stuff sent off to the office so I busted down and worked. When I wasn't working I was doing movie software tutorials.

One night I was at school late and one of the staff was locking up and asked how long Id be. I said no worries, I'll lock up when you go, I know all the alarm codes etc. So he says, ok, just be careful when you leave. I must have looked at him funny because he continued to say that one of the boys got mugged the other night. Walking home late, 2 dudes walked over to him and demanded his wallet, not smart enough to realize what a camera bag and laptop bag looks like, they walked away with a few bucks.

We go to school in a rough area. Think Forest Lawn in Calgary, or east end in Moncton. I wander around fairly oblivious to all that because I don't tend to get messed with much. My friend that got mugged is a 120 lb italian guy who looks like a strong breeze could knock him over.

Since then I've started to take more notice of whats going on around me. There is a huge homeless population here. More so than Calgary. There are people sleeping everywhere some mornings. The parks, alleys, doorways. They rarely pan handle though. It happens but not as often as home. You can't walk 10 feet down 17th without some guy asking you for a dollar. In Sydney the homeless guys do this thing where then put down their hat then kneel down before it like they're praying to Mecca. Sometimes people approach me for money and its always a specific amount. Usually 2 dollars. Inflation man.
Giant world heritage listed Coke sign at Kings Cross

The other night I was walking home from Kings Cross. Thats the Red Light District here in good ol' Sydney. Lots of strip clubs, bars, and hookers galore. Me and a buddy met some folks to see a band at a pub there. Believe me, I'm not above strippers, I just can't afford it. I was heading home and I got to my street and these four dudes were standing there. One of them throws his hands up in my face and makes some sort of gang sign or something. I just kept walking. Well that really riled him up. The nerve of me ignoring his flamboyant gang sign. He started yelling that he was going to kill me. Kids.

On the way home there's a motorcycle shop that usually has dozens of bikes out front. At night there are none. Apparently some jackass thinks its cool to knock over bikes. I've had this happen to me twice, on both bikes I've owned. Very annoying. I did the responsible thing, took a picture and ran away.

Theres a lady near the school here that feed that stray cats at night. She just dumps cat food on the ground and dozens come running. Not scary but what a weird hobby. 


Other than that I really haven't found Sydney to be all that scary. I found out some of the guys at school find me scary so, it just goes to show that Australian guys are candy ass bitches who need to back up before I go off. Well, now that I've tempted fate...time to walk home through Redfern. Knock on wood!

Ice in Oz

So here's something kind of funny. Aussies bring in ice an attraction to outdoor festivals. Bear in mind that its winter but it's still around 10-15 degrees during the day here.

I was jogging the other day and I passed this park and they had this set up. They rent them these bright orange skates that fit over your shoes and people skate around for a half hour or so. They had one set up at the beach the other day too. People were surfing while others were ice skating.
Pretty funny if you ask  me. I don't care if you didn't ask me.

Dawn at the rink

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Diary of A Film School Student

When you read about writing, the one common thread you'll see is how much work it is. Its a labour of love. You have to write. Then rewrite, and review and rewrite. The problem with screenplays is once you understand the format, how little you can actually put into your story.

A screenplay is a blue print. Its an outline. What you write is what can be seen on the screen. You can't write what someone is thinking, unless you plan on showing it somehow, a voice over, a flash back. Something.

I recently started writing a story based on a photo from a newspaper I'd picked out. It was part of a writing exercize for a class. So I wrote and wrote and got a story I was happy with and presented it to the teacher. He liked it. Said so. Had me read it out in class. Then he decided that what I wrote wasn't fiscally feasible for a student film (one of the guidelines of the project) so I rewrote the setting to fit an aussie landscape. Presented that. Well recieved.

So I show up to class on Tuesday and we had classmates read our scripts outloud, different people playing different parts, the author reading the big print. (the actions, the scene info etc) Suddenly, my script sucks. They can't "relate to the characters". There's nothing that "grabs" them. FFS!!

So now I'm rewriting it again so that it grabs people. Hey...have you ever thought of going to film school? really? Be prepared for the occasional kick in the nuts.

It's worth it .

What I learned from Taxi Driver

Film festival is this week. A chance to show all our hard work to the waiting world! As you can imagine, it's a stressful week. There is a lot of pressure on first time directors, producers editors and sound people to put their best foot forward and represent not just our own work but the work of the camera crew, production designers etc etc.

It's been a mad dash to the finish for us. Getting final cuts, last minute changes, music selection, sound mix, colour grading, exporting to a file the festival needs, transferring data to the festival organizers, writing up synopses-es and statements from directors. It's all stressful and time consuming.

Tonight I sat around and listened to some students discuss the merits of two digital camera... Red and the new Arriflex, duscussing lattitude and other equally exciting technical aspects of the new digital realm debating which on they'd rather the scho should by for them to use next term. For three guys who have never shot a real film in their lives, nor put their hands on either camera, they spoke with the confidence and expertise of grizzled hollywood veterans.

