Never Work With Dogs, Children…Bugs…

I think this might be my first ever random commission. Like, it’s the first time someone has called me up out of the blue and said that they know my other work, and they’d like me to take some photos for them. Not that getting jobs through connections is a bad thing, but this is pretty momentous. And…challenging.

I have to take a bunch of high-quality shots of insects, which is a pretty tough order. They say never to work with dogs or babies, and for good reason; they don’t stay still. Bugs? Even worse. It’s for a book chronicling …Frankston’s best pest control, or something? I don’t know; doesn’t sound like it’s going to spend six weeks on the bestseller list. They probably could’ve used some stock images, but the mastermind behind this seems to want everything done right. Hey, I’m fine with that. I don’t want to work hard to make a shoddy product.

The main problem will be actually FINDING pests. I don’t think people will let me hold their pet mice if they knew what it was for. Insects in the wild tend to be skittish. And I have no clue where you’d find termites, apart from in places where termite inspections have already identified the problem. I guess I should make use of those pest control inspection connections and see if I can hang around a job. And then I’ll just hope I’m not annoying them. This whole project is supposed to be shedding light on the local pest control and termite inspection industries, so actually, I’m doing them a favour. Still not entirely convinced that this will be the talk of the entire city- pest control is just one of those vital services that people don’t tend to notice so much- but it’ll at least be completing the series.

I’m on holiday with the family soon in Sorrento; pest control is the same there, I assume. Maybe I’ll make it a working holiday, get some pics in, see how we go. At least I don’t have any phobias.

-Jesse

Those HD Net Threads

I still marvel at how people manage to film sporting events. I guess all I’ve got is an ordinary DSLR, which isn’t really made for filming much of anything. As much as camcorders are the video apparatus of the masses, I do appreciate the autofocus. Nothing worse than getting a load of footage, then suddenly realising that the settings were wrong and only the backgrounds of the shots are actually in focus. It HAS happened to me. Devastating.

I still remember when they revealed the ultra-slow-motion cameras for the Australian Open a while back. They were action shots, but you could still look at the tennis netting and count the individual threads in the footage. So the people who make sports nets must’ve been pretty happy that their work was finally on show, in HD, for the first time ever. Many orders for netting, made upon that day. Also, tennis balls. Sports equipment in general.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands on technology like that any time soon. I never really wanted to get into sports broadcasting anyway, but it was interesting to see what people can do with the technology. If you can film a bit of netting, in an action shot no less, and make it look like you can reach into the screen and brush your hand along the threads…then what else? People have done all sorts of things. One video I saw showed a fly beating its wings at normal bird speed, which was oddly satisfying. At one point during my project, I’d like to see if I can rent something that powerful. For now, it’s just me and my DSLR…for filming static sports netting only, lest a ball slam into it at high speed and make it all blurry. No autofocus is a killer.

-Jesse

Photographing Light Itself

Weddings. Not my favourite thing. Doesn’t help that, in one way or another, I lost a lot of my friends to them. I used to be part of a photography club, and we USED to take photos of interesting things. We’d go out on the weekend and just have a good time, taking pictures of nature, people (with their consent) and whatever else. Then they all started to get into wedding photography because of the money, and suddenly they’re too busy. And then there are all my young friends who got married at, like…19. We don’t talk about them.

Pardon me if I want to take pictures of things that you DON’T see every week. Who’s going to take pictures of Melbourne industrial LED lighting, for example? It should get more attention than it does considering how much energy they save.

Okay, that was random. I got the idea on a forum I frequent, which is fortunately not anything to do with weddings. People were talking about things that aren’t photographed often- really interesting discussion, actually- and one person suggested…light. It’s not like no one has ever taken a picture of light, but 99% of the time they’re perfect circumstances. A lovely looking sunbeam, or a gently glowing lamp. But then you take something like industrial LED lighting. No one takes pictures of that, because it’s like instant overexposure. Obviously I took that as a challenge, so now I’m seeking out the most powerful LED lighting I can find in Melbourne and seeing if I can get a really good shot of it without the whole thing looking totally washed out. I want to share my love of energy efficient lighting with the world, whether they like it or not.

Bit of a weird challenge, but I’m enjoying it thus far. Commercial LED lighting in Melbourne is an underrated subject. Certainly more so than weddings.

-Jesse

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.