Suddenly everything went quiet

What had started as an outstanding year for work suddenly came to an abrupt halt. My inbox sat idle and even spam seemed to cease arriving. A couple of international film projects slipped through my fingers and, even more disturbingly, two interesting low budget features films shooting in my home town decided to use other photographers. Crestfallen, I came to the conclusion that my portfolio was perhaps looking too smug, too many international features and celebrities and not enough actual photographic substance. My solution was to totally rebuild my web site to include more examples of my personal photographic projects, my experience as performance and festival photographer as well as samples of my video work. My good friend Joe Guario, web designer with his company 16 Animals, stepped in and together we started the time consuming and expensive process of constructing a completely new site.

My new look web page.

My new look web page.

In the meanwhile I was faced with the real situation of needing to generate an income. The problem with running away on film jobs for months on end is that it is impossible to retain a freelance career in my home town. Local clients are forced to go with another photographer when they discover I am away on a job, and then you’ve lost them. I was fortunate that The State Theatre Company of South Australia offered me the photographic contract on their next production Gods of Carnage, a challenging mix of studio, documentary and performance photography.

God of Carnage, Kim Gyngell and Lizzy Falkland. Having the actor vomit on stage half way through the show presented an interesting challenge for the theatre’s technicians.

A few other small performance based photographic jobs emerged, and I even found myself up on stilts, entertaining the public dressed as an android, but it was not enough to keep me busy, let alone pay the bills. Cinema projection had been my fall back job in the past, but it payed terribly and all the nice people had left. I contacted my mate Pete Adley, who’s landscape design business Yardstick needed gardeners and labourers on a regular basis. Thankfully Pete was busy and immediately offered me 2 to 3 days work a week. I threw myself into the digging, planting and lugging projects that often left me in pain, but I actually quite enjoyed.

Matt Nettheim

Peter Adley and myself in our Yardstick Garden Services uniform with the $2000 Tree Aloe we installed at a house in Glenelg.

Whilst waiting for the next film job I embraced the time with my family and friends, and also undertook a 6 week course in Wildlife Rescue. Australian native fauna is been a passion of mine for as long as I remember. Each week the course dealt with the rescue requirements of different species and basic medical procedures. We handled snakes, lizards, baby kangaroos and practiced bird bandaging techniques on very patient pigeons. I loved the course and have confidently dealt with a few minor rescues already. Although my dream block of land on Kangaroo Island was sold to someone else, adding to the frustrations of this period, in my next life I will have a sanctuary of Australian animals, birds and reptiles in a pristine wilderness environment.

Wildlife Rescue Course. Practicing bandaging techniques on a very patient pidgeon.

Wildlife Rescue Course. Practicing bandaging techniques on a very patient pidgeon.

My big brother Dan is a talented artist and film director. I credit him with giving me my first job on a film set as well as sparking my initial interest in photography. His feature film The Hunter, has been in development for nearly 10 years, a wonderful script that he has largely adapted himself from a novel by his friend Julia Leigh. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of project from its inception, offering feedback on the various drafts of the script and taking photographs in Tasmania on an early location scout. The feature is now fully funded and finally, after a 3 month pause, will be my next film project taking me through to the end of the year. Described as an psychological thriller, the amazing Willem Defoe is playing the lead, with Francis O’Conner and Sam Neal supporting. I will be shooting the stills, filming the behind the scenes video documentary and generally assisting all departments on will be a challenging location shoot with a tight budget and minimal crew.

In the days before my departure to Tasmania, typically, I was offered another project, a quirky television comedy called Danger 5 shooting in Adelaide. The South Australian writer, director, musician and animator Dario Russo built a cult following with his highly stylized series Italian Spiderman, its episodes receiving over a million hits on You Tube. A parody of the action adventure films of the 60’s and 70’s, and their production techniques, Dario’s vision is confident and very funny. Although I am now only available for a few days, I am really looking forward to working on something interesting in my home town. I like to believe the new web site has done the trick.