Thursday, 31 May 2012

"Make A Good Video" Competition

According to The Onion, YouTube is offering a cash prize to the first user to upload a video with a shred of originality or artistic merit. They are asking for a video which is "somewhat watchable, or provides even a shred of enjoyment for people other than those who made the video." 

First prize is $100,000 and there is no deadline.

You can watch the announcement here.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

13 Artists

Peter Drew is at it again. Last year he peppered the byways of Adelaide with posters from our criminal past. This time he is part of a team of thirteen South Australian artists who are creating responses to a Colonial icon that will be hung in the Art Gallery of South Australia, then released onto the streets of Adelaide for anyone to take. Yeah, for anyone to take.

South Australia Illustrated provides insight into the inspired development of the colony of South Australia through three exhibitions: Colonial Painting in the Land of Promise, Bounty: South Australian Gold and Silver and a contemporary street art response, From the street. 

Unfinished' was created by Peter Drew as part of 'South Australia Illustrated: From the Street', an exhibition of Contemporary responses to colonial art that will be on display at The Art Gallery of South Australia from June 2-August 5, 2012. 

Participating artists include: Berk, Jake Bresanello, James Cochran, Peter Drew, Sam Evans, Kate Gagliardi, Jake Holmes, Madeline Reece, Garry Seaman, Matthew Stuckey, Joel Van Der Knaap, Dan Withey, and Kerri Ann Wright.

Here is Peter Drew's video enticement for you to participate in the event.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

"The Pro Show"

Here's a webseries from the UK, The Pro Show. Written by Oliver Graham and Charlie Williams-Brown, and directed by Oliver Graham, this is another story about the complications that arise when you share accommodation with people whose outlook on life is at variance with your own. 

It's been done before, of course. The Odd Couple, The Goodbye Girl, Friends, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, HouseSitter, and many others have trod these boards before. This is a contemporary, shambolic, UK version. 

Episode 1, part 1.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Tony Ayres at the Austral Hotel

Tony Ayres is an Australian filmmaker who was born in China. He lived an interesting life even before becoming involved with film and television in the mid-1980s. 

He is currently the executive producer of The Straits. He was the producer of The Slap, and writer/director of the movie The Home Song Stories.

In the second of a series of events for writers conducted by the SA chapter of the Australian Writers' Guild in Adelaide, Tony will be guest speaker at The Bunka at the Austral Hotel (205 Rundle Street, Adelaide), on Tuesday 5 June 2012, at 7.30pm. 

Door price is $10. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions. 


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Interview with Stephanie McCarthy

Stephanie McCarthy is a screenwriter, playwright and novelist, who lives in Adelaide. She is a long-serving committee member of the Australian Writers' Guild (SA), as well as a screenplay editor, a teacher of screenwriting, and a script assessor for the South Australian Film Corporation.

When I heard that Steph would be teaching a course on writing short films at the SA Writers’ Centre, I tracked her down and asked a few questions.

* Where were you born and where did you grow up? Tell us a little about your early life and school years.

Mine was an idyllic 1950s childhood in the fishing town of Port Lincoln, home of the serious tuna fishermen and the great white shark. Life was free and full of adventure... riding brumbies through sandhills, ocean fishing from dangerous coast-lines, pulling in ink-squirting squid under the lights of the jetty at midnight then selling them to the new immigrant Greeks in the morning, forming gangs in the scrub and fighting for territory with slingshots, wandering with my pet goat through the forest and amazing her with my far-fetched tales (captive audience), sailing all kinds of boats. We had no television, and every night at the table our family of four discussed the meaning of life and what we’d got up to during the day.
   All the way through school I was pretty ordinary with maths, but got good marks for my essays even though teachers constantly reprimanded me for playing fast and loose with the titles. However, I figured that as long as the reader was intrigued, the marks would remain high, and luckily my guess was good. 
Anti-war rally in Adelaide, 1971
   I was accepted into Flinders University during the heady days of the Vietnam War, and signed up for Prof Cherry’s drama course. I realised deep down I was a mediocre actress, but learnt a lot about theatre, writing critiques, and practical skills such as putting myself into a character’s shoes. Obviously this is crucial to being able to live, eat and breathe characters in the writing arena, and when I became pregnant I made the best decision of my lifestay at home, have a crack at being a Mum, and if I couldn’t perform, do the next best thing and write for performance. 
   During this time several of my long short stories were published in series form by a nationwide truckies’ magazine, and this kept bread on the table for some years and I’m still proud of those stories. Also, I devised a set of cryptic crosswords for kids which found their way into schools, and a book of plays for schoolchildren. Stagecraft in Action was published by Rigby and because my plays were actually in print I thought they must be top notch. Within the decade the bubble burst over that delusion! While the ideas have some merit, the plays themselves are dialogue heavy and not well crafted.

