Saturday, 23 December 2006
Well, not much actually, hence the nothingness for December so far, but I thought I'd better pop in for a little updatey-kinda-thing...
I had a couple of "featured extra" bits in short films lined up for the first half of December, but they were both postponed until January/February.
Also postponed has been the feature film, because R-the-director has been having lots of issues with scheduling and casting and illness. He's kept in touch though, so that's a good sign, and he still seems keen to have me on board (whether in the lead role or not, I don't know).
I'm starting to send photos out to casting agencies, having established that that is in fact an acceptabel thing to do.
I phoned Barrett Casting because I heard that they were casting Baz Luhrman's Australia (which is being shot next year partially in Sydney). The lady I spoke to was very nice and helpful and said that even though there was unlikely to be anything suitable in that one, I was welcome to send my photo to them. So I figure casting people are happy to receive photos. So that's what I'm doing. :)
Last week I designed and "operated" lighting for a singing recital, of the students of a lecturer of mine from college. "operated" is in quotations because as it turned out, there was no operating to be done - the lighting board died about an hour before the show. I spent all morning rigging and focussing and plotting my beautiful design, and - kaput. Something went psycho with the memory of the desk and I wasn't clever enough to figure out the problem. Apparently this particular desk has played similar refusal-to-operate games in the past.
Anyway, I managed to get a few lights working straight from the dimmer racks and the show went on with one stable amber wash, and I morphed into Assistant Stage Manager.
It was very sad.
But, my fee paid for some Christmas presents for my children, so the frustrating day was worth it.
You know, I don't think I've even watched any movies this month!
No hang on, I watched Coyote Ugly and Save the Last Dance last week. Just a couple from my feel-good collection. :)
I'll be taking my girls to see Charlotte's Web either today or next week. I keep hearing all about Dakota Fanning, she's a clever little girl that one.
Okay that's enough of a rambly-updatey-thing.
Hope you all treasured the Winter or Summer Solstice! (depending which hemispehere you're in!)
Blessings to all for a happy holiday season!
Tuesday, 28 November 2006
As far as horror films go, Wolf Creek is pretty well up there. It was actually kind of refreshing to see the Aussie outback used for something like this rather than your average romantic adventure. The story is compelling and, although it's a little slow to get going, it draws you in and makes you want to stay. The sense of inevitabillity is huge. Right from the start, there are little hints that soemthing is not quite right; that everything will not go according to plan.
John Jarratt is simply amazing as Mick Taylor, the truly evil serial killer. Jarratt has been in stacks of Australian TV dramas, but I'm afraid I really only remember him from presenting on Better Homes and Gardens, so for me seeing his stunning performance was spectacular. Truly, I can't say enough about how well Jarratt created Mick Taylor. Much amazement. The making-of doco shows Jarratt talking about getting into character and finding the truth of it. He says he had to totally let go of himself, because "it's not him. John Jarratt just can't do this".
Writer/director Greg Maclean talks about Jarrat, on set, remaining in character a lot of the time, and speaking to him and other crew as Mick Taylor. It seems Taylor was a very difficult skin to climb in and out of, so perhaps Jarratt wanted to minimise moving in and out of the evil persona.
So yes, I was mightily impressed and a little inspired by Jarratt's performance.
The other cast were great too, though. The roles consisted of an awful lot of pain, torture, and terror, and Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi and Nathan Phillips coped with it really well. I was a little bored by the "ooh aren't we having fun" over-acting at the beginning, but I don't know, maybe they were exaggerating on purpose in order to contrast with the darkness later on. All three of them performed beautifully once the horror began, through what must have been a fairly harrowing shoot.
And again, my favourite film character - the Australian outback - plays a central role. And does it well, if a little wet in this one. Apparently when their shoot days were overtaken by rain, they decided to make the most of it and tweaked the script a little to allow for the rotten weather. And, boy, it sure did work.
I guess the outback is McLean's favourite film character too - I see his next film, Rogue is shaping up to be another horror in the outback. I'll be looking forward to it.
Monday, 20 November 2006
Here's some of the interesting stuff T&T talked about in their commentary:
Beginning from the opening wedding montage, Ted and Terry say they were aiming for a more impressionistic, rather than straight story-telling, style with the film. Orginally, apparently, the first scene was going to be Captain Jack's entrance via the Turkish prison, followed by the sequence of events on the Black Pearl up to the losing of the hat, and THEN to the abandoned wedding sequence. That theory was similarly abandoned upon a first viewing when it was felt to be too jarring for the audience - moving from a literal story-telling style (Captain Jack's scenes) to the impressionistic style, was too hard to relate. So the choice was to put the impressionism right up there at the beginning, and then introduce the audience to the "juxtaposition" of different characters' scenes in small vignettes. This juxtaposition determines how the audience sees the story and understands the character - T&T believe this is easier to relate to, because in real life that's what you see - small chapters of people's lives and it's up to you to fill in the blanks with your knowledge and imagination.
So, they say that they purposely tried to get away from the normal "one-main-character, three-act story" in favour of an impressionist "mosaic".
Which I really like. I think too often we can get caught up in the belief that a film needs to be as "realistic" and "believable" as possible. Really, there is so much value in a story presentation which allows one to be lost in a different world that is not reality. Indeed, sometimes the best way to make a story real to an audience is to set it outside of reality.
Similarly, one comment made was Billy Wilder saying - "give the audience the two plus two, and leave them to come up with the four themselves". I like it ("simple, easy to remember").
The Passing of Time
This idea is first introduced in the Black Pearl's rum cellar when Bootstrap Bill appears to warn "Time's run out, Jack". Ted or Terry (don't ask me to keep track of which voice was which!) pointed out a lovely image that I hadn't noticed before; when Captain Jack reaches for the run bottle and sand pours out of it, Bill says his line about time. Like sand through the hourglass.... it's a really nice image, and it helps to set up the idea of not only Captain Jack's time being up, but time being up for all those who belong in the world of Pirates, adventure, and a free world.
Which, of course, is reinforced later, and throughout, by Lord Beckett, his veritable army of EITC men, and his map.
The map, say Ted and Terry, is a symbol, to Beckett and to the audience, of the level to which the EITC, with the backing of the Crown, are taking over the civilised world. As the film progresses the map becomes more complete, and in it's final scene it is finished, signalling, perhaps, the end of the world as we (well, Captain Jack and his kind) know it. Also very important to this idea, they said, was the finding of the EITC spices in the cannibal-tribe hut. Another clue that the company is pushing Jack's kind further and further.
Creating the Story
Ted or Terry said that when they were asked to write a sequel or two, they had to make a decision; they could have made a whole new story (in the way the James Bond series does), or they could "retroactively engineer a larger story from the story of Curse of the Black Pearl. Obviously, they chose the latter, and the story points they built on were:
~ The compass. Thanks to a stroke of luck, they were able to change the purpose of the compass slightly to fit a bigger story. Originally (way back when writing the first film), the compass was indeed intended to point only to the Isle de Meurta. But that fact never made it into the actual film (it was left as something mysterious), so Ted and Terry simply changed the facts to read that the compass in fact points to whatever the person looking at the compass "wants most at that time. How clever. (oh, and they were very insistent that it was that definition, that the compass does not point to the person's "heart's desire" but to what they want most right then.)
~ Captain Jack's entrance - they wondered briefly if they could ever create an entrance as good as his COtBP entrance, before deciding they never could. So they settled for coming up with one that wouldn't "suck relative to that". I think they succeeded, I love the coffin-blasting entrance.
~ The "they made me their chief" line. It was an impro'd, throwaway line in the first film, and it became the inspiration for a very important sequence of DMC. Ted or Terry said that the cannibal tribe sequence is "a tribute" to that original line.
~ "Why is the rum always gone?" This line from Captain Jack recalls the island scene with Elizabeth and gives a small clue to what may be going on in his head.
which brings me to
Captain Jack's attraction to Elizabeth
Ted and Terry made quite a big deal of this possibility, starting from when Captain Jack remarks about the rum being gone. Apparently this indicates that Elizabeth "is playing into Jack's thoughts to some degree". Later, the problems Jack is having with the compass are attributed to this as well, as well as the fact that in Tia Dalma's hut, Captain Jack is the one who knows the answer of a woman being the thing that vexes all men.
The biggest hint, I thought, was near the end in the oft-debated moment in the longboat, when Captain Jack looks at the compass, registers an odd look, then rows back to the Pearl. One writer said that it was purposely left ambiguous but that he thought the compass had been pointing towards land. The other made a disagreeing sound, and said "no I think... no... well, I'll just say I think it was pointing the same way the whole time actually".
and Elizabeth's Frustration
This was also highly emphasised by Ted and Terry as very important to Elizabeth's character and story in DMC. Her frustration at not having been "married" yet is made evident in the jail-cell scene with Will, and reiterated several times, most obviously the "marri-age" scene with Captain Jack and their almost-kiss at that point.
The Importance of the Cannibal Island
I have to admit I never really got the importance of this sequence. It just seemed like a weird excuse the torture actors and stunt people with long sticks and cages. However, I have been enlightened.
The cannibal island sequence is, according to T&T, vital in progressing Captain Jack's storyline from avoidance of fate to an action plan to move with. Up until this point he was only trying to get to somewhere safe, to save his own behind. After this point, he knows without a doubt that there is nowhere safe for him:
~ At sea, the Kracken is after him.
~ In civilised society, the law and the EITC are after him, and
~ In uncivilised lands, cannibals are after him.
Therefore, the only option left is to actually make a plan and face the music (because, as we learned in COtBP, Captain Jack doesn't make a decision or a move until he absolutely has to.
So there you go; the mindlessly funny action sequences have a purpose. :)
Ted and Terry seemed quite amused by their own use of this word - one of them said sarcastically "oh come on, big summer movies don't use literary devices!"
They mentioned three main instances of foreshadowing. First, the fact that Captain Jack arrives in a coffin and says something about taking a short "side-trip". And related, the fight scene when he falls into a grave near the church. Third, for Elizabeth - when she's fighting in the tavern and she knocks Norrington over the head to stop the fight. The comment was "she's willing to hurt someone she cares for" to save the day.
Hints for At World's End
There were a couple of little hints. At Tia Dalma's hut and at Davey Jones' organ, big drama was made of the matching locket and music box. And also at the hut one of them said "every single thing in here has meaning if you really take notice". A really interesting one was about Captain Jack as the god in human form with the cannibals. They were talking abotu that idea being based on a real bear-worship tribe somewhere in Asia etc, and one of them said that Captain Jack as the god-man was a "subtle set-up for something that goes on in Pirates 3". Mmmm, interesting. I imagine it's something to do with how the Captain survives the Kracken and "defeats death" in some uber-spiritual/supernatural way.
One more random comment was that many things that are "in plain sight" in DMC will be revealed to be much more important in AWE. Cool. :)
Okey dokey, that's it. All my notes, laid bare. And much tidier.
Hope that's at least vaguely interesting to someone. :)
Sunday, 19 November 2006
Sorry Merlin. I did say I would watch the DVD with commentary the minute it was released and post here quick-smart. But my DVD didn't get to me as soon as it should have (thanks Aus Post!) and I didn't get to watch it until last night. And it's birthday weekend here. Of a 4-year-old kind.
It was oh-so-lovely to see Captain Jack again. And William even; I'm quite impressed with Orlando lately. And Gibbs. And Norrington. And Pintel & Ragetti. Oh okay, it's good to have them all back again.
I'm a bit disappointed that there's no actors' commentary, or one from Gore. My guess is that they were already being kept too busy with the two-movies-at-once thing, so they weren't called upon for commentaries.
However, there is a Ted and Terry commentary and I found it a lot more interesting than I'd thought I would. There were a lot of insights and a lot of comments that they admitted were answering questions/debates from all the online discussion about aspects of DMC. There are even a few tiny hints about possible plot points for At World's End.
I'm realising as I type that I don't remember all that much of what I wanted to relate form the commentary. So, I shall watch it again tonight (as soon as the kiddies are in bed which will be within the hour), and take notes, and be back in about 4 hours with a nice long post about it.
The "making of" doco, "According to Plan", was really great. It shows the enormous undertaking that such a big film is. Ships, trucks, islands, hurricanes, construction, heat, stunts, water, water, water... Everytime I see something like this, especially about a film I connect so well with, I just get that flame again, the "I wanna be there!" feeling. You can see on screen the "family"ish relationships everyone builds, and the hard work they do, the crafting of an idea into a reality, the feeling of desperate need to "make it work". I love that.
There are lots of other great extras too. Particularly amusing is the section of "Creating the Kracken" where we see how they made that slime fly all over Jack. Johnny says it's disgusting but he's smiling that adventurous smirk while he says it. :-)
Anyway like I said, I'll be back later.
Thursday, 16 November 2006
It's really well made and the performances are brilliant. Nicolas Cage as the amoral, money-hungry illegal arms dealer is scary and disturbing and so believable. His character was sickening. He knows without a doubt that the guns he is making money from are killing millions of completely innocent people, and he chooses to not care, to turn a blind eye. Even after he loses the people closest to him, he still goes on, deciding not to care. There are several moments in the story where his loyalties are tested, and while watching, at each point, I thought "this is it, he's going to do the right thing now and admit his mistakes". But no. Each time I was truly shocked that he proved me wrong. He was so fascinatingly, conflictingly, wrong. I almost said "evil" then, but I didn't even feel like he was evil. Just as if he was so apathetic that he was really unable to make any choice other than the one he'd orginally made to sell guns. That was all he could do, and choosing to do anything else would be admitting himself human and fallible.
Ethan Hawke was wonderful too. It took me until at least halfway through before I realised the cocky investigator was Hawke. I love when actors lose themselves like that.
By far the most disturbing part of the film, for me, was the very end, when some text comes up saying "Based on actual events", followed by "The five biggest arms dealers in the world are the governments of the USA, China, the UK, Russia, and (somewhere else, I can't remember). Those five nations also make up the UN Security Council."
Scary, yes? That's the bit that got me crying more than the disturbing and awful murders in the actual film. Freaked me right out. Who exactly are we supposed to depend on to keep the sodding world safe, huh?
So anyway, brilliant film. I recommend it. But not if you're not in the mood for a good old mind-disturbing freak-out session.
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
That's all I have to say about that.
Okay, not really. I guess I should explain why it's crap.
~ Firstly, almost all of the dialogue is just exposition. Didn't you know that passengers on cruise ships always have casual chats about the fact that there's an opening in the hull around the propellors? Of course they do.
~ And related to that, there's no character building, just a few glances at character when something dramatic is happening (ie something more dramatic than the general ship-sinking activity). The audience has very little reason to care about the main characters because we don't really know them.
~ Really stupid things happen that just wouldn't happen. For example at one point the main characters are traipsing along corridors looking for an exit and when they stop to talk, the mum realises the son has wandered off. Honestly, people. When you're desperately trying to escape a sinking ship and you've already almost lost your son once, you just don't let him wander off. And a terrified child in said sinking ship doesn't just wander off. It was such a stupid moment. Then, we see the adults trying to free the child from behing a locked gate as the water's rising over their heads and all I could think was why doens't he just go back the way he came, he wandered in there on his own after all? The kid disappears (shock! panic! NOOO!) and then, lo-and-behold!, he's found his way back the way he came through an easily opened door. My goodness. It was awful. And there were too many other "oh that SOO wouldn't happen!" moments.
~ Something that was quite hilarious - all the main characters had some kind of awfully convenient background that helped them solve their dilemma. Every second scene had someone saying "I used to be a firefighter, I can...." or "I'm an architect, I know how this was engineered". After a while the group of friends I was watching with were joining in with similar sentiments like "I used to be a man-of-steel, I can just break us out of the hull". My contribution was "It's okay, I was an actor in the original Poseidon movie, I know exactly how to get out".
Anyway, enough rambling about an awful film.
He's going to send me a revised draft of the script and call me later on to discuss it. So I guess I'm still in with a chance.
I really need to work on this "do-an-audition-and-then-forget-all-about-it" thing. Or I"ll go mad with all the toing and froing and assuming.
Sunday, 12 November 2006
I'm thinking with love of the family and friends of Belinda Emmett . Sending my thoughts and prayers in your direction, and in the direction of the millions of women affected by breast cancer in Australia and around the planet.
Friday, 10 November 2006
Thursday, 9 November 2006
R-the-sodding-director did not call me today.
I think it's fairly obvious that I didn't get the role. I just can't decide whether I feel angry about him being too much of a wuss to call and say so, or just plain miserable about missing out on a great role.
Both, I suppose.
I was going to write some opinions/reviews/rambles/whatever it is I do with films today - lately I've watched 8mm, Lord of War, V for Vendetta, Poseidon, and Scary Movie 4 - but I can't be bothered. So there.
No, not exactly. I have watched it twice, and wandered in and out and overheard it from the next room who-knows-how-many other times. It's my girls' new favourite movie, you see.
I really like it. Well, I did really like until about the 67th viewing.
The soundtrack is fabulous. Great songs like "Life is a Highway" and a really fun 1950s-esque do-boppy song that I still haven't remembered to look up in the credits.
It made me cry. Yes, I cried about some animated talking cars and their poor neglected town. (another great song in that bit, which is why it made me cry - they know how to get to people don't they? Soppy music does the trick!)
Anyway, today I insisted on Mary Poppins, to try to rid my brain of said animated talking cars. You just can't beat Mary Poppins.
Trying to be cheerful. Can you tell?
Apparently I will definitely get a phone call from R-the-director today. They were definitely making a decision last night. Not holding out any hope really.
A little tidbit - This conference (The XIII Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association of Australia nad New Zealand) looks really interesting. If you're in Melbourne. I'm kinda drooling over all those session titles....
~What is Cinematic Realism?
~Transnational Utopias: Centre and Periphery in Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Films
~Australian international cinema
~Two or Three Things I Know About Stanley: Inside Dr Strangelove at the Kubrick Estate
~Darwin, sex and taboo in Jungle films of the 1930s
~Testimony in the Umbra of Trauma: Film and Video Portraits of Survival
~The Politics and Cultures of the Contemporary Film Archive
~Stop the World, I Want to Get Off: Uses and Abuses of the ‘New Cinephilia’
~Happiness, or Something Like It: Family in the contemporary American “smart” film
~Everyone was watching! Embarrassment and shame in women’s narratives of cinema-going
Anyway, I won't be there and I don't personally know anyone who will be so there's not much point to this post. Just that it looks really interesting.
Thursday, 26 October 2006
"Here are are the rules to play:List 5 weird things about yourself or your pets.Tag 5 friends and list them.Those people then need to write on their blogs about 5 weird things, and state the rules, and tag 5 more people.Don’t forget to let the people you tagged know by posting a comment on their blog!"
1. I talk to myself almost constantly. As a teenager my brother often yelled through the wall between our bedrooms to tell me to shut up. These days, my older daughter is always asking what I'm saying, and Noel never quite knows when he's supposed to be listening.
2. I can only focus one eye at a time, ie I don't have monocular vision like humans are supposed to. It is usually only noticable when I'm tired, and people start thinking I'm looking over their shoulder instead of at their face. If I concentrate I can purposely switch which eye I'm focussing with and people sometimes think it's a cool party trick. It often results in dodgy-looking photographs. :)
3. I really love maths - particularly seeing the workings behind a formula. In high school I refused to use a formula unless my teacher showed me the working that led to it. I haven't done any maths for years and I miss it.
4. David Campbell (an Australian singer - and Jimmy Barnes' son) once patted me on the head at a studio recording when I was singing in a choir. He's only about 5 years older than me so that was a bit weird.
5. I'm obsessed with film and yet I've never seen Casablanca, Ben Hur, Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind or any silent films in their entirety. I've seen bits of them. I should watch them.
I don't even know if five people read this blog - I'll just tag Connor, but only if you feel like it.
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Still haven't heard a definite yay or nay, so I'm just assuming it's a nay and trying not to think about it. And yes, you may deduce, from the fact that I haven't posted in days and the only thing I do post is about this, that I am failing on that count.
In other news, though, I got my receipt from Showcast and saw that my listing is up online. I'd link to it but I don't think you can view them unless you're registered as a casting professional.
Any casting professionals, though, go ahead and look me up! ;-)
Sunday, 22 October 2006
I heard from R-the-director earlier in the week, and he said I'd be told by the end of the week if I have the role in the romantic-drama feature. I was shortlisted for the romantic lead girl. He liked my "believable and subtle" English accent.
So.... by my calculations, it's pretty much the end of the week... perhaps even the beginning of the new one.
Aaggh. I really really want it.
Thursday, 19 October 2006
Tuesday, 17 October 2006
As I got to the descriptions of the poetry, I started to be really interested. Primarily because Eliot seems mostly interested in something that always fascinates me - the difference, and conflict, between how one behaves on the outside, and how one feels on the inside. Some of them seem to be saying "I know I'm at a posh, fancy tea party, but I feel like I'm at a carnival riding the bumper cars... anyone going to join me?"
Take this one, which I read over and over because I love it... it's called Hysteria...
As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked tablecloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: 'If the lady and gentlemen wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentlemen wish to take their tea in the garden...' I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.
It describes such a simple moment, a typical everyday moment, but in such an interesting way.
More reasons to love Eliot:
"...the first danger is that of assuming that there must be just one interpretation of the poem as a whole, that must be right... But as for the meaning of the poem as a whole, it is not exhausted by any explanation, for the meaning is what the poem means to different sensitive readers."
Sunday, 15 October 2006
I got to the location right on time, even after getting lost on the way, and the boy playing my son greeted me with a loud, cheeky "hello mum". There were other kids today, too, so it was a bit more chaotic and disorganised than Friday, but still running pretty smoothly. I was impressed with these guys actually - for students, they've been really organised and well prepared - and amzingly, running no more than about 10 minutes behind schedule.
Filming all went well. My part is mostly hand acting - my face is rarely seen, actually, because the focus remains on the boy, whose hand I hold a lot and whom I walk beside a fair bit.
We did some scenes in a pet shop which was interesting. It seemed the arrangements had been made with one staff member (the manager, presumably), but a different guy was working there today and wasn't very happy about us being there. He got a tad grumpy, so we were all careful to keeps the kids in line and get everything done as quickly as possible.
Again, the crew were all very appreciative of me helping them out, and I got along well with them. I had a nice little chat with the "son" too, over lunch. He's done a few short films before, and a couple of small roles in TV shows. Nice kid. :)
When I left they were trying to figure out what to do about the fact that it was raining, when the scenes they shot yesterday were in 38 degree blazing sunlight. And the lead actor goes away on holidays tomorrow.
Anyway, blah blah. It was a good day. :)
I was impressed to see that the screenplay was a genuine collaboration of Hawke and Delpy with director Richard Linklater. The script was really impressive - a lot of time is spent talking about seemingly mundane details of life - work, family, recent history - and yet there's just something about everything they say that teaches them, and us, something about each other and ultimately leads to the conclusion. Which I won't give away of course. :) The ending is great. One of those endings that just feels right. Comfortable.
After watching Before Sunrise I wrote that I wasn't quite sure of it with one viewing, but predicted it would grow on me with multiple viewings. I was right - the 2nd time I watched it I felt much more connected with the characters and appreciated their stories more. Maybe I was just paying more attention.
Before Sunset (the sequel), on the other hand, I loved first time. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are wonderful. The entire film is just those two, conversing as they walk around Paris. There are some truly beautiful moments when it's like you're watching a little current of energy connecting "Jesse" and "Celine" as they gradually explore one another.
Saturday, 14 October 2006
I have a bit of a thing for British period pieces lately. Can't get enough of those delightful accents and topsy-turvy sensibilities. Quills fits the bill anyway, and in between squirming with the discomfort and gasping with the melodrama, I rather enjoyed it.
