Saturday, October 31, 2009

8 days till shoot!



Hello friends,

40 degrees yesterday and 42 degrees today! Yikes. Good thing our trusty producer John is such a wilderness pro. Almost stepped on a Brown snake! By "stepped on" I mean: he was clearing the way for our crew, while initiating the appropriate safety plan. ; )

Johnny-boy kicked some serious butt at a poker tournament the other night. 2nd Prize = A bottle of scotch for the trophy cabinet aka crew reward cabinet. When one cannot afford to pay people as one would like to, one has found that alcohol sponsors keeps one's crew happy. And so Johnny and my other main man Marc will be pokering it up for the good of the crew, in the hope of filling our war chest. If this weather continues we're gonna need all the bribes (sorry leverage) we can get!

Marc, Greg and I had a sweet day yesterday. Blocked out a crucial pub pool-table scene that had been stressing us out. Sometimes you just have to get a camera out and film the sequence. I'm usually pretty good with visualising the shots, but when all else fails you just gotta get out the handycam and presto! Now feeling great about it. Marc's a gun at billiards, whereas Greg and I are more into ping pong, together (like Voltron) we made it work.

Alex Dimitriades arrives this arvo. Can't wait. There's nothing better than having your leading actors in town a good week before you start. We can really apply some process. Farming school is gonna be hard core in this heat, but as they said in The NeverEnding Story: It has to hurt if it's to heal!

Ricky : )

Friday, October 30, 2009

9 days till shoot!




















Hello friends,

Single digits till we shoot!

Above is the wonderful Mildura Cemetery. We have some major sequences there and other than it being as HOT as a fire cracker in the sun, it's a stunning location. Can't beat the red earth and European trees. Very much looking forward to shooting there.

Our Art Dept have been working like hound dogs, scouring the region for props and vehicles of all shapes and sizes. I'm talkin: arm chairs, picking ladders, pick-up trucks, paintings, fake pot, tents, orange crates, fork lifts, semi-trailers, beds, pianos... The list goes on. Emma (Production Designer) and Kanga-Lou (Art Director), you are CHAMPIONS.

Meanwhile our wardrobe department are kicking some serious ass. I've certainly made it tough with like a million characters! Fair few Extras too. Tia-Maria (Costume Designer) and Sarah (Costume Supervisor) have been trucking all over Melbourne. Dozens of fittings, hundreds of shops. Even more returns. When the budget is tight it increases the workload TEN FOLD, as you can't just buy up lots of options to try out. You have to be specific and accurate and when you can't see all your actors in person (because they're still OS!) it makes things very tricky. But they're killing it and we LOVE them!

Just so pumped about our team. Great vibe. Great people. I'm feeling very privileged.

Ricky : )

Thursday, October 29, 2009

10 days till shoot!




















Hello friends,

Is that the coolest tractor you've ever seen? Oh yeah.  That's Alex Dimitriades' rig for the movie. Oh man, what I wouldn't give to cruise down Gertrude Street in that.

In other news: Big Willy's in town! Our main man gaffer Colin Williams trucked into Mildura yesterday. Really important that all locations are properly scouted for power supply and of course for us to discuss lighting. ...And our lack of generators. Good thing is, most properties here are on 3-phase power, so we're cherry ripe in MOST situations. Can't believe I just said "cherry ripe". Haven't even started shooting and I'm already talking like crew. I have a habit of becoming all Australian on set. You know, like the days of the week become: Sundee, Mondee, Tuesdee, Wednesdee... etc. Not sure if it's being out in the country, or my feeble attempt to "man up", but it's very funny none-the-less.

So where does one find the coin for a soundproof generator? It's sponsor time again! We'll fling on our capes and sell like superheroes for a sponsor today. We've been so incredibly fortunate to receive such generous support over the last 3 months. Greg (DOP) and I often joke about how many times our wages have been spent, for example: Greg says "We really need this lens", and I say, "We can't afford it", and he says "Don't worry, take it out of my pay"... to which I respond "Your pay has already been exhausted three times!". It has to hurt if it's to heal. And how else could we fantasise about affording helicopter aerials, if they weren't coming out of our fictional pay packets.

Spent a good few hours on the schedule with Mr Magee. Magee (1st AD),  other than his obvious duties, has wrangled some amazing crew members. Coming off a big TV production in Melbourne, he's brought on a lot of top dogs and it's quite harrowing to look down our crew list. We have the best of the best. Smartest move I ever made was telling Magee about my friendship with Stefano De Pieri. You can't keep an addicted foodie away from Mildura --  the produce here is just too good. I guess you can say Magee followed his nose and like the Pied Piper along came some crew. He certainly must be piping some hypnotic tunes, but I'm very glad he is. Champion.

But enough slaps on the back, it's song and dance time! Anyone got a spare generator floating around??

