Wednesday, 29 February 2012

"Eight year olds, Dude."

My old writers' group is due to discuss The Big Lebowski (1998) next week. 

The film is a true cult classic. It has given rise to a religion (Dudeism), a drinking game, a trivia game, bobblehead dolls, a line of ice-cream, a gallery of paintings, and a festival.  The 2011 reunion of the cast was written up in Rolling Stone magazine. 

The Big Lebowski is, above all, a story about male friendship; in real life, as well as in fiction. The rug idea came from Peter Exline. Jeff Dowd, another of the inspirations for the story, has described it as "a Raymond Chandler-type story, you know, dosed on acid." It's an interesting reworking of The Big Sleep, a book which has been filmed twice before; once with Humphrey Bogart and once with Robert Mitchum. The Mitchum version is truer to the book by Raymond Chandler. 

People have different views, but The Big Lebowski is, indisputably, the finest film ever made in which a protagonist hatches a plot to confront an adolescent car thief, somewhere in the vicinity of the In-And-Out Burger, while watching his landlord (dressed as a tree) perform a dance quintet.

Part of The Lebowski Cycle - Joe Forkan
The film is eminently quotable. Which is to say, the screenplay represents a master class in the construction of memorable dialogue. A tiny selection:
  • Look, let me explain something. I'm not Mr. Lebowski; you're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. That, or Duder. His Dudeness. Or El Duderino, if, you know, you're not into the whole brevity thing--
  • Are you employed, sir?
  • The old man told me to take any rug in the house.
  • Way to go, Dude. 
  • If you will it, it is no dream.
  • Over the line!
  • Mark it zero!
  • Eight-year-olds, Dude.
  • Say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
  • My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal. Which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
  • Do you like sex, Mr. Lebowski?
  • It's a male myth about feminists that we hate sex. It can be a natural, zesty enterprise.
  • He's a good man, and thorough. 
  • Papers. Just papers. You know, my papers. Business papers.
  • Isn't that what makes a man?
  • Oh, you know, the usual. Bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.
  • Oh, come on, Donny, they were threatening castration! 
  • Am I wrong? 
  • It's a complicated case, Maude. Lotta ins, lotta outs. Fortunately I've been adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regimen to keep my mind, you know, limber.
  • There's a beverage here!
  • Let's go bowling.
  • Ahh, you know. Strikes and gutters, ups and downs.
  • Yeah, well. The Dude abides.

The 2011 cast reunion of The Big Lebowski
When the film was first released, critics panned it. Later, after monster sales of video and DVD, and especially once the Lebowski Fests appeared, the critics revised their opinions. Here we have The New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott, talking about The Big Lebowski.

John Turturro, talking about his experience making The Big Lebowski.

And, to finish up, here's a montage of images from various Coen Brothers' movies, highlighting some common themes.

    Empire    Facebook    IMDb    LebowskiFest    Rotten Tomatoes    Wikipedia   

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Worst hotel in Australia? Stamford Grand.

Glenelg. Yeswell done, youit's a palindrome, like solo gigolos or evil olive or senile felines or No, Mel Gibson is a casino's big lemon. (Sorry, Mel, that was just an example, though I believe you did spend some time at Glenelg back in the '70s, with Robyn. In case you're interested, there's still no casino and very few lemons. Unless you count the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia.)

... a place of some historical significance...
Glenelg is where I lived when I first moved to Adelaide. (In 1975, just before Mel; to marry an Adelaide girl, just like Mel; but, unlike Robyn and Mel, our relationship fizzled ahead of the wedding, sparing us the excitement that lay in store for Mel. I wonder, on some quiet winter nights, where I went wrong. Maybe if I'd taken acting classes? Maybe if I'd starred in Mad Max? Maybe if I'd been good-looking? It's hard to say.)

Glenelg is also a beach resort, a place of some historical significance, and the location of the worst hotel in Australia—the Stamford Grandthese days better known as The New Fawlty Towers, or so we discovered last Friday.

A while back, my wife started showing signs of discontent. I was spending too much time on the computer. (Hard to believe, no? ) I've survived 36 years of marriage by developing antennae that are finely-attuned to spousal discontent. (Yes, I have antennae. They're small, but perfectly formed. You?) There are signs, palpable signs; you should be looking for them all the time. Any little thing can tip you off. Deep sighing, pointless weeping, slamming doors, any sentence which begins with "How come we never... ," expletive-laden rants about useless husbands dominating hour-long sisterhood phone conversations. Or an occasional hot meal dropped in your lap.

