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Becoming a Director - a member's first experience 2 May 2024

Film Bite

At our meeting 2 May 2024, the film bite was led by Paul who showed segments of Rhapsody in Blue and The Third Man to demonstrate how simple but effective lighting and shadow techniques could be used to add drama or depth to otherwise ordinary scenes, or in some cases, fill in for missing cast. In The Third Man, shadow was also used to disguise the fact that the main actor was actually not present on the set when the iconic street chase scene was shot. In Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, the shadows added dimension to an otherwise flatly lit set.

UGG Competition

There were 7 entries but only 5 winners, with 2 joint firsts and 2 joint thirds. Probably a BMM first. The scoring between first and second was very close indeed.

1. Light & Shade – Stewart; Colours Beyond the Black Stump – Paul

2. Stuffed: Animals – Murray

3. Stuffed: A Gritty Parody – Freddie-Lee; Le debut de ma journee - Freddie-Lee

4. Leo the Lion – Peter

5. Stuffed: Animal – Nigel

Jenn's experiences (and learning) in her Directorial Debuts

Jenn described her growth journey from the assistant Director on The Clown to Director of the Domestic Violence Advertisement (DV Ad) to her more recent production of The Awakening, the last two scripts which were the brainchild of Heather. So what is the role of a director? Some people think it is just about bossing people around on set. Jenn prefers this definition: The Director is the head creative position on a film, the person responsible for the final outcome of a film.

As Director for the DV Ad, Jenn found her Directorial tasks had to overlap that of a Producer, where she was organising the call sheet, media releases, wardrobe, set design, shooting script, schedule, cast communications and the shot list. As the shoot progressed, she added catering, data wrangling and first assembly planning to her skill set! In Jenn's own words, "As a director I find I eat, sleep and breathe the movie I am working on. It takes me over. It is extremely complex and demanding to communicate  and calibrate the vision with the writer, then work with cast and crew to realise the vision. It is quite an exhausting process". 

Despite the multiple challenges she faced, it all miraculously came together at the 11th hour.  Her takeaway was to allow more time for pre-production and to try to get a crew together with whom she could develop a working relationship and spend more time on pre-production planning. 

For The Awakening, which is about Alzheimer’s and the challenges faced by individuals marginalized by illness and disadvantage, Jenn drew upon her previous rushed experiences and this time she set aside more time to pre-production and planning. Whilst she was both Producer and Director, she was much better prepared this time around, and it was a less chaotic and less stressful experience. 

Her first reaction when she saw the script was that it was very basic with very little dialogue, with the film's message needing to be conveyed visually. Jenn said that she drew inspiration from the film genre of Italian Neorealism to conceive the idea of a film where the focus is on the minutiae of everyday life. As dialogue for The Awakening was minimal and the action was largely non-verbal, Jenn had to rely on careful shot planning (82 detailed shots hence the minutiae of everyday life for 11 scenes in only 2 locations) and the use of visual metaphors e.g. shooting through a room divider with vertical dowels to convey imprisonment in a domestic setting. On this shoot, Jenn was able to better draw upon relationships and collaboration with the videographer, lighting grip, sound recordist, music scorer and editor. Her greatest learnings (and achievements) for success as a Director this time around was her shooting script and story boards which were essential tools necessary to structure the complicated shoots and effectively communicate with the crew and cast. It also made for a much smoother post-production experience.

She hopes that The Awakening can be used as a conversation starter and educational resource in groups which come together to explore resources for individuals with chronic illness (such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) and their family members and outside carers.

The evening concluded with another music video from prolific sound engineer Ross titled, 'God bless the Child'.

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