Tuesday, November 11, 2008

'The Shaman' Wrap Up! by Mark Pearce

A massive THANK YOU to the monomonomono team who helped to create our 48hr FANTASY FILM, “The Shaman”. You guys were amazing! I can’t tell you in words how grateful we are to have worked with every single one of you on this project. Everything about you guys was absolutely incredible. With insane time restrictions, your “on the spot” creativity and imaginative improvisation can’t be matched with anything we’ve seen so far. Your patience and professionalism was part of a heart-stopping collaborative effort! No matter how many crazy ideas we threw at you, somehow you trusted us, and for that we are very grateful and inspired by every team member.

Well, I’m sure you’re all wondering – Did we make it on time? How did it turn out? Does it make sense? Am I in it? Is it any good? When can I see it? Here is a rundown of events… BE WARNED, the following story is ramatic.

Firstly, let me just say that this film will be entered into many festivals around the world over the next couple of years. This particular version we’ve made will be screened at the 48hr film festival and be used as a pitching tool for the 12-15 minute version. With many edits made to get the film under 7 minutes, a lot of our dialogue scenes were unfortunately left on the cutting room floor. All actors must know that these scenes will be re-edited into the longer cut when we get some finishing finance. It would be a shame not to see your shining acting skills at work and we feel obligated to show everyone, (audience included) the best possible film that we can make out of all our material.

All that said, this 6 ½ minute version, believe it or not, is a coherent narrative. How is that so you might be wondering? With the exceptional skills of our Editors & Effects artists, who worked for hours on end, and our soundies, who waited for hours on end, the story came to life. It then took on a magical coherency as the writing team came up with the narration that was written in two hours after the picture lock-off at 12:30pm Sunday.

Narration was recorded and completed at 5:45 Sunday afternoon and Peter Haren, our calm and patient Sound Engineer, was forced to rush like mad and wave his magic wand for the next 45 minutes to complete the sound mix at exactly 6:30pm.

May I remind you that our deadline for delivery at BMW Edge, Federation Square was 7:30pm – a minute later and we would be disqualified to win 48hr festival awards, with the exception of the Audience Award.

You can imagine the stress and heart-thumping tension during those last hours, as we rushed to cut the final edit, write the narration, finish effects, lay down the music and sound design and master out to mini DV.

At 7:08pm, around ten crew members stood around watching the film as it was mastered to Mini DV tape. When the final credits rolled off the screen and the vision went to black, Victor unplugged the recording (camera) deck from the edit suite and handed it over to me (with tape still in camera). I rushed out of the warehouse at 7:15pm and into a waiting vehicle, driven by writer Louisa Dent, with Kate Perman, our PM in the back seat.

We had 15 minutes to get to Fed Square from St. Kilda - would we make it? With the tape safely ejected from the camera we all started to chant “The Shaman is with us!” Louisa was driving like a maniac down St Kilda Rd, nearly managing to collect a bus and probably a few speeding tickets.... Time check: It’s 7:26 by our car clock, but that’s not the clock that counts. The official 48hr film project time clock at BMW Edge is what really matters. We gained momentum and got through the last set of traffic lights (unscathed) and our destination was in sight. As we drove over the Yarra River bridge outside Flinders Street Station, my brain tells me (after not sleeping for 50 hours) to depart our moving vehicle. I sprint across the street with a truckload of paperwork and the film in hand! I then ran faster than I’ve ever run since “Little Athletics”, I gain a top speed of about 40kmph through Fed Square with people yelling at me: “Go! Go! Go! You’re gunna make it!” I arrived in the BMW Edge not even giving a slight peep at the big screen as I now have to manage to descend about 50 steps to get to the registration table. I hear a bunch of people clapping as my stride allows me to skip every second, sometimes third step to get down to the bottom.

I couldn’t bear to look at the clock so I ask one of the organizers “Have I made it?” I get a reply… “YES! It’s 7:28! That’s right, we made the 48hr cut off deadline by exactly 2 minutes! In fact, as far as I know, we were the last team to drop off at 7:28 Sunday night.

At the registration table, I collapse to my knees - like Cathy Freeman after the 400m Olympic final. Happiest moment of my filmmaking life… I want to cry for some sort of relief or release but there are forms and a master tape to hand over. I do it! I still want to cry, this time with joy, but my body aches further as I see filmmakers being pampered by masseurs. I sit down for the next 5 minutes and catch my breath. I then realise that I can’t sit here and get a massage whilst everyone is waiting to hear of my impending phone call. I decide to get out of there and ring my friend Victor Holder to share the celebratory news.

We partied for the next couple of hours back at the warehouse where a jam session led us to churn out a song called “48hrs”. Wow there’s some talent in this place I think to myself – 48hrs finished, and the artists are still improvising.

Monday 5:30pm. The phone rings… It’s one of the organizers. He says, “Please sit down Mark”. What does he mean, sit down? I am sitting, but since he’s now told me to sit, I find myself standing. “Your tape has no audio on it,” he says. “That’s impossible!” I say. “What do you mean no sound?” “No sound, I’m sorry Mark, I know it’s disappointing”. He told me that he had just spent half an hour at a coffee shop with another team leader who created a beautiful film, but that team sent the wrong file format and were disqualified as well. Was he implying that we too were disqualified, I ask myself? Then he asks, “Do you want us to send your film (without audio) to the judges and be judged on vision only, or accept disqualification and then have it screened with sound?”

I want, I want, I want the judges to see the tape with audio on it. We created a film in 48hrs, vision and audio. This is like some sort of TKO. We would like to check the tape I ask. Surely there’s a possibility their tape deck is faulty? Or is it a faulty tape?

However, I do still want to check the tape… just in case. So on Monday night I collect my Director, Victor and one of our DPs Luhsun Tan. We take the second copy of the film to the organiser’s office with one of our cameras to check the original tape. I’m handed the tape from the organiser… I play the tape out in our camera and… there’s no audio. Fuck!

The organisers try to help by spending all Monday night on the phone to the owners of 48HFP in Washington DC discussing the rules, regulations and legal issues about our film. We ascertain that whatever state the film was handed in at 7:28 is the film that will be judged.

No audio, no awards. EXCEPT… we are still eligible for the Audience Choice Award. I think of our team motto - "You can control what you give, but not what you're given". The meaning of this motto suddenly takes on another form. What is this movie we’ve created really about? The Shaman would tell me to relax and trust in the galaxy, but right now I’m on Planet Zog, feeling like bog. I say to myself, “We made a film, that’s what matters, that’s what this is all about.”

And then, the Sharman turns out to be right, as we realize the benefit of what has just happened. We can still win one award, AND, we still have our film shown on some amazing festival circuits, AND, because we were disqualified, we retain 100% copyright. This means we can now enter the film in whatever festival we like, and we can use it as a pitching tool to create a longer, M rated and more polished version.

The film is amazing for something created in this 48hr time-span. I've never been on a film shoot with so much "lovin'" in the air - people were really generous and caring and we all looked after each other through the "ordeal" - which is an accurate description. Most people functioned on only a few hours of sleep. I got a flat tyre on St Kilda Road Friday night, the Director had an epileptic fit on Saturday, after no sleep and a shoot in the hot sun on the beach. No doubt everyone had some trial, tribulation or inconvenience they had to go through to make this film!

May I leave you with this message from the Shaman…

“You live on a little rock in the galaxy… what are you afraid of?

monomonomono – one creative entity, many creative people



Mark Pearce
Imagica Studio
film video animation

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