a film by Bill Mousoulis

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Pre-Production - November 2001

Thu Nov 1:    It's getting tough. The most difficult pre-production I've experienced making a film. Good phone call in the morn from a Diana, who saw the sign up at the Actors' Space (thanks Suzy!), saying she had two possible Steves for me. Not a single response from the email I sent last night to 10 actors' agents. Typical. Spoke with Con again about being DOP - he umed and erred a lot. The film feels like collapsing. I won't let it. I have one more week up my sleeve - I can start the shoot Dec 3.

Fri Nov 2:    Made a heap of calls in the morn, willing the film to revival. New Filmnet appeared at 4:30, and several actors contacted me immediately. Started feeling a bit better. Met Sharon Chapman, for production assistant.

Sat Nov 3:     Met Mara Jansen, possible 1st AD. She grilled me on the meaning of the film (and I tried to respond!) A very calm woman.

Sun Nov 4:     The Filmnet ad had many new possibilities for Steve contacting me - I specified "lead male role". Met Joe Siliato and Steve Simmons - both too tall/big. I really need the actor to be of average or smaller height and build.

Mon Nov 5:     Albert Fung confirmed as the Art Director. Met three actors: David Dreimann and Norman Goetz are too tall and old respectively, but Simon Kearney is right there for the Steve role - right build, good skills. I guess he would match with Nina, rather than Holly.

Tue Nov 6:    Melbourne Cup day, and therefore quite an easy day. Hardly anyone rings or emails, but I still work on various tasks for about four or five hours.

Wed Nov 7:     Finally spoke with DOP Jaems Grant, after not being able to contact him for a couple of weeks. And lo and behold - his camera is Super 16. And he's willing to give it over to a DOP (and he's happy with Con or Kattina as such) for a nominal hire fee. Immediately offered the DOP position to Con, and gave him till the weekend to decide. Met a couple more chances for Steve in Okan Husnu and Woodrow Inman.

Thu Nov 8:      Spoke with another DOP, Nick Hayward, who has his own Super 16, and is interested. It never rains, it pours. Which means I'm now in win-win territory. Met Kathy Tsangaridis, for art department. She's fantastic - she'll be great. Actors: met Scott Gooding and Joe Main, both not quite right. Saw the first lot of audition tapes again. The lesser actors don't get any better when their performances are re-viewed. But the others! Holly is amazing. But I love Nina too - she's creeping up on me. Stuart's great - perfect for the role! (Curiously, Alistair now looks inappropriate for Steve.) But who goes with who? Okan and Suzy? Simon and Nina? Woody and Holly? Of these, I'm starting to favour Simon and Nina.

Fri Nov 9:      Met Jason Turley, for sound recordist. Actors: Clay Ravin - Daylesford guy, 32, not bad actually, a reasonable look. Mario Christodoulou - Greek guy, good physique, not right though. Adam Barnett - Real strong presence. A big chance. Drew Hunt - muso-type, nice guy, but had to disappoint him by not selecting him for a proper audition.

Sat Nov 10:     Two more last-minute possibilities for Steve - Shane Rodrigo, Chris McPhee. Not right enough to be given a proper audition. Which began today - tested Okan and Simon, matching them with Suzy and Nina. (Con sat in on the sessions, to get a sense of the characters/film.) Nina was the clear standout of the afternoon. She dyed her hair in the past week, like I said she would need to do for the role. Doing it now is perhaps a statement. She really impresses me - her performances, constantly, are solid and rich. She's very emotional - a river of emotion. More than Holly. Simon has interesting qualities, but he and Nina don't seem to go together very well. He comes across as boyish next to her. Also today: Adam Barnett pulled out of the proper auditions.

Sun Nov 11:    Tag-teamed Nina and Holly with the next two possibilites - Clay and Woody. Even as the auditions were happening, I did not know who Steve and Louise would be played by. I looked at the tapes at the end of the day: there it was, the evidence on the screen, Clay and Holly. And I was happy, the gruelling casting process over. Celebrated by having a souvlaki with Rad.

Mon Nov 12:     Got Holly and Clay together in the afternoon, we had a drink and a chat, discussing things. Met Nick Hayward, as Con holds off giving me a yay or nay on being the cinematographer.

Tue Nov 13:     A tough day - ringing all the actors who missed out. I especially feel for Jo and Nina. Wrote a long email to Nina, explaining my feelings about why Holly is a better choice for the role. Met Véronique Filippini. Wasn't sure what role she could play, but it became obvious when I met her: 1st AD. Fiona Latham confirmed as assistant Production Manager.

Wed Nov 14:     Had to ring Mara Jansen and explain that someone better suited to 1st AD job has just appeared and that I've offered this new person the job. Never at any stage had I promised the job to Mara, but she obviously feels slightly betrayed. She has now lost interest in working on the film. Productive meeting today with Nick. He asked some questions, I looked at his work - and he was confirmed as the DOP. Also met George Beshir - who will be producing a video documentary on the making of the film.

Thu Nov 15:     Try to patch things up with Mara, but she's not interested.

Fri Nov 16:      Camera team building - several possibilities in the pipeline.

Sat Nov 17:     Met Michael Krzanich - quite a helpful guy who unexpectedly upgrades the sound medium of the film from 1/4 inch tape to DAT.

Sun Nov 18:     Production meetings now clearly under way - I have one with Albert, the art director. We look at Rad's place as a possibility for the flat Steve and Louise live in.

Mon Nov 19:     Michael K. confirmed as Gaffer, and Steve Stanelun as Focus Puller.

Tue Nov 20:     First big meeting with Clay and Holly, preparing for the roles.

Wed Nov 21:     And first rehearsals with Clay and Holly - the film starting to come to life. Nick now can't start filming until Wed Dec 5, giving a couple of extra days for preparations, but compressing the shooting period slightly. We have to finish before Christmas, after all. Chris Patterson locked in as Clapper / Loader.

Thu Nov 22:      Rehearsals with John and Josie. Met Delphine Fricotte, for production assistant. Hey, the more Frenchies the better!

Fri Nov 23:       Wardrobe check at Holly's place with Kathy. Holly's evil! She has this amazing presence, she really does. Cast get-together tonight, and I force them to sit through La Ville est tranquille, with Véronique explaining to us how we should pronounce the title.

Sat Nov 24:     Crew get-together, but only one of the ten makes the time to see the film. Cast win on this score!

Sun Nov 25:     Location-scouting with Albert in the city. He showed me a great location for the (new) opening scene.

Mon Nov 26:     Nick and I went to Kodak, where we were shown examples of Super 16 stocks blown up to 35. Quite clearly the faster stocks are problematic in terms of their grain, so we'll be sticking to 100T and 200T. Kathy also made the important frying pan prop today, and Véronique was kept very busy putting the Schedule together.

Tue Nov 27:     Exactly one week out from the shoot, I finalised various script changes today. Also rehearsed more with Clay and Holly, the two stars of the show. I couldn't be happier with them - they match really well. No-one tell them to break a leg, okay?!

Wed Nov 28:    George Beshir began his doco-taping process by doing a quick interview with me and filming some of the rehearsals. And Annabel was kept busy behind the scenes ensuring the production is set up properly with insurances, etc. Some of the cast and crew are also beginning to interact more and more, building the flavour of a co-operative production. Good fun, hard work - the full kaboodle.

Thu Nov 29:     I caught a slight cold last night, which continued throughout today. I was still able to function though - the important thing. We rehearsed a heap more today, including doing the strangulation scene under the watchful eye of martial arts instructor Kha. For the past week or so now I've really been getting the sense that it's not "my" project anymore. When pre-production started, I was completely on my own, contacting various cast and crew, building a team. Now, it's not just my manic energy making things happen - but other people's too.

Fri Nov 30:     Being a low-budget film where all the money to shoot (about 10-12K) is coming from me, I am conscious of every dollar leaving my pocket (especially when I don't actually have those dollars). With one phone call today, Annabel thought she had saved the production 1,000. With another, that pretty much disappeared. It can be that up and down. (I am able to function as a film-maker because I can control my budgets, and not get myself into ridiculous amounts of debt.) A long day today as Albert and I checked a couple of locations out, especially the Dandenongs. I then got stranded in an outer suburb for an hour - one can have a mobile phone on one, but that doesn't guarantee a taxi! Ah, now for the weekend (which means more work, natch).

Go to Diary for December