Geoffrey Rush is just amazing, as usual. Actors that would be prepared to throw themselves into a role like the Marquis de Sade are rare creatures, and Rush certainly throws himself in. This man has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to make his character real. I just think he's awesome; an inspirational performance for me - mainly because of the rawness of it. An aging, almost-defeated, desperate man, literally laid bare and opened up for all to see. And yet at the same time, reserving some of the man's spirit for private - there were, I thought, still secrets in the Marquis' heart. I was genuinely inspired by that incredible baring of a soul.
And Joaquin Phoenix is fast moving up my favourite-actors list too. He's beautiful in this - a gorgeous young priest, so sure of himself... and yet, not. Love, mercy, anger, lust, confusion, heartbreak; all find themselves naturally and perfectly at home on Phoenix's (rather beautiful) features.
Kate Winslet was great too, I guess. Nothing struck me as spectacular about her performance, but the character was believable and accessable, so I guess that's what counts. (Why is it, I wonder, I find it so much easier to appreciate male actors' performances than females'? There's a question to delve into one day...)
Anyway, I liked it. In fact I would've watched it again a few days later but the disc (a rental) refused to work a 2nd time. (What do people do with DVDs when they rent them? Clean them with sandpaper? Be careful, people!)
I think, maybe, this is my new favourite film. (For the moment, anyway. I admit my favourites change fairly regularly.)
For a stunning, perfectly directed, suberb ensemble performance, you just can't go past Chocolat. Not one actor or element lets it down. Judi Dench, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina... and a beautiful boy named Aurelien Koenig (yes, I just love the name).
It's a beautifully simple story (mysterious travellers blow into town, disturbing the peace and creating upheaval, eventually bringing new joy and quashing the stifling norms of yesterday), shot in a beautiful place, with beautiful people - what more could you want?
I'd be waffling for hours to mention all the things I love about it.
The best line, and the best ever Johnny Depp line It just has to have been a Johnny impro. I know it doesn't translate well to type, but hey, you'll have to see it:
(with a mouthful of chocolate, looking Binoche up and down as she walks away from him) "I'll come round later, get that squeak out of your door" (cue the Depp Cheeky Grin)
One last comment; I'm rather taken with the "red shoes" motif. (Binoche's character wears striking red high-heels which are featured quite prominently, and at one stage her daughter, Anouk, cries "why can't you wear black shoes like all the other mothers?") Those red shoes really caught my eye, as more than a clever artistic motif.
I want to be one of life's red-shoe-wearers. Who cares what the black-shoe wearers think. :)
Friday, 13 October 2006
So, just to balance that out I guess, I'm playing the mother of a 10-year-old boy in a short film called Goldfish, another student short. (As I said to a friend today "Aaaggh! Not 'mum' roles already!") It's being shot in black-and-white, which should be interesting, and there's practically no dialogue. A very simple, but compelling, visual story.
I had a great time at the shoot today. All the crew seem to think I'm just the bees-knees for "helping them out" at such short notice (they even gave me a round of applause! *snicker*), and the director kept telling me after takes how perfect my timing was and how great it looked. So hey, a lovely hour or two of ego-boosting praise. The boy playing the son is a lovely young chap, very polite and clever. We had to hold hands a lot, and he didn't complain a bit. :-)
We're shooting again on Sunday, near Bronte Beach. Mmmm... Bronte Beach...
Thursday, 12 October 2006
I have seen about 7 films lately that I want to talk about, but I just can't summon the energy to sit at the puter for long enough, or compile the messy thoughts in my head into enough coherent sentences to make it worthwhile.
Stay tuned, anyway, for what I thought of Quills, Chocolat, Ed Wood, Casanova, Before Sunset, and a couple of Harry Potters.
Oh by the way Merlin, I've finished Half-Blood Prince now. The biggest cry I've had in a long time! LOVED it! I've been scouring your site for any Harry tidbits I can find, now that I don't need to worry about spoilers. :-)
And "Dead Man's Chest" has been pre-ordered. :-)
Oh, and a bit of news: I'm *pretty sure* I have a part in a short film, shooting tomorrow and Sunday - the planned actor pulled out yesterday so they were desperate for someone in a hurry... it's playing a young boy's mother in some kind of mysterious circumstance, the part has no dialogue but is apparently an important role for the story. *shrug*... see what happens hey.
Wednesday, 4 October 2006
I remember first seeing Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest when we were studying the book in high school. I remember thinking he'd captured the character and the tone and style of the book so beautifully.
And check this out - Nicholson's been acting in films since 1958's The Cry-Baby Killer ! Wow - that's nearly 50 years he's been at it - consistently working that whole time. More recently, no wonder I haven't seen much of him - The Departed is his first film since Something's Gotta Give in 2003.
Anyone have a favourite Jack Nicholson film, or moment?
(How much do I love IMDb?!)
Nice movie. Nice in the "eerr.... *vaguely confused frown* ... nice" kinda way.
I tried watching it last night after my girls were in bed, but I fell asleep for part of it so I got pretty lost. I watched it again today while one was asleep and the other was out... and still got pretty lost. :) It's that kind of film.
When I first started it I was disappointed and last night I went to bed feeling down that I hadn't enjoyed it. Today, though, a while after the ending, I'm starting to love it. Perhaps, the whole film is such a wild trip (and it IS a wild trip!) that you can't really appreciate it until you've come down and had time to recover from the blurry and disturbing images that have just assaulted and travelled through your tingling senses.
I haven't read the book and I know very little about Hunter S. Thompson so perhaps that's why some of the images confused me... but I get the impression this was an exciting, pushing-the-boundaries writer who marched determinedly to the beat of his very own fantastic drum.
Benicio del Toro was fabulous as Dr Gonzo, and Johnny Depp as Raoul - well, I bet he was just having a wonderfully fun time while shooting this one, loving the adventure. I did marvel a little at both actors' ability to portray acid-riddled, ether-induced wanderings of the mind so convincingly.
I'm loving my adjectives today. :)
Anyway, I've come away from the experience with a thirst for knowledge about Hunter S Thompson... and an inexplicable urge to find out what an acid trip really feels like...
ANd now, form the ridiculous to the sublime... my bigger girl is watching the first Harry Potter movie right now, I might just join her...
Sunday, 1 October 2006
Noel and I watched it this evening. After a couple of minutes, Noel said "this is what you call a slow start to a movie". Yep, and it stayed that way. Slow, yes, and yet compelling. It was your average 95 minutes but it felt much longer. There was the odd fast-paced, forward-moving scene that kept me interested in between all the drawn-out character development and seemingly random scenes.
The main plot was great, I thought. Average, small-town, family guy put through hellish stuff and forced to be the unassuming hero... until... I was definitely fooled (mostly, I did pick up a couple of small clues) by the twist in the tale and enjoyed the finding out of what comes next. But there were a few thoughts that seemed like they wanted to be subplots - the teenage son, maybe gay, being bullied - why so much time spent on that if it wasn't going to go anywhere?
I wasn't terribly impressed with the acting - a bit too much "facial expression acting" - "happy face", "confused face", "shocked face", "relieved face" - especially from Maria Bello as the wife.
Ashton Holmes as the son was a bit more real. But hey, I still quite enjoyed the thing so it must've been alright.
But, uh, don't watch it when there are kids around. (a big thank you to mine for going to bed really early tonight!)
Monday, 25 September 2006
If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be?
In a really big, old tree. Would take care to not damage the tree of course.
What’s your favorite article of clothing?
My zebra-print faux-fur coat.
What’s the last CD that you bought?
Goodness knows. That would have been years ago. However, a few days ago someone gave me a sample CD of The Lion King music.
Where’s your favorite place to be?
On a stage in an empty theatre.
Where’s your least favorite place to be?
On the table in an operating theatre.
What’s your favorite place to be massaged?
Strong in mind or strong in body?
That's a tough one. Both have their moments. Final answer, though: mind.
What time do you wake up in the morning?
Usually about 5.30 or 6-ish. Then Miss B potters around while I lie in bed dozing until Miss T joins in the fun at about 6.45.
