Friday, November 27, 2009

Shoot Day 15

Hello friends,

We're HALFWAY already. Unbelievable. Very tough week this one. Drought breaking rains when we needed hot Summer days. Can't complain though, we need the rain.

Memo to self: Flash floods and electrical thunderstorms make filming in an orange grove and on a steel shed roof very difficult. But we survived. Some nifty re-scheduling kept us shooting and after 3 weeks we're probably only half a day down.

Our fab crew are doing a spectacular job in such trying conditions. All departments are shining. Makeup have amazed me (Nadia pictured above). From 46 degrees to torrential rain, keeping faces and hair in-check must be a nightmare! They're over delivering everyday.

Rachael Taylor continues to amaze. Such a professional at such a young age. Absolute pleasure to work with, and as we move further into the screenplay watching her character develop is wonderful. Rushes screenings are a pleasure and the crew seem to be having a ball. ...but for the times they're standing in the rain, holding metal objects and wondering about lightning i guess.

Our investors arrived yesterday for a tour of a few locations and sets. Stefano cooked up a storm for us last night, and I think everyone's feeling great. Our distributors Natalie and Jamie are here too. It's a very special feeling because we've been talking about the film for so many years. It's a dream come true.

Massive shout out to our Art Dept who've worked like hound dogs this week (and every other week), including constructing, painting and delivering a fifteen metre tourist attraction. The attraction was assembled at a roadhouse in a tiny town called Yamba, that's in South Australia. It's a funny little border town where your vehicle gets searched for fruit before you cross the border. You can be carrying as many illegal immigrants as you want, but one orange or ripe banana and you're in a lot of trouble!

Today I'm heading out with my trusty camera dept: Greg, Steve and Pete to nail some "Second Unit" action. "Second Unit" is the term I use to fool myself into thinking we're not working 7 days a week. It's supposed to imply that there's another small crew that come in and shoot the landscape shots and cutaways while we rest on the weekend. But it's us. Just us. And that's how we roll. Thx boyz. Let's hit the road. I gotta wake them first though. Heard quite a few champion crew roll into Melrose HQ at 4am this morning (Friday nights are big at O'Malley's). So I'm hoping I can lure them out of bed with some coffee, eggs and bacon. "Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey!".

Thank-you for all your love and support,

Ricky : )

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shoot Day 10

Hello friends,

We've come to the end of week 2, and I've already had a few heart pangs as great actors come and go. My main man Nick Farnell, Reef Ireland and then the lovely Susie Porter. Oh god it's been such a great week.

Here are some pics:

Our lead supporting actors arrived last night and we had a fab BBQ at Melrose HQ. Cassandra Magrath, Angus Sampson, Nathan Phillips, Daniel Frederikson and Pacharo Mzembe. I feel blessed. Off to rehearsals now -- gonna be a BIG week. It's fruit picking time!!!

Lots of love,

Ricky : )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shoot Day 8

Hello friends,

Just got time for some new pics. Shoot's going great! Working with Susie Porter is a dream. Weather still as a hot as a fire cracker on Chinese New Year, but we're finally adjusting to it and learning to embrace... Having a pool and a beer sponsor helps too. WE LOVE YOU MILDURA BREWERY!

More soon champions. BTW, check out our official website and join the mailing list for all Summer Coda news.


Ricky : )

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shoot Day 5

Hello friends!

One week down and 5 to go! Amazing week. Beautiful shots and great performances, but so very very hot. Up to 55 degrees in our hero car! Cast and crew have been super troopers and we're right on schedule which is great for piece of mind.

Our departments our gelling incredibly well, which is encouraging particularly because it was a tricky week of day night shoots and action stuff.

Susie Porter arrives tomorrow and we get stuck into some good stretches of dialogue, which will be lovely. Can't wait for that actually!

Here's a few pics:

More soon!

Ricky : )

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shoot Day 1

Hello friends,

Yesterday was amazing. To be finally shooting after all these years was very special. Thank-you for all your support and best wishes. Getting home to a message crammed phone and inbox was lovely. Weather was perfect -- extremely hot -- but beautiful. Endless blue skies with those little white clouds, giving the impression the sky is endless. Great for depth when you're shooting, and a quick glance at rushes last night filled us with confidence. We got some very cool stuff.

Oh god, Rachael is good. Her commitment is phenomenal. She had to do some difficult scenes yesterday and she nailed it. Can't give away too much, but she's a champion.

In the scorching heat everyone worked incredibly well. We have a super makeup team led by Nadia Cowell and I imagine keeping our actors looking relatively fresh in the sun is bloody tricky. They nailed it yesterday. Forecast for tomorrow is 43! OUCH. Oh man, I'm gonna need a little spritzer bottle to carry around. After each good take I can reward the relevant parties with a quick spritz. I'll be like: "Hey, well done, sweet scene. Spritzy spritzy!" -- and then squirty squirty! I'll soon be Mr Popular on set. Hmmmm, that's what's been missing.

To watch the individual departments working in sync was a real highlight. Gripping dept rigging car after car, camera dept swinging lens and switching cards (I'm still not used to the thought of our footage being on hard drive), Art dept dressing and propping everything within eyesight and wardrobe checking everything worn is looking just perfect. I gotta say, I'm in heaven! We have such a high spirited, talented bunch.

Today we do some major sequences at a country pub. Big setup day. Alex's first shooting scenes, and some really cool stuff. It's a Day / Night shoot so wont be in till late.

Promise lots of stills next time I'm on.

Ricky : )

Saturday, November 7, 2009

1 day till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

That's Melrose HQ -- and that's a few of our champion crew.

Tomorrow it starts. Unbelievable. I feel ready and raring to go. Everyone's here and there's a real sense of occasion. Away shoots create a unique atmosphere: The crew's away from home, and it's kind of an adventure because the majority have never been to Mildura. There's something special about living all together as it enhances the experience.

On our final day of preparation I'm heading off to our first week locations with Greg (DOP) this morning. Calms me to walk through the shots several times. Our preferred style is to not to shoot a lot of coverage (extra shots to help cover scene). We've made cinematic choices that best suit our story. This can be difficult to stick to once you're on set, but it's so crucial we do. We want everything about Summer Coda to be special, so that there's a reason to go see it at the cinema. Our uniqueness will come down to our choices on set. We're fans of films that look and feel different to what you can see any other night on TV. Summer Coda has been designed for the cinema screen.

Speaking of which, our distributors Sharmill Films and Jump Street Films have been phenomenal. So fortunate to be shooting with our distribution plan in mind. I love to talk about festivals and release dates -- and I've enjoyed being educated on all things publicity. Big shout out to Natalie, Jamie and our tireless Unit Publicist Tanja too.

After scouting locations one final time I'm going to spend the afternoon with Rachael and Alex. Speaking of tireless, these guys have been working HARD. Their eagerness and energy is intoxicating and it has made the last week just so enjoyable for me.

Thank-you very much for reading my little pre-production diaries. Tomorrow we'll be filming! It's an absolute dream come true. I may not be able to keep up the dailies, but I'll certainly be letting you know regularly what's going down on set. CAN NOT WAIT!

Much love,

Ricky : )

Friday, November 6, 2009

2 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

Doesn't that look pleasant? It's a key location throughout the shoot. 3rd generation farming home. Just beautiful. I believe we'd have a whole new perspective on family if we were born in the house our grandparents bought. Now sleep in their bedroom, and run their property (which is now yours). Imagine seeing your granddad plant a Jacaranda tree when you were 5, and then getting to enjoy it's flowers and shade 60 years on. Imagine cooking dinner for your grandchildren in the same house you had your own first birthday party. Really special. I love it.

Melrose Place HQ is looking like the real deal now. Dozens of cars, Make-up  / Wardrobe trucks, and just a few empty beer bottles from last nights welcoming drinks. Everyone's here and It finally dawned on me just what a big deal this is. Very humbling actually. 40 talented people all here for the one reason. Can not wait to get shooting now. We feel ready. Big shout out to my Couz Jo Davis, who arrived last night from the UK. Has come all the way here to produce our EPK, AKA our "Behind The Scenes" video and press related interviews with cast & crew. Awesome to have him here.

Next week is a biggie, hit the ground running and it's go, go, go. About 11 locations . Filming multiple sequences that will form part of the First Act. Forecast is for 40 degrees, so it's going to be hot as a fire cracker on the road. Got to embrace it though. I think we'll see it on screen and that's a very good thing. I remember noticing just how steamy it looked in The Proposition. Really complimented the film. Love that movie actually. 

Rachael and Alex are working their butts off in workshops and reads -- their commitment has been outstanding. A few more lessons and rehearsals this weekend and we're ready to go!

If you haven't joined already, come on down: Facebook & Twitter... Summer Coda website coming very soon too.

Ricky : )

Thursday, November 5, 2009

3 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

Crew arrive today! About 25 champions and our shooting team will almost be complete. The weather's starting to scorch again, just in time for our road sequences on Monday.  Ouch. Thank God there's a pool here at Melrose Place HQ.

Today we go through schedule with our main man Magee (1st Assistant Director). Make sure week 1 is properly prepared and double check the timings. So crucial we start well, and from what I can see the schedule is a cracker. Trying our best to shoot as chronologically as we can. Makes it easier to gauge the overall character arc, but also much better for performance I think. Also great to see the relationship of our two leads evolve and not jump around all over the place. It can only benefit the film.

Had a magical day yesterday exploring locations with Rachael and Alex. Alex had some tractor training and as you can see, he's a natural. That tractor's over 50 years old, and we chose it over newer models. It will certainly be talked about in the Farmer's shed tonight...

Shiny new John Deere tractor will be like: "Hey, you hear Dimitriades was riding old Massey?" New fork lift would have grumbled back: "What he want with such an old tractor? We da ones with the moves."  John Deere would shrug jealously as Fork Lift sulked and shifted the dirt at his feet. ...All the while old Massey would sit proudly in the dark at the back of the shed. She hadn't been used in years, but deep down she new she was special. And now she'll be a key prop on a feature film set. She still got it. Never lost it.

Ricky : )

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

4 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

Rachael Taylor arrived in Mildura yesterday and we got straight down to business. Fresh off a flight from LA (not sure how) we dived into wardrobe and then hooked up with Alex to begin running scenes. And now I'm in heaven. Working with these guys is what I've been waiting for. Hearing some lines that were written 5 years ago -- and hearing that they WORK was just magical. The new stuff works pretty darn well too.

And so the days are extremely hectic now, every hour spoken for. Fittings, rehearsals, locations, prop selection... everyone's working around the clock. Big shout out to our production team, lead by our Prod Manager Virginia whose doing a wondrous job, and always with a SMILE, which is very important to me. Nick too, our Prod Co-ordinator, a sterling effort and awesome attitude. How ever hard, we just gotta enjoy this.

And I reckon that is the KEY. Film making once stressed me out incredibly, but I remember the moment that changed me: I was shooting a short film, filming on Super 35mm, and it was costing me a fortune. It was a big set-up day (cranes, sets, and studio time) and we were running behind time and I was worrying my head off. Greg (my then camera operator, and now DOP) came up to me with a smile and said: "Hey Richie, look around mate. Look at these sets, look at these actors. You're shooting 35mm.  If you can't enjoy this then you shouldn't be doing it bro".

SNAP. That was it. I've been smiling ever since. Not because it's not ridiculously hard anymore and not because things don't occasionally go wrong. But because we are simply very, very lucky to be doing what we're doing, and I LOVE it.

Almost six years exactly since I made that short film we're making a feature. And whatever happens, life very is good.

Ricky : )

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

5 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

Um. I won't comment on those photos. I didn't even know they were being taken.

Worked on script yesterday. I never would have imagined we'd do so many passes on it. Working closely with my script editor and lady friend Michele has been so important. Now that we're standing in each location, little things change, moments can be improved and the script needs adjusting. Characters shift as well, actors bring lots to the table and opinions change. I really love the collaboration. Although I desperately wanted to make this film a few years back, it quite simply would not have been as good. The screenplay is now ready. And it's gonna rock!

Rachael Taylor arrives today and I need to find a new phrase other than "I'm excited". But I am. That's what I am and how else could I describe it? Maybe: Rachael arrives today and "I'm pumped" (too physical), Rach arrives today and "I'm stoked" (too surfy), RT arrives and I'm "ready to rock n roll" (tosser). I'm going to stick with EXCITED.

RT goes straight into more violin lessons (she must be hating me), wardrobe fittings and script reads. With just FIVE DAYS till we shoot, it's full steam ahead! Speaking of Full Steam, have you heard that new David Gray song with the same title? The one with Annie Lennox. L O V E  I  T!
I've been cruising through the citrus blocks in my little Fiat with the volume up LOUD. Locals shout: "Hey! There's that (insert sexual reference) guy with the stupid car and the tosser music!".

Speaking of wardrobe, got to see Alex's entire line up yesterday. Oh god is that a good feeling. Seeing the character evolve through their costumes. Those visuals have been stuck in my head for so many years, to finally see them for real has been a little surreal. Loving it!

Ricky : )

Monday, November 2, 2009

6 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

So it took Dimitriades like 30 seconds to win over Lady Lemon. When I said we were going to Orange World to pick up some fruit, I didn't mean literally! And Avocado doesn't even look that jealous anymore. He's into it! That's Star power and that's what happens. And now I'm just a shrinking violet. I let her know though: "Hey! I'm standing right here Lemon!". But she didn't answer. Too busy devouring Alex's hand-peeled pieces of the most succulent orange you've ever tasted.  Although to me, it was bitter sweet.

I digress... Alex jumped head first into all things citrus, and it's awesome to see the commitment. Great to finally be hanging with our actors. Today, Melbourne Cup Day, we're off to do a script read, followed by a piano lesson, followed by the blocking of a few key scenes.

Greg's graded camera tests arrive today, so tonight we'll scrutinise what worked best and determine the exact time-of-day we need to shoot to nail Day-for-Night shots too.

Just a shorty today as I'm still a bit cut up over the Lemon. My lovely wife arrives tomorrow though, so I'm gonna head back to Orange World and feed Michele grapes RIGHT IN FRONT of the Loose Lemon. Screw citrus, I've turned to the vines.

Ricky : (

Sunday, November 1, 2009

7 days till shoot!!!

Hello friends,

So we're looking at just ONE WEEK till we shoot. This time next week we'll be on set! The dream came true and now we just gotta make it special. More crew arrive everyday and quickly our little Melrose Place is filling. Loving it here.

Alex arrived and it feels great to have our leading man in town. A nice dinner, a few laughs and we're right on track. Today I'll take him to meet some rather extraordinary 3rd generation citrus farmers. They're keen to teach him a thing or too and Alex is keen to learn: The history of irrigation in the region, what gets farmed and when, costs and sale price, what's changed over the years, and how the drought has effected the price of water.

Might not sound riveting, but in order to develop character you gotta have a knowledge base. May never be used, but you're gonna feel a whole lot more comfortable in someone else's skin.

So today it's TRACTOR TIME. Oh yeah. Alex needs to look pro at driving a tractor that hauls the oranges as well as a Transformer-like tractor that has a fork lift on the end of it! The forklift picks up the orange bins (400 kg) from the fruit pickers, takes them to a trailer where the other tractor returns the fruit back to the sheds for packing. I'm feeling so country I'm gonna have to plant some seeds in my little concrete courtyard in Fitzroy! Yeeeehaaaa!

Did you know that wine grapes up here were once sold for almost $4,000 a ton. Now many producers are struggling to sell for $200 a ton, even though the cost to produce a ton is around $400. They're selling their grapes at a $200 a ton loss. Unbelievable and very sad. There's just such a glut in the region.

In happier news, we're doing our best to consume lots of local wine. Just doing our bit.

Ricky : )