With the first twitch of my antennae, or maybe the second, but well ahead of the Hot Meal Trick, I sprang into action, unleashing these honeyed words: "Wanna spend a few days down Glenelg?" 

Worked like magic. It was as if Daniel Cleaver (Bridget Jones's Diary) had invited Bridge on a mini-break. My wife started wearing a scarf, not unlike Bridget's. She wore it around the house, in the garden, on the bus. People said things, but she kept on wearing it.

"Am no longer tragic spinster, but proper girlfriend of bona fide sex-god, so
committed that he's taking me on a full-blown mini-break holiday weekend."

She also bought a pair of white thongs to wear in the shallows at the beach. Thongs. For your feet. Maybe you call them flip-flops. (My wife is 67 years old. Please try to concentrate.) She never got to wear them. Why not? Because the Stamford Grand is the worst hotel we've ever stayed at, anywhere, across Australia or in S.E. Asia, and we fled the place in under 24 hours.

Before I expand on that, I need to explain something. My father-in-law. Jack Hill. Or Frederick John Matthew, as we called him. He has long gone to his reward, God love him, but he was a big strong man. A champion cyclist in his youth. Mucho macho. Full of derring-do and other vaguely nautical superlatives. He married Lorna Nellie, at the outbreak of World War II. They had a daughter, whom they loved very much. Then, later, another daughter, who was okay, too. Then much, much, much laterwhen they had given up on ever having a sonthey had a third daughter. And by now WWII was ending. There was no son. So my father-in-law turned his attention to this youngest daughter and began training her in the manly arts of self-defence. (We spell it with a 'C', okay? Defence. Just think of it as 'defense'.

So, by the time I met this young woman (in the back seat of a Mini Cooper S)while we were tearing through the Adelaide Hills on our way to Murray Bridge, and I was fasting (I never ate on Fridays back then, I forget why), and she was scoffing a pack of TimTams, salivating, talking, laughing, gesticulating, uttering the occasional guffaw, and clutching my knee during particularly tight corners—she had become a highly-trained killing machine, capable of disabling a man permanently with a single blow to any of a number of places. Not that she talked about it while eating the TimTams. That came later, during a Serious Discussion.

My point being that here was a woman armed with a vicious right cross, and respectable left and right uppercuts. Not that those skills were required in the Years of Youthful Passion, but the good times never last. The years rolled by. Then the decades. I went from being young, slim, and muscular, with a good head of hair, to being fat, balding, middle-aged and, as Harvey Pekar would have it, a reliable disappointment when viewed in a mirror. And, it has been alleged, I adopted the habit of snoring. 

My wife is not tolerant of snoring. 

She has hair-trigger reflexes and will, in order to gain one's attention in the dead of night, unleash a right cross into one's shoulder. Many times I have been awakened by a thundering crunch, which left me sitting bolt upright, whimpering softly, and wondering what just happened

In our youth, "hands-on attention" had one meaning. These days, it has another. As time passed, I lost the use of one arm. The whimpering became habitual. Things were looking grim. Then we discovered something wonderful. Separate. Beds. Not only did that save my arm (and, yes, much of the feeling has since returned, thanks), but I believe it saved our marriage. It certainly cut down on the whimpering.

Looks okay on the outside...
When my wife went online to book us a 'Junior Hotel Suite City View' at the Stamford Grand (not knowing at the time it was the worst hotel in Australia), she stipulated that the room should have two double beds. Yes, two double beds. These days I'm happy to part with ready cash in order to keep the whimpering to a manageable level. TWO double beds. I witnessed her request. But when we arrived at the hotel, signed the paperwork and traveled to the allocated room, there was only one bed. The room looked right, a decent sized suite, but it had only one bed.

I rang the concierge and explained the problem. He wasn't happy to hear from me, and transferred the call. I explained, a second time, to a woman who said she would check. I waited a long time, then went for a comfort stop. (I'm on diuretics for something-or-other and have a shorter turnaround time than most. Thanks for asking.) By the time I returned, my wife was chatting to the aforesaid woman. Apparently they had decided to move us to another room. "Just wait and someone will come up."