What is your favorite kitchen appliance?
I really don't think about my kitchen appliances that deeply. Mmmmm... my juicer probably would be if I ever used it.
What makes you really angry?
People refusing to listen to or see another point of view about something. Narrow-mindedness I guess.
...gee this is a really long questionnaire...
If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
I can play guitar, sax and a tiny bit of piano (though haven't played any of those much for years!). I'd like to get better at all of those, and learn drums.
Which do you prefer…sports car or SUV?
SUV for when I have the kids with me and sports car for when I don't (what? I can have both if I wanna!)
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Curently, not sure. I would like to though.
Favorite children’s book?
Peepo, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
To be in two places at the same time.
If you have a tattoo, what is it?
For years I've been wanting to get a sunflower for T and a bear cub for B, but lately I"ve kinda changed my mind. Maybe Angelina and Johnny can get away with tattoos but not sure how much they'd help my casting chances... perhaps I'll wait until I'm up there enough for my casting chances to take care of themselves... or perhaps I won't.... maybe I'm bold and carefree enough to not worry about it... or maybe not... :-)
Can you juggle?
Yes - two children, a pot of mashed potatoes, a telephone, a child's drink bottle and miscellaneous extras.... I practise nearly every night. :-)
The one person from your past that you wish you could go back and talk to?
A boyfriend that I dumped really meanly on New Year's Day. Who does that???
What’s your favorite day?
My girls' birthdays. (neither of which are today, Lusi!)(but thanks for calling!)
What’s in the boot of your car?
Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?
I'm trying to talk myself into saying sushi so that I'll sound healthy... but it wouldn't be true...
Okay... Jo, I tag you (you slack blogger, you). :-)
Ah well, life goes on... (long after the thrill....)
And another thing that's making me a bit stroppy. What makes people think it's okay to just claim famous people as their own? I read an article last week about a Scottish girl who has been chosen to audition for the role of Johanna in Tim Burton's film of Sweeney Todd. In the interview she said "Johnny Depp's a great actor, and my future husband, so it'd be good to meet him early". Apparently other people think it's cute and funny that she said that. I think it's rude. Depp is very happily shacked up (in the classiest sense of the phrase of course!) with Vanessa Paradis and their two children. Would you speak about any other happily married family man as if he was planning to marry you one day? I ruddy well hope not.
I also recently read a similar comment relating to Tom Cruise.
Big-time actors might have to cope with their lives being constantly put in the spotlight, but I really don't think they should have to put up with that kind of comment. It's just not classy, people.
(because I know. I myself am uber-classy. and don't you forget it. baby.)
Edited to add - just after posting earlier, I was strolling through my usual blog-reading list and came across this article reviewing a controversial new "biography" of Nicole Kidman. Turns out it's not a biography at all really, just a freaky man's account of her life and film career from his lustful point of view. The quotes provided there are really disturbing. How dare anyone think it's okay to write a book with such descriptive and invasive imagery of someone he's actually got zero relationship with? He seems to think that Kidman is a film star simply and purely for his own pleasure. Geez, man... there are magazines for people like you.
All of which begs the question, of course... what if I do succeed at establishing a great film career, and bcome famous, and people start writing/saying trashy things like this about me? I guess the only thing to do is ignore the tripe, and not let it get you down. And in the meantime... keep myintegrity, stick to myvalues and trust myself in every step I take. Then, wherever I end up, I'll know I'm in the right place and I won't have any reason to worry about the trash.
Sunday, 24 September 2006
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every 'superstar,' every 'supreme leader,' every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. ... There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
Thursday, 21 September 2006
I went in to the city today for what was booked as an audition for a short student film. So, I learnt the script, dressed appropriately to the character, spent a couple of hours (return) on trains. And turns out Mr "I'm-going-to-be-a-big-time-movie-director-one-day" Student Director didn't want to do anything more today than chat about the film and the character. He asked me about myself and what I thought of the character, taping the whole while, and form that he will put togather a short-list and then audition people in pairs or groups at a later date.
It's probably a perfectly sensible way to cast a film and this guy, to be honest, really did seem to know what he was on about, but I just felt like it was all a bit much to be expecting for an unpaid student short. Maybe he thought everyone would just be coming from 5 minutes away or popping in on the way to something else.
I guess I'm just annoyed because in making the decision of either really connecting with the character or learning the script - I erred on the side of learning the script today, which is not what I usually do. And really, the character as written in the script is pretty flimsy so I didn't really have much to say.
So maybe what it all boils down to is that I'm annoyed because it didn't go well. Hmm.
In other news... the "ghost woman" film. I tried calling the director yesterday and didn't get through, so then figured if he wanted me he would've called or emailed me and figured I'd missed out on an audition. But this afternoon I decided I might as well call and let him know that if he's still auditioning, I'm still interested. So, I did, and he answered (yay, he exists!). He said he's in the middle of casting now and talking with his casting person, but he still may want me to audition. He'll let me know tonight or tomorrow. Which is nice - he could've just said "nope, you missed your chance" I suppose.
And in other other news... Noel, of all people, said today "hey we have to go see Macbeth".
"Egads", thinks Sumara. "My husband, suggesting we go see an arty-farty Australian Shakespeare film?"
Of course then he followed it up with "because apparently Mick Molloy is really excellent in it, he does some huge nurder scene and makes it really real."
Mick Molloy? Killing people? In Shakespeare? Who'da thunk it? Sounds good though, hey.
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
I really enjoyed it. Even though Sean Connery gives me the irrits, I did manage to watch all the way through without growling "learn how to speak!" at the screen. (I know, I know, he's a legend that guy, a great actor, I mean no disrespect) As I said to Noel it was a story that could have turned out just stupid, but it didn't quite, despite some odd moments.
As each new character was revealed I either laughed or groaned. My favourite was the revealing of who "M" is, I had a great laugh with that one. :-) (eerr, you have to see it, and you have to know a little bit about plenty of other stories too... I don't want to give it away)
Overall, there was nothing remarkably spectacular about the plot or acting (although I did love Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray - his ability to communicate with his eyes and body reminded me of Depp) , and the special effects were only special in the "my mummy says I'm special" kinda way. However, it was well put together, I guess, because I felt taken along on a great, fun adventure with some really cool people. I was intrigued. It felt a bit Indiana-Jones-ish.
Meanwhile, today I'm hanging round waiting for the director of the "ghost-woman" film to get back to me. Auditions are supposed to be tonight and he hasn't answered my (two) emails. Perhaps I'll check if there's a phone number and properly hassle him...
Tuesday, 19 September 2006
Anyway, the reason for my post - this here article on Aussie cinema, saying that this years' entries in the Toronto International Film Festival are a big step for all those poor neglected Aussie filmmakers to getting our industry back on track, and getting back a bit more of the world stage limelight.
Hope he's right. :)
It be Talk Like a Pirate Day! Ye be warned - any of you scab'rous dogs caught not talking like one shall be finding himself taking a long walk off a short plank!
Sounds to me like a mighty fine reason for an evening viewing of Curse of the Black Pearl. Aahh, the Pearl....
Just be needin some rum then, and a fine Captain to make the evenin' worthwhile... a desert island too, perhaps.
Though I think the particular Captain I have in mind is rather busy right now, in LA, or sailing back from "de end of de eart", one of the two...
Saturday, 16 September 2006
An actor doesn't become another person - it's more like allowing another person to invade your mind and body with their sensibilities, their history, their memories, their morality. As this writer says - you are still using pieces of yourself to make the character come alive - it's just a matter of "exploiting" those pieces "out of context".
Anyway, I liked it. That blog has some interesting articles, although most of them read like teasers or adverts for his online book on acting. (which is free anyway, so there's nothing wrong with that really.)
Nothing much going on with me lately - I'm still waiting to hear about the role in that film, although I have been in touch with the director since and I'm still getting pretty positive vibes, so that's all good. I have another two short film auditions next week (or maybe only one - one of them I'm not really all that keen on so might not bother, depending on what happens with the other one). The one I'm really interested in is a "ghost woman" character, who kills people in "watery graves" and is constantly dripping wet in every scene. Sounds like great fun!
