August 2008

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Standing There Productions Compound

 

Well, Standing There Prouctions is now complete at Bundanon.

 

We have, as Stew said when we first got here, pretty much a Standing There Productions Compound, which of course is now complete thanks to the addition of the very exhausted Standing There International Prize Winning spunkrat, Rita Walsh. Rita arrived this evening, wherein she was supplied with peppermint tea, a nice warm bed, and the entire Press Gang boxed set. As most doctors know, this is the holy trinity of jet lag cures and Rita should be up and about in no time.

 

It's wonderful to see her.

 

Stew and I looked at each other at one point and realised suddenly and with an unfamiliar embarrassment that both of us had in fact been talking full speed ahead since the moment we clapped eyes on her. Talk about overwhelming.

 

Meanwhile, we've been extremely busy on various different projects, including something we are working on in the video, below.

 

See if you can see the bit where Stew attacks me with a hammer. All in a day's work. And yes there is rather a large amount of bum crack in this video, although actually, if you look closely (and I advise you not to) I think you'll find I am actually clothed in that area, so please don't fear.

 

Studio Timelapse

It's not often I post twice in one day, but that's just how prolific we are over here at Bundanon. Here's what Stew's been up to:

 

 

By the way, for those of you who have heard my lecture series about kids' TV,

here's some back up

. Fairly cute backup.

Lessons learned

There are lessons to be learned at Bundanon, Yvonne and Arthur Boyd's farm in New South Wales. Not just lessons about art and history and nature, but life lessons.

 

For example.

 

Don't drink, and avoid contact.

 

 

This is excellent advice, particularly when both elements are practiced together. No, I have no idea what this contraption is, but I am grateful for its gentle reminder.

 

Also, in case of fire, it's always very useful to know where the fire extinguisher is. In this case, it is carefully labelled:

 

This one was in the middle of a paddock. Very good to know.

 

If something in life (say, a wombat) interests or annoys you, it's probably best to get a parent to pop over to the wombat's house and have a bit of a look at the situation:

 

Remember: chances are, if you can see me, I can see you:

 

That probably goes for all of you.

Yes. Even you guys.

 

What do you think of that?

 

 

Guys?

 

 

 

Guys?

See you guys later!

 

Also, just lastly, if you're a writer and you're wondering what other jobs you could do to get some money to support your habit, it might be a good idea to become a photographer for the covers of scary airport novels.

 

More to come. Stew's working on some crazy videos. Rita's arriving on Sunday night via LA via Melbourne via a wedding via Wangaratta. Wow. I might go and have a cup of tea.

I mean honestly

Yesterday, after probably the most productive bout of work I've done the whole time I've been here, my hard drive died.

I swear it has comic timing.

 

It did this before, just after the most productive bout of work I'd done on our 2007 comedy festival script, an adaptation of which I am now working on. Maybe it's the project. Either way, I am, and shall remain, unimpressed.

 

They day before this happened, we had just driven to Nowra. Driving to Nowra is a metaphor for progress and civilisation if ever there was one. It's a rough road to get there, it has coffee and an art deco movie theatre and lovely people who do small talk and run bookshops, but its main achievement is a sprawling pod of enormous, cheap shopping centres around which bored youths gather, in many cases with their own children, and eat fried chicken with plastic forks. In the carpark prowls a man in a luminous jacket. The parking ticket guy. "Watch him", say the locals, their eyes narrowing.

 

If you're at Bundanon, you really have to want to go to Nowra, in order to go to Nowra. You really have to need supplies. If you could eat grubs and moss, you probably would. But, the day before yesterday, we went to stock up. Stew needed a cable from Dick Smiths. I needed a coffee and some fresh vegies. It took forever. The parking ticket guy was prowling, there were products here that were cheaper over there, there we youths eating chicken and effectionately giving each other the finger everywhere you looked. Knowing I didn't want to come back, I had two coffees in order to make it worthwhile. Not having had a coffee for two weeks, I then went completely silly and had to go for an hour-long walk upon my return to Bundanon. Pacing around the farm past wombats, birds, and kangaroos, I promised myself I wouldn't go back to Nowra unless there was some kind of national emergency. Then, fuelled by my two coffees, I wrote prolifically (noticing briefly that there was a funny noise in the computer) and went to bed.

 

HA HA! said my hard drive. THIS IS MY CUE!

 

Please, I beg you, back up. Do it now! Leave! Back your stuff up! All it takes is one tiny little thing to go wrong and you lose everything. Doing a backup the previous day, Stew had called from his studio, "Has that file trasnfer finished?" and I had replied, "Yes".

 

I was wrong. Although I have backed up recently, and I sent one of the most recent versions of the thing I was writing in an email to Stew yesterday, I am yet to discover what terrifyingly important things I have sent off into the ether. Not to mention my software. Not to mention my internet bookmarks from the research I'd been doing. My hard drive, somewhere in hard drive hell, is raising a patronising eyebrow and saying, "Well, you could have backed it all up. It's not like you haven't been here before." It's probably hanging out with my previous hard drive. Playing cards and reading all my old stuff.

 

So we had to go to frigging Nowra again. The day after I swore we never would. So we did, we went straight back to Dick Smith's and bought another expensive cable. Thanks to some seriously impressive nerd work on Stew's part, although my hard drive is wiped, I have my computer back and I can start afresh, resurrecting the files I did back up.

 

Still, if there wasn't a gallah outside my window and a week-old lamb in  a cardboard box in the studio next to mine (had a cold night, rejected by mum) then I doubt I would be coping quite so well with my hard drive's sense of humour.

 

Thanks to Stew for helping me. Thanks to Nowra, as a metaphor for civilisation, for saving me by providing a cable. Thanks to the wonderful Julia for taking me through the Boyd archives yesterday and letting me wear white gloves and marvel at the original Picasso and all the Boyds and Nolans and therefore making an otherwise terrible day completely and utterly worthwhile. I doubt you could every truly complain of a wasted day at Bundanon. Hurrah for that.

Bundanon Day 5 or Day 6 depending on how bad you are at maths

So apparently I have my days wrong and we are currently on Day 6 here at Bundanon. My God it's a beautiful place. I tied myself in lots of knots with my writing today and yesterday and this afternoon I HOPE I have turned a corner. Writing is so hard. It's glorious when it's fun but at certain points, it's so hard. It doesn't matter where you are. When you're here, though, it's easy to go for a walk and come back with a new head on your shoulders (not literally obviously, they're into sculpture here but they can't work miracles).

 

Today, finally, we went on an official tour of Yvonne and Arthur Boyd's house and of Arthur's studio. The house is a big sandstone house built in 1868. It has stuff like this lying around in it:

... Painted by Arthur and featuring this awesome little animal he invented called a Ramox, which is usually perving at him from the hinterland in all his paintings. Apparently he and Yvonne were busted with torchlights doing something not very military when he was in the army, so he reckoned "You're never alone", which is certainly true around here (see wombat, below).

 

I also found what I'd been looking for - a painting by Yvonne Boyd, who apparently gave up painting when she had kids. I really like this (excuse the reflection) and not only because it's set in Fitzroy!

Then we went to Arthur's studio.

Check out the colours (and imagine the smells!):

The studio is left as it was when he died. These paints were used by him and mixed in larger containers. The top of this desk is clear glass. You wouldn't know it. The larger containers look like this:

Some of the paintbrushes were put on extenders that he made from bits of the surrounding bush so he didn't have to reach so high or bend down so low. A few of the smaller paintbrushes were made by him. For the brush parts, he used his daughter's hair.

As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, Arthur (as they all call him around here) was painting an enormous canvas once and the guy came to collect it. Arthur revealed he had no idea how he was going to get the canvas out of the studio. He told the guy to go and have a cup of coffee and he'd figure it out. The guy came back and Arthur was hacking this long rectangular hole in the side of the studio with a chainsaw. Problem solved.

The painting below was painted at the Shoalhaven river, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We saw a video of Arthur painting it. He had three fish on a hook nailed into the wall. It was great to watch and was interpreted by our guide today as a comment on how contemporary Christian religion (the cross, the trinity, the fish) doesn't quite fit in the Australian landscape. Note his old jumper on the chair.

 

As I said, everything remains untouched. His slippers under his chair:

His final painting:

And several CDs and records left near his record player. Chopin is the only one I remember.

And here's my favourite photograph from the tour of Arthur Boyd's studio. See if you can spot the subliminal Standing There Productions Extremely Sensible Person in this shot:

By the way, you like how Arthur has cut a square out of his desk so he can chuck old rags in there? Apparently "some artists like a bit of mess" according to the tour. Oh reeheeally?

Anyway, that was this morning. This afternoon I went back to my own studio to go cross-eyed over this thing I'm writing. I've decided to completely re-write it and compare the two results when I've done them. It's risky, terrifying, depressing and liberating all at the same time. I spoke to another writer doing a residency here and she told me she was going stir crazy too. Maybe artists also need mental instability?

Lastly, here's the latest Womby update. This was on my walk back from the homestead:

 

 

Bundanon Day 4

So this is just to dispell any myths that might be generating as a result of my rather nature-based reports of late along the lines that I am doing very little else with my time than wombat-spotting. This is not true. I am also working, thinking, writing. This is the wall of my studio:

Please note the bull outside. I don't know who put that there but that's just cheeky. This wall makes a lot of sense to me and has proven extremely helpful for the writing I do in that chair (from which I witness many dramas including the hilarious daily pantomime entitled "Bird Does A Dance On Bull Who Can't Do Anything About It" which is a real David and Goliath show-stopper).

And for those of you who think my obsession with wombats is a little over the top, please direct your attention to my other studio wall, where this has been painted, presumably by a previous artist in residence:

Definitely the unofficial Bundanon mascot. I saw about twenty of these on my walk to the river today. Seriously I've never seen more of them in my life. Never get sick of them though. Hilarious little things. Better go and attempt to decipher my wall now. Goodie.

Crepuscular and Nocturnal Activities at Bundanon

Bundanon. Tonight. It's raining. Here's our resident wombat. Things go a little awry near the end of the video because Stew (lighting designer of this particular movie) has a better idea and goes inside for better equipment. This leaves me (DOP) with no choice but to move, causing womby to scuttle off. Don't worry, he was back in a matter of seconds and we can still hear him out there now. Hopefully he's getting as much work done as we are, since it's raining like hell and we're stuck in our studios. Thanks to Stew for uploading this.

  They really are the most bizarre creatures. Here's one from our walk today (we've seen seven today). They're quite like koalas. At the end of this video, Stew captures some poor girl who's apparently embarrassed to be filmed. Possibly because she is wearing a luminous blue jumper and hasn't brushed her hair. I dunno. Point is: wombats are cool.

On with the writing. If the rain keeps up, I could be here until Tuesday.      

Bundanon Day 3

Well, Rita Walsh has done it again.

Just when we thought the word "congratulations" was starting to become a cliche, Rita's short film, Hugo (which has already won Grand Prize for Fantasy at the Rhode Island Film Festival, won an AWGIE and been selected for Palm Springs) has been selected for the Chicago International Childrens FIlm Festival, which is extremely exciting. Rita is now in Palm Springs and will be greeted with considerable respect when she arrives at Bundanon, where word has spread of her ridiculously heady achievements.

Meanwhile, at Bundanon, the biggest event on our social calendar was last night's "Artists' Drinks" which consisted of some very delicious local wines, some lovely artists and some of the Bunanon peeps (including the person responsible for the excellent Bundanon website, go here). After the drinks, someone decided it would be nice to have an unofficial tour of Arthur Boyd's studio. It's the actual studio he worked in, left completely as it was when he died (his paint-splattered slippers are still under his chair). It was amazing. It was even more amazing because we couldn't find the light switch so the studio tour was done under torch light.

With the lights out, you smell everything much more than you might otherwise. The smell of paints in an art studio are so exciting to me. They speak of possibility. I wish laptops had such an inspiring smell. That way, I might create with a greater fervour. As it is, I sit here in my own studio, with my own view out the window and the laptop in front of me and I discover that other great inspirer: headspace. Having nothing else to do really is such a luxury. Arthur and Yvonne Boyd must have known that. I've had more thinking time than I ever usually would, as well as more writing time, and... I'm allowed to write on the walls! I'm starting to fear what it might be like to return to civilian life.

The best thing in the world is not having to worry about work, or dishes, or having to go and do social things (which are lovely, but which are not an option here, so that distraction doesn't exist!). In fact, here, nobody cares enough to interrupt you. They're all busy doing their own thing. Here is a photo of nobody caring about what I'm doing:

That cow on the right is particularly disinterested.

These guys don't care either:

So really, it's just me with my own mind. Which is being stimulated constantly by views like this:

That's Arhur and Yvonne Boyd's the original owners' Aboriginal stockman's hut (sorry, got that wrong originally). It's teensy weensy. Behind it is Australian bush, featuring about a trillion kangaroos about the size of Wayne Carey, and not dissimilar in appearance. Here is Arthur and Yvonