Well what an awesome six months that was! Over 100 applications were received for my free colour grading initiative to support female directors and/or cinematographers. To converse with so many talented and passionate filmmakers everywhere from Melbourne to Perth to Arnhem Land has been a truly wonderful experience. I loved examining the applications with a glass of vino in the evenings!
I first had the idea for my initiative one day in February when I had a slow couple of weeks of work. It was around the time of the Oscars and the #metoo and #pressforprogress movements. I am a big advocate for the call to level the playing field in our industry so it got me thinking. There I was not busy, with some time on my hands and an itch to be grading and working with kickass emerging filmmakers. If I could spend my down days colour grading some projects to help women get their stuff made then I could be part of this inspiring global movement. Fast forward to March and I was all over our industry news platforms promoting this unconventional and slightly crazy idea I had. I was told that I would go broke and that I couldn’t/shouldn’t do stuff for free. Well I would just like to say that I have probably had the best six months of my 12 year colour grading career so far, and that giving away your time and expertise for something you are passionate about feels freaking amazing!
First up was “Theo and Celeste”, a 2min short film combining live action, stop-motion animation, painting and puppets. Hannah Doherty was the creator of this work… she wrote, directed, shot and even hand painted some of the animation. From her previous work I could see that she had a very hands on approach and it was pretty clear that this chick was uber talented in so many mediums! It was my pleasure to work with such a creative filmmaker and help bring her vision to life. “Theo and Celeste” screened at the TedX Sydney convention in July.
The next project I selected was Imogen Thomas’s debut feature film, “Emu Runner”. The story of this film is seen through the eyes of Gem, a spirited 8-year-old girl, who deals with the grief of her mother’s death by forging a bond with a wild emu, a mythical bird of her ancestors. Imogen’s journey to get this film made on a “micro budget” was both remarkable and inspiring. The screenplay was created in consultation with Indigenous members of the Brewarrina community, in north western NSW, over many years. Despite the challenges and hardships of getting a film like this off the ground, it was obvious that it had been the good will of so many people during the process which had moved it forward, especially the Brewarrina community. I felt like I could really elevate this film by providing a professional colour grade and by enhancing the story through the use of colour. The DOP Michael Gibbs flew up from Melbourne for the grade at ZigZag Post. I spent 7 days on it (plus some after hours fine tuning!) to get it to a place that felt really right for Imogen. Of course limited budget and resources meant that lighting and shooting conditions were sometimes not ideal so we worked on fixing these and making the film more cohesive. “Emu Runner” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will have it’s Aussie premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October. I have my tickets and a babysitter booked – can’t wait to celebrate a job well done with everyone!
Jessica Barclay Lawton was the next successful applicant. Her 15 minute atmospheric and visually stunning short film “Living Room” was shot with a crew of four over the course of one week in Tokyo. Guerrilla and hybrid filmmaking at it’s finest! DOP Alex Cardy did a stellar job with natural light and one LED. Yes, one LED. I loved the opportunity to colour grade this film and work with this amazing director, out there creating even with limited resources! Every frame of this work could be a promo still, I love her aesthetic.
My 4th colour grading initiative project was a 5 x 7min web series for director/producer Laura Clelland called “Life of Jess”. Representing from Brisbane (total soft spot for my hometown), Laura was recently selected as one of Screen Producers Australia’s “One’s to Watch” and it was an absolute delight to meet her, Sandra and DOP Brendan Shambrook during our session.
“The Hitchhiker” was a proof of concept short for a feature film. It is the 5th project selected for my free grading initiative to support emerging female directors. The application won me on “an all-girl vampire road trip comedy (think Buffy meets Bridesmaids)”. Adele Vuko, Johanna Somerville and DOP Dan Freene all attended the grade. It would be awesome to see Adele succeed in directing her first feature film after a run of short film and web series success.
So I am taking a couple of months off and then will resume my initiative in November. Ladies, let’s do this (some more!)