I've also applied for a paid presenting role for a short corporate film. That would definitely be very handy. :-)
Tuesday, 12 September 2006
It was well made, and the story it told was worth telling... but to me, there's something missing. I think the script was a bit dodgy. There was beautiful photography and some nice performances, but overall I just wasn't impressed (but I wasn't UNimpressed either). Perhaps I need to see it again to 'get' it.
Laura Linney as one of the leads really annoyed me. I just didn't understand what Claire was on about. There was this weird backstory that was briefly touched on but never really dealt with, and so much weirdness in the character that didn't feel real to me. I just didn't really believe her.
Oh, and lots of little side-stories and sub-plots that I wanted to know more about... perhaps they were just there as extensions of the "sudden inexplicable occurrences" theme... perhaps the director wanted us to feel confused and reaching for something, because that's what the characters are going through. Maybe?
I'll see it again if I get a chance and try to pay more attention to the good bits. :)
Wednesday, 6 September 2006
Ok, I couldn't resist. It started hailing so I went outside to watch and listen. When the hail stopped I stood out in the rain and just felt the rapture of the moment. Mmmmm.
I'm watching Before Sunrise at the moment. Well, sort of watching, in between typing here and loving the rain outside. But I did watch it properly on the weekend. It's kinda kooky but fascinating. I love the idea of it nad the story of it but I'm left feeling that I wish I could fall in love with the two characters. I want to love them and I think the film wants me to love them but I don't quite. I'm not sure why that is. Although, listening now, I do love and understand them a bit more the 2nd time. Perhaps if I watch it a few times I will discover them properly.
Yesterday I watched The Doors . Noel bought it for me, bless 'im. When I first saw this film (I must've been about 14, and I've always loved The Doors), I fell totally in teenage fangirl lust with Val Kilmer. Sexy, sexy man. And... er, he's still pretty good. :) I can't be objective about the film because I grew up loving The Doors, and Jim has been one of my huge inspirations since forever... I think Kilmer and Meg Ryan and, especially, the blokes playing Ray and John and Robbie all did brilliant work.
I just read a few comments about Kilmer's performance and apparently even the original band members (see, it's not just me!) were amazed and impressed with his singing and the way he captured Jim so well. He did most of the singing in the film himself, that's pretty impressive.
Anyway, (last paragraph of this rambling entry I promise) I'm on a bit of a mission to watch more films, and to get to know more actors and directors and writers... so, feel free to recommend any and all films you think I should watch as part of my education. :)
Friday, 1 September 2006
On the train into the city today, I was really excited about meeting R, the director of this feature film. As I got closer to the city I was increasingly nervous and as the train approached my stop I was wriggling in my seat with nerves and anticipation. And I thought to myself "wow, I haven't been this nervous in ages. This is going to be great!"
And it was. R found me at the station and I was immediately really comfortable with him.He bought me a drink at a cafe and we chatted for a while about the script and his plans for the film, as well as about me and him and films we like and our partners.
Then, back to his parents' office nearby for the actual audition. The office was a complete mess and we just fitted ourselves in amongst hundreds of boxes of stuff, picked out some scenes from the script and R set up a camera on top of a pile of books on a table. All the while we chatted about films and actors and directors and the film script, and then finally got around to reading a few scenes. When I named the character I preferred, M, he said that everyone says that and that he was having trouble finding anyone for the other female lead, S, because nobody likes her. I said I was happy to read for both and let R see what he thought.
We started with M, the main character's love interest. He then proceeded to heap me with praise, saying I did great, that I'd really captured the character, my accent was perfect (she's English but he wanted only a subtle accent) and he loved my eyes. I felt very flattered (and said so!). We did another scene for M and again R seemed really impressed.
We then talked a bit about the other girl, S, and read one of her scenes. When I said what I thought about the character, it was obvious I'd seen her differently to what he envisioned but he said "oh wow, I hadn't seen it like that. You've made me see her a bit differently". I thought that was cool - he could easily have said "no, she's not that, she's more this..." but he wasn't like that at all. He said that he actually liked me better for M, but that what I'd said about S had really helped him to see where he needs to go with her (in terms of writing more of her).
R did say at one point that as a director he firmly believes that the character belongs to the actor - that he writes them and offers direction but he'd never make a character do something the actor didn't think was right for them. He always takes close notice of what an actor says about their character. I like it. :)
We chatted about Pirates, Plunkett and Macleane, The Libertine, The Godfather, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, offensive jokes (there's one in the script), round-the-world travel, shooting schedules, ... I had a great time. I left feeling incredibly positive.
The short film audition, after that, was a big contrast. The location was ridiculously difficult to find, and the director etc were rather uncommunicative and disorganised. I think that one went pretty badly but I don't mind at all. It just felt all weird and difficult.
In all though, a fantastic day.
Much happiness. :)
Thursday, 31 August 2006
I've been in contact with a young Sydney director who's making a a feature film in November/December. I'm meeting with him tomorrow to audition and to "chat about the script and which character you'd like". The film is ultra-low-budget, which means he can't pay people but he can cover transport and meals, which is something at least. Speaking on the phone to him, he was so excited and really eager to hear what I thought of the script and characters. It's sort of a romance with a meaningful twist, and the character I'm keen on is the romantic interest. I feel pretty excited because of how excited he sounds - he called me within minutes of my email, and sent the script right then, and called again later... made me feel like quite the star to have a director calling me asking about a script. I get the feeling he knows what he's doing and he can make this thing happen.
I really really hope I get it. :)
Also tomorrow is the audition for the "psychological" short film, and maybe (if someone gets back to me) the one that'll be in French.
Wish me luck, or blessings, or whatever it is you tend to wish people... :)
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Everyone else there was 19 so I felt like a real old fart. But they were all surprised to find out how old I was so at least they didn't think I was too old-fogie-ish. I'm really enjoying that I apparently look about 5 years younger than I am. :)
After that was done I took the opportunity to go see The Libertine, which is only showing at one cinema in the whole city. I guess it's too arty-farty for the general pleb population. (joking! I'm not a snob really, I promise!). I loved the beginning and the ending (and I DID like John Wilmot whether he likes it or not!), but the in-between was, I think, missing a lot. I have heard talk that a lot of the vital elements of the story were edited out or vetoed by the Weinsteins... and you can tell. There's a fair bit of random weirdness that just isn't explained. But then on the other hand, that doesn't let the film down all that much because it kind of fits in with the random weirdness of Rochester himself.
Anyway, it was definitely worth seeing - especially for nine bucks on Cheap Tuesday. :)
And last night Noel and I sat up late and he was quoting Plunkett & MacLeane (one of his favourite movies) while I quoted The Libertine - we could almost have a conversation! (not a very savoury conversation, mind you, what with all the buggery and swinging both ways and whores and such...) Lots of fun. :)
Sunday, 27 August 2006
Just kidding. What would anyone say anyway? :-)
I've been getting lots of short film audition notices the last few weeks... seems most film students are getting started on their final projects so there are lots of student producers and directors looking for 20-something actors and promising something along the lines of "this is unpaid but actors will be well looked after and receive a copy of the film. This will be entered into many film festivals and we anticipate plenty of exposure." All of which is perfectly fine by me... I'm just dying to get stuck into a character or two and spend some good quality time in front of a camera.
So, early this week I'm doing that student assessment shoot, then on Saturday an audition for a psychological short with "born evil" characters. Ooh.
Other auditions coming up are for one about sacrificial love, and one about the difficulties of love - in French ("there is minimal dialogue and you will be coached to speak fluently"!).
Last week I posted off my headshot with a very honest and far-from-standard cover letter to one of Sydney's big agencies, asking for representation. Hopefully they'll contact me, and hopefully not just to say "you sound, er, interesting, but... not right now". I'll ring up next week anyway and try to sweet-talk 'em into it. ;-)
I'm feeling good. Things are happening.
They may not be huge things, but they are somethings.
Wednesday, 23 August 2006
The last forum was called "Getting Work" and the panelists were casting director Faith Martin, agent Mark Morrissey, Tony Chu from the Network Action for Filmmakers and Actors, and Mark Kilmurry from the Ensemble Theatre - and hosted by Antonette Collins from ABC radio.
Pretty much all the discussion was the same-old same-old that everyone should know... make sure you know what you're doing (ie be trained), make sure you love what you're doing, and if you're not finding much work, create some.
I must admit that by this stage of the day I had a splitting headache so didn't concentrate overly much on the finer points of the discussion. However, I was very inspired by Mark Morrissey. He struck me as someone who dearly loves the entertainment industry and all of it's people and just wants to be a part of creating some good stuff. He said that when he meets with a potential client - what he's looking for is someone who walks in the door and inspires him. He comes across as genuinely proud of his clients and the work he does for them.
Umm... Faith Martin also had some really good stuff to say about auditions and castings, but damnit, I can't remember much. She was very encouraging, though, and her points impressed me with a reminder that even the *scary* casting people, aggents, directors, producers - all those people who we can be terrified of because "they have the power" - are just as stressed and hardworking and concerned about getting it right as we are.
So, in all, I came away from the day feeling pretty inspired and confident. I believe I'm good enough to succeed at this acting thing and I'm motivated enough to do the hard work it'll take. Now, someone, just send a bunch of good luck my way to go along with it...
Tuesday, 22 August 2006
Their analysis of the Australian arts scene was pretty depressing actually. Lyn Gailey's main point was that the government's funding and support is just crap (my word not hers), and that it's appalling that arts funding has basically not gone up in about 10 - 15 years. The ABC apparently receives a huge amount less than other countries' public broadcasters do from their governments. The BBC, for example, receives stacks of government money and is doing great things with it.
Peter Cousens has recently launched an exciting new company called Kookaburra, a national Musical Theatre company equivalent to the existing opera, ballet and straight theatre companies. He talked about how all the "musicals" that have been successful in recent years (ie The Boy From Oz, the Dusty Springfield show etc) are not really musical theatre at all, just "musical events" that, he thinks, devalue the art of real musical theatre... especially because there's a lot of money behind those shows, so more theatrical shows have a hard time getting a look in. Anyway, Cousens is hoping that Kookaburra will do something about all that by staging some excellent, real, musical theatre.
Bill Bennett also talked about the difficulties of funding and said that even if you do manage to get together a great film on a low budget, you still have to find ways to get it distributed and watched by audiences and just desperately hope that you make your budget back.
There's a bit of sadness that increasing numbers of Australian filmmakers, actors, etc are finding that it's easier to just go overseas where there's more money and hopefully more work.
Another point was that the big overseas films that were coming here in the 90s are not doing so as much anymore - they're going other places (New Zealand, Romania, other small European countries) where it's more affordable and there are fewer restrictions... so that's another big chunk being taken out of the local workload. The comment was made that we have to stop thinking we can rely on foreign filmmakers to fill in the gaps between our own productions... we have to find ways to make sure our own productions are constant and valuable enough that the foreign productions just become supplemental.
Audiences, too, have a big part in this. One panelist related that they were in line at the cinema and the couple next to them were talking. One said "let's see so-and-so" and the other replied "nah, that's Australian." And that seems to be the attitude of a lot of Australian movie-goers - I think it's appalling. We've got to turn that around, we should be proud to go and watch Australian films. It's bizarre - we, as Australians in general, have a big rude attitude towards Americans and the "americanised" culture. Yet when it comes to films, we can't get enough of theirs, while our own great films spend a couple of weeks in the cinema begging for an audience.
Ho hum, like I said, a bit depressing.
So, basically, the hope of these panelists was that the government would get it's act together with funding and genuine support programmes, and that Australian audiences would start to value and appreciate our own local works as much as foreign ones. The, maybe, our industry will have an upswing again and we can start to look forward to a more valuable productive future.
Monday, 21 August 2006
A lot of the talk was mundane stuff about how these actors started out, and the best and worst jobs they've had etc. The only discussion points that interested me, really, were about what to make of all the downtime you're likely to have as an actor, and what it's like dealing with rejection.
Lorraine Bayly related that, even though she'd been really lucky and had always worked fairly constantly, she found she really needed some downtime in between shows. She acknowledged that it can be depressing when you have no work on, but that the time to refresh and regenerate after weeks or months of hard work on a role is vital to keeping yourself sane and healthy. She said she had a nervous breakdown at one stage during (or maybe after) one of her TV show roles - working ridiculously long hours and shooting 2 hours of show every week.
I guess it easy for her to say really, when she's been so successful and never needed to worry about paying the bills. But still it's a good reminder that even when you're doing the best job in the world, the work you absolutely love, you do need time off.
And I think that's probably double-important when you have a family. You just can't work constant long hours without time off and expect to keep your relationships healthy and your children nurtured.
David Field had some great comments about rejection. I can't remember exactly what he said but he started with an "ah well, that's life" type comment followed by "no really, it totally f*#ks with you. I can't stand it" (please excuse my hazy paraphrasing). I just loved when he said that because it's another reminder that even fame and success doesn't guarantee you contentment all the time. He also said (in response to an audience member's point that it's easy to pick and choose your roles when you have the luxury of previous success) that no, there's never luxury. You're only as good as your current role and there's always hard work, rejection, hard times... no matter how successful you get.
Oh, that was the other point David made - he said it's absolutely important to know what your politics are, what your beliefs and values are, and to stick to them. The example he gave was that he would never take a role that glorified white America - no matter how much they paid him or how long he'd been out of work (that's when the guy in the audience made the comment about luxury). Basically - there's no point selling out, you'll just end up hating yourself for it. When the guy in the audience (he was one of those big-mouth people that has to join in on everything!) said that was easy for him (David) to say, and that what was he supposed to do as a struggling actor desperate for work if he was offered a McD's commercial, given that he thinks McD's are evil. David then said well, you change your perspective and you take it as a learning opportunity - if you've rarely been on a set then you spend the time you're doing that commercial learning everything you can - watching what the different crew people do, watching how a director works, etc. Lorraine Bayly also chimed in then with the idea that everything you can possibly do is a learning experience.
The other interesting thing about this talk was the vast differences between the two younger actors and the older ones. The Chris chap was sooo fresh from graduation and working in his first job, you could just see the "I know all about that"s flying out of his brain with everything he said. I'm not being mean - I'm pretty sure I was the same both when I finished high school and after I graduated college. You think you know everything - at least as much as the older people who have been teaching you. Chris was saying that he first realised he wanted to be an actor when he was 12 and he "realised he could do a better job than Arnold Schwarzenegger". David leaned into Lorraine next to him and said quietly "careful!". Susie Rugg was also overtly confident and argued a few points with Lorraine Bayly as if she had just as much experience as her.
I feel so old talking about the "young actors" like that, but it's so true. I guess I've recently reached the age where I've realised I really don't know nearly as much about everything as I used to think I did. And I can see the younger people who are in the frame of mind I was about 5 years ago - so naively confident about everything. I really don't miss being like that, I'm so glad to be excited about growing and learning and meeting all the people who have so much more knowledge and experience than me.
Well, that was only going to be a really quick post because I didn't have much to say... but, uh, I guess I did. :-)
Gotta go, Grey's Anatomy is on...
~ "a wonderful stillness"
~ "a way of drawing everyone in, drawing it all together"
~ "warmth, giving, willingness to be always sharing with the other actors and with the audience"
~ "being totally unselfish"
~ "generosity of spirit"
~ "making bold, courageous, brave choices"
Each person spoke about what they considered to be a truly great performance - David Field spoke of seeing a play once and that "something affected me beyond anything technical, beyond my appreciation of the acting." (paraphrased a bit) Doug Anderson spoke of a moment in a pre-rehearsal workshop when an actress shared a story with the group, saying everytime he even thinks about it, his hairs stand on end and he gets chills with the power of the way that story-telling affected him.