So a couple of us went out to see Taxi Driver at 7 over at the Danby Theater in Newtown. It's this little boutique style theater in a trendy neighborhood frequented by students and lesbians. Mmm, lesbians... I digress, um, right, Taxi Driver. Brillant film. Put boylth scorsece and dinero on the map. The film was shot in 76. At the time Eastman Kodak ws supplying fairly shitty 35 mm film. Taxi driver is grainy as hell, and typical of many 70s flicks, it the colour isn't perfect. In darker scenes the black is too black. The contrast is too high in spots. In others they desaturated the film to take the red out if the blood so they could get an r18 rating.

Given all that, it's still a great movie. Sit and talk about lattitude and resolution all you want, fact is, you can make a great movie with grainy film. No one in the audience gives a shit if you've memorized a bunch of spec sheets.

Halfway through the movie it stopped, froze, then restarted... Out of sync. The projectionist stopped it, took us back to the place it freaked out at and hit play. Life goes on. It will be the same at our student festival. Glitches will happen. Things will have been missed. Life will go on.

I'm glad I went to see Taxi Driver tonight. Ive learned so much!

So I'm An Actor Now

I'm holding an audition for a promo I'm doing the other day and some buddies are holding an audition for their Thesis film. Oh, actors suck by the way. They don't show up to their auditions for non paying gigs. Fine. Give me a call then, just let me know. But no, these precious thespians can't be bothered. Bite me actors.

Anyway, I'm waiting for some guy who isn't going to show up. I go chat with the boys and their actor isn't showing up. I ask about the project and they're tell me about it, they're casting a bad guy. Then one guy looks at me and goes "You'd be a good bad guy!!" They hand me the script and tell me to get back to them. Just like that.

Script is good, I sign on as "DARK FIGURE". You always capitalize the important things in a script. Thats me in this instance. First rehersal I'm a half hour late (Told you actors suck didn't I?) They're cool with it though. Really first rate guys. I go through the lines with the other actor, who's a good guy too, the director's happy, producer's happy, it's on.

5:30 cast call on Thursday. Running on 3 hours and fighting a cold. No problem. I'm not supposed to look good. I'm the bad guy. We hit a servo (Australian for service station) and get brekky (Australian for breakfast) Meat pies. They love meat pies.

We then drive out to the country to this national park. Its gorgeous out there. We get onto this old deserted road. The whole scene is there, on this deserted road. We started shooting early, sun barely cracking the treeline. These guys are great to work with. Couple of takes and we're out of every scene! 

Late in the day, I'm giving a long speech to my victim. The camera is on him for the take. But he's not feeling it. So he asks me to slap him. Slap him. Cool. So, I slap him. Not too hard, apparently I don't know my own strength...Ive knocked a few people over in the halls here by accident (they guys here are kind of feeble for criminal stock) But the guy is black. So now i'm worried I've committed a hate crime. But then I'm like, its Australia, I think I get a parade now! Kidding. Sydney is a wonderfully diverse melting pot.

The next day I'm hanging out and it turns out the sound machine we were using didn't work. I was doing sound on a guy's movie and the part of the psychologist was played buy a teacher from the school, just a voice over. The VO got ruined. So the teachers no longer available, and the guy is scurrying around getting people to say the lines. Actually he was just standing asking people who went by. I happened to come out of the edit suite and he said, "How did she say the line?" I said it and his buddy was like. Get Luke to do it. Now I'm a voice actor.

Isn't life funny!
(ok i'm not like a real actor, but I've acted in 2 student films...thats cool right??)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I headed out to get a bite to eat the other night during a marathon editing/searching for music for the movie we're working on.  A friend suggested this chicken place around the corner. Ok fine, yeah chicken, deep fried chicken, sounds great. SO I go in and order a 2 peice meal with chips (what they call fries down here). Anyway, its a pretty good deal. Until. I go to walk out. I turn and look at the gentleman behind the counter. "Oh, hey, can I get some ketchup with that?"
Dude looks at me, and, I'm not kidding, looks at me and says "Sauce is 30 cents."
Are you freaking kidding me?! Thirty cents for some ketchup. After I spent 7 bucks for 2 little tiny peices of fried chicken and some potatoes, that have clearly been french fried, masquerading as chips?
I looked at this fine entrepreneur and said "Really?"
He just looked back at me and blinked. I turned and walked out, never to darken their doorstep again.

KFC pulled the same stunt about 2 months ago. I haven't been back there either.

A couple of days ago I stopped at the hotbread place up the road from school. I asked for a schnitzel. I get a schnitzel there once a week or so. She starts to make it and I say, "yeah, can you put BBQ sauce on that?" She looks at me, and with no amount of shame whatsoever says "Sauce is fifty cents."
I just looked at her. "You're kidding"
She just looked at me.  "Yeah ok, fine, here's another 50 cents." Normally I'd revolt boycott the sauce at this point on principle, but really, a schnitzel without sauce is just too dray and bland to be choked down.
But, there are several hotbread places in the area, I am now boycotting "Terry's Hotbread." Bite me Terry!

Anyway, my point on this whole sauce thing is that, I think if someone is spending good money at your shitty little hole in the wall eating establishment, you should give them some free ketchup for their fries. I mean really? Whats next? 10 cents for each side of the bun? 15 cents for napkins? Where does it end?