The Candid Nature of Design

They say the greatest orators can read the telephone book and make it sound interesting. I’m pretty sure I’ll never, ever be on the front of the camera- not my place, never was- but I like to think I can translate that skill to my filmmaking. I might have mentioned it before, but I’d like to be able to film…like, a an office chair. Just a solitary chair, for three hours, and make it interesting using nothing but cinematography.

Don’t think anyone’s ever done that, but maybe I can be the first. ‘The Chair: A Study of Human Attention and Subtle Beauty’. Yeah, that sounds pretty good. Very bad, but also good if I ever had the skill to pull it off.

As it is, I think I need to keep finding subjects that are…well, not ‘boring’, but not exactly action movie explosion grade. Everybody finds something interesting, I guess, which is why live-streaming is so popular at the moment. Everyone trying to be the best at something or other and make it entertaining. Maybe I could make a living from it. Find someone who does, like…office fitouts. Melbourne could be our oyster. We film all the good stuff, mix in some drama and there you have a perfect TV show out of it already.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’d never go for reality TV. The quality of the stuff on TV right now is awful and not a world I want to see myself getting involved in. Plus I’d be dragging some poor office designers into that scheme, and I always feel sorry for people who have their businesses dragged into that sort of thing, and suddenly everything is on show.

Even fly-on-the-wall documentaries are artificial by nature. I guess that’s the greatest challenge for filmmakers: to capture the candid.  

So I just have to disguise myself as a chair…and film some commercial fitout people in Melbourne, without their knowledge.

Scratch that, terrible idea.

-Jesse

In a tizzy over air conditioners

I am not a happy camper as of late. I’ve been working out in the garden all afternoon and am now feeling rather unwell. It was frightfully warm outside, it’s as if the sun was bearing down upon me alone. Now I’m extremely sunburnt and feeling ill from overexposure to the sun. I went inside to try and cool off but it appears that the air conditioner has ceased to function. A quick look online has revealed that I am suffering from what is commonly known as heat stroke. I desperately need the house to be cooler than it is right now. I feel most unwell, even after a long cold bath my skin feels far too warm. There isn’t anything for it, I must organise air conditioner repairs post haste. The reason I was so determined to work in the garden on such a humid day is selfless as you will soon find out. I need to get the garden ready for my great aunt’s birthday which is only a few short weeks away. I fear I shan’t be able to get the garden prepared in time. I’ll be telephoning the helpful fellows from that company that does air conditioning repairs. Melbourne has been strangely warm for March, one can only conclude that global warming is the culprit.

I have high hopes that the air conditioner technicians will be available for a service call this week. If I can’t get this blasted heat under control I fear that I shan’t be sleeping this evening. I am very concerned about the loss of work time due to this setback. The relatives are counting on me to have the garden prepared for the upcoming festivities. I have my fingers crossed that there isn’t anything more sinister wrong with my air conditioning. Melbourne based relatives have tried to sabotage my effort in the past, well they can think again.

Mark my words, I will have the cool air flowing soon. As for the garden, well there is nothing to do but call for reinforcements. As much as it pains me to admit I require assistance, I will be bringing in professional to see the work is completed on schedule.

The landscapers have never let me down in the past. They are responsible for the majestic garden that is currently in need of tending at my domicile. My award winning garden is the my pride and joy. I have let my beauty wither over winter. My bad back has prevented me from pruning and primping my lovely roses, insects have ravaged their once beautiful foliage. I shall begrudgingly relinquish control to the landscapers. I know in my heart that it is more noble to accept assistance than to suffer and fail. My only fear is that my beloved relatives will look down upon me for not completing this task on my own merits.

Win an Oscar: Get Dermal Fillers

When an actor wants to win an Oscar, they change themselves. It’s like lazy Oscar shorthand. Lose a load of weight, put on a load of weight, cut your hair, cut…other stuff, and act like a total creep, calling it ‘method acting’. Bam, success for you. I personally don’t like the concept of method acting at all. Like, if you’re acting, you’re pretending to be another person. People who are good at that are good actors; method acting is a crutch.

But that’s just my opinion as a filmmaker, not an actor. I wouldn’t have a problem with some physical changes to increase the immersion. I was recently involved (not running) in a film project, where I was put in charge of costuming for…some reason. Somebody had to do it. They’d called in a Melbourne laser hair removal person, because it was some serious, dark exploration of nuclear fallout and they wanted a person to lose all their hair. You just can’t achieve something like that by shaving; it had to be done with lasers. I just stepped aside and let the hair removal person do their thing with the actor, and it seemed to work.

Cosmetic surgeries nowadays seem to be getting more and more permanent, which I guess is great for some people. If you want your eyebrows done, have them cosmetically tattooed. Don’t have to worry about it for a while. I do wonder what it means for people in movies who are told they have to change to get a part. Like, people will do anything to smash into the business. Like, your mouth isn’t quite the right shape? There’s a solution for that: dermal fillers. Melbourne will set you up with those. See, this is why I like to be behind the camera most of the time…acting is just extreme. Whereas if you’re filming you don’t have to say anything, and you can wear whatever hats you like.

-Jesse

Animals at Work…Like Pest Control

Pakenham termite controlThe film competition is still so far away, but it seems like there’s still a lot to do. I guess the preliminaries do have a fast-approaching deadline, so there’s something to work towards. Really quickly, as I’ve just checked the date and I only have three weeks to submit.

The theme is ‘animals at work’, and I’ve had an off-the-cuff idea that hopefully not many people have considered. I’ve done a LOAD of research on the previous winning entries, and they all have a common thread of something you wouldn’t expect, so…my entry will be on pest control.

Animals at work, right? Everyone else will be filming police dogs, guide dogs, companion dogs, hunting dogs…maybe carrier pigeons, I don’t know. But there’s a place right over in Pakenham, pest control is what they do (probably several places, actually…I need to do some research) and I’m wondering if I can do an expose on what their job involves. I’m just hoping that the judges don’t look at my entry and decide a monster like me doesn’t deserve a place in the competition, so this could end up being a risky gamble. My point is that not all animals- insects in this instance- are favourably used in work. After all, race horses don’t have much of a fun time with their jobs. Animal testing is a thing, and a really sad thing at that.

I guess both of those would be fine so long as you don’t make an entire presentation on why animal testing is great. Though maybe being that braze could work…not that it’s something I’m considering. Nope, I think pest control is something that could subvert the norm and get me noticed. Now I just need to find a place in Pakenham or a bit closer in- maybe Rosebud- that does pest control and termite inspections and all of that, and they have to be willing to let me film them. It’s all positive, so there’s no harm in asking. Might as well be advertising; this is a very prestigious film competition, after all…

-Jesse

Filming Up a Ladder

custom designed platformIt’s pretty far away still, but the Junior Filmmaker Championships are coming up…and I’m pretty keen on getting myself a place. If you haven’t heard of the JFC, then your life is probably less stressful for it, because even the application process is brutal. The final competition only lets in forty out of hundreds of thousands of applicants, and then it gets way more intense form there. SO basically, I’ll have to submit a bit more than my short film on people who look at walls. Maybe I’ll shoot something from scratch, I don’t know yet.

They’re asking me all these questions on the form and I’m trying to figure out what sounds the most impressive. What’s my most dangerous filming location? There was that time with the cliff. And when I disturbed a beehive. But then…okay. Someone wanted a promo video for custom designed platforms. They do all sorts of stuff- aluminium, trestles, all that- but they wanted me to show customers that they were the absolute best. So obviously, that meant some crazy shots from the top of a ladder platform, on a really windy day. To be fair, they hadn’t been exaggerating or telling fibs; the platforms were that good.

