… with 15 hours to go. How exciting! Now I just have to remember to order some for myself …
Posts tagged with events
Tim Ferguson, Felicity Ward, and Sam Longley. Tim’s first guest, Michael Connell, is hiding to the left of the stage. Just pretend he’s in the picture. He’s the guy with the harmonica.
I was soundly entertained last Thursday evening at the opening of the Wild West Comedy Festival Club in the Brass Monkey Hotel.
We shared a table with Alan Payne from the WA branch of the Australian Writers’ Guild. He appears at the best gigs in town, our Alan. Annie Murtagh-Monks from PAC was at the next table. I found David Downie and his lovely lady, Jen, at the bar after the show, and spotted Russell Woolf holding court about five feet away.
Tim Ferguson was the host of the evening, and interviewed comedians Michael Connell, Sam Longley, and Felicity Ward about what made them tick and which dark places their comedy sprang from. Michael Connell and pine cones are now forever intertwined in my brain. Felicity Ward is nimble and lovely. “Sssh!” she said to the hecklers sitting behind us. “It’s not the DVD, you know!” Sam Longley is very, very tall, and a bastion of the Perth comedy scene. I attended a writing workshop with him once. He is rather nice. And tall.
On a side note, I’d like to point out that surreal moments seem to dog the rare nights that I go out to Northbridge.
At the table behind us were three, extremely drunk girls who kept repeating what Felicity Ward was saying. At one point, Ward said, “As you know, comedians have their dark moments,” and one of the girls whimpered, “I have dark moments,” and then started crying into her chardonnay. I peered at her and she had intoxicated zombie eyes. I could have asked her and her friends to help a Nigerian prince save his family treasure and they would have handed me their ATM cards in two seconds. Ah, Perth colour.
There are plenty of fantastic acts left to enjoy at the Wild West Comedy Festival. Check what’s on at http://www.wildwestcomedy.com.au.
Another year, another red dress, another swag of awards for exciting new (and old) talent in the West Australian filmmaking community!
I attended the WASAs with Tanya Beeson from Junglecat Films, who was there to represent the team of My Extraordinary Little Sister, an animated short film created as part of the Nick Shorts initiative, a joint production partnership between Nickelodeon Australia, ScreenWest and the Film & Television Institute WA Inc.
We held our breaths as the nominations for Best Short Animation were read out. And the winner was …
… not us, but the next best thing, our very good friends, animators Jesse Emmerson and Gaetan Raspanti. Congratulations to Jesse, Gaetan, and their producer, Bridget Curran, for Hairoes!
A WAnimate Event: Meet Alan Murphy, Animatronic and Costume Effects Design, The Wolfman
4 March 2010
Not many people can say they turned Benicio Del Toro into a werewolf on a daily basis. Recently Alan Murphy worked on The Wolfman (now showing in cinemas), a horror movie set in Victorian England, directed by Joe Johnston and starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Emily Blunt.
Come and hear Alan talk about his experiences on The Wolfman, including how he constructed the Wolfman suit, facts about the makeup work and gore effects, what it was like to work in Victorian England every day, and the arduous process of transforming a man into a werewolf.
Alan Murphy has had an incredible career in animatronics, costuming, and puppetry. He has created accessories for Freddie Mercury and Dame Edna Everage, constructed costumes for Red Dwarf and props for Dr Who, and brought creatures and legends to life in movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Fifth Element, Braveheart, Babe, Withnail and I, and The Last Emperor.
WHEN: 7pm to 8.45pm, Thursday 4 March 2010
WHERE: eCentral East Perth Campus (Presentation Room, B201.1), 140 Royal St, East Perth (walking distance from Claisebrook train station)
FEE: Free for current WAnimate members, $5 for non-members.
Please bring exact cash payment as change will be limited.
HOW TO ATTEND: Please register your attendance by emailing wanimateATgmailDOTcom (Unregistered guests are also welcome. However, as space is limited, preference will be given to registered attendees.)
Non-members can join WAnimate (the Western Australian Animation Association) on the night, the annual membership fee is $30. You can also join WAnimate beforehand by e-mailing wanimateATgmailDOTcom and requesting a membership form.
We had our graduation ceremony and screening in the FTI cinema on Friday night. It was crowded, noisy, and joyful; altogether, an outstanding evening.
This is the speech I gave on behalf of the animation students, and I meant every word of it.
“On the first day of this course, our training coordinator, the beautiful and formidable Fern Nicholson, sat us down in this cinema, and said, “Succeeding in this course is not just about getting your diploma. It is about what you do afterwards. It is about getting out there, seeking out opportunities, and forging your path. If you think that succeeding in this course means getting your diploma, and then going home to sit on the sofa, drinking orange soda, and waiting for an opportunity to fall into your lap, then THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR YOU.”
That is the kind of place that FTI is, and that is why we have grown to love this place, and why we have cherished every minute of our time here.
My class and I would like to thank our instructors, who led us, inspired us, and were so generous in sharing their incredible, vast amounts of knowledge with us. Tanya Beeson, Stephen Grant, Phil Jeng Kane, Noah Norton, Wendi Graham, and Khrob Edmonds–thank you.
A special thank-you must go to our facilitator, Ebbie Williams. Like a mother, she cared for us. Like a father, she gave us wise counsel. And like the dear friend that she has become, she did not hesitate to give us a swift kick up the backside if we stopped believing in ourselves, and felt like we couldn’t go on.
To our partners and families, thank you for being so patient with us, and for simply loving us, and sticking with us, all the way through this very challenging year.
Finally, we would like to thank all the people involved with FTI, for welcoming us into your family. Thank you for making this one of the best places in Australia to learn the trade.
Have a wonderful evening, and the animation class of 2009 hope that you enjoy our films.”
It’s graduation night at FTI and I’ve been asked to give a speech on behalf of the animation class.
Go away, butterflies!
Seven animators spent last Friday night in a padded room surrounded by red velvet, feverishly punching in numbers into a remote control, and howling into small silver sticks.
Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about karaoke at Hit Studio in Northbridge.
Highlights of the evening:
- The ladies all sing-shouting, “It’s Raining Men” (the Geri Halliwell version), and frightening the bejeesums out of the poor outnumbered boys.
- Clancie Shorter saying, “I would really like to go to that place right now, that place where it is raining men.” Amen, Clancie.
- Ebbie Williams going into hysterics when the crazy Santa figurine montage appeared for “Wake me up before you go go”. Seriously, guys, now that is just lazy.
- Making up subtext for the very bad videos accompanying the music. Like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but without the high production values!
- Disco-dancing and finger-pointing to “Staying Alive”.
- Men in Viking helmets.
Who says animators don’t know how to party?
FTI held a roundtable event yesterday evening, covering the topic of “Film Etiquette”.
The speakers were:
- Producer Susie Campbell, a formidable West Australian presence who has worked on numerous television programs and films, including the award-wininng Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello,
- Up-and-coming writer-director Karen Farmer, who also conceived the idea for the ambitious and gripping Caravan, a short science fiction film set in the desert,
- and Chris Toovey, an animator who is also an FTI alumnus. Chris was in the second group of animation students at FTI. He now works at lastpixel, a company that specialises in 3D visualisation for a diverse range of industries, including architecture and mining.
Susie Campbell and Karen Farmer.
Ebbie Williams, our lovely and talented animation training facilitator, and next to her, the equally lovely and talented Chris Toovey.
The session was definitely an eye-opener, and we have Graeme Watson to thank for organising the event and its assortment of social lubricants civilised refreshments.
Notes and quotes are grouped below according to subject matter, rather than chronological order.
Major breaches of etiquette in film and animation?
According to Susie, this can include: mobile phones ringing on set (this will cost you a slab of beer, and since most crews prefer to drink James Boag, expect to pay to the tune of $50 to $60); no drugs; no stealing; safety regulations mean that closed-in shoes are essential. No one is allowed on set without closed shoes (sneakers, at a minimum), even the director and producer.
Being a distraction. Save your questions for after the action. “Don’t talk while on set. Wait till after the shoot, when people are eating and drinking.”
