Gilty Pleasure

I just finished filming my scenes for the short film “Only Gilt.” It’s based on book by kids writer Paul Jennings and the rough synopsis is “A boy goes to school wearing a bird cage on his head. He explains to his teacher that it is a self-imposed punishment because he blames himself for the murder of his girlfriend’s budgerigar [1]“. No prizes for guessing that I play the teacher Mr Marsden and have the task of performing some relationship dramedy opposite my tween costars Toby and Giselle.

There is always a challenge when working with actors you’ve never met before. You have to pull off an ensemble performance to convince the audience that you’ve known each other for years in the complex status roles the writer has given your characters. It’s not enough to be believable as a solo acting unit. To tell the story effectively you have to mesh as a team.

Now it’s probably me being 50% ageist and 50% paranoid, but I get nervous when I have scenes with kids. My reason is how do they know how to create these complexities in a faux relationship when they really haven’t experienced much diversity of relationships themselves? But here comes the kicker – it’s NEVER a problem. I’ve worked with a bunch of kids in the 10ish range and they are always amazing. Totally committed, completely able to improvise a new relationship and readily able to tell the complex story asked of them – as long as they don’t get personally intimidated, pushed around or emotionally squashed (and unfortunately I’ve seen that happen).

The thing is, I’m less and less sure that amazing acting is important in telling a beautiful story. Wonderful to see, and lovely as a piece of art; great acting can (and should) facilitate the telling of a story such we transcend the liminal borders and feel with the characters; BUT it is by no means necessary or sufficient to the conveying of story.

The keystones to acting (in my humble opinion) are connection to yourself, connecting to each other, and (perhaps most importantly) a willingness to be a vehicle to the telling of the narrative. Yoshi Oida calls this the invisible actor and for my money it’s the most important part of the job. To this date the kids I’ve worked with have been egoless enough to perfectly serve the narrative. It was a fine lesson for me and they have my thanks.

Anyway Only Gilt will be amazing I’m sure. Check out their stuff above if you get the chance.

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting

Foxtel camera challenge

Seton buys me coffee

I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago to work on a great little project.  It was a competition in-house for Foxtel.  The channels received a brief and they were to make an action film a couple of minutes long.  We had a day to film, which is not a lot of time with action.

1st things 1st.  We had a morning of fight choreography with director John Masiello and fight teacher Igor Breakenback at his MMA gym (!).  Just the idea that I was doing a fight rehearsal (which I can do) at an MMA gym (which scared the pants off me) was a challenge. Seton Pollock (the Newman to my Seinfeld) was skipping rope like Rocky when I entered the Octagon (no exaggeration).  Of course I can’t skip rope but I gave it the old college try. Ahh college was a good 16 years ago but hey I’m not total fairy floss.

The fight lesson went well.  We had bags of fun and did some great work but it was a lot to remember.  Fight dialogue is as hard to remember as regular dialogue… except if you get it wrong you are slightly more likely to sprain your face.

Foxtel Camera Challenge

What’s my line?

The next day we filmed.  It was a torrential weather outside but nice and cozy in the deserted Foxtel building at North Ryde on a public holiday. The warmth came from the crew and cast.  Such a great gang and ridiculously talented.  We did a LOT of work in the office.  I was clocked with a stunt coffee mug which looks great and worked brilliantly. Seton and I fought under the caring guidance of Igor (a kinder guy you cannot help to meet) and we were safe and looked after.

John emulated a load of camera styles that came together fantastically.  The final product looks amazing.  A visual feast.  I hope that it sees public viewing someday.  Also would love to work with any of the crew again in the future.

FOLLOW UP. – Here it is for your entertainment!! Enjoy

COLD BLOODED

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/44849187 w=585]

the MOViE ON story

Welcome back to heathwilder.com. I felt a little silly not adding something about MOViE ON to the page considering as it took up Xmas for Tristan Kenyon, Drew McCourt, Michael Walker and myself (and many others).

It started as an idea over the years for a TV dramedy (we don’t know what that means either) based in a small indy video store similar to the one we may have worked over the years for a little extra $ (depending on who asks). As anyone who has ever worked retail and customer service can tell you the show started writing itself. Odd customers and over qualified staff at the wrong end of the art form they loved.

"And I will always looove you"

After a particularly rough spot Tristan, Drew and I eventually sat down and came up with a concept for the looming Optus one80 comp.  It was a deadline we new could motivate us – a 3 minute trailer by New Year and one month to do it!!!!!

Video stores are dying for a number of reasons including piracy, the shift in marketplace to downloadable content and a GFC. All things that are boring as hell to read about but tough to live through, especially when you are a struggling artist 30 something artist who is at that particular time in their life when they need to work out if mom was right and they should have stuck with med school. We were all guilty as charged.

The face I made when they told me we didn't make the cut for Optus one80

The characters were a mix of ourselves, our immediate friends and enemies, and a distillation of the bizarre customers we had known throughout the years and wanted to celebrate on film.  Tristan wrote the initial script and he and I worked on subsequent drafts. That lead us to the trailer. We filmed this over a couple weeks like mad men after hours and juggling a schedual that looked mad. Our saving grace was our amazing crew (ie. friends) and especially our good pal and amazing camera genius Michael Walker. Click here to see his other recent stuff.

The cast were off the chart as well.  Often we gave a brief to the guys coming in (also great friends donating their talent and time) that set up the playground we wanted to work in and let them improv their way to success.  Bless you all for running with that. the results are GOLD!

Coupled with Tristans vast talent and experience as a director, editor and DOP we got this trailer together.

However Optus didn’t love it like we did (#sadface) so we were sad for about 5 minutes. NOW Tristan and I are putting together the whole story.  It’ll be all the stuff that was AWESOME but couldn’t make a 3min trailer and tells more of the story of MOViE ON.  With some luck a rich(er than us) network will give us some $ to make more of it and we’ll see how that goes.  Stay tuned for updates on MOViE ON.

I’m going to leave you with a gallery of the amazing cast (and crew as practically everyone doubled in classic Sam Raimi style).