a film by Bill Mousoulis
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Post-Production - 2002
Jan '03: Still not much happening ... but hopeful!
I am now closing this page off - for the latest on Lovesick go to the News page.
late November: More festival rejections
A few more knock-backs from festivals have happened recently, the latest one being Rotterdam. Tough business this!
October: Resultant short film
I have made a short film called Needles and Pins out of the audition tapes from Lovesick. As I was making a copy of these tapes for one of the actors, I happened to see a curious effect and decided to make a film out of it. The film screened as part of a program called "Electric Shorts", as part of the Fringe Festival, on October 17.
Thu June 27: Preview screening (and rejections at festivals)
Sneak preview of film happened Friday June 7 at Treasury Theatre. The film looked good on the big screen, the video facilities being excellent at the theatre. Here are some photos from the night. This screening actually represents the end of an era, as this theatre will now no longer be used for film screenings, being superceded by the new cinemas at Federation Square.
Regarding festivals, I was hopeful that the film would be in both the Melbourne and Brisbane International Film Festivals, the former because it's my hometown festival, the latter because I admire it greatly. It took the respective directors awhile to decide, and they both decided against programming the film. I'll keep trying with overseas festivals, and will also investigate other possibilities for screenings in Australia.
Tue May 28: Festivals (or Waiting)
The film has now been entered into about 10 film festivals worldwide and I am just waiting to see how it goes, if any festival wants it! So far there have been several rejections, and all I can do is wait for more ... (well, and some invitations too hopefully).
A sneak preview screening of the film for cast and crew and invited guests has been organised for a couple of weeks from now, which will be the first time just about everyone will see the film.
Thu Feb 28: Video Cover and Poster
Clay has now completed artwork for the video cover and poster, though we may still tinker with these as time goes on (especially the poster, which could be tweaked in terms of the size of the title, the background image, etc.).
Otherwise, the first film festival entries have been sent off - to Sydney and Cannes. The process begins.
Sun Feb 17: Early drafts of artwork
Lead actor Clay Ravin has proven both his dexterous hand and the film's "co-operative" philosophy by turning his skills to the design of some of the film's artwork. If money comes in at a later stage, we can re-do these things, but for the moment (I am about to enter the film into a couple of film festivals, and also approach distributors, etc.), we need a basic poster, and a video cover, and a postcard (of which a couple now follow).
I'll also publish the final versions, in a week or two. For example, if the poster goes ahead with a myriad of shots around its perimeter (like the following), the shots will also feature the other four characters.
Sun Feb 17: Self-assessment of film
I've seen the film a number of times now since editing was completed. It solidifies more and more each time. But with solidity comes familiarity, so less and less now am I able to experience is power, mystery, emotion. But I can still feel its essence now and again.
I have no illusions (or misconceptions) about this film: I realise it's quite different from most films, and totally different from Australian films. It's not necessarily inaccessible or wilfully radical, though - it is simply an art(house) film that has certain distinctive features about it.
Holly and Clay
Firstly, let's look at its type and level of realism. Many films (and most Australian ones) have a base of "realism" to them - which means that under the genre they're working in, they follow conventional laws about time, location, movement, etc. (the films try to maintain plausibility). Lovesick also subjugates its realist base to its genre (a love story), but it gives that base a complete life of its own. It doesn't refrain from giving time and space (and therefore life) to the most mundane and everyday settings the characters go through. Importantly, the film doesn't "heighten" the essences of these settings (i.e. for a "realistic" effect, as some films do) - they are simply there, and the characters "live through" them.
This type of realism is achieved by privileging width - in both picture and sound. Wide and lengthy shots dominate. And the sound design matches this: no clean and up-front sounds for me thank you very much! I like to record atmospheric, organic sounds - even if the levels of the actors' voices get dangerously low in the process. The film achieves a great level of realism in its soundtrack - the addition of music would only nullify this effect, so there is no music (apart from that created by the Steve character, and Dylan).
Holly and Clay
The characters are also drawn in a very "everyday" fashion - the killers don't act like killers, the cops don't act like cops, etc. The film flirts with implausibility here, but it does so in order to rescue the characterisations of these types from clichedom, in the process drawing thematic parallels between the characters. Things shift - yes, an ordinary couple can suddenly kill; yes, hardened cops can suddenly feel emotionally vulnerable.
The film in fact interweaves its themes in a subtle and at times baffling manner. No explanations are given for certain events. Curiously, at the level of narrative, the film occasionally bypasses its realism and goes into parable territory. I don't mind this. I like the fact that the film is like a jigsaw (on love, art, the world). If a viewer understands the story and characters fully, then I have failed.
The film's form is particularly striking. Over the course of 70 minutes, there are only several dialogue scenes in the entire film, most of them smack bang in the middle. Only the occasional word is uttered otherwise. This will be a challenge to viewers. Observant ones will be able to penetrate the film's simple surface (and ultimately find, as mentioned above, an interesting jigsaw).
A film like this runs the risk of being inconclusive, obscure, unsatisfying, unbalanced. I readily acknowledge that the film is unusual. And many viewers won't indeed "get it". But I myself am quite happy - it is the film I wanted to make when I first dreamt of it 6 months ago. It is a (small) step forward in my development as a film director.
(These three frames are off the film itself.)
Wed Feb 13: All systems go ...
In the past few days, all the technical problems were solved, but not without ongoing frustration. On Monday I took the plunge and paid $250 for some software to retrieve the data from the disk diagnosed as "corrupted and unreadable". The software did the trick, but then we had problems transferring the saved data across to a new disk. Ironically, this was because the new disk was malfunctioning. (Try this for frustration: 2 and a half hours waiting for the disk to be formatted, only for it to then come up with the dialogue box - "The formatting was not successful".) Trying the process on another drive, everything flowed smoothly and quickly. And we got some expert advice on why the 16/9 version was crashing last week. So we have now managed to output several video versions, with VHS dubs to follow shortly.
Flippancy aside, the past week has felt like trying to give birth. At its worst, around Thursday of last week, it was a nightmare, full of tension, with just no end in sight, no light in the tunnel. The stress was unbelievable - not only had the drive seized up, but the entire computer had to be taken in for repairs. Many thanks to Nigel, who remained calm throughout the whole deal (maybe it's all that jazz he listens to??!...)
The birth analogy is quite apt - this film has involved a solid five months work from me, full-time work, and the input of dozens of others, a number of them giving over a month of their time. Now it's the story of the film as it lives in the world - will anyone understand or like or support it? Well, you know what they say - at least its mother will ...
Sat Feb 9: Technical problems!
The past week has been incredibly frustrating. It started off well enough, putting the titles in and then doing a final mix of the sound, and some trimming of pic. And then the problems began with trying to output the completed edit to video in 16/9, letterboxed, form. Basically, Adobe Premiere kept crashing. I then decided to begin transferring all the data onto my own hard-drive (just to get that process under way), when Nigel and I made the stupid mistake of taking the drive (with the data on it) out of the computer without turning the computer off! D'OH! And so at the moment, the drive has seized up, not allowing access to the files (i.e. the entire film). Early next week we will attempt to retrieve all the files. Isn't film-making fun?
Sun Jan 27: Fine cut
In the past couple of weeks, the edit has progressed to the point where it's now at a very fine cut, with all the sound tracks layed. What I need to do now is get the head and tail credits together, and mix the sound. And then I will have a long look and think about it all, before deciding once and for all that there will be no composed music in it (that's how it's shaping currently). And, like a haircut, I may just do some trimming at that very final stage. And then I will sit back and try to understand what it is that's been created.
Sun Jan 13: Assembly editI spent about 50 hours this past week in fellow film-maker Nigel Buesst's editing suite, beginning the edit of the film. I am editing the film myself, with Nigel and Matthew Rees providing technical support. Nigel's set-up is pretty good I believe - these days the distinction between "off-line" and "on-line" is getting blurred. With a reasonable compression rate and outputting to Betacam-SP (or DV), the end result will be broadcast quality.
Anyway, I spent the first couple of days just digitising the images and sounds, and syncing the takes. The next few days were spent doing a chronological assembly of the shots, and some fine cutting (of picture, not sound). By the end of next week I should have something resembling a fine cut (but not final cut).
As I've been editing, I've been trying to not actually see or feel the film. (For it's best to just try and be mechanical at this early stage of editing.) But that is impossible, of course. And so I've experienced a bit of a rollercoaster ride - the disappointment of witnessing flaws (in the pictures, sounds, acting, direction) and the excitement of occasionally glimpsing the total film (its story, essence, mood). Of course, most of the audience in the end won't notice the flaws. (But they may not notice its strengths either ... quelle irony.)