Chris: “Not washing your coffee cup.” (It is interesting that this was the first comment that sprang from Chris’s lips. I too, have trouble understanding how some grown men and women lose the ability to clean up after themselves when they find themselves outside their homes. Chris, if you’re interested, I’m thinking of taking out a patent on heat-seeking exploding coffee grounds that target non-washers.)
“Be able to take criticism, and take other people’s ideas seriously.”
Areas of conflict when working in a group?
Chris remarked that in their office/animation studio, lighting was often a source of conflict, as different animators had different ideas of what comprised an effective work environment. He added, “Be prepared to compromise for other people.”
Susie emphasised the fact that film and television sets are stressful environments, where everyone is conscious of how wasted time means wasted dollars. Big dollars.
Directors and producers are constantly communicating under “extreme pressure and tension.”
It is important to not be offended if someone speaks to you curtly (there should be no excuses for rude behaviour, though). “People have to make very quick decisions and give quick instructions. They sound like they’re shouting, but they’re not … people cry.”
But meekness won’t get you anywhere. “If someone barks at you, bark back!”
Finally, how to succeed in the industry and be asked back to work again and again?
Play nice. “Be nice to people, because someone might ask someone else about you.”
Keep on top of news, trends, and events. “If you want to get in, you really have to keep your ear to the ground.”
Meticulous planning in pre-production. “You need a lot of prior planning, and good storyboards. You really have to be on your toes. Before you come in you have to know exactly what you’re going to be doing. And always have a backup plan.”
Be good at several things. “You definitely need to be multiskilled in Perth.”
Network. “Go to events and meet people. Through ScreenWest, see what productions are funded and what productions are coming up.”
Know what you want. “Don’t just say, ‘I really want to work in anything.’ Say [for example], ‘I really want to work in Documentary and Camera.”’
Be passionate, truthful, tenacious and prepared. “… personally, I respond to passion and sincerity. The fact that you will not go away. Passion and thinking ahead. Being useful. Just being there at the right time.”
“The film industry in general is not a place for the faint-hearted. If you haven’t got an enquiring and observant mind, then you shouldn’t be hanging around a film set.”
It wasn’t just any old screening either. It was a SPECIAL screening (held on the 29th of March), followed by a Q & A with Adam Elliot (writer, director, Academy Award winner), and Melanie Coombs (producer, cheerleader, cajoler, magician).
Mary and Max is about the growing and evolving pen-friendship between Mary, a lonely eight-year-old girl from the Melbourne suburbs, and Max, an obese, Jewish, New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. The film is wickedly observant and lovingly peppered with bits of Australiana that will make you smile with recognition.
Shivering in anticip…ation.
Actually, it was rather warm so I was perspiring gently with anticipation, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring.
Before the movie started, we were treated to a short claymation film made by three of my classmates from FTI’s animation course.
The … ah … opening credits for the introductory short.
The client brief stated that it was OK if the short ended up looking “really, really crappy”, but I still think it has a certain charm. It took two days of hard work to make, not to mention a lot of admirable restraint. (Do you know how hard it is for talented artists–trust me, I’ve seen their normal work–to make something that looks crappy?)
A still from the introductory claymation. I would have liked to insert the actual film here but my blog editor doesn’t like .wmv files, for some reason.
Hurrah for Daniel, Miles and Crystal! (That’s Daniel Kristjansson, Miles Hansen, and Crystal Bradley.) And special thanks to our training facilitator, Ebbie Williams, who came in on the second day to help (above and beyond the call of duty) and then spent hours putting it all together in post-production.
The idea and the voice (now with extra grunting!) were provided by Christian Horgan from the ABC. He is the man with the elegant head sitting on the right, in the picture below.
At last–Q & A time! (From the left: Mary and Max producer Melanie Coombs, director and writer Adam Elliot, and presenter Christian Horgan.)
This was my first film Q & A, and I made some quick notes so you can share in the goodness too:
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
- On how he comes up with his stories. “I tend to start with the details and then work backwards.”
- Adam described himself as “a very impatient film maker”. “I try to create really dense films … so when [the audience] leave the cinema, I haven’t wasted an hour and a half of [their] lives.”
- “Even though there’s a lot of dark matter, I try to make the ending as hopeful as possible … If I really wanted to make it dark, Mary’s baby would have died and Max would have been eaten by his pets!”
- He strives to create characters that are “authentic and believable”, saying, “I want you to be moved by [Max],” and, “We make ‘clayographies’.”
Some interesting making-of information:
- Miles asked how smoke was created, and Adam replied that they used black velvet and coiled white wire, carefully rotated and shot frame by frame to add transparency.
- Making water and waves: most of the water, in glasses, fishbowls, toilets, was actually clear lubricant. To make ocean waves, about 50 tubes of lubricant (!) was emptied onto a sheet of Perspex, and then cellophane was laid over the top. The cellophane, plumped up with lubricant, was poked and prodded to look like waves. A frame would be shot, the cellophane would be manipulated again, they would shoot another frame, and so on.
Melanie and Adam specially thanked Perth animators and crew who had worked on the movie, mentioning Pierce Davison, who was in the audience.
I also learnt some Q & A etiquette for next time. These scientific observations have been derived from watching the audience, listening to the types of questions asked (and the responses to these questions: formulaic? Excited? Pithy?), and my rising or ebbing blood pressure.
- Do some research before attending the Q & A. Go to the film’s website, Google the film title, and read interviews. This will help you with the next bit.
- Come prepared with questions that have not already been answered by the website, or in interviews. There will be many people in the audience who will be bored (OK, maybe just me), and using their imagination to quietly stab you (again, maybe just me). You are talking to the film’s creators in REAL LIFE. They are your captives. Now is the time to ask them any questions that were not in the sanitised press release; hard, gritty, unusual, burning questions!
- Hmm, how to put this nicely … compliments are nice, but do keep them short, and for the love of [insert deity] please do not say things like, “This is such a wonderful film. I like how wonderful the characters were. My question is: how is it that you are so wonderful?” AAARGH.
- On the other hand, any question is better than an uncomfortable silence (it’s OK, there weren’t many).
But really, it was a fantastic experience, made even more enjoyable by the presence of good friends and colleagues. I’ll end with a rather nice quote from Melanie:
Friendships sustain all of us, all through our lives.
Update (April 9th, 2009): The ScreenWest News and Events page has a short interview with Perth animator Pierce Davison, who was invited by Melanie to work on Mary and Max. Read all about it here.
Source: ScreenWest News and Events page at http://www.screenwest.com.au/go/news-and-events/news-articles, posted April 8th, 2009.
Jan Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of LotteryWest, and Russell Woolf at the 22nd West Australian Screen Awards.
I was fortunate enough to attend the 22nd West Australian Screen Awards on Saturday night. Actually, my entrée to this glistering event was due to sweat rather than luck: I volunteered to be a runner on the day, in the hope that I could watch some of the ceremony while performing my duties.
So I ran errands in and out of the Octagon theatre, got soaked cleaning crusty 40-gallon drums that would be reborn as golden cocktail tables, and did some speed-typing on a Macbook (why is there no right mouse button, Apple? WHY?)
At the end of it all (including some exciting last-minute wrist-banding duties), I had a shiny WASA ticket (RRP $70, including two hours of quality booze and finger food) in my grubby little hand, and scrubbed up to watch the ceremony.
In the fracas before the show, I also got to meet Diana Warnock, a gracious and charmingly un-snobby lady, who would present the Bill Warnock Award to Meg Shields later that evening. She looked very glamorous in a black and purple ensemble that she said she had just “thrown together”. I can only pray that I will look that good in a few years.
Matt Lovkis and Ash Gibson-Greig opened and closed the show with slick musicality. I thought their closing number was a little risqué–it was a rousing tribute to all the people who didn’t win WASAs, but the audience were in good spirits, so all’s well that ends well.
You can read more about the 22nd West Australian Screen Awards at the FTI website, which also has a list of this year’s winners.
Shani (in the right hand pic) and I thought we’d practise our red carpet poses in the picture area. You know, for next year. (We can dream, can’t we?)