One starts with the question, why? Why would you choose this life? It’s been exciting, fun, creatively rewarding and exhilarating at times; but it’s also been cruel, bitchy and heart-breaking at others. Perhaps this is part and parcel of being a filmmaker in Australia?
I never thought about filmmaking as a career. Filmmakers today are more focused, even ruthless in their career strategy. Understandably as it’s a matter of survival, and so much importance is placed on ‘building’ the right career path. Perhaps if I’d hopped on the first plane to the US after the success and media attention for my first feature and personally chased those deals with Miramax, signed up with those agents, managers and lawyers – perhaps I would’ve made that leap? But as a new parent, nothing was further from my mind – and somewhat naively I thought that recognition internationally (through festivals and sales) would help build a solid career in Australia. Well yes it does, but not consistently over time, and certainly not if you choose to stay here.
Filmmaking is both deceptively simple, and extremely complex. You need to know a little about a lot, and it really helps if you know a lot about a lot. I don’t believe that cinema is about what’s written on the page, nor is it an intellectual pursuit. Not for me anyway. It’s about the creation of something greater out of the pictures, sounds and ideas you bring together on screen. It’s a strange mix between taking those core ideas, doing all that thorough painstaking preparation and planning; then throwing it all up in the air where your intuition and instinct has to work with whatever it becomes; which in turn gets thrown in the air again in post production. Truly great cinema can be etherial and spacious (Bresson, Ozu, two of my favorite films are – Pickpocket and Two Lane Blacktop) and it can be totally frenetic and explosive (Carpenter, Lucas, Coppola, anything by Sam Raimi). It can be pretentiously arty, and awfully silly – and yet still be rewarding. It’s such a broad canvas we work with. And if I was stuck on a desert island with only one film to watch? ... I think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure might do the trick.
See also REFLECTIONS OF THE MELBOURNE INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING SCENE
LOOK BOTH WAYS (2004, 100 mins, Dir: Sarah Watt, Prod: Bridget Ikin) (DOP)
BODY MELT (1992; 83 mins; Dir: Philip Brophy Prod: Rod Bishop) (DOP)
EIGHT BALL (1991; 90 mins, Co-production with ABC TV (co-SCR, DIR))
STAN & GEORGE'S NEW LIFE (1991; 104 mins; Dir: Brian McKenzie Prod: Margot McDonald) (DOP)
RETURN HOME (1990; 89 mins) (SCR, DIR, CO-PROD with Cristina Pozzan)
CASTANET CLUB'S BIG NIGHT OUT (1988; 85 mins; Dir: Neil Armfield Prod: Glenys Rowe) (DOP)
THE PRISONER OF ST. PETERSBERG (1988; 78 mins; Dir: Ian Pringle Prod: Daniel Scharf) (DOP)
TENDER HOOKS (1987; 95 mins; Dir: Mary Callaghan Prod: Chris Oliver) (DOP)
WITH LOVE TO THE PERSON NEXT TO ME (1986; 98 mins; Dir: Brian McKenzie Prd: John Cruthers) (DOP, ED)
SALT, SALIVA, SPERM AND SWEAT (1987; 50 mins; Dir: Philip Brophy Prod: Rod Bishop) (DOP)
WRONG WORLD (1984; 84 mins; Dir: Ian Pringle Prod: Bryce Menzies) (DOP, ED)
THE PLAINS OF HEAVEN (1982; 80 mins; Dir: Ian Pringle Prod: John Cruthers) (DOP, ED)
on set Body Melt 1992
WRONSKY (1978; 71 mins; Dir: Ian Pringle Prod: John Cruthers) (DOP)
MDA Series 2 (2003; 55 mins; Episode 24: Chinese Walls) (DIR)
MDA Series 1 (2002; Establishing/Set-up Director; Episode 3 & 4 (ABC TV and Screentime))
BONDI BANQUET (1999; 30 mins x 2 eps) (SBSI and Robyn Kershaw Productions) (DIR)
SEACHANGE Series 1 (1998; Establishing/Set-up Director; Episode 3 & 4 - 2 x 55 mins) (ABC and Artist Services)
99.9 RAW FM (1997; 55 mins) (co-SCR, DIR) Episode 7 - "A Raw Nerve" (ABC and Generation Films)
DOCUMENTARY AND LONGFORM MUSIC PROGRAMMES
ONE OUT OF THE BAG (2006; 106 mins; Feature concert film of SPLIT ENZ reunion tour. (PROD, DIR, DOP, ED)
THE LAKE SCHOOL (2005; 46 mins; DVD of the Celtic music camp held in Koroit, VIC) (DIR, PROD, DOP, ED)
shooting The Prisoner of St. Petersburg 1988
UNDER ONE ROOF (2002-03; 50 mins; documentary series; Episode 2 The Puckeridge family. (DIR, CO-DOP) (for Film Australia, National Interest Program)
DESPERATE MAN BLUES (2000; 52 mins: Dir: Ed Gillan) (DOP, Post supervisor)
24 HEURES À SYDNEY (2001; Production co-ordination (French Production))
LES ENFANTS DE MAD MAX (2000; 53 mins; Production co-ordination (French Production))
PAT AND EDDIES GREYHOUND RACING FAMILY (1994; 94 mins; Feature Documentary) (ED) Dir: Brian McKenzie. Prod: Daniel Scharf
A PLACE TO BELONG (1992; 52 mins; D: Brian McKenzie. Prod: Daniel Scharf (DOP, ED))
PEOPLE WHO STILL USE MILK BOTTLES (1989; 53 mins; D: Brian McKenzie P: John Cruthers) (DOP)
on set "Read About It"
(Midnight Oil) clip 1984
POP MOVIE (1985-86; TV Series 6 x half hour for ABC TV) (DIR, co-SCR, co-PROD; co-DOP, co-ED)
AUSTRALIAN MADE (1987; DIR/DOP Second Unit)
THE SPIRIT SHOW (1987; 100 mins Concert film Black Sorrows (DIR, DOP, PROD)
RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET (1984; incomplete; Concert film Midnight Oil (DIR, DOP, PROD)
RIGHT THERE ON MY TV (1984; 84 mins; Concert film Skyhooks (DIR, DOP, PROD)
TRACK RECORD (1983; 72 mins; Concert film Joan Armatrading (DIR, DOP, PROD)
SKYHOOKS (1983; 30 mins; LIVE IN THE 80's - (DIR, DOP, ED, PROD)
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE CAPITOL (1982; 52 mins; Concert film Midnight Oil (DIR, DP, ED, PROD))
shooting "2 People per sq km"
(The Models) 1980
STAYING NUMBER ONE (1981; 31 mins (DIR, DOP, ED, PROD))
THE MODELS (1981; 24 mins (DIR, DOP, ED, PROD))
Sound editor at ABC TV, Natural History and TV drama. 1980 - 81
1980-87 MUSIC VIDEOS for artists including: Midnight Oil, Crowded House, Hoodoo Gurus, Split Enz, Hunters and Collectors, Cold Chisel, Men at Work.
SHORT DRAMAS, ANIMATION, ONLINE
Production of filmmaker interviews for Australian Screen Online (NFSA) (2009, various)
LES CONTES DES ANIMAUX (2003, 42 mins) (Dir: Lucinda Clutterbuck) (PROD, ED)
WALNUT & HONEYSUCKLE (2001; 5 mins) (Dir: Lucinda Clutterbuck) (ED)
on set "Message to my Girl"
(Split Enz) 1983
LIVING WITH HAPPINESS (2001, 5 mins) (Dir: Sarah Watt) (ED)
LOST (1999; 13 mins) (Dir: Jo Kennedy) (DOP, co-ED)
ASHPUTTLE (1998; (Dir: Nag Vladermisky, Susie Allender) (ED)
THE BRIDGE (1997; (Dir: Jo Kennedy) (DOP)
THE WEB Series two (1995; 7 x 5 mins) (Animated series) (Series dir: Lucinda Clutterbuck) (ED)
SMALL TREASURES (1994; animated short) (Dir: Sarah Watt) (ED)
THE WEB Series one (1992-93; 6 x 5 mins) (Animated series) (Series dir: Lucinda Clutterbuck) (ED)
CAMERA NATURA (1986; 32 mins) (Dir: Ross Gibson Prod: John Cruthers) (DOP)
NO DANCE (1984; 22 mins) (Dir: Philip Brophy Prod: Rod Bishop) (DOP)
THE INVERTED KISS (1983) (Dir: Phllip Brophy Prod: Rod Bishop) (DOP)
Julie, Julie 1982
JULIE, JULIE (1982; 24 mins) (DIR, WR, ED)
DOGFOOD (1978; 20 mins) (DIR, WR, DOP, ED)
PARNASSUS (1976; 35 mins) (DIR, WR, PROD, DOP, ED)
COMA (1976; 7 mins) (DIR, WR, PROD, DOP, ED)
MORNING RITE (1975; 15 mins) (DIR, WR, PROD, DOP, ED)
Berlin Festival 1990 Panorama; Seatlle, Edinburgh, Cannes Forum (retrospective)
1990 AFI award for Best Director.
1990 Film critics circle of Australia Award for Best Director.
1990 Film critics circle of Australia Award for Best Film.
2002 Remastered for the Kodak/Atlab Cinema Collection (NFSA)
Return Home 1990
THE PRISONER OF ST. PETERSBERG
Gold Award 1989 ACS Awards (Victoria)
Silver Award 1988 ACS Awards (Victoria)
WITH LOVE TO THE PERSON NEXT TO ME
Kodak Cinematography Award 1988 St Kilda Festival
Nomination Best Cinematography 1985 AFI Awards
Nominated for cinematography AFI awards 1998
Movietime - 8 January 2010 - Summer Trash & Treasure: Ray Argall on 'Two-Lane Blacktop'
National Film and Sound Archive - Kodak/Atlab Cinema Collection - Return Home (1990)
Return Home (1990) curator's notes on ASO - Australia's audio and visual heritage online
Look Both Ways: Interview with Sarah Watt and Andrew S. Gilbert, Senses of Cinema
Peter Galvin: Return Home; 100 Greatest films of Australian Cinema, edited by Scott Hocking
Brian McFarlane and Geoff Mayer; New Australian Cinema
Cinema Papers 78; Scott Murray; Report and Interview Return Home; 1990
Filmnews; Vol 20, No. 7; August 1990; Home Truths; Peter Kemp
The Movie Show; Margaret Pomeranz, David Stratton; IV and review Return Home (5 stars from each of them!)
The Oxford Companion to Australian Film; edited by Brian McFarlane, Geoff Mayer, Ina Bertrand.
"'Round the Block": Back to the Suburb in Return Home", in Beasts of Suburbia (Ed)
Chris Heeley (Melbourne University Press, 1994), pp. 111 - 126.
Ray Argall, April 2010
Ray Argall's website
Umbrella Entertainment | DVD and Blu Ray | RETURN HOME (DVD)
YouTube - Ray Argall showreel
Contact Ray Argall
to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page