Posts by: Matt

Stranded by a volcano eruption

Whilst in London I have tried to make the most of my days off by organising few meetings and catching up with my growing number of UK friends. It was a pleasure to see Jim Loach again, busy in the editing suite with Oranges and Sunshine. My timing was good in that I was able to view an assemblage of one scene from the film, absolutely beautiful and very emotional, that confirmed my feelings that this will be a stunning film.

[IMAGE] Jim Loach in the editing room at Air Post.

It also proved to be a good time to be in London in that I was able to pick up 2 extra days work on The Eagle of the Ninth which had 3 days of re-shoots at Shepperton Studios. With very little preparation time an amazing Roman era set was constructed and busy actors Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Mark Strong were secured. It was fantastic to catch up with the cast and many of the original crew members, and the filming went well, director Kevin Macdonald being able to polish what I am confident will be beautifully shot and epic adventure film.

Director Edgar Wright visited the Attack the Block set, emerging from the editing room where he has been putting the finishing touches on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Part of the Big Talk Productions family, we worked together on Hot Fuzz, and he is good friends and occasional collaborator with my current director Joe Cornish. I was delighted that Joe asked me to take a snap of the two of them together which saved me the embarrassment of having to ask. It appeared on Edgar’s web site a few days later with a very complimentary thank you.

[IMAGE] My snap of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish as it appeared on Edgar’s site.

The Infidel, a film I worked on in 2009, also had is premiere over this period and I was fortunate to get an invite. Although it was a small budget comedy by a first time director and a young international crew, the massive opening at The Hammersmith Apollo, with celebrities walking down a red carpet flanked by a pack of screaming paparazzi made it seem much bigger and more important than I was prepared for. With my friend, singer Alison Limerick as my date, we fought our way into the huge, but totally packed theatre. After a passionate organ recital and a comedy session by my hacky sack team mates, writer David Baddiel and lead actor Omid Djalili, we were treated to what was indeed a very funny and well made film, my cameo as a press photographer even made the cut.

[IMAGE] The Infidel premiere at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Attack the Block has finished its night shoots and moved into the studio and my 5 week stint has come to an end. It was a brilliant film to have worked on, a fantastic cast, crew and aliens. With the weather just starting to warm up, I now head back to Australia for my next film project, Fred Schepisi directing The Eye of The Storm, with Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling in the leading roles. The film shoots in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland and I will be doing stills intermittently over 2 month shoot. The beautifully written script, based on the Patrick White novel, is set in 1970′s Sydney, an intense drama demanding some amazing performances from its fantastic cast. I am nervous as usual but delighted to be going home and being able to spend time with my family. My bags are packed, and if it wasn’t for a volcano erupting in Iceland, and all flights being cancelled from Heathrow, I would be leaving London tonight!

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Shooting aliens in London.

2010 seems to be shaping up as a super busy and very interesting year. Being appointed official photographer for the Adelaide International Arts Festival was a refreshing change to shooting film stills, which these days constitute the majority of my work load. I love documentary photography and the festival is as diverse as it comes. With my faithful cruiser bike as transport, I found myself racing between gallery openings, opera, theatre, the writers festival, a fireworks spectacular and the festival club; all in one particularly busy day. It was a treat to be working on the second job in a row in my home town Adelaide, and definitely a challenge to juggle family life with an erratic work schedule.

[IMAGE] Northern Lights building projections on North Terrace, Adelaide.

As the festival drew to a close several film opportunities seemed to be emerging at the same time, and I needed to play my cards carefully to ensure I was available for what I could only speculate would be the best project. It was the UK film Attack the Block that locked me in first and on the last day of the Adelaide Festival I delivered my hard drive of some 8000 images and jumped on a plane to London.
The first feature by writer/director Joe Cornish, and my third film with producer Nira Park and her company Big Talk Productions, Attack the Block is a very London film and far from the type of projects I tend to work on in Australia. The story centres on a gang of teen-ages who find themselves fighting for their lives and defending their tower block housing estate against an alien assault. The fast paced script uses London street jargon cleverly and has a moral story within its science fiction plot. I was fortunate to have the freezing northern winter break pretty much on the day I arrived, but it is still very fresh outdoors as we shoot all through the night in between showers, the crew a huddled mass of black, thickly clad, Gortex wrapped figures in beanies and scarfs.

[IMAGE] Attack the Block crew outside an East London housing estate used in the film.

Once again I am staying with my friend Dan Mudford in the basement of his Tooting flat. It is always a pleasure to see him and his enormous and eclectic music collection is my companion through the countless hours of editing I make for myself by shooting over a thousand images a night.

A good start to 2010

This time last year I had needed to return to my cinema projection job, cursing the inconsistent film industry in which I am attempting to build my career and make a living. Fortunately 2010 has already got off to an amazing start as I wrap up my first feature film project and prepare to shoot a fortnight of the Adelaide International Arts Festival ahead of a possible film in London.

Oranges and Sunshine is the first feature film by UK director Jim Loach. The son of Ken Loach, Jim had grown up in the world of film-making and has an impressive portfolio of UK television and short film to his credit. He is the nicest person, as is his producer Camilla Bray, a positive energy that flowed down through the entire production making it a joy to work on. The film deals with the scandal of the English orphans forcibly emigrated to Australia between the 1950′s and the 1970′s and one social worker’s attempt to uncover the truth and re-unite families. The stellar cast is led by Emily Watson with David Wenham and Hugo Weaving, in our forth film together. Set in the 1980′s, the film shot in Nottingham, England before coming to my home town Adelaide and then on to the rugged landscape of Arkaroola in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

[IMAGE] Oranges and Sunshine cast and crew on a light plane to Arkaroola. Feburary 2010.

The English crew members suffered in the intense outback heat coupled with an apocalyptic assault of flies in the rugged Arkaroola location, it tested even us hardened Aussies. To every one’s surprise they were not the only Englishmen in the remote region with no less than Lord Monckton, the outspoken climate change sceptic, sharing our accommodation with his wife and friend, Australian climate change denier Ian Plimer. I wrote and letter to the Sydney Morning Herald about the strange meeting and an amusing incident that unfolded.

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Starting the year on a film in Adelaide has given me an extended and indulgent period at home with my beloved family and dear friends. The dog is regularily walked, an endless list of house jobs have been tackled and I have been able to do lots of cruising around on my bike. Always with a compact camera on me, I have numerous suburban photo projects underway, and have been photographing discarded, inverted televisions on the street for several years. The switching over from analogue to digital transmission has meant that there has been huge addition to this particular collection that one day will make a curious exhibition and record of the time.

[IMAGE] Discarded Inverted TV’s.

A web page

A phone call came mid way through my UK holiday and I locked in 2 months of work in Hungary. The Eagle of the Ninth is a feature film set in second century Britain, under the occupation of Rome. The script arrived and was was loaded with beautiful images of Scottish landscapes, epic battles between armies, swords horses and chariots. Kevin MacDonald was directing, Duncan Kenworthy was producing and Anthony Dod Mantle was cinematographer, a fantastic job.

Anthony Dod Mantle (center) with cinematographers Nigel Walters and Vilmos Zsigmond who visited the fort location, Hungary.

The reality of living in an apartment in Budapest for two months, shooting six day weeks, 12 hour shooting days with a 1 hour travel each way to location each was tolerable when every day was a visual treat. The scenes and locations yielded easily a thousand frames a day that needed to be downloaded and backed up nightly and then edited on my day off. Working closely with Anthony Dod Mantle I shot HD video on a stills camera throughout the shoot, arty grabs that may help in the final edit, which also needed downloading and backing up. It was helpful knowing that I was being well paid, and the job was always great fun, I met some excellent people.

Video Split Operator Jack Warrender at the colesium location set up beside the caged wolves.

Back in Australia, I submerged myself for 3 weeks in my beloved family, the endless jobs around the house and the dog got 2 walks a day before I got busy again. Two weeks of beautiful location photography for South Australia’s Tourism Department was juggled with 2 weeks on a wonderful film called South Solitary. Shooting in Victoria, South Solitary is set in the 1920′s, a lovely story of a woman who follows her Uncle to a remote lighthouse island. The cliff top location at Cape Nelson was beautiful, lighthouses look amazing from any angle and it was good to be shooting in an Australian landscape again.

South Solitary crew load sheep and actors into a boat. Portland Jetty, Victoria

Where the Wild Things Are is opening internationally and The Boys are Back and Beautiful Kate are both doing very well in festivals and on local screens. In a magazine shop I bought five current magazines with my photo’s on the cover, and finally I have got myself a web site. It all seems to be going pretty well and I truth I suspect now may actually be my moment. But I have been here before and will not be at all surprised if find myself projecting films for 15 dollars an hour.

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