Ricky : )

PS. Big shout out to Anita. If she's reading, just wanted to let her know that she's AWESOME.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

11 days till shoot!






























Hello friends,


Lady Lemon and I had a sexy date at Stefano's restaurant last night. I'm waiting on my  lovely wife to arrive in Mildura, so I thought it best to lay a few jealousy traps -- you know, keep the Mrs keen on her slightly deranged hubby. Time will tell. Not sure this blog is helping.


Any who, had a JAM PACKED day of scheduling shot timings. Very hard really. Got to know exactly what you want and really visualise every frame of the film, so you can best utilise the available time on set. After storyboarding the entire film, you need to make those shots a reality.


It's a fine art really (if you can nail it) because the camera coverage in a feature film is one of the most important tools in telling your story. How many shots do you need to most effectively convey the scene? How do you frame the individual characters in relation to their personality? Does the camera lead the character, or does the character push the frame? So many crucial decisions. The majority of your audience might not think they can pick up on the intricacies, but they will sub-consciencely. My fav films have such distinctive styles, but that doesn't mean the camera work needs to be showy. But however simple, it must enhance the story. 


And so each day we'll film between 2.5 and 6 pages of screenplay. Maybe 7 to 10 scenes a day. We develop and determine an overall camera aesthetic and then break it down into 157 scenes. Other than the performance of the actors, it's my most important responsibility. And it's what I look for in a good film. Ace it, along with performance and a great screenplay and you're watching something very special. 


That's the goal!


Ricky : )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

12 days till shoot!





Hello friends,


Meet Loose Lemon and Jealous Avocado. They're my new fruity friends at Orange World, a cracker of a tourist destination let me assure you. The owners Maria and Mario have been a tremendous help to team Summer Coda. They're training our actors on the art of picking fast, and basically educating us on all things citrus. You haven't tried orange juice until you've drunk it at Orange World -- forget that supermarket junk, this stuff is a flavour sensation. A party in your mouth and everyone's invited -- just not Jealous Avocado... but his Lemon can come.


But enough funny stuff, or attempted funny anyway. I wanted to talk further regarding how you go about privately funding a feature film. It's bloody tricky, and it takes some time, but the rewards are obvious: You get to make your movie! 


I believe it starts with setting some major goals. Shoot date for example.  And then you need to work like you've never worked before. You must believe you're shooting, you must follow through, and you MUST have a story that lots of great people want to see get made. 


You need to set an accurate budget that reflects the commercial potential of your project -- that one's hard, but CRUCIAL, because you're working with private investors. You must respect that and start thinking like a business.  


The screenplay must be in amazing shape. You can't put off getting a quality script editor and making some hard calls. Then you gotta sell it. Sell it like Lady Lemon's selling it! But it will only sell if your TEAM is gold. You need respected and experienced cats behind you. You'll need lots of help, but the majority you'll need to do yourself. Most importantly, you need to believe you're going to do it. And then shake that tin baby! Find your first investor. Your key investor. If you can find one, you can find two. Believe me. And then you enter the circle of life. Not like the Lion King. Your project's alive and kicking, but you need to make it happen.


If you've been rejected for government funding, you can either whinge about it, start on a new project, or you can step up. The later options help evolve our little industry.


Ricky : )

Monday, October 26, 2009

13 days till shoot!



Hello friends,

The weather is warming up. It'll get to 35 degrees in Mildura this week and that's gonna be HOT on the road (hitchhiking sequences), in the grove (orange picking sequences) and in our crew accommo too. I have a solution though. Cowboy hats. Cast and crew cowboy hats. Went out shopping for some new vintage summer clothes -- so I can look cool on set (my wife is moulding my fashion-sense beautifully) and found a store with DOZENS of cowboy hats. Now, they are a bit cheap -- they're made of some kind of paper I think, and spray painted a browny-colour -- but boy do they look good on!

I've been pondering whether the scorching sun and 35-45 degree heat, hitting the paper and sprayed paint might just cause the hats to COMBUST! Ouch. Like the crew are all out on the highway, wearing my hats and then suddenly EVERYONE'S HEAD IS ON FIRE!

Hmmmm, H&S I hear you you scream! I must look into to it. So, as of today I'm wearing my cowboy hat EVERYWHERE. It's the type of director I am. I'll take one for the team. ...At least I don't have a lot of hair to lose.

I'm off to pick up a keyboard now, Alies (composer) and I are working through the score. As a lot of music is to be used in-scene, it needs to be perfect and actually needs to be recorded prior to filming commencing, which is tricky, but gives us something very cool to work with on set.

Man, I wish i could play a musical instrument. Had years of piano lessons growing up, but was too lazy to learn how to read music properly, so just learnt by ear -- which although fun, stunted my progress. I can still play Sounds of Silence though, and the first bit of Stairway to Heaven. So after 6 years of lessons as a kid, I feel pretty good about myself.