They spoke a little about intuition, and it's vital importance. Zika said "technique is only there for when intuition fails you, when your senses go blank". I loved that. I personally always seem to forget things I've learned about technique - I find it really hard to consciously incorporate "training" into my interpretation and preparation - so this was very validating to me, that it's okay to rely on your innate sense of the character, your emotions, the moment you're in, and to keep all the technique and "rules" way back in the back of your mind.
Another key thing Zika said was "Allow. The operative word in acting is to let things happen. Allow the subconscious to come out".
Something else that resonated with me was to be generous in your actin, to support the other actors around you. One panelist told the story of a director in a casting one day. He called two actors in first, had them read the parts etc, then as he was finishing with them he asked his assistant to "go get the next two". The assistant only found one person outside and came back in saying "there's only one here", so the director quickly grabbed one of the first actors and asked if he could stay a while just to help read with the next person. He did that with every person - he had only booked one person at a time and so every time he kept back the last person to "help", and then only paid attention to them when they were there as helper. He knew that most actors do their best work when they're not focussed on their own performance, but trying their best to support someone else.
David Field reiterated this and added that when you're a supporting actor, SUPPORT. Be focussed on everyone else, LISTEN to them and respond accordingly. He said "if you're in a film, and you have 5 scenes, and the other guy has 35, well you know it's his story, not yours". So you do your role without any thought of your own ego. You're there to be a supporting part of the story. Sandra Bates added that when everyone is truly supporting each other's performance - "everyone will look better because they're all making each other look better".
Then someone else added "Do it for the other person. Try to think as if the other person's needs are greater than your own."
David Field made the comment (above) about making brave choices in response to a question about the impact the director has on an the "greatness" of an actor's performance. His opinion was that if you're truly doing a good job, the director can't make it crap, and vice-versa (this is very much paraphrased!). He said that acting is all about *choices*. When you approach a role, you make a [bold, brave, courageous] choice about how you will do it, and you stick with it; then you see what the director makes of it. If they don't like it they can offer helpful criticism, but hey, they might just love it and it might just be exactly right.
In amongst all of that, a couple of the panelists (particularly John McCallum I think) admitted that there is some kind of "x-factor" in great actors - something that makes them jump out at you and glues you to their face and actions. It was also conceded that luck sometimes has a lot to do with it.
In summary, I think the general consensus was that generosity, sharp intuition, unselfishness, some luck, and some undefinable aura/spirit/inspiration... are what make a good actor great.
The acting workshop in the morning was great. The teacher was Alison Ingram who attended the Ensemble years ago and spent a while training/working in New York. She and I chatted a bit while waiting for everyone else. Most participants were a fair bit younger than me, but there were a couple of older ones too, and everyone was serious about making an effort and participating. It started out with a discussion questioning what the essence of acting is - the answer; listening. Excellent. I have heard that before, of course, along the way, but yesterday it finally struck me how important that is. I realised I've spent way too much of my acting energy focussing on myself and my own character and not doing nearly enough listening.
Anyway, then we did a couple of simple conflict exercises. I volunteered first (of course!) with another girl and we did the "yes, no" thing (one person only says yes and one person only says no). I was yes. It became quite compelling and desperate as I tried to think of new tacks to take to convince the "no" girl of my "yes". Afterwards the others commented htat they coudl see we both tried lots of different approaches but that we could've done more. Alison agreed and added that she saw a very real, energetic connection between us and that we were both really involved. Yay. :)
Others volunterered for a few more similar exercises. An interesting one was where the two people's phrases were "I"m hungry" and "go away". The two who did that one came up wiht really interesting ways of dealing with each other and we could really see moments where the "I'm hungry" boy almost convinced the "go away" lady. It was really involving.
Then we broke into differnt pairs and were instructed to think of one objective that one person wants, adn the only parameter for the impro was that that person had to try to achieve that objective, adn the other person had to resist. I was with a lovely boy named Will (I had to restrain myself from saying "short for William I presume? Good strong name. After your father hey?") and we decided that I wanted him to give me a ride to the airport. We did really well, I thought, I truly had an interesting time trying to convince him. When the teacher asked how it felt I couldn't really answer, I just said "good I guess, I felt normal..." and she thought that was a great answer because "if you can't describe what it was like that means you were really in there, really just trying to get your objective". Yay for good feedback.
It was a great way to start the day, with a bit of uplifting to help my confidence. :-)
So, feeling great, I then went for the screen test. A great Ensemble man named Dave had a lovely little chat and showed me in, along with two young boys, to meet the director Mark (I wish I'd gotten everyone surnames!). Mark was lovely too and once he realised I was rather more in-the-know than the two young fellas he took some time to have a small chat and made me really comfortable. The boys got a section of script from Shrek and I got Holly from The Wedding Singer. I went first and my first read felt a bit dodgy. Mark commented that I needed to focus more on listening to the other actor (who was reading off-camera for me), and to take more time to respond to her. The 2nd time through I did a much better job and Mark said I'd done really well, and that I looked great on the screen. Nice. :-) When I was done Mark walked me to the door and asked a bit about me, and we had a short chat about actors who start their careers after they've had kids. It was great talking to him and I'm kicking myself now that I didn't think to give him my card (I completely forgot I had them!).
Okay, I think I've said "lovely chat" a few too many times now. But they were!
Sunday, 20 August 2006
I had a fabulous time in the acting workshop; it was so great just to be in the acting *zone* again and in a group of people creating some drama... even if it was just a few two-minute impros.
The teacher's comment to me while I was waiting for the class to start was "so, where are you in the whole high-school thing?" Yeah! Who says being a parent makes you get old?
After I said I was well and truly finished high school, and a degree, and was married with two kids, she said "oh great, so you're a real person then, one of us!" I think she mostly works with teenagers and was a bit excited to have proper grown-ups in her class.
I did get to do a screen-test, but it was just a practise thing really, nothing will come of it. Still, it was a real film director doing it and it was a great experience. He had great feedback for me and some lovely compliments too. (and I didn't need to do a monologue, just read from a film script.) I was very pleased with how I did.
There were a few great panel discussions with such people as Lorraine Bayly, Mark Morrissey, Faith Martin, David Field (he was great to listen to), Bill Bennett (a film director who I'd love to meet again, I really liked what he had to say), Peter Cousens... I'll be back tomorrow with more of the great stuff all these people said but right now I have a headache and am waiting on my delivery boy (er, that'd be Noel) to bring the pizza.
Saturday, 19 August 2006
I've been realisin' for ages that I'm, y'know, slightly out of step. I'm twenty-six. I should've had a baby by now; everyone expects it. I'm sure me husband thinks I'm sterile. He was moanin' all the time, y'know, "Come off the pill, let's have a baby". I told him I'd come off it, just to shut him up. But I'm still on it. See, I don't wanna baby yet. I wanna discover meself first. Do you understand that?
Yeh. They wouldn't round our way. They'd think I was mental. I tried to explain it to me husband but between you an' me I think he's thick. No, he's not thick, he's blind, he doesn't want to see. You know if I'm readin' or watchin' somethin' different on telly he gets dead narked. At first I just told him to piss off but then I realised that it was no good doin' that, that I had to explain to him. I tried to explain that I wanted a better way of livin' me life. He listened to me. But he didn't understand because when I'd finished he said he agreed with me and that we should start savin' the money to move out of our estate and get a house out in Formby. Even if it was a new house I wanted I wouldn't go an' live in Formby. I hate that hole.
Rita, from Educating Rita by Willy Russell.
This, however, is what's been playing over and over and over through my head all afternoon and evening:
Off to the library, one two three.
Off to the library, you and me.
And when we get there, what do we see?
Books, books, books, books, books,
Everywhere we look.
from a song on Justine Clarke's album "I Like to Sing", probably titled "The Library", but I don't actually know.
(Aaaggh! Make it stop!)
Off to Luna Park tomorrow for the Open Day. Really looking forward to it. I just made myself up a bunch of business cards with my headshot, so that I'll have something to give to all those film directors who'll be spotting me and wanting me to be their next big thing.
*wink wink, nudge nudge*