* How did you first become involved in writing screenplays?

By 1979 I was back at Flinders, this time trying for a Honours degree titled Writing for Stage and Screen. I won’t go into detail about this, because it forms part of what I want to share for the Short & Shiny Workshop, but in a nutshell I learnt the hard way to ditch unnecessary verbiage and concentrate on telling the story in images. To this day I still write too prosy and long though. 
   At Flinders I met and formed a lasting friendship with producer/director Craig Lahiff who was doing an MA in film. His forte was structure, mine was character and dialogue. The eighties drifted into view with all the opportunities that 10BA private investment offeredespecially allowing us to fail at times, but always to develop and learn. Craig and I collaborated with traveling far and wide location hunting and talking endlessly about the script at hand. 
   I became his assistant and script editor for his thrillers Coda (1987), Fever (1988), and Strangers (1991), and then co-writer for The Dreaming (1988), all experiences invaluable to my knowledge of film-making. I was always welcomed onto the sets during the shoots, and made to feel part of a team. I still think that Fever is a little gem of a movie, especially in its flawless balanced structure. But these types of horror/thrillers are not essentially my cup of tea. I’m drawn to character-driven dramas and comedies, and thrillers which need to be deeply psychological before they satisfy me.     The eighties were full-on busy with creative writing of all kinds, and I can’t believe I actually directed Jack Hibberd’s A Stretch of the Imagination for Come Out. My first solo screenplay was The Honey Tree, optioned by first-time co-producers from WA who couldn’t make it fly. Then I sent it to John Honey from the Tasmanian Film Corporation. He rang to say he wanted to option it, but within the week the Liberals got into power and eliminated the Tassie Film Corp in one fell blow.
   Later in the eighties I wrote a children’s series for the ABC called Goldspinner, and that was a joyous process with some really lovely moments realised exactly as I’d envisaged. Soon afterwards Sydney ABC scooped children’s production from Adelaide, so yet again we here became the poorer cousins.
   The Australian Childrens Television Foundation funded my TV series Tomorrow’s Journey, which later became the movie screenplay Ghost Train optioned by Craig Lahiff. Because of a legal spat with the SAFC neither got legs, but I must say that was a long time ago and since that time the SAFC has supported me and my work to an amazing extent, and has employed me many times as assessor. 
   In recent years Mario Andreacchio as producer/ director got together with me to redevelop TJ as Desert Train. Mario was finally forced to relinquish it due to being overcommitted, and so DT still languishes in a drawer to this day. That hurts. Try not to think about it too much.  

* Most wannabe screenwriters live for the day when they can see their name on a movie poster. You first managed that back in 1988 with the movie The Dreaming. What are your memories of writing and making that picture

Kangaroo Island
The writing of it was fun, with John/ Josephine Emery as my co-writer. We mostly worked separately, always liaising with the producer, Craig Lahiff. Rob George also improved the script. When Craig became unwell, he hired a director to lessen his load. I went over to Kangaroo Island to watch the process, and we flew in a helicopter over the rugged coastline, the camera dangling beneath. 
   All very exhilarating, until I started watching the shoot. The words and pictures didn’t seem to resemble much what the writers had written, and my enjoyment evaporated fast, especially when I saw in the first screening that the hired director had included his name as co-writer. This happens increasingly to this day, and it’s just as wrong as it was back then. Cheeky and wrong. I’m proud of the first 20 minutes of this moviethat’s all. Josephine chose a nobler course than me, taking her name off the credits. 

* You’ve written books, radio plays, stage plays and screenplays. Which form of writing do you find most satisfying and why?

Perplexing question. This is like comparing my liking for chocolates (books) and lemons (screenplays), mangoes (plays) and crusty bread (radio dramas). 
   My books have given me the most rewards in terms of feedback from readers young and old, and in preserving what and how I wanted to say in the first place. 
   By contrast screenplay is a brutally tough process which nearly always involves a team often bristling with egos. It can make you sour and despairing, but for some reason I stubbornly persist and have nearly got to the line several times. 
Bakehouse Theatre
   Stage playsnever really made it to the big time here, although my one-actor play Frank’ll Kill Me sold out for three nights at the Bakehouse Theatree, and Bird in the Camellia Tree nearly won me a workshop in Banff. 
   Radiothis turned out to be financially rewarding on more than one occasion, and emotionally satisfying too. Unlike film, radio production happens faster, and while the writer is required to perhaps reduce length of play and tweak here and there, the finished product happens in months and usually great actors (who don’t mind a quick detour from their otherwise frenzied stage and film careers) take part. 
   My first radio play Out of Mind was produced by the ABC here in SA, and producer Keith Richards kindly accepted my input in the entire process. Out of Mind was a co-winner in the Ian Reed radio play competition, and I continued to be employed on an ad hoc basis by the ABC as ‘manual effects officer’, a job which I thoroughly enjoyed for some years. Then followed a series of competition wins with the BBC World Service, which provided instant rewards with stunning productions and a nice fee plus novelty prizes including a broadband radio.    

* You’ve been a member of the SA Committee of the Australian Writers’ Guild since 1982. What would you like to see the AWG achieve in South Australia?

For many decades we have been gratefully dependent upon the SAFC for much of our funding, and within that we ran courses for emerging writers, masterclasses, conferences etc. 
SA Film Corporation
Then we felt we were perhaps becoming too dependent upon the SAFC, and were not producing the events we as a committee felt were most beneficial to our community of writers. Lately we have become an autonomous group of volunteer committee members who integrate their skills and give their time into organising events and opportunities for writers at all levels. 
   Networking face-to-face and gaining confidence are key to providing support to the generation of film-makers to come, and in particular giving performance writers a sense of where they fit in this community and how they might slot into a creative team. 
   The newly-structured committee has been rejuvenated and has already initiated a series of high profile events and courses. I personally keep learning from the dynamic members of this ever-changing and evolving committee, and love the present freewheeling set-up with the inspiring Andrew Bovell at our helm. We’ve reclaimed our raison d’Ä—tre.

* What do you think are the AWG’s responsibilities toward unproduced screenwriters? (Should the AWG seek to assist wannabe screenwriters develop their skills, or is that an issue for the individual?)

It’s the teacher in me I guess, that I’ve always felt the urge to share with new-comer wannabe screenwriters what I’ve learned over the years, to fast-track their journeys if they’re willing to take advice. Perhaps this is the main reason why I’ve stayed doggedly in the SA Committee for so longto urge the fostering and nurturing of new (not always so young!) writers, as well as providing them with as much interaction with others in the industry as possible.

* If you could recommend just one screenwriting advice book to a newcomer in Adelaide, what would that book be?

Haven’t read a lot of books on screenwriting, but been to several courses and conferences, and found Linda Seger’s Making a Good Script Great very helpful. 
   Basically most such books teach rules of structure and plot etc, then point to those films which have successfully or unsuccessfully broken those rules. As WW2 ace Douglas Bader said, ‘Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men’.

* What are three things you wish someone had told you about screenwriting?

1. Use images to show rather than dialogue to tell.
2. Allow your characters to drive the story.
3. Make every word (especially dialogue) justify its place in the script.

* What’s next for Stephanie McCarthy?

Have just devoted three years of my life writing what I believe to be an important political biography. Meantime pretending to be patient while producer Scott McDonald and director Nick Matthews fight to get my psychological thriller Mary Mary over the line. 
   Now that I’ve finished the biography, I’ve resumed the search for the perfect producer for my family comedy A Matter of Size
   As invited guest speaker I occasionally share my experiences with groups of creative writers young and old, or I act as one-on-one script editor with someone new to the game. 
   A quirky gift book I’ve created has gone into reprint and is now selling from shops and galleries all over Australia, and so this nifty little business keeps me feeling as if I’m at last contributing a regular trickling income into the family coffers. 
   Unless I lose my marbles completely, I don’t plan to retire until I’m actually being dissected by a med student in the Uni lab. Even then I’ll probably strike up a conversation with the scalpel wielder about what good movies he or she has seen lately.

* What are your ten favourite movies of all time?
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Mystic River (2003)
The Piano (1993)
Every one of these films, including the comedies which annoyingly are rarely taken seriously, has left me pondering the human condition. The characters always learn something, the images are unforgettable, the plots full of surprises. Spellbinding and addictive, they remind me of why I keep plugging on in the film industry.

Stephanie McCarthy will lead a seminar on Writing Short Film at the  
SA Writers' Centre (2nd Floor, 187 Rundle Street) on Saturday June 16, 2012.

Friday, 25 May 2012

"Dinosaur Theory" - New book by Chris Tugwell

Chris Tugwell
Years ago I applied to the South Australian Film Corporation for funding. The specific application related to funding for the rewriting of my first screenplay, no other path forward being obvious to me at the time. 

No, I didn't receive the funding, and no, that film was never made—to my lasting gratitude... I was greener than grass at the time and, having contrived to (unwittingly) write a story with a parallel plot, had bitten off more than I could chew. We're not always as ready for the next step as we imagine ourselves to be.

I found the funding process bureaucratic and serpentine, but ultimately instructive in a number of unexpected ways. Among other things, it required that I locate and attach a script editor to the project, an educational exercise in it's own right. At the end of that process, I met Chris Tugwell.

Another child discovers
one of Adelaide's more
placid pigs.

He was—as Jim Carrey said of the man with the rubber glove —surprisingly gentle. He started with the opening image of my screenplay [a young couple, with a child, playing on one of the pigs in Rundle Mall ] and asked me what it might convey to a viewer in, say, Paris. I learned more from thinking about that question than I would have believed possible. I won't bore you with details, but there is a surprising amount going on with pigs in the world of symbolism.  

After working in the film industry for more than twenty years, and teaching screenwriting at the Adelaide College of the Arts, Chris has now written a book. 

Dinosaur Theory elevates him into a world of screenwriting theorists which include Brian McDonald, Bill Idelson, David Mamet, John Truby, William Froug, Howard Suber, and others, who question the paint-by-numbers schools of structuralist screenwriting teachers.
Each and every great screen story has a natural and seamless shape that lies within the script. That shape might be a journey, a task, a place or a time limit. 
In his book, Chris introduces a revolutionary step-by-step approach to the problem of uncovering your story's own singular shape.

Dinosaur Theory helps free writers from the tyranny of three-act structure. It reveals the shape hidden within a story, and shows how to use that shape to create a powerful and unique screenplay.

I haven't read it yet, but I can't wait. Get your copy here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

"Something Fishy"

Here's a silent short, with great colour and an amazing young actress. 

Something Fishy is a short Dark Comedy written, directed and produced by Kristy Best. Kristy's first Short Film received a First Time Filmmakers Grant in 2010 from Metro Screen and Screen NSW, and more than fifty friends contributed funds via crowd-funding site

Something Fishy has screened at Vail Film Festival, LA Comedy Shorts, DC Shorts, Friars Club Comedy Fest, Dungog Film Festival, Canberra Short Film Festival and Cornwall Film Festival.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Surrealism and video games

Made by Kornhaber Brown and hosted by Mike Rugnetta, this is the first episode of a PBS series called New Idea Channel

This episode examines surrealism in the context of a discussion about the salient features of the Super Mario Brothers. They make a case for Mario's inclusion into a canon of art wider than "Video Game".

You know surrealism, right? 

Stuff like this:

Super Mario Brothers the world's greatest piece of surrealist art? Watch this.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

"About Abby"

About Abby is a webseries about a cock-eyed optimist in search of love in L.A. Written and directed by Sassy Mohen, and starring Keghan Hurst, Ashley Reign, Gabe Pasillas, Rob McGillivray & Patrick Blakely.
In this Episode, Abby is fresh off the boat. She and high school sweetheart Kevin have recently split. Besides feeling a bit frisky (though she'd never admit it), she's also clueless about what her next step is. Lucky for her, co-worker Harold has the perfect guy for her & her good friends Micah & Caroline are there to guide her along the way.
Here's Episode 1 - About Abby and the Aussie.

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Monday, 21 May 2012

David Lynch sells coffee in Japan

David Lynch
David Lynch used his own show, Twin Peaks, as a vehicle to sell Georgia Coffee in Japan. (Today it is the #1 selling caffeine drink in Japan, outselling Coke two-to-one.)  

When asked whether he was concerned about what the commercials might do to the Twin Peaks image, he said, “I’m really against it in principle, but they were so much fun to do, and they were only running in Japan and so it just felt okay.”

The four 30-second commercials follow an FBI Special Agent (Kyle McLachlan) as he enjoys plenty of Georgia Coffee and solves the mystery of a missing Japanese woman in the town of Twin Peaks. Lynch was supposed to do a second series, but the Japanese company cancelled them.

Episode One: "Lost."

Episode Two: “Cherry Pie.”

Episode Three: “The Mystery of ‘G’.”

Episode Four: “The Rescue.”

It's not official until it's been on The Simpsons. Here Homer gives us the benefit of his insights into Twin Peaks and Georgia Coffee. (You'll need to turn the sound up for this one.)

Sunday, 20 May 2012


This is the first episode of Marvel Motion comics new adventure of Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, as she rediscovers her life in a world she did not make. The Secret Invasion is over. Now comes the reckoning.

Created by the Eisner Award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

"The Hauntening"

Here's a short film from Waverly Films, which shows how much you can do with one actor, an average kitchen, and some imagination. 

And a customized soundtrack.
Spooky messages while cooking beans...

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Free movies #2

I listed a bunch of movies you can watch for free on the internet back in March 2012. That post received a lot of interest, so I thought I'd list a few more films.
  • 12 Angry Men (1957) What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes a drama of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.
  • 27 Dresses (2008) After serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister's side as her sibling marries the man she's secretly in love with. 
  • A Bridge Too Far (1977) An historic telling of the failed attempt to capture several bridges to Germany in World War II in a campaign called Operation Market-Garden.
  • An Act of Murder (1948) A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife's terminal cancer.
  • Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) A British woman is determined to improve herself while she looks for love, in a year during which she keeps a personal diary.
  • Cadillac Records (2008) Chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. 
  • Duel (1971) A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.
  • He Got Game (1998) A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.
Easy Rider
  • Easy Rider (1969) Two counterculture bikers travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of America. 
  • Last Man Standing (1996) A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town.
  • Law Abiding Citizen (2009) A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.
  • Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) Four London working class stiffs pool their money to put one in a high stakes card game, but things go wrong and they end up owing half a million pounds and having one week to come up with the cash.
  • Lord of War (2005) An arms dealer confronts the morality of his work as he is being chased by an Interpol agent.
  • Malcolm X (1992)  The biopic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader.
  • Man On Fire (2004) In Mexico City, a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.
  • On the Waterfront (1954) An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. Marlon Brando won an Academy Award for his performance in this film.
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) Aliens resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop human kind from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb). 
Rain Man
  • Rain Man (1988) Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.
  • Stardust Memories (1980) While attending a retrospect of his work, a filmmaker recalls his life and his loves: the inspirations for his films.
  • Straw Dogs (1971) A young American and his English wife come to rural England and face increasingly vicious local harassment.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (2005) Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion. 
  • The Criminal (1960) In Britain, an ex-con who's taken part in the robbery of a racetrack is caught and sent back to prison, but he won't tell his fellow gang members where he's stashed the loot. The gang kidnaps his girlfriend and has him tortured in prison in an effort to find out where the money is. Released in the US as The Concrete Jungle, in a nod to The Asphalt Jungle.
  • The Getaway (1994)  To get out of prison, Doc McCoy has to cooperate with the same person who got him into prison. 
  • The Illusionist (2006)   In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. 
  • The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. 
  • The Lineup (1958) In San Francisco, a psychopathic gangster and his mentor retrieve heroin packages carried by unsuspecting travelers.
The Mechanic
  • The Mechanic (1972) Charles Bronson plays an aging hitman, who is instructed to train his own replacement.
  • The Out of Towners (1969) George Kellerman is being flown to New York City with his wife Gwen for an interview with the top brass, but the carefully planned trip turns into a nightmare.
  • The Peacemaker (1997) A US Army colonel and a civilian woman supervising him must track down stolen Russian nuclear weapons before they're used by terrorists.
  • The Right Stuff (1983) The original US Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program, showing that no one had a clue how to run a space program or how to select people to be in it.
  • The Valachi Papers (1972) When mobster Joe Valachi has a price put on his head by Vito Genovese, he takes desperate steps to protect himself.
  • Thursday (1998) A drug dealer, who has made a new life for himself, risks losing everything when a former ally turns up with heroin.
  • Waiting for Godot (2001) Two tramps wait for a man named Godot, but instead meet a pompous man and his stooped-over slave.