But then another platform company saw the video and wanted me to do the same thing, but different. And then another one. So that was the weekend I ended up climbing aluminium platforms for pretty much the whole time, trying to film on some very windy days. At least most of them gave me hard-hats in case I took a tumble. Actually, I’m pretty happy with how most of those turned out; got some really good footage and it just looks impressive. It’s definitely going on my highlight reel for the competition: some quality custom aluminium platform ladder footage, commercial as well. And it’ll prove that I’ll do pretty much anything, so there’s that.

-Jesse

Paid to Film Trees, Hooray

strump grindingAlright, here’s a project I can actually get on board with! Mostly because I’m getting paid. Not all that much, mind you…more of a ‘thanks for your time, go buy a coffee’ type of pay, but I won’t be paying for my coffee on that day and I’ll be getting experience. If only you could buy coffee with experience…

Anyway, there are a group of tree loppers who want their hobby to be portrayed in a positive light. I didn’t even know people did that for a hobby instead of a living, but there you go. Get into photography and videography and you get taken to some strange places, meet some strange people and spend hours editing snaps of people spending their time in weird ways. It’s up to them, I’m not judging.

Anyway, some of them have done some actual, commercial tree stump grinding in Melbourne and around the place, and the guy who heads up the organisation used to do a similar thing up in Brisbane. He had to quit and get a desk job because he fell from a platform once and damaged his wrists, but now he does it for a hobby and wants people to join in. I guess…from what I’ve seen of their website, I can see the appeal. They find a dead tree, or a tree stump that might one day get in the way of building or walking, or maybe driving, and they dig it up. Then they talk about how easy it was, whether they used the right equipment, all the latest equipment for tree stump removal and tree lopping, and then I guess they go home. They have regular lopping meetings on Saturday afternoons, so that’s what I’ll be filming. I get to go for a hike, talk to some nice people and hopefully they’ll actually find something to lop so I can get some real Melbourne tree lopping amateur action on camera. I’m told that they generally do find one or two incidents, and if there aren’t any then my fee will be increased for next time. That’s TWO coffees. My career is on a roll, clearly.

-Jesse

Photography project: Part II

aluminium window replacementsIt’s been several weeks now since I begun to take photography seriously. While film has, is, and always will be my first love, there’s something hauntingly beautiful about the silent passage of life as captured in a snapshot. By no means do I profess to be an expert in photography, at the most I’m an amateur with a high quality camera, but I feel that branching out into other fields is crucial for my own personal development.

I know I’ve talked before on this blog about taking seemingly mundane things – a leaf on the pavement, a ladder against a brick wall – and transforming them into works of art. As in my ambitions for my documentaries, I want to show the raw and powerful nature of the forces around us that we see passively but largely fall below our collective consciousness.

In a part of what I hope will be my industrialist series, I found a house with the most incredible windows. By that, I mean these windows are completely dilapidated, but for my purposes, it is absolutely perfect. The need for aluminium window repairs on these Melbourne windows is so authentic, such a pure reflection of life and so full of unspoken meaning. It’s incredible that a building can capture such a strong sense of abandonment and isolation.

I feel that, if I do it correctly, I can get people to resonate as strongly with these seemingly ordinary objects and sights the way I do. That, through the lens of the camera, I can make others see the wonder and complexity in the world that I see. It’s such power and such a privilege.

I have a problem, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that the house has been sold, meaning that in all likelihood, the new owners will install replacement windows. Melbourne could really benefit from preserving relics from the past, like my abandoned house.

A dramatic composition

melbourne aluminium traysOver the last few months, I’ve been getting more and more into photography. A friend of mine is working professionally, and I went with him to one of his gigs, just to help out. While I was there, though, I started getting really interested in what he was doing – the intricacies of the whole thing – and so I got him to show me a couple of things afterwards. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve found the most incredible new aesthetic. I think I could really make it my signature look and, miraculously, I stumbled across it almost completely by accident.

I was walking to work about two weeks ago when I sauntered past two utes parked, one slightly further forward than the other, parallel with a brick wall. Immediately, I saw something special about the composition of those aluminium trays. Melbourne has lots of different things that are all incredible in their own right that I guess I could have chosen to photograph, but I didn’t. Instead, looking at the way they were set up – thoughtlessly yet strikingly – I grabbed my camera and began to take pictures, hesitatingly at first and then with more confidence, the scene before me.

After that moment, that bubble in time where my creative energy took control, I continued through the day at work but spent every moment waiting until I could get home and have a look at the pictures properly, on my computer. The result was beyond my wildest hopes. With a bit of editing, the pictures looked amazing. With just a glint of the aluminium toolboxes showing from inside the ute, the composition and contrast between the metal and the brick was almost overwhelmingly indicative of the proletariat society we’ve moved away from in recent decades. A remnant from a time we’re in danger of losing. A transition through time, captured forever in my lens.

Modern Art Plus Therapy

oxygen therapyBecause I’m a photographer/videographer, people ask me all the time what I think of modern art. My opinion: not all that much. It’s mostly really pretentious stuff that places all the onus on the viewer, thus sparing you from having any talent. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can paint a canvas blue and put a white stripe in the middle. Anyone can mess up a bed and call it ‘a beautiful representation of primitive chaos’. Art takes talent. Fact.

Though I guess you can never really know how much talent goes into something…and the passion of the creator is important. I went to an exhibit recently that showcased a lot of modern photography, with one that capitalized on all that modern oxygen stuff people are doing. ‘Oxygen Therapy: Melbourne Medicine’, it was called. I really connected with it in the end, even though at first glance it was kind of odd. So you’ve got a man inside a hyperbaric chamber, dressed normally, reading a book. But the way he was photographed…it really hit home how science has crafted this way of taking in something that we desperately need, in such a casual way. You can’t see the oxygen, but the shot made the tanks and equipment really prominent. It was the same across the whole gallery: people in glass cases, surrounded by the gas they need to live, doing ordinary things. It was the mundane meeting a sort of invisible technological mastery. Really fascinating, even though the uninitiated might just look at some people in glass tanks and think it’s just an amusing set-piece.

Basically, it was a fusion of technology and art in a way you don’t often see, and it gained my respect. It also didn’t seem like it was too much of an advertisement, either. The people were going about their lives, very normal and serene, except they happened to be getting oxygen therapy. Melbourne exhibits are usually pretty interesting, but I found this one genuinely inspiring.

-Jesse

Don’t Ask Me to Film Your Wedding

wedding videoAs soon as you make it vaguely known that you have a camera, people start making requests like you wouldn’t believe.

‘Could you come and film my daughter’s sixth birthday party?’ I don’t know your daughter, that would be pointless and she’s not going to remember it anyway. Also, the whole ‘amateur home video’ feel just really works best for home videos, don’t you think?

‘Can you make a video promoting my dance troupe? We meet in Drouin’. Um, no.

‘Could you film our wedding??’ Oh boy, I get this a lot, so I might as well say it here: I don’t do wedding videography. Melbourne has plenty of people who’ll happily do that for you, but since I’m not registered as a business, I can’t be paid for it. Oh, and I’d need to be paid. It’s a passion, but people just don’t grasp the magnitude of filming a wedding. There’s pre-planning, meetings and the rehearsal. You have to show up early, be constantly vigilant for anything that might be happening. You have to go along to the reception and mostly not eat any food, which videoing people doing that. You have to speeches from people you neither know nor care about, and sometimes they’re terrible.  And then, once that very long day is over, you have to go and edit every single hour of footage, painstakingly crafting it into something that you hope the happy couple will enjoy. And then sometimes, they don’t!

You expect me to do that without getting paid? I’m sorry, this isn’t me being cold; it’s just practical. You wouldn’t ask a friend to do that mountain of work, so don’t go asking me. I really hate saying no as well…but I know people in Melbourne that do wedding video, they’re good at it…and in fact I can point you to multiple companies, so you have an option. And yes, you might have to pay them something for their time. That’s really how business works, sadly.

-Jesse