"Don't mention the War."
We waited and, eventually, someone came up. The concierge, a recent graduate of the Basil Fawlty School of Hotel Management, and just the chap to sort out an unhappy customer. He didn't mention the War, though I later saw him stifling a goose step

Apparently the Stamford Grand has a strict policy to cover these situations—the Happy Customer Rule. If you violate the Happy Customer Rule by indicating you're not a Happy Customer, as I had done, they immediately reassign you to a smaller, nastier room, where the air-conditioning doesn't work. The policy was implemented. Young Basil handed me a key, said, "I'm sorry you're not happy," and stalked away. 

When we finally located the new room, it proved to be smaller and nastier than the one we'd just left. And the air-conditioning didn't work.

Oh, there's an air-conditioning switch. You have to stick an electronic door card in a slot and press down on it until it clicks. I pressed, it clicked, and that set off a machine which emitted a whirring hum. The temperature didn't change, not in the seventeen hours we spent in the joint. It was stifling when we arrived and stifling when we left. Hot, sticky, sweaty, horrible. But the whirring hum served to mute the mysterious noises from the ducting overhead. Strange sounds. Rats? Sewage discharging from pipes? Tom Cruise searching for the NOC List? I don't know, but the whirring hum stimulated hope. It was a comfort during that long, long sweaty night; a misplaced hope to be sure, but that's all that was left to us.

Tom Cruise searching for the NOC List.
We went out to pick up a couple of things at a nearby store. When we returned, the lift wouldn't work. You have to slide a card through a reader. We had two cards. One was stuck in the air-conditioning switch of the smaller, nastier room; the other didn't work.

So we went to the check-in desk and explained the problem. The woman said, "I'm sorry you're not happy." She took the bad card away and gave us two new cards. My wife explained the problem with the rooms. The woman said, "I'm sorry you're not happy." 

And that was the moment when I decided to write this short account of our experiences. We had achieved critical mass on Customer Unhappiness, but there was more to come. 

We went out for dinner. The one nice thing about this seventeen-hour experiment in Glenelg was our discovery of Europa at the Bay, a fine Italian restaurant. Not cheap, but the food was excellent. Highly recommended. I can only assume none of their staff trained at the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia.

After dinner, we strolled back to the hotel, selected a seat at the front bar, and I went off to buy us some drinks. I ordered champagne for my wife. The barman attempted to sell me champagne in... wait for it... a plastic cup. No, that's not a typo. A. PLASTIC. CUP. (This is the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia, remember.) I asked for a glass. The barman said, "I'm sorry you're not happy." So we left. On the way out, the bouncer on the front door asked us how we were. We told him. He said, "I'm sorry you're not happy." 

We went across the road to a shabby Irish pub, where real people were drinking beer and watching cricket on TV. No one looked down their nose at us. No one sneered. No one told us they were sorry. You see, none of them had trained at the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia. Instead, they served my wife champagne... in an actual glass. God bless the Irish.

Australia lost the cricket, but we were too tired to care. 

We returned to the smaller, nastier room. The air-conditioner, though still humming, hadn't lowered the temperature a single degree. It was stifling. Sweaty hot. Too hot to sleep. So we had a shower and then tried to watch television. Ha ha ha. 

The hotel television was an aged digital set with a remote control and a complicated in-house filter, which reassigns channel numbers in a way that prevents you finding what you want. I experimented with the remote. Within an hour, I'd discovered that it responded to irregular pounding on the Channel Change Button. One press did nothing. Two did nothing. But a staccato pattern would sometimes shift the TV to another channel. More experimental pounding, then I worked it out: it's a form of haiku. If you pounded in an even rhythmfive, seven, five—the remote would shift the TV from, say, the wrestling, to a rerun of that show where jiggling fat people test the limits of warehouse scales. 

By now it was after midnight. There was nothing on TV anyway, and I was exhausted. I was also coated in sweat and dust. If I touched anything in this hotel, the layer of dust stuck to the layer of sweat. And there's a lot of dust. So I had another shower, then went to bed and listened to the whirring hum of the "air-conditioner" on one side, and the angry mutterings of the wife on the other. 

We were both exhausted. The heat, the sweat, the horse-hair pillows, none of that mattered. We slid into a deep sleep. At exactly 4:00am, a deafening blast from a clock radio rocked the room and set the windows rattling. The shockwave left me sitting bolt upright, whimpering softly, and wondering what had happened

By special design, the hotel clock radio doesn't have an OFF switch, merely a Sleep button. That delivered merciful, though short-lived, relief. Then we did it all over again.

I never did find an OFF button among the two dozen on offer, but I did find a volume switch on the side. By turning that to zero and tipping the clock on its face, in order to reduce the glare, I was eventually able to ease my palpitations. I had another shower, then managed to slip back into a sweaty sleep.

Next morning, no newspaper (though we had been promised one, in writing). No relief from the heat. And no breakfast. In case we needed reminding, we were staying at the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia.

We had breakfast at a nearby Golden Arches (congealed gunge, deep-fried in a range of shapes and colours, served promptly and with the maximum possible packaging), then packed and went to the check-out counter, where we waited behind an angry young couple. They didn't say, but we suspect they had also infringed the Happy Customer Rule and found themselves in a smaller, nastier room, where the air-conditioning didn't work. 

From behind the counter, a superior gentleman in a suit eventually found time to see us. He expressed surprise that we were leaving early. I explained that this was the worst hotel we had ever been in, and all we wanted was to get out as quickly as possible. He said, "I'm sorry you're not happy." 

Then he billed us for the room we had booked, complete with the two beds, rather than the rat-hole we had actually stayed in. I didn't fight it. All I wanted was to get out. I'd have my say another day.

And the moral of this story? 

1. Only book a hotel room online if it's not with the Stamford Grand, the worst hotel in Australia.

2. Avoid the Stamford Grand, because it's... Oh, you know. There are numerous other hotels in Adelaide. The Hilton, the Majestic, the Oaks Embassy, the Crowne Plaza, the Mercure Grosvenor, and a stack of others. Most are in newer buildings. All have better management. Go with one of them.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Screenwriting - six versions

Here's a simple explanation of what screenwriters do all day—told from six different perspectives.

It was created by screenwriter Mike Le, posted on The Black List website, and ruthlessly stolen shown here by me as an homage to Mike Le (possibly the smartest screenwriter working today. Plus, the guy worked on The Royal Tenenbaums, one of my all-time Top 10 movies.)

The Black List is expanding, from its original role as an annual survey, into a creative website which now includes interviews with industry people on a range of topics. You can ask questions and, maybe, get them answered by an expert. Or at least read lots of opinions on the subject. For example: What are the best opening scenes in movie history?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

An Oscar warm up...

I love the Oscars. The expectations, the hoopla, the hope, the fear, the misery of losing, the (carefully disguised) hatred. There's nothing quite like it.

And I love the hosts. Well, some of them, anyway. Billy Crystal's been the best. He took a break for a while, but this year he's back. Can't wait for it.

To keep us all humming until the show kicks off, here's the Billy Crystal introduction to the 2004 Academy Awards. Sit back and watch how an expert handles it.
In case you can't remember, Lord of the Rings III won Best Picture, Peter Jackson Best Director,  
Sean Penn Best Actor, Charlize Theron Best Actress, Tim Robbins Best Supporting Actor,  
Renée Zellweger Best Supporting Actress, Lost in Translation Best Original Screenplay,  
Lord of the Rings Best Adapted Screenplay, and Finding Nemo Best Animated Feature.

I'm assuming you've already won your Oscar (in your dreams, anyway). The important thing now is making sure you know how to care for it. The Oscar, yes. You've accepted a weighty responsibility, and people will be watching. 

For a short course in the etiquette of grip, check Kirsty Stark's Oscar photo. For a more detailed explanation, follow Kevin Kline through his... refresher course. Chop!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Get Shorty

I like competitions after they're over and I know who won. That way I don't have to worry. One such competition is the annual Twitter-based Shorty Awards

And I like dudes who try really hard and almost win, but don't. And still have a sense of humour about it. (I live in Adelaide, so it was important I cultivate that quality.)

Anyway, here are three videos from Glove and Boot, suggesting you help them win something for once (even though you can't now because you're too late), and gain the everlasting satisfaction of defeating Justin Bieber's DJ.

Yeah, he has his own DJ. Why do you ask?

This one sets the scene. And they mention Australia. That makes it worth watching.

This one calls out the Scottish vote. Why? It just seemed like the socially-responsible thing to do. Plus, Scottish make-up is really cool.

And there's a Star Wars one. (Of course there's a Star Wars one, that's compulsory.)

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Friday, 24 February 2012

"The Professionals"

The Professionals is billed as: 
"A reality web series about a group of people who work for a computer support company called The Nerd Unit. Today is a big day for the company, as Tim and Frank have an important, high-paying job to do that they can't afford to be anything less than stellar on."
A comedy about tech support. And contract killers.

Written by Keith Battista & Mike Michaels, and directed by Keith Battista.

Here's Episode 1. 

    IMDb    Twitter    Website    YouTube   

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A problem with digital projection

Last month, the Astor Theatre in Melbourne had a problem. It's a problem that is going to bite more than a few cinemas in the days ahead. 

Barco DP4K-32B
Last year, the Astor installed a new, state-of-the-art, Barco DP4K-32B digital projector. They did so in order to be able to show all those movies only available in digital format. 

At first, digital projection was an additional option available to cinemas. But now, 35mm film prints are being removed from circulation by studios in favour of digital presentation, most often DCPs (Digital Cinema Package).

What could possibly go wrong?
Unlike 35mm film prints that are tangible, come on spools, and run through a mechanical projector, DCPs are files that are ingested into the digital projector which is in many ways simply a very high-tech computer system. Because the physical file is ingested into a projector it can – if the cinema has enough space on its server – be kept there indefinitely and so, having created this situation themselves, the studios and distributors lock the files so that they can only be screened at the times scheduled, booked and paid for by the cinema. This means each DCP comes with what is called a KDM (Key Delivery Message). The KDM unlocks the content of the file and allows the cinema to play the film. It is time sensitive and often is only valid from around 10 minutes prior to the screening time and expiring as close to 5 minutes after the scheduled time. Aside from the obvious fact that this means screenings really do need to run according to scheduled time, it is also means the projectionist can’t test to see if the KDM works or that the quality of the film is right before show time. This isn’t always a problem. But when it is…
And a few days ago, that problem happened.
The KDM we received for Take Shelter didn’t work. We discovered this about ten minutes prior to show time. Being a cinema, and holding evening screenings we couldn’t just call the distributor to get another one because they work office hours. So, our steps began with calling a 24 hour help line in the US. Once we went through the process of authenticating our cinema and scheduled screening we were told we had to call London to authorise another KDM for this particular screening. After calling London and re-authenticating our cinema and session, we were told we could be issued another KDM, but not before the distributor also authorised it. This meant another 5-10 minute delay as we waited for the distributor to confirm that we were indeed allow to show the film at this time. Once confirmation was received we waited for the new KDM to be issued. The KDM arrives as an email zip attachment that then needs to be unzipped, saved onto a memory stick and uploaded onto the server. This takes another 5-10 minutes. Once uploaded the projector needs to recognise the KDM and unlock the programmed presentation.
That worked and the screening, although delayed, did proceed. I couldn't help wondering what would happen if, for any reason, their ISP went down about then...

The next time you go to the movies and the screening is delayed, spare a thoughtinstead of slashing the seatsfor the DCP, the KDM, and the poor sod in the back office desperately dialling London.

Now, for the Luddites among us, and everybody who loves Cinema Paradiso, here's another small thing to worry about. In the near future there won't be any poor sod in the projection room at your cinema. Nope. Nobody.

Your movie will be controlled from a workstation some 1,000 miles away. Or more.

Read all about it here, in David Bordwell's website on cinema, in an article called Pandora's Digital box: Notes on NOCs (a "NOC" being a Network Operations Center).

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Getting a bang out of life!

The question is, do we watch webseries TV for the engaging storylines, the intricate plotting, the satisfying character arcs, or do we just want to see someone blow stuff up?

I'm still undecided, but it's my birthday today and my wife said I'm allowed to watch a noisy program. So here's the case for guns and explosions, along with an unexpected meeting with Hitler's dog, all served up by those gentle souls at Danger 5.

Facebook    IMDb    Tumblr    Website    YouTube

Because it's my birthday, and because I like saxophone (even when played like this), here is the Happy Birthday song, played by Paul Pontious, on his 86-year-old Conn M saxophone, while standing outside the oldest crackhouse in Tribeca. Please don't sing along.

To finish up, how about The Beatles, 'Happy Birthday,' and some kangaroos?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tropfest 2012

Alethea Jones
Alethea Jones, from Melbourne, has won the 2012 Tropfest competition for her short film Lemonade Stand Her prizes include a trip to Los Angeles to meet film industry executives, a $6000 camera and $10,000 cash.

The seven minute film is a comedy about a man and his grandfather's attempts to sell lemonade. The 700-plus entries in the competition were required to include a ''lightbulb'' as the signature item.

Second prize went to actor Rupert Reid for Boo!, a comedy about an elderly couple who play tricks on each other, while Michael Noonan's Photo Booth, about soldiers who stumble on a mysterious photo booth, was third.

Here is the winning entry.

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Monday, 20 February 2012

"Gigi: Almost American"

In this webseries, Josh Gad stars as Gigi, a lovable foreigner with dreams of fitting in as an "average American." 
This slapstick comedy series follows Gigi's adventures where he will let nothingnot his lack of street smarts, nor his incomprehensible grasp of the English languagestand in his way.
Josh Gad is a TV, film, and stage actor who stars in the Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon, from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Here's Episode 1, Gigi brushes up on his English.

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

"Topham Mall Free-For-All Time Lapse"

Topham Mall in Adelaide is home to one of those modern, box-like, iron-bars-and-grey-concrete car parks that popped up in cities all over the world, as massive numbers of automobiles took over the streets. Ugly as sin. I used to walk past it, years ago, on my way to work. The greyness would creep over me, generating the perfect mindset for another day of employment as a soulless bureaucrat. 

Then the Council ruined it by allowing anyone to paint the place anyway they wanted. It's an official art gallery now. Fortunately I don't work in the area anymore, because I would struggle to get back into the kafkaesque mindset needed for that job. 

The original "Free For All" was captured on time lapse camera by Mark Zed. As Chloe L. might say in flawless Strine: Get a bitta culcha inya. 

[Note for locals: All the pictures visible in the video have since been painted over.]


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Movie Posters

We've established that I like movie posters and movie poster clichés. Here's some more on the subject from a couple of designers. 

Travis Pitts is an American freelance illustrator and designer. He has provided us with six examples of Modern Movie Posters, each pointing out the design rules commonly drawn on by designers. 

This copy of the poster is too small for you to read the fine print at the bottom. 
CLICK HERE to see the original.


Peter Stults is an amazing guy. A New York illustrator/designer who doesn't think he's been cool for 20+ years. (I'd disagree.) Just for the fun of it, he created a bunch of reimagined retro movie posters. Like the one below. 

CLICK HERE to see them all.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Interview with George Paul

Last year I met a filmmaker with an unusual story (for an Adelaide resident). He comes from the Republic of India and made all his films while living there. Now he is resident in Adelaide and is looking for opportunities to continue filmmaking here.

In December 2011, we ran one of his short films. It is currently one of the most-visited post on this blog, which suggests the wider community is interested in his story. So I decided to ask him some more questions. 

Thank you for your time, George.

* Your name seems unusual for someone from India.  I am more used to hearing names like Sachin Tendulkar or Ravi Shankar or Aamir Khan.  Tell us something of your family history.

 Eravikulam National Park  in Kerala.
My native place is Keralaa state in the southern part of India with beautiful landscape and sceneries which made this state to be known as "Gods Own Country". Oscar winners Resul Pookutty and A.R.Rahman hail from South India. The main religions in Kerala are Hinduism, Christianity and Muslim. I'm a Catholic Christian. St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ came to Kerala and established Christianity there. So most of the Christian names resembles characters in the Holy Bible. For example Paul, Peter, Augustin, Mathew, Abraham, Issac, George, Antony, John, are some of them.  
  I was born and brought up in an ancient Catholic family. Ours is a traditional and God-fearing family. My father, Mr. P.G. Paul is a retired Deputy Manager from State Bank of India. My mother, Annie Paul hails from Angamaly, Kerala. My sister, Indu Jomon, an optometrist, and brother-in-law Jomon Jose, a biomedical engineer, live with their three kids at Geelong (Victoria, Australia).

* You changed schools often during your childhood.  Some children become unsettled by moving around.  Did you gain any advantages from those experiences, or did they hold you back?

My father was a Bank officer. He served the bank for thirty-five years during which period he had to work in more than ten places. This actually helped me in a sense to get a good exposure to different customs and cultures of people in different places. This experience has helped me a lot in developing my artistic talents. Moreover, my father himself was a good actor during his college days. This ancestral talent also might have influenced me. 

* How many languages do you speak?

I can manage well with three different languages
Malayalam, English, Tamil, and a little bit of Hindi.

* Did you watch many films while you were growing up?  Bollywood films? Western films?

