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Michael Buckley


'Match Film Shoot'
An extract from Feeble Fables and Fairy Tales, Falling Upart Journal no 5, June 2006

by Michael Buckley

Tonight I am going filming. I don't want to go, I don't want to - I just want to lie here an watch CNN with Sim our son - he only arrived from Australia yesterday - 'They've caught Sadam! - Look in big letters across the bottom of the screen - Sadam Hussein captured! '

I make up excuses about leaving. It's polluted out there in Bombay - too much smog an there are millions an millions (20 million) an me! I have to catch the train at Churchgate in the dark! - I don't want to go - I pull the sheet over my head in our hotel room an then I peer out at the TV again. They show some footage of Sadam captured.

He looks like a sadhu who has wandered in from the desert - Look they are shining a torch into his mouth, its all orange inside there... Sadam's oriface looks like a cave into the underworld -  the divil usually enters an exits the body through the arsehole - In fact Sadam looks like a kindly grandfatherly type, like the evil Australian politician John Howard we have as a Prime Minister at the moment in Australia!

'Look get going!' says Sue, 'Its your last night of filming in Mumbai!'

'But Saddam is getting a haircut - and I'm getting a permanent stoop peering into the camera!'

I arise like Lazarus from my bed. I get a train at Churchgate - it shunts out into the vast regions of the suburbs of the Mumbai night - I barely squeeze past the guys hanging out the train carriage in first class - I wonder what second class is like tonight?

I stare at the picture of the rabid dog with dripping deadly saliva advertised on the wall inside the train - 100% fatal, only six injections in the arm required! I manage to turn the page of the Mid Day newspaper Dec 27 2003 to the track watch page - 10 the number of people who have died crossing the tracks in the city in the last 24 hours. 3695 the total number who have died crossing train tracks in Mumbai since Jan 2003.

One hour later I arrive at Greigoan station an squeeze past the guys hanging on at the door an get off. I wipe the sweat from my forehead - it gets kind of hot in those first class compartments. In second class you melt into clarified butter.

I buy mandarins from the fruit seller at the station exit. I get a three wheeler to Hansa's place where we all meet before the film shoot.

'Hi!', I say entering her flat.

'Hi, Michael did you have a nap?' she asks.

'Yep, of course!' (We will be up all night filming).

Everyone turns up. We eat dinner that Hansa and Shami have cooked. Mutton Curry vegetables an rice. Its 10 o clock - We climb into the big white four wheel drive an head of to the new working class housing complex being built on the edge of a national park - sort of on the outer limits of Bombay.

We begin filming. Udai turns into a wild scavenger an hunts  for a match to light his cigarette in the night. Pi the producer dresses up as a cop an walks around with a big stick - but real cops turn up. I hide behind a car. Pi says, 'Its ok I've already paid them off.' I have shrunk to an amazing 6 inches behind our car.

The cops leave. Kids won't go to bed, we have to keep brushing them away so we can take shots - but their dads act for us in crowd scenes for free - we have donated money to their housing co-op so that we can film - their wives make us cups of tea. Its a winters night in Bombay, about 22 degrees, locals wear coats or shawls. They have a good housing co-op here. 54% of Bombays population live in slums. Tonight local villagers come in from the hills nearby and stay.

'How come?' I ask.

'There are wild marauding leopards out tonight.' someone replies.

'What do leopards do?' says me.

'They eat little human children.'

'Oh my god!' says Hansa with hand to her mouth.

We stare out into the night past the dusty boulders into the hills on the edge of the housing complex out into the jungle.

Udai the actor looks like a desperate wild cat now, he crawls along a drain, reaches thru a kitchen window, chases after a 3 wheeler, runs alongside an empty bus (we are at the end of the line here). Tries to light his smoke on a lit lightbulb, looks thru the bags of a figure asleep on the ground - Pi the cop arrives and beats him at this point with a big stick.

Cold feverish Udai staggers off into the dark an stands shaking in the night.

Then he yells out, ' Look there! An owl! Its on the ledge.'

Its a snow white barn owl with big eyes looking at us.

Udai continues his method acting. "Mr Owl, can you help on this cold winter's night, I am desperate to light my cigarette, where can I find a match?'

The owl says something to him.

I turn to Jebeesh our sound recordist.

'What did the owl say Jebeesh?'

'The owl said something in Urdu.'

'What was at?'

'God is with you.'

I was a bit startled...'You mean he spoke like a parrot. The owl didnt really say 'God is with you' by itself?'

'The owl is not a parrot! He did say it.' Jebeesh replies.

'Tell the owl that I am an atheist.'

Jebeesh turns and conveys the message. The owl blinks and replies.

'What did he say Jebeesh?'

The Owl said, 'So what!'

We turn and look at the owl who suddenly flies off. The first streaks of dawn appear in the sky. We get our camera into position for the last shot of the night.



























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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis