Thursday, December 29, 2005

look both ways

If anyone is still looking at the site... Thankyou! And thanks to everyone who saw this film in Australia, and who have written such good things about it. I have been continually so happy that people have found some happiness in the film, and while the awards have also been all great, the audience response has been the most wonderful.

The film is starting its international journeys in the United States this year, which will be a test! So many movies! And our very small one. So if the people who have posted comments about their friends overseas, please tell them soon, and please tell them to go see it the second it comes out!

Its been a great time with this movie, thank you and happy new year to everyone; lets hope its a good one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

around the world

Have finally managed to get my computer going now I've arrived in Paris. It is good to see people are still going to see Look Both Ways back in Australia. It was a huge thrill to win the prize at Toronto, we had already left and were in Madrid on our way to San Sebastian. Bridget and I, and Maryjeanne, my sister and the post production supervisor, drank a glass of champagne in a hotel lobby surrounded by a spanish wedding party, a hundred people who arrived shortly after us. They were dressed up, but not as much as the actual bullfighters who also came in, still dressed in full gear, from their day in the ring. So it was a gala evening for us, even though we had left Toronto.
San Sebastian has to be one of the best places in the world, or is that just my thing with beaches and food? And campari with fresh orange juice whilst watching the promenade at dusk... aaahhh. So that offset my hopelessness at media presentations, and dealing with translators and complete idiocy with languages other than english. Next stop Pusan.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Long time between Blogs

The last time I blogged I was banging on about train movies at the screening of Look Both Ways at the Melbourne International Film festival. Since then I have been out and about with the publicity tour of the film and my book A Man's got to have a Hobby. I have also come up with a new train movie,Northwest Frontier. An English film from 1958 with Kenneth Moore and Lauren Bacall. There, now that I have gotten my Bill Collins bit out of the way, on with the Blog.

The film seems to have struck a real chord with people and by and large the reaction has been very favorable. Although I must tell you that being out has confirmed a few things for me. One is that there is something about my character which suggests to people they can say whatever they think about me. There seems to be no need or semblance of politeness on their behalfs.

At a book signing in Brisbane where everything was going along quite swimmingly I was approached by a reasonable human being. She told she enjoyed my book and would like a couple of copies signed. she also said how fine Look Both Was and then asked me if I was considering an international career. Ah, well I say, we'll see what happens.

She looked at me for a moment , pursed her lips and said"Well you have an odd shaped nose...Yes it's odd. You're almost handsome from some sides but you know you could use some work"

"Oh really, you think so" I say quite politely.
'Definitely, definitely." she says enthusiastically.
We stare at each other and I nod.
"Right " she says and thrusts a card out at me,"Here this is my brother's card. he's a plastic surgeon on the Gold Coast.He should be able to do a bit for you.Tell him Carmel sent you"

I say thankyou and ask her who I should sign the books to.

In Perth I had the good fortune to lock myself out of my hotel room and having to run the gauntlett of a foyer full of South African rugby supporters over for the Tri-nations game. It would'nt have been so bad if they hadn't have been from the casting agency for big bearded Boer types of South africans. they were all immense men in big jeans , with beards like large shrubs and big booming voices. It wouldn't have been so bad ,but they seemed to know me. They waved and hooted as I walked through the foyer. I had craftily locked myself out of the room and was wearing a rather sad pair of jamy shorts and a rainbow t-shirt a friend had bought me as a joke.

As I crossed the foyer my mates from the Veldt boomed out some quite astonishing bits of advice. For a moment I tried to think where they might have recognized me from, but then happily for me it became quite clear that they thought I was Troy Coker, a former international Rugby player for Australia.

Troy/William was told he was a crap rugby player, like all Australians and that Australia had ripped off the WORLD CUP IN 1992. A team Troy Coker/William mcinnes was a mamber of. I walked back to the lifts, feeling sorry for Troy Coker more than myself and was gained some satisfaction as I enetered the lift and advised the Boers, in the words of Breaker Morant via Edward Woodwood to,"Shoot Straight you Bastards" All the beards stopped yelling and looked quite perplexed.

Riding up in the lift I remebered my Auntie Rita used to say that Edward Woodwood, if you said it quickly enough , sounded like a fart in a bath.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

packing

I haven't travelled anywhere this week, but have obviously become addicted, as I went into the city on Tuesday and bought myself a new suitcase. The excuse was that I'll need a bigger one for carting back souvenirs from the next trip. But the real reason is I'm such a useless packer, and have to take nearly everything I own wherever I go, just in case (its hot, its cold, there's floods, earthquakes, I'm invited to a swish restaurant, I'm invited to learn abseiling, hand to hand combat, chocolate making etc etc). So now I have a great fat suitcase ready to pack for Toronto and San Sebastian next week. I hope the film will travel better than me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

the true joy of reviews

I'm loving the reviews. Its nice that theyre mostly pretty kind to the film, but the real joy is that I have an excuse to buy endless papers and magazines then sit around reading about post baby bodies, good books and food I can cook in 20 minutes that will ensure I live to 90 as well as please everyone in the house. etc. And then, to add small pleasures to joy; the headings and captions. We had such a run with the title of the film; I wish some of these sub editors had been around. Some faves have been;

-life, death and the whole damn thing
-train of thought
-dead keen on a laugh
-train delivers the goods
and -I knew casting my husband mean't he'd work for free.

then theres the captions to the still of Meryl looking at Nick. I love Who mag's
- Why didn't you tell me you're married to the director?

NW mag also had a funny one but I seem to have mislaid it, which is annoying as I was only half way through Kate Hudsons skinny crisis. Must go find.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

LBW v SWB

During the last month or so, in the lead up to the release of Look Both Ways, it seems everyone I know has had the ‘flu. While one person after another has regaled me with their symptoms (sore throat, body aches, sore joints, fever, runny nose) and I sympathised and offered various remedies (complete bed rest, honey and lemon, Vitamin C, plenty of fluids, Echinacea, olive leaf extract, chocolate) I wondered why no one ever says they have “a cold” anymore. Secretly, I was congratulating myself on that ‘flu injection I had back in May.

When I woke in the middle of the night last week with a sore throat, I thought, I'll be fine, everyone's had it. The next day, when I found myself cancelling appointments, my explanation that I was sick barely rated a flicker of concern, let alone sympathy. No one was interested in my symptoms, just a cursory, “Oh, I had that,” and “Yeah, it’s rotten, it took me weeks to get over that,” and “There’s a lot of it going around.”

This afternoon, I heard a report on ABC Sydney radio about the latest AustralianUnity Personal Wellbeing Index. The survey conducted annually, is apparently in its 13th year. Associate Professor Liz Eckermann, from Deakin University was talking about the Index and how over 2,000 Australians were asked to rate their Subjective Well-Being (SWB) by rating their satisfaction level on 7 test items:

1. Standard of Living
2. Personal Health
3. Achieving in Life
4. Personal Relationships
5. Personal Safety
6. Community-Connectedness
7. Future Security

Recently, Australians apparently recorded a decline in their satisfaction level with their Standard of Living; Personal Relationships and Future Security. Yet oddly enough, Liz Eckermann also noted that our sense of personal wellbeing increased immediately following international tragedies — so higher levels of well-being were recorded immediately after 9/11, the Bali Bombing and the Boxing Day Tsunami.

But what’s the difference, I wonder, between these almost noble increased feelings of well-being as we count our blessings, and Schadenfreude, literally translated as our joy (Freude) in the injury (Schade[n]) of others?

Does the warning, “Be alert but not alarmed” make us feel more frightened or safer? When I see the new signs on all the Sydney buses which advise, “If you see something, say something,” should I feel reassured or anxious? Are the security guards who patrol the Sydney Harbour Bridge supposed to make us feel we’re in safe hands, or simply remind us to be fearful?

Tonight I’m trying olive leaf extract and Echinacea.

Friday, August 19, 2005

safe driving

Raining solidly in Melbourne and the last radio interview done. A funny conversation with Richard Stubbs on ABC 774 in Melbourne, a man who could out Meryl Meryl in his anticipation of looming disasters. It was hard not to join in and make it a neurotic 'what could possibly go wrong' fest. Especially when he had to break off one question to advise driving listeners of a five car pile up to avoid.
Well, obviously too hard, because I did join in. I somehow think Meryl would know the definitive answer to wether, in order to survive, you should open your car windows or not as your car plunges off the Westgate (or any) bridge.
Leaving the studios, I still couldn't decide the best option for myself, so took the simple solution; didn't take the bridge route home.
Welcome rain for us, but I do hope people will still find their way to a cinema to see the film on this nervous making opening weekend. (driving safely of course, with disaster plans ready or not)

Monday, August 15, 2005

back to the cold with a cold

Very good to be home after a little LBW tour of the eastern states. Anyone else Melbourne stranded this winter will sympathise with my (much fantasised about and supposedly sun drenched) trip to Byron Bay; it rained! I had to wear a parka! So now I have bought a cold home, and I just have to do a radio interview outside in the (I must admit superior) Melbourne wind and rain... lucky Nina-Marie from arts access was so nice and generous to the film. And so many other people. It has been so good to hear so many personal and positive responses to the film. It always felt like such a collaboration from the start, that hopefully everyone could join in owning, to hear people also do that as an audience is pretty great.
well just a short blog to break the non blogging that has been happening from my end. I'm sure to get addicted but now must take small girls to a dancing class and pick up a boy from swimming lessons. cheers,

Fear and Comfort

Yesterday Barbara Masel and I went a fascinating event, held after a preview screening of LOOK BOTH WAYS in Sydney.

Three professionals in the field of grieving and caring for the dying were to speak about their reactions to the film: Judy Arpana (Senior Educator Spiritual Care Program Sogyal Rinpoche Organization), Dr Roger Cole (Palliative Care Physician), and Diana Sands (psychotherapist).

I was worried whether anyone would turn up, at 10.30 on a Sunday morning, for this screening and discussion, advertised as "Facing our greatest Fear".

On the way, I left my warm woollen jacket in the taxi. Several minutes later - before I realised what I'd done - the taxi driver turned up at the cinema to give it back to me. Such a thoughtful act of kindness from a stranger, who'd driven back specially to find me.

The cinema was rather full, and very full of emotion. The panel, led by psychotherapist/ author Judith Pernell, talked about their responses to the film. They'd been moved by the film's truthful depiction of the awkwardnesses surrounding cancer and death, our clumsiness and inability to know what or when to speak - and that sometimes it's the silences that speak most strongly. They talked too, about the relief of the humour in the film, and how real those moments felt.

Sarah and Barbara and I had really aimed to capture the world and behaviour of the characters truthfully, but you never really know if you've 'got' until it's in front of an audience. So it was so exciting to hear the panellists talk with such enthusiasm. To hear that they now want to share the experience of viewing the film ("it's about how to live your life!") with their students, their patients, their friends and family was truly gratifying. We emerged into the fresh sunny day, full of life and friendship, and the desire to eat lunch together, me clutching my warm jacket safely.

- Bridget Ikin

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hamlet versus Macbeth

Sarah Watt emails me this morning, a note of low-level panic vaguely discernible in a casual enquiry. Attending a Q & A session after a screening of Look Both Ways last night, a woman in the audience has enquired if it were deliberate that Andy (Anthony Hayes), the editor of Arts Diary, is given complimentary tickets to Macbeth, but the play we see him go to is Hamlet.

Sarah suggests to the woman that she may have been mistaken, but the woman replies that she knows Hamlet back to front and the speech performed is definitely Hamlet’s. The moderator at the Q & A concurs, saying that of course it was Hamlet, but that he had thought it was a wonderful, meant irony, and that if it was a mistake, not a crafted intelligence, then Sarah was very lucky in her serendipity.

Sarah shuts up — after all there are 300 people sitting in the audience. She goes home confused, appalled, convinced she as scrambled her Shakespeares. How could we have failed to pick up the error?

I email her — the scene from Act 5 in Macbeth when he has just learned his wife is dead. But I think of Andy’s horror at seeing Hamlet in a kilt:

Alas, McYorick. I knew him, Jock.

Brisbane International Film Festival

I’ve been surrounded by sick people all winter, and have avoided getting sick myself – I’ve really tried to keep healthy and not kiss the sickies. I knew that this week was going to be a big week of premieres and preview screenings for LOOK BOTH WAYS, and I was looking forward to it.

On Friday (August 5) I felt sick, but thought, I’ll just stay home and take care of myself, so when I go to Brisbane tomorrow, for the screening of LOOK BOTH WAYS in the Brisbane International Film Festival, I’ll be OK.

Late afternoon, the phone rang. Anne Demy-Geroe, the director of the Brisbane Film Festival was suggesting, mysteriously – and rather hysterically – that it would be in my interest to get to Brisbane by 11am. And how could she get hold of the actors who were going to travel with me – Andrew Gilbert and Tony Hayes. Too bad about the yoga class I’d arranged to do before flying. Too bad about breakfast.

The festival’s FIPRESCI jury had decided to award LOOK BOTH WAYS its prize, which was a very welcome surprise (our first award!). The ceremony was held on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and we all stood quietly and thought of peace, beside the beautiful Nepalese Peace Pagoda by the river in Brisbane. It seemed such a fitting tranquil place for a collection of eminent film critics to meet and to share the spirit of what cinema can be, globally. We took photographs of each other, swapped cards and went our separate ways; me to call Sarah, in Byron Bay for the Writers’ Festival, and tell her about the award.

That evening, LOOK BOTH WAYS screened in the film festival. I’ve sat in screenings where the applause is spontaneous and overwhelming. This screening was not like that. It felt more reflective, and I wondered whether it was a respectful response rather than an enthusiastic one. But then we read that the film has been voted the audience favourite of the festival, another unexpected surprise. And now I go back to bed, sicker than before.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Look Both Ways 30th July

Saturday 3o July.

Screening of Look Both Ways at Melbourne Internationsl Film Festival. For some reason I decide to wear a tartan tie with a blue shirt and suit. Sarah Watt and I head into town to meet Bridgit Ikin ,Justine Clarke Tony Hayes, Andrew S Gilbert and more of the Look Both Ways gang for a pre screening drink. Nobody says anything about my tie. Started having a chat to festival Director james Hewittson about train films.

Everybody slightly nervous but pretty excited about the sold out screening at MIFF. No nobody has says anything about tartan tie! It's winner. Catch myself and my tartan glory reflected in bar mirror. I take off my tie.

As we walk from the bar to the cinema James Hewittson mutters to me"Good Move".
Streams of people waiting to go in and all of we Look Both Wayers are pooled in a little band at the bottom of the stairs.Chris Odgers the film"s first assistant Director rocks up. It's good to catch up with the people who worked on the film again.

we are led to our seats which are right down the front of the cinema , just below the screen. We sit with necks craned back as there are a few short speeches. One funny one from a spokesperson for the night's sponsor Holding Redlich. One from Bridgit and a sort of speech from Sarah. It is clear that despite who many,vareied and quite considerable gifts, public speaking is not one of them.

Actors are called out and introduced and we line up like little kids in front of the school on a Monday morning assembly ready for show and tell. Well it's really Sarah's show and tell and as the film begins we scatter.

Standing in the foyer with Bridgit after the screening it seems it's gone well.And at the after party bash thrown by Holding and Redlich people are happy and really positive.
I bang on about train films to anybody who will listen and come up with Runaway Train, The Railway Childeren and an absoloute beauty with Burt Lancaster with the imaginative title of "The Train"

It's been a good night. Fingers are crossed.

Anyway, Sarah Watt's Look Both Ways is out away out there and now it's off on the press safari.

William McInnes.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The animation



The hand-painted animated sequences in LOOK BOTH WAYS (which represent Meryl’s internal life) have their origin in Sarah’s short films. They use the same signature ‘painterly’ style, although the production method has evolved.

Animator Emma Kelly (who collaborated with Sarah on her shorts) drew all the cells over several months. Each drawing was scanned and printed onto suitable water-absorbent paper. Sarah then hand-painted all the ‘watery’ sequences, and Clare Callinan (again a previous collaborator) painted the other sequences, with Sarah finishing each painting. All the painted cells were then re-scanned at Iloura Digital Pictures in Melbourne, camera moves were resolved, and the sequences were recorded out onto 35mm, for integration into the film.

The photographic sequences (for Nick’s internal imaginings) were all created by a vfx team (led by Peter Webb) at Iloura, using a broad collection of ‘found’, assembled and commissioned photographs and other digitally generated imagery.

Sarah Watt: “The animated sequences are a way of giving Nick and Meryl a visible internal life, rather than relying only on the actors’ performances. It’s one that’s special to each of them: to a painter, and a photographer. From this example, you can imagine that all the characters would have internal lives.

“Meryl's animation enlarges a previous painterly style of mine, as well as the disaster-imagining neurotic character. I think it’s how most people go through life, presenting an external appearance of coping while inside they're thinking each day 'HOLY COW! We're all going to die!’ And how that can be exacerbated in times of stress. Meryl has just lost her father, so right now she's focussing on death.

“Nick's animation is about the visual memories you collect in your life. He's having a summing-up kind of weekend. He can see what he's been and, at the end of the film, he finally sees where he's going. You know he'll remember that weekend all his life because, in some way, time paused.”

Director’s statement

“I remember sitting on a train, thinking about what my fellow travellers weren’t revealing to me … whether they were on the brink of something wonderful or something terrible, whether anyone is ever in neutral mode … whether knowledge held by one person could potentially help another.

“I also imagined our train hurtling over the pathetically insubstantial railing on the bridge, and into the chemical storage facility below - killing us all in a poisonous inferno. I thought about whether anyone else was feeling the same way.

“I set out to make a romantic comedy, but the stuff of most people’s lives includes what we think of as tragedy, so LOOK BOTH WAYS ended up a bit of both I guess. I like searching for the universal aspects of people’s experience, in both the big and little things. I tried to keep everything as ‘real’ as I could, to allow people to receive the film as part of their own experience, to bring their own lives to it and enjoy it that way.”


- Sarah Watt