During my film making course, we were supposed to watch lots of Satyajit Ray [Indian filmmaker responsible for 37 films, including the world-famous Pather Panchali ] films, Hollywood, and other award-winning films. I have a huge collection of very good films, but haven't watched many of them due to time constraints.

* You have described yourself as a sportsman, but show no interest in cricket.  How is that possible for a boy who grew up in India?

As I have mentioned earlier, India is a country of different religions and languages, there's diversity in the interest of people in sports. People in North India show more interest in Cricket and Hockey whereas the South Indians are keen on Volleyball, Basketball and Football.

* What first attracted you to the idea of becoming a filmmaker?

After completing my degree in Electronics, I was not certain about  what to do next. I thought of becoming a computer programmer but realised that my programming logics were not so good at that time. During this period, one of my friend told me about a 2 1/2 years course in Digital Film Making and Media Technology. I was attracted to do this course. I felt this is one area where I could express my creativity to the outside world. I did a few short films, documentaries and advertisement films as part of studies.

* Many people have commented on your short film, uniformly praising it. It is notoriously difficult to tell a story in 60 seconds, but you managed to do so. What prompted you to make that particular filmWhere did you get the idea?

From the One Minute film
My father is a physically challenged person. But he does almost all the work an ordinary man does. He plays games and in fact he was the runner up in Table Tennis at college level. 
  So when there was a "One Minute Short Film Festival", I thought why can't I come up with the theme"Ignorance of the Ability brings Disability". I got some support from my friends as well.

* The expression “a hot toddy” is commonplace in the UK and Australia (among others), but not many Australians could tell you what "toddy" is.  You made a documentary about toddy production.  How did that come about?

A toddy tapper at work
I come from a village in Kerala called Poovathussery. Most of the people in my village are farmers. Paddy and coconut are the main crops cultivated in this place. A small group of people are engaged in Toddy tapping industry
  I hadn't seen any documentaries based on the processing and marketing of Toddy and hence wanted to make one. 
  I did some research including the Ayurvedic medicinal effect of coconut inflorescence from which the Toddy is extracted. I got some help from my father who has done his Masters in Agriculture.

* What prompted you to move to Australia?

This most beautiful continent on earth was always in my dream. The main positive factor for my selection is good opportunity for better jobs and less interference by political parties.

* Were you married before you moved here, or afterWas yours an arranged marriage?

I got married one month before I moved to Adelaide. Ours is an arranged marriage. People usually wonder how is it possible to have an arranged marriage where you don't get much time to know each other. I don't think that's correct. We get enough time to know each other before marriage. 
  I met Divya through a Christian matrimony website We both had registered in the site. My wife has done her masters degree in Social Work and is currently doing some voluntary work. She sings well and is an active member in our parish activities. We have no kids at present.

* What have you been doing since you’ve been here?

I worked as Graphic/Web-SEO Designer with Trade Admin Services for one year.  I also work for another company called Dancers World as Graphic/Web Designer for the past 3 years. Currently I am working as Production & Design Officer with Open Access College, Marden.

* Have you had any opportunity to utilise your filmmaking-related skills in Adelaide?

Recently I got into the film making industry in Adelaide. I worked with a team in shooting a pilot episode for a TV series (Hamlet Uncut).

* You have a number of computer skills.  Tell us a little about them, and how they help in making films.

I would like to utilize my computer skills at par with film making. I am in the process of starting my own IT company - GodsOwnIT where I plan to offer services in Digital Film Making, Online solutions (website, graphics, interactive presentations, mobile app development etc.), Print Designs, Photography. I have about 6 years experience in working with Adobe software, like Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, AfterEffects, InDesign and other software, like Avid, Final Cut Pro, QuarkXPress, Combustion, etc. 
  One main advantage of knowing video editing software for a film maker is that we can foresee the output while shooting and can plan how to go with each shot and the possibilities of utilizing graphics and special effects.

* In what areas of filmmaking are you hoping to become actively involved during 2012?

I am planning to do some short films soon here in Adelaide. I have got the thread to develop, but haven't got much time to work on it. I need to develop my story in terms of the Australian context. Hopefully by the end of 2012, or early 2013, I will shoot my short film, provided I get some support from my friends who are into this wonderful filmmaking industry in Adelaide. I would also like to thank Mr. Henry who helped me a lot in expanding my network through this useful and informative blog.

My pleasure, and thank you, George.

For those who missed the 60 Second film, here it is again: