What time is it? I have no idea. Really!

So, a couple of weeks ago I was walking through the film studio part of the school when I noticed one of our young female directors diligently working on a wonderful little 1:6 scale set. Of course this means one of two things, she cant find a location to suit her film and decided to do a miniature instead, or her film was entirely 1:6 scale. As the set was of a pretty typical looking Australian backyard I figured it wasn't a location issue, no, this set had the definite smell of, well, paint and glue actually, but speaking metaphorically it smelt of one of my favourite things ever... that's right...

I nonchalantly stopped and started chatting... yes, this was indeed a set for a Stop Motion film. Excitement! Great to know that type of project was being endorsed by the School. As we discussed the medium, history of stop motion, her story, etc, it came to light that she was having a little trouble with the guys making her puppets. They weren't making them. In fact, her production didn't seem to have any progressed further than having some photos of what the puppets should kinda look like. Although, she did have some of the most beautifully crafted armatures, the metal moveable skeletons inside a Stop Motion Puppet, I have ever seen. I mean, I've used wire armatures myself but these things were machined metal with alan key adjustments on the individual ball joints. Um, these things are what the pro's use... in a student film... um... "I've done a little sculpting, mould making, casting ... in essence I make puppets!" Of course... not quite this sophisticated before. "oh, you need them on set in a few days... um... let me think... I'm Directing a documentary... a lot of work, I have to write an essay... a lot of work. I have a day job... a lot of work. No, I absolutely cannot... say no to working on this level with puppets."

So that's where I am at the moment. Every spare moment. Until at least 2am. Sculpting under a magnifying glass. Embedding finished models in clay. Pouring difficult undercut multi-medium multiple part moulds. Making sure armatures are properly prepared and in working order. Shopping for chemicals that when mixed together properly create flexible foams. Running tests on every single part of the process to make sure I know how to use those chemicals. Basically, planning for every possible thing that could go possibly go wrong in the final casting because I only have a few days to make these puppets before they're due on set.

I'm obviously crazy, well, maybe not... After shopping for chemicals the other day I stopped in on a mates place for a BBQ (Their place is close to the shop I went too and they were offering us dinner, perfect!) and as I was saying see-ya-laters I mentioned to some other friends why I had to take off early. Well apparently their son runs this place. I'll set up a meeting with him when he's back from a major make-up job in Bollywood to have a look at his studio... Bonus!

Well I hope you're all not as busy as me but I hope you're having fun out there.


Just plain crazy!

I just realised I haven't used this place to bitch. What's a blog without a good bitch session. Actually... that's not my style. Le choisir la vie*, and all that. And this really isn't a bitch session it's more of a 'what the hell, I can't believe that happened' session spiced with a slightly bitchy attitude.

So I'm doing a DOP** role on this other Directors doco. You know that thing directors supposedly say, 'Lights, Camera, Action'. Yeah, a DOP is who the Director is talking to on the first two, Lights and Camera. Now, we are shooting a hard scene. It's a group of six people*** who don't know each other around a dinner table having an open and frank discussion on their views of modern marriage. All covered by two cameras and only one boom. So? I hear you thinking. Screw you, you ignorant git! This is incredibly hard on a scripted shoot, people win Oscars for getting this type of thing right... nice work Woody Allen! But for a documentary it's a situation only the bravest filmmakers put themselves in, let alone students. Eh, I can fuck it up, "I'm only a student!". Yeah, let's shoot it, why not.

So anyway, I rock up to this house. It's chaos. Now a film shoot is normally chaos. But really! Its organised chaos. Anyone who's been on location can walk into the bedlam and see exactly the calm little centre which is the focal point of a talented group a frenetic techs and artists working towards a common goal. So when I say 'it's chaos' I mean, there's no direction here at all, it's a complete and utter shambles. This is not good. This is in fact, very, very bad. Right, two hours to show time. I'm slowly gathering people to a common focus. Lights go up. Hidden**** microphones are set about the place. Replacement cameramen are sourced for someone who's not coming due to sickness. Briefings are given on the game plan. Lots of questions asked. Lots of answers are given. An hour to show time it's starting to look like a location shoot now. Frenzied but focussed.

Breathing easier. My french speaking Director comes over, 'can you have a look at this for me and tell me what you think it means?'. Bring it! It's only one more thing! Oh. My. God. Is this a recipe? For the dinner party you are giving in an hour? A quick search of the kitchen confirms all the hub-bub going on in in there for the last hour was really only the boiling of water and the cutting up of chicken... Oh. My. God. You do know how to cook this dinner right? No? You do know that you're cooking a pan risotto for the main course which will take a lot of time and attention and at least an hour right? No? You do know I'm suddenly feeling as ill as the other cameraman who was coughing up blood? No? ... ... ...I think I need to lie down for a second. Ah, nup. You can do two things in a situation like this, you can let your director and their project die, die, die a slow horrible embarrassing death and laugh maniacally while it happens (oh sweet Schadenfreude, don't tempt me), or you can FUCKING COOK DINNER FOR TEN PEOPLE!

Forget the shoot plan... I'm now a fucking chef. It's a flurry of wooden spoons, pans, and stock absorption into Arborio rice. 20 minutes til people arrive. Director, 'Richard, I vant to do a veb houk-up to a LesBian 'o is married. We can 'ave zi compuutor on zi table so she can talk vit di dinner guest, yes?'. The hot pan hits her in the face, I held it there long enough for the smell of chicken risotto to be overpowered by the sweet aroma of cooking flesh. When the police arrived they slapped me on the back and said 'well done' and stayed long enough to compliment my excellent risotto and drink a glass of fine Barossa Shiraz with the toast of 'Fuck the French!' At least that's what happened in my mind. How are we going to record the sound of this person? Who's going to film her? Do you understand what the term 'dial-up internet connection' means? Are you for FUCKING real? Don't be coming into 'Ma Cuisine' and fuck with my dinner preparation over a stupid, stupid, stupid idea like that! I think I said, 'You're crazy'... and that's when the first guest arrived.

Oh dear, we've missed the guests arrival. Second camera, get a fucking tape in that tape-recordy thing and start filming. Oh, you're trying to hook up a Web interview for the dinner party? NO YOU ARE NOT. START FILMING... Oh, you're going to do what the Director says and not me. Sure. Why not. Let's miss the guests arrival shall we Ms Director? Good. Great. 20 minutes later. Risotto is ready. Guests have arrived. Web hook-up doesn't work... say it with me, 'Dial up connection isn't great for streaming video'. 'Yes, Ms Director, I can certainly take over organising the crew while you drink wine with your guests. Not a problem*****. '

We taped the dinner party minus webcam. For a discussion on modern marriage boy did that Christian couple talk a lot about the wonder that is a life knowing Christ. Four hours of tape later... I tuned out somewhere along the way... the camera was set on a wide angle a lot... I was unfed by a dinner I had cooked... I was tired from standing on my feet for two hours behind a camera after cooking a dinner for ten people... I stole a random glass of wine from the table and just started drinking it... I don't know whose it was... It was shit, cheap red wine... I don't care... I drank it... and another... and hell why not another... and no, sorry Ms Director, I don't care what you say. THAT was NOT a successful shoot.

Note to self... Next time I encounter a film shoot that unprofessional, walk out and be damned the consequences. Although it may be the first time in the history of film that someone gets the credit, 'DOP and Head Chef'. I wonder if I can take an Alan Smithee.


*'To choose the life'. Some sort of flippant motto of mine when penguins start bitch'n about their self created situations. Kind of a 'Hey, you chose to be there and do that so don't start with all that 'woe is me' crap.

** I like to think it stands for Director of Pornography but unfortunately the P stands for penguins.

*** What else would they be? Penguins?

****I'm really a CIA agent... yeah, OK, the mics are only hidden from the penguins... ah, cameras...

*****Fuck the French
Penguins !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!