Alex Dimitriades arrives this Sunday! Very exciting. He'll be whisked off to farmer school. Actually, Alex already knows a thing or two about the land and is gonna teach me how to ride a motorbike, which I'm pumped (and scared) about too. There goes our insurance! (again).

"Director takes spill on motorbike. His cowboy hat combusted as he fell. Has suffered bruised ego and scorched scalp." 

Publicist is going to kill me.

Ricky : )

Sunday, October 25, 2009

14 days till shoot!


















Hello friends,

Stopped by multiple locations yesterday. FUN. Quite amazing views out there. My little car got to see them all. Have been back dozens of times, but we always manage to find some little special spot that we somehow missed last time round. Love it. One minute you're in an irrigated oasis, the next you're in the desert. Makes me think that maybe oranges, rice and cotton weren't the best things for us Aussies to grow... Easy to say in retrospect though.

Not sure if you can make out the colour of the Jacaranda tree in that top photo, but its flowers are bright purple to the eye. We've timed filming beautifully (total fluke) as Jacarandas all over the region have just started to bloom.


Producers Marc and John arrived with our Production Manager Virginia, and it feels amazing to be on the ground and into it. Finalising funding, insurance and contracts have stressed me a bit in recent weeks, but now that we're on location I've been set free (knock on wood). With just TWO WEEKS LEFT TILL SHOOT I feel like we're in a really healthy position. Cast locked, crew locked, locations locked. Please don't let that be famous last words!

Our Composer Alies arrives today. Haven't seen her in about 2 years, so very pumped to catch up. Over the years Alies has had to put up with me telling her: "It's happening" (like 4 times) only for me to make the dreaded call months later and conclude: "I don't know what happened, but it's not happening". Well, as she's flown in from China to visit locations and work on the score with me, she can finally take my word with some confidence! It's happening. As well as being a composer, Alies is a solo violinist, so she'll take Rachael Taylor for some pretty serious lessons when she arrives on the weekend. Rachael will play the violin live in three scenes and is dead keen on looking convincing. Tough work the violin, but she'll nail it.

Am off now to a breakfast meeting at Stefano's Cafe. Very lucky to be buddies with one of the best cooks in Australia. I think Mildura's one of the only in-land places in Australia where the food and coffee (at selected outlets) is as good as the food in the city. That said, a sausage from the BBQ by the pool tends to taste the same the world over.

Ricky : )

Saturday, October 24, 2009

15 days till shoot!









Hello friends,

Arrived in Mildura safe and sound. I usually dread the 6.5 hour drive, but my mind was buzzing with thoughts -- so it went quickly. Singing along to The Boss always helps too (if you're driving solo anyway).

Zipped into town in my trusty Fiat 500 and had enough time to do a quick location scout, which included (and always seems to), our major Pub location in a small town called Merbein (see pics above). Quite a brilliant place, hasn't changed much since the 60s I imagine. The Publicans are lovely people who have only been leasing the pub for 8 months. Back then they were selling just THREE KEGS a week. They're now doing eight, so things are looking up. They've been nice enough to shut down the bar for us over the three day / nights we're shooting.  We've assured them their keg count will double after a few healthy crew nights.

Also drove out to the Peri sand dunes, which are just beyond Wentworth on the way out to Broken Hill. Magical place. Was there for sunset and the sandy ground glowed red, combined with the bright purple flowers of Patterson's Curse, it was spectacular. I love it out here.

Our Art Department (Emma and Lou) arrive tomorrow. THEY'VE DRIVEN FROM PERTH. If you think you've been on a long drive before, then google map: Perth to Mildura! OMG. They have been loving the trip though, have been swagging it under the stars. I'm more a hotel / metro man myself, but I can at least appreciate the attraction. Four day drive, what an adventure. Three different states, not many showers.

In Mildura our crew is staying in an attached bunch of serviced apartments. Living all together. It kinda has a broken down Melrose Place-type of vibe. Pool in the middle, big BBQ. Old school, but super clean. Amazingly gracious owners have allowed us the book out the entire establishment... Bring on the camaraderie!

Ricky

Friday, October 23, 2009

16 days till shoot!





Hello friends,

Today is a BIG day. Lots of ins and outs, ups and downs. Our hero car (pick which one) is travelling to Shepparton (another far away place) to be fitted out for it's custom caged A-frame. A very special rig that will allow for some cool angles. Our stuntman friend with the cool name "Clint" has now completed it. Meanwhile, I'm driving up to Mildura in my little Fiat 500 (yep, that funny one), which in retrospect is the most impractical thing I've ever bought. It was however used for a cooking series we produced recently, so I can't take all the blame. Probably just 99.5%. Makes me smile though.

In other news, It appears all my talks of cider sponsorship have paid off! But not in amber gold... IN AIR TRAVEL! Our new best friends at VIRGIN have committed to support our production. And we just LOVE them. Big thanks to our EP James for that one. Making a privately funded film is bloody hard and we've been blown away by the support we've received. Really amazing.

It's been such a long road and earlier this year we had given up. Seriously. Wasn't going to happen. Had so much going for us, but after 5 years and 3 semi-rejections (don't bother asking) from the funding bodies we were ready to pack it in. AND THEN AN AMAZING THING HAPPENED. My wife Michele and I watched Revolutionary Road. If you haven't seen it I wont ruin it for you, but needless to say it prompted me to make a life changing decision and just GO FOR IT.  Little over 5 months later and I'm heading up to Mildura -- less than 3 weeks away from making my first feature! Completely impossible without the kindness of strangers... and that one night on the coach watching a DVD. I think I'll write Sam Mendes a letter.

So cheers to our investors, Virgin and all our supporters... Now for those ciders. Come on Magners!

Ricky

PS. Here's our new facebook site, and here's our tweets. it's follow time. : )

Thursday, October 22, 2009

17 days till shoot!





Hello friends,

What you're seeing here might just be the filming of the first shot in Summer Coda. Not the first shot in the movie, but the first shot of official photography!

We snuck back out to the airport at dusk last night, and continued our "camera tests", where we just happened to peel off some TOP SHOTS of planes whistling in over our heads -- an important shot in the opening sequence of movie.

The smiling man in the top photo is our DOP Greg DeMarigny. He's smiling because we were VERY excited with what we were getting, and even more excited to be stealing a shot 17 days before production starts! That camera you see with him is the RED, as we've chatted about previously.

We also got to test for some important DAY FOR NIGHT shots: We're establishing exactly how dark it can be (through the lens) before it's too dark. Excuse me? For example, can we shoot night shots of a truck traveling down a highway at 5pm, and grade it dark enough to be convinced it looks like midnight? Why do we even bother with that? Because in the country when it's dark, it's jet black: There are no street lamps, buildings or many houses around, so the camera will see nothing but the truck's headlights coming through the night. If we shoot at 5pm and grade it dark, we'll still see the outline of the truck and the silhouettes of the trees on the horizon, which is far more pleasing to the eye. It's very simple of course, but you've gotta get it just right. So we must test how early we can start shooting for our DAY FOR NIGHT shots to appear at their best.

Tonight I must pack my bags for Mildura! Very exciting. Wont be home till almost Christmas. production team are moving up over the weekend. It's a 6.5 hour drive from Melbourne, but I got the mixed CDs all sorted High Fidelity style. I do love a road trip with good music. Allows my mind to switch off and onto the really important things: Performance, my shot list, cider.  I gotta say, I can't remember being happier. ...With the exception of the day I got married of course!

Ricky : )

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

18 days till shoot...



Hello friends,

Well, I met with Jacki Weaver who's gotta be one of the loveliest people I've ever met. Travelled out to Frankston (long way) to have a cider with her. She's currently performing in an acclaimed stage production of Steel Magnolias.  Well in truth, I had the cider, she had a nice glass of white. But she did try my cider and enjoy it, so I feel comfortable in saying "we" had cider. I love cider, I got attached to it in the UK, so I'm over the moon that bars are now serving Bulmers and Magners on tap in Oz! Over the moon. Not that I like a drink or anything.

But back to Jacki. As I mentioned yesterday, she's got a top little part to play (one of my fav characters) and she's ALL OVER IT. Costume, makeup, delivery --- she's sorted. What a pro. We chatted and chatted about where the character comes from in my psyche (actually a combination of an Aunt and a neighbour I used to have), how I came to write the story, and the process of getting it up and running. It took more than one cider. It made my heart pang (in a good way) discussing these things with Jacki, and Summer Coda has never felt more real.

We're shooting in 18 days! I'm going to have to start adding exclamation points to the title.

Ricky

PS. Magners are not currently sponsors of Summer Coda. However by mentioning them continuously over the next 17 days, I hope to remedy that. Below is our new production calendar that I'll be enforcing. Local cider product will also be supported by the gracious team at Summer Coda.




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

19 days till shoot...



Hello Friends,

Just had a brilliant night with some of our cast,  so cool to talk to these guys about their characters.

Gave me a chance to catch up further with two of my absolute fav actors: Cassandra Magrath and Nick Farnell. Lovely people and so VERY talented. I've known Cassandra since my Momma was her on-set tutor on a TV series called Ocean Girl --  15 years ago! (we later went to high school together) And Nick is like Australia's answer to John C Reilly and I've been lucky enough to work with him on several projects. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than writing lines for these type of actors.

I got the chance to speak to a whole room of fab talent, let them know the backstory behind their roles and then sit back and watch as their wardrobe was fitted and adjusted. A very cool process watching their characters come alive.

Today I'm off to spend time with Jacki Weaver. She's got a fab part to play; A real sassy, cougar-type role, that I'm hoping she's really going to enjoy.

I have another pass to do on the ye ol' screenplay too. Must be the 700th, but well worth it. Working with the actors always provides a few more ideas. I'm starting to add those pretty coloured amendment pages now -- and if there's one thing that lets you know you're REALLY going to be making a movie -- IT'S THOSE AWESOME COLOURED PAGES! Hooray for them.

Ricky


Monday, October 19, 2009

20 days till shoot...



Hello friends,


Had a fairly comprehensive budget meeting last night. Right on track, although I got knocked back on my Unit request for Natural Confectionary Company Wild Forest Fruit lollies. ...It seems our crew lollies will be coming from ALDI.  : ( Translation for international audience: A supermarket one goes to when one's budget is tight. Dang. Shouldn't complain though, got a cracker wine and beer sponsor, so at least night times will be sweeter. And by "night" I mean 5 mins past whenever we wrap!


But budget meetings aren't just about catering, Ricky. 


Yes, there's also the small matter of how we intend to finish the film. A hot topic at the minute with digital projection finally advancing all around. The fact is, that first film print you produce is V expensive. V worthwhile mind you, and that's what we'll have, but finishing on a digital medium is now a very real option for many Independent features, and of course many very non-indy, expensive films too. Because it just looks so good. 


THAT SAID, being a romantic I can't imagine ever not pushing to shoot and finish on film. I'm seeing so much RED footage lately, and man it just looks so much better when it's projected on 35mm. There's just a warmth and slight imperfection that comes from a film print that I would hate to lose. I know we can add grain and even projector movement and scratches to recreate a "film look", but if that's what you want (and I do), why not just finish on film? I guess cost is why. Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:


Floyd Gondolli: This here's the future. Videotape tells the truth.


Jack: Wait a minute. You come into my house, my party, to tell me about the future? That the future is tape, videotape, and not film? That it's amateurs and not professionals? I'm a filmmaker, which is why I will never make a movie on tape.



I'm getting predictable now. Boogie Nights. Classic. But in all honesty, I do prefer the look of Heat to Public Enemies. Sure, sure, sure, it's deliberate. But which do you prefer? Video tape may tell the truth, but is it the whole truth you're searching for at the cinema?


Ricky 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

21 days till shoot








Hello friends,

That's the Murray river about 5 minutes after sunset. There's a burst of red that's tricky to capture, but it ripples through the sky. Just beautiful. The water's warm too, and it really does feel like a beach with all that white sand. Perfect place to hang in the Summer.

Launched our Summer Coda FB site yesterday, earlier days, but there'll be some v cool stuff up there in the not too distant future. Become a friend and follow us, the team will be offering a really unique experience by tracking alongside the production with plenty of videos from set when we get started. I've learnt so much from DVD extras and commentaries over the years. You just can't beat hearing and watching the making of your fav films. Boogie Nights commentary is an absolute cracker, as is American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain. You can go to film school on the extras of a good Godfather box-set alone.

Tomorrow we block a fight sequence which I gotta say I'm pretty excited about. It's not a biggie, but it's crucial to the story and so critical we get it right. Will be working with our Stunt Co-ordinator to nail the realism in the hope of recreating something quite harrowing, without being overly graphic. It's a top little scene where in the shadows of a dusty pub car park, lined with trucks and semi-trailers, Heidi and Michael (lead characters) find themselves in trouble. The sequence and preceding scenes are being designed to carry a real Film Noir quality -- stripped of colour, with some nasty characters appearing. They're highly charged scenes and I can't wait to shoot them.

Don't get me wrong, at its heart Summer Coda is an emotive Romantic Drama, however there are powerful genre elements that make the film unique (we hope!). In the end it's the chemistry between our characters that will make or break this particular story. ...I'd best read some books on directing... Thank God we've cast such great actors!

Ricky

Saturday, October 17, 2009

22 days till shoot



Hello friends,

Fantastic day yesterday. Whole crew got to mingle, drink, laugh and talk about the imminent trip to Mildura. We watched location stills and got to see the beginnings of our lead actor's wardrobe (Rachael Taylor, Alex Dimitriades). Everything just seems so tangible now, very exciting. In between violin lessons, Rachael's begun billiards training -- Cause she kinda has to kick ass at pool in a major sequence. Between becoming a classically trained violinist and knocking down the eight-ball to win big bucks, she's gonna be one well rounded leading lady!

Natalie Miller and Jamie Bialkower (our distributors) were at crew day, so we had a good chance to talk about media coverage, release dates and stills too. Poster shot talk is never far away and although it's too soon to think about it, that one image is soooo important it always creeps into my mind. We've been very lucky to have such great distribution support over the years. Roadshow backed the film for a long time, which helped us a great deal and now we have a tremendous commitment from Sharmill and Jump Street Films, which is obviously crucial when it comes to the release.

I love Mildura, let me say that load and clear. Beautiful place. It's on the north-western tip of Victoria. Cross the giant Murray river and you're in New South Wales. Head further inland for an hour and you're in South Australia. You're halfway to anywhere in Mildura and I think that's why the town's so special. It's so soooo much easier to film in the country than the city. Everyone is super keen to help out and be involved and their first questions are never "How much will you pay?" or "Have you got a permit to film there?" INSTEAD, it's "I know someone that can help you with that", or "Can I be an extra?". LOVE IT.

We've found some great crew in Mildura too. Would you believe, an amazing Standby Props from the UK was backpacking in the area when we were up location scouting. Perfect. Locked her in quick smart. We have a lot of Mildura expats too, now living in Melbourne that have put up their hands. Nothing like local knowledge and hoping it'll get us invited to a few family BBQs too.

I'm off to look for an old pinball machine now, and a juke box that still plays vinyl. Not really my department, but I love hunting for key props and what a nice way to spend a Sunday. Coffee first though. And eggs and bacon. Mmmmm. My head's a little foggy from all that crew camaraderie!

Ricky

Friday, October 16, 2009

23 days till shoot




Hello friends,

Yep, I forgot The English Patient. My bad. But what would I delete to fit it in? Braveheart you say? Hmmm, our Costume Designer's father won an Oscar for that blue makeup, so I don't think it would be kosher. Probably not cool to say the word "kosher" when talking about Mel anyway. So we'll just stop talking about it.

Now, today (Saturday) is CREW DAY. All our loverly camera, sound, gaffer, grip, wardrobe, makeup, producers, production, art dept, safety, post and fluffers gather and talk about the film, and our forthcoming trip to Mildura. It's a time for everyone to meet everyone else and have a drink and determine whether they're actually going to get paid at some point. We serve more alcohol and soon all fears are forgotten.

Most importantly it's a time to say thank-you to all these awesome people for coming onboard, and I'll get a chance to provide a creative overview. Also an opportunity to show off our location stills, as well as some key props -- LIKE THE ONE ABOVE. How cool? '74 Ford LTD called "Woody". Wood Trim that's actually vinyl! So uncool it's gone full circle and become utterly cool again. Love it. We needed a U.S. 70s - 80s wagon for scenes in Australia as well as scenes in Reno, Nevada. So we were pumped to find this one in Mildura of all places. Can't wait to go cruising in that!

The attached vid is an extract from the first episode of Project Greenlight. It proved a massive help in getting Summer Coda up. Man, I was skinny then. Dressed better too. Oh well, still got the same passion. Not long till shoot now!

Ricky


video

Thursday, October 15, 2009

24 days till shoot



Hello friends,

It turns out Melbourne Airport has a spectacular place to watch planes land... Well, maybe it's not official... but let's just say there's a paddock with cows in it and every ten minutes or so the cows start acting crazy and jumbo jets fly over VERY CLOSE. Perfect for me. Not the crazy cows, but the proximity between us and the the plane. Wow.

Onto Top 10's. Thanks for the massive response. One lousy top ten. Not a bad one actually, but come on. I know for a fact you followers aren't all pseudonyms now. So get on it.

In the meantime, due to popular demand, here's an EPIC MOVIE Top 10 list -- no particular order. (Allows me to be sneaky and mention films I couldn't squeeze into Top 10)

1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. Ben-Hur
3. Braveheart
4. Spartacus
5. Gone With The Wind
6. Schindler's List
7. The Ten Commandments
8. Doctor Zhivago
9. Gladiator
10. Titanic

Back to making a movie: The DOP and I head off to Mildura next week. We have the last two weeks before shoot to test locations. Direction of the sun VS our shooting schedule is of major importance on this film, as we have loads of exterior scenes, and many dawn and dusks shots (writer needs to be sacked). We obviously can't shoot all the scenes planned for dawn and dusk at those times, so we have to be clever with the morning and afternoon light, and complete our camera tests accordingly. Boring to read maybe, but of major importance when it comes to the overall look & feel of the film. We'll basically be choosing orange groves that run North to South (and not East to West) to give ourselves the best opportunity to "cheat" the time of day. The orange trees are VERY TALL in Mildura (see the ladders in the above pic), which gives us a good chance. Lots of shade early and late in the day.

Speaking of oranges, did you know:

A big blue bin holds 400 kilos.
A picker's bag holds 20 kilos.
A picker gets paid just $26 per BIG BLUE BIN.
A pro picker can fill 6-8 bins a day.
Ricky filled 1.5 bins in one full day.
Earning $39.
Ricky shall never pick again.

Ricky

PS. Illegal paddock with crazy cows does not exist. Do not go there if you find it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

25 days till shoot


Hello friends,

That is not me. But it's good the word is getting out on the street. Actually, and embarrassingly, I'm getting told that there's some other Ricky Hollywood out there. Like some guy that slept with Sarah Palin's daughter. Ouch. That's not me and nor is that photo, but thanks for sending it in. I think.

Full crew day this weekend, and then cast read next week, which I'm super pumped about. Was talking wardrobe and colour in general today. Great book called If it's Purple Someone's Gonna Die. It's a cracker. If you like studying movies, you're gonna love it. We've been talking about costume / character / colour, and without sounding like a tosser (oops, too late), it reminded me of how serious I took this filmmaking caper at film school. I lived in a share house in Richmond, with four other cool VCA peeps, and we just talked film and drank wine. LIKE ANYTHING'S CHANGED. But it has, and reading books like that are cool for focusing. It's just good to be living film again.

Back then PTA was my king. Boogie Nights is probably the reason I'm making films today. Perfect blend of heart and wit. Love it. My number 1 film.

Here's a top ten to poke fun at. No particular order after No 1. What's yours?

1) Boogie Nights
2) Goodfellas
3) Heat
4) Magnolia
5) Fargo
6) Godfather 1
7) The Graduate
8) Eternal Sunshine
9) Being There
10) The Big Lebowski

If I was to be stranded by myself on an island and could take only 10 DVDs... With those I'd be a happy camper.

Ricky

PS. Happiness pending the availability of an island DVD player and flat-screen TV.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

26 days till shoot

Hi friends,

Well, I had a Jesus joke all worked out for when I got to 12 followers, but as we've JUMPED up to 14 (with a bullet), it will no longer be funny. Probably less offensive this way anyway.

Speaking of the Lord, I took a lunch meeting with the Sheriff yesterday -- Mr Bryce Menzies. The Mayor of film legals in Australia, one of our Executive Producers and a major reason we're getting to make this bad boy. We sent the screenplay to Bryce about 5 years back, and after a fair few months of pestering him, he read it, loved it (he probably said "liked") and came onboard to help. ...Hmmm, Just realised he's gonna hate me saying this. I can already hear the screenplays stacking up on his desk! Never-mind, he's a good bloke. Bryce has been up and back to Mildura with our team and generally just giving us some legitimacy around the traps, which counts for a lot when the director gets about calling himself Ricky Hollywood.

Rumor has it Ricky Hollywood is in fact my SELF-appointed nickname. HOWEVER, I do seem to remember being called it by my fellow popcorn makers at Nova Cinema way back in the day... I worked at a fair few cinemas growing up. Nothing better for a film nerd. Used to love sitting up with the projectionist. Dying art that is.

Any who, camera tests went super swell and we head off to have a look at the results projected next week. Production Office is in full swing and Art Dept have been sourcing some fabulous props, including a Felix the cat clock with a ticking tail! OMG. Awesome. And more practical things likes chairs and cars and dogs and what-have-you -- I'm less interested, but I'm told "Just as important, Ricky".

Tomorrow we'll finalise a week of orange picking for our actors, in the lead up to the shoot. Very important they get acclimatised to the ins and outs of picking and just how crazy hot it can be in Mildura. We've got some very generous citrus farmers training our actors and also giving us rows upon rows of fruit to pick for the movie. We're also spending time in the most HILARIOUS place in Mildura: ORANGE WORLD. It's a must. If you do visit, say hello to the life-size lemon out the front. She's a real flirt. Seriously.

BTW, here's a link to our fab cast and crew. IMDB's taking it's sweet time to add Rachael Taylor's name. Maybe they don't believe me. Could be something to do with this self-appointed nickname. I'll look into it.

Ricky

Monday, October 12, 2009

27 days till shoot


Hello friends,

You'll be happy to know I avoided accommo madness by sending a few fake emails and generally "looking" busy. Works everytime. Not sure anyone bought it though, and they definitely won't now. Although at this stage my followers are mostly my own pseudonyms, so not too much harm there. My god, pseudonym is a hard word to spell. Thank god for that little red spelling line, although when it comes to words that sound like they start with an 's' and in fact start with a 'p'... Little red is really kidding himself.

Rachael Taylor (our lead actress) had a lengthy violin lesson yesterday, which sounds like hard work in every sense. Her character plays the violin throughout the film, so she's training up with a top teacher at UCLA. Our composer (Alies Sluiter), who's currently performing in China, has been sending through draft tracks and listening to the eventual score of the movie makes me very, very happy indeed. It's all happening.

Alies and I went to Uni together -- kinda -- she was at music school, I was at film, and we had this one class where the music students played their individual instruments (live in the theatre) to film scenes of our choice. Westerns, comedies, action, romance. Was awesome. Alies brought her violin and began playing to scenes from Elizabeth. I was hooked, not only by her talent, but also on the image of a woman playing the violin. Mesmerising. Loved it, and that's why you'll see it in Summer Coda. I really adore when score is done well in films. Have been collecting soundtracks since Dances with Wolves -- okay, you may think uncool, but it was my first and John Barry's a GOD. Don't even get me started on Chaplin or Out Of Africa for that matter. Man I love, Chaplin, if you haven't seen it for a while - go get it. Robert Downey Jnr. Enough said.

Camera tests tomorrow, shooting the film on the RED ONE which will certainly prove interesting. The more I see it projected, the more I love it. Don't get me wrong, budget-wise I held out for Super 35mm for as long as I could, but as far as compromises go -- it's a great one. I'm not going to make an ass of myself by talking tech, but if it's good enough
for Soderbergh and Peter Jackson, the end of this sentence doesn't need to be said.

Speaking of the man, HOW GOOD does the Lovely Bones trailer look. That's gonna be my xmas treat when we wrap. But back to these tests; We're filming in some seriously stunning locations, so the key is to know what your camera and lens can and can't do. It's gonna be cloudless, and bloody sunny and the difference between the dense black shade of an orange tree and the bluey-white hot Mildura sky is a tricky one. So we gotta test test test. Fun though, as long as I don't have to pick oranges again. These city boy hands were made for typing. More about the $26 I earnt from a full day picking later.

Heading to the airport to get some dusk plane landing shots tomorrow too. Hope we have a Pushing Tin experience!

I'll let you know,

Ricky

PS. I'll get back to the story of the Sheriff and the generous people of the land ASAP.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

28 days till shoot

Hello friends,

Today is accommodation day. The day film crew and cast accommo is finally sorted. 42 days, 32 crew, 3 hotels, 9 apartments...blah, blah, blah. Sounds boring doesn't it? Yep, that's what I think, so I'm staying clear of it.

What's more exciting is how this film came to be: I wrote Summer Coda (formerly Heidi, then When She Gets There) almost six years ago, and entered the screenplay into a competition called Project Greenlight. Did well, came second. No prizes for second though, although it is fun to tell people on a blog, and did secure me help with script development (oh god, so many drafts), and did indirectly land me some cool TV work, so mustn't grumble.

Any who, after getting so far in the comp we had real hope, so my producing pal Marc and I and our team of merry bandits (fund raising producers) set out to raise the budget, secure a distributor, sales agent, and start thinking about a wish-list cast. Two years went by and we'd finally landed a distributor, sales agent and a cool cast... But alas, the bandits and I did not receive the gold we required from government agencies (many mouths to feed in Mordor*), so we set about funding the picture another way...

The bandits and I (should just say the bandits, because I'm one too) took our shaking tins to the people of the land. The people enjoyed the screenplay, and slowly we began to raise the gold, but that's when we met the Sheriff!

...But more on that another day, because I have to escape an "urgent accommo meeting". Yikes.

Just quickly: What is also more exciting than accommo meetings is putting together storyboards with an application called Hitchcock. Life changing, because I CAN NOT draw. Not at all. My pictures look like the scratchings of a chicken's claw. Seriously. Chicken scratchings = no good. NG.

Ricky

* Mordor = Australia (but only in reference to filmmaking)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

29 days till shoot

Hello friends,

So I'm making a feature film, and a lot of crazy / fun stuff is going on, and the journey's a bloody exciting one. Thought it might be interesting to document / poke fun at along the way...

Wanted to start this blog with a month left till shoot, but like most things on this film, we're running a little late, but 2 days ain't bad.

Today was good. Finished shot list. 49 pages of shots that've been brewing for such a long time now. Lovely to imagine the camera moving at all the actual locations. Even lovelier to think of the actors performing the lines within those shots. "Lovely" is quite a feminine word, but I'm sticking with it.

Am thinking I should have made this film a long time ago. Know more now though, film will hopefully benefit. Have to keep pinching myself though -- Very very exited. Modest budget, but absolute cracker cast and crew. Important and beautiful story to tell, I think it could be great.

We're shooting in Mildura (Victoria, Australia) and Nevada both very lovely (there I go again) locations to film. Have grown to love the former in particular. Shooting there for 6 weeks will be bliss... He says not knowing what lay ahead.

Greg (DOP) went and met with Clint (stuntman) to start rigging our hero vehicle yesterday. Found a beautiful burnt orange F100 and they're designing an appropriate cage so we can film on some cool angles while we tow the vehicle. Their meet took place on a country highway halfway between Melbourne and Shepparton. That's the middle of nowhere. Tumble weeds and what have you. What a great place to meet a stuntman called CLINT to talk trucks. I like it.

More soon, in every sense.

Ricky