I love the impressionist painters
- how they went out to places and tried to catch light and life
in the open air and real places. Orange
Love Story is also 'drawn from life'.
It's my impression of the place called Orange, composed
of the real stories of the people in the movie. I love the
people in the film and I hope the audience does too.
I look for
actions of spontaneous courage and humour. My main quest
is recording people; what is inimitable about that person at the
moment of filming. In reality the actor cannot be divorced
from their background. And in the most basic terms, the tension
between the actor and their background is the story. We
see this story in every picture we view. The tension between
the foreground person and their background can be caught in the
framing, montage, sound and juxtapositions of the film and that's
how I try to explore that story. This naturally results in revealing
the social conditions of the place where we are filming.
The best movies tell that story.
setting up the production in just such a way as to be able to
capture the real. I use stories that come from the people (actors)
and film in locations they belong to. It results in a feeling
of connectedness in the movie and a quality of the real.
to artfully capture reality is imaginable through photography.
My search for the 'real' reaches a crisis at the moment of capturing
the image. Henri Cartier-Bresson, the great still photographer,
refers to this moment as 'the moment of truth'. His quest to capture
that moment and his description of that quest inspires me.
We need to
be in tune with the ebb and flow of energy and power from one
person to another with the camera and I trained myself to read
people's reactions, impulses and body language and could improvise
the framing in tune with them. The more unguarded the protagonists,
the easier it is to read and follow. But, as a camera operator,
I found it frustrating not to be able to get in tune with the
actions of actors who are blocking their impulses (trying to get
it right). 'To act impulsively while pursuing your real desire',
requires courage and gracefulness. These are qualities worth filming.
But actors often block their impulses when there is not enough
time for them to analyze the scene or discover their true desires,
or to get into a groove with the other actors.
actors through scene analysis and practice, as proposed by Nico
Lathouris, is, in my experience, the best way to achieve those
moments of truth with actors. When I am also technically
well-prepared and committed enough, I will be filming at that
I worked on Survivor as a camera operator and re-visited
that sort of filming. It was drama to the extent that Americans
are always starring in their own movie and the Survivor
format is dramatically structured for television. While it was
interesting, Survivor manufactures a facile story.
to capture something deeper about our lives - to depict a story
of people's true desires in relation to the people and conditions
of where they live.
this approach over thirty years. But because it grows the movie
directly as a movie, it does not fit into any of the funding categories
of the AFC or the NSWFTO. This is one of the faults in their development
process. Film culture and commerce needs these real developmental
efforts, especially since our current development processes have
reduced our films' audience share down to 1.3% currently from
the total of around 18% twenty years ago. While the NSWFTO could
not support Orange Love Story, they gave me a directing
fellowship which was very helpful.
page on Orange Love Story.
(1962, 11 mins, 16mm, drama)
Class (1964, 12 mins, 16mm, doco)
of Sydney (1966, 12 mins, 16mm, doco)
Felix (1970, 28 mins, 16mm, doco)
of a House (1971, 20 mins, 16mm, doco)
Picnic (1972, 74 mins, 35mm, drama)
Family Education (1972, 12 mins, 16mm, doco)
Woman (1974, 90 mins, 35mm, drama)
Maruta (Wild Wind, India) (1975, 95 mins, 16mm, drama)
Among Women (1976, 84 mins, 35mm, drama)
Dreamers (1982, 82 mins, 16mm, drama)
of Their Lives (1984, 48 mins, 16mm, doco)
into Amazing Caves (1998, 48 mins, 70mm, doco)
- The Panda Adventure (1999, 52 mins, 70mm, drama)
2nd unit director
Story (2001, 28 mins, video, doco)
Love Story (2004, 83 mins, video, drama)
Life Class (2016, 92 mins, HD, drama)
Life Class TRAILER (2016)
New Wave - The Australian Film Revival, David Stratton - 1980,
Angus and Robertson.
Dreamers", review by Stephen Wallace, Filmnews, March
blossoms as a city with real character", Garry Maddox,
Sydney Morning Herald, October 18, 2003
"Orange Love Story" review, David Stratton, At the Movies with Margaret and David, May 2, 2005.
/ buy Orange Love Story from
Tom Cowan, July 2017
Life Class - website
Tom Cowan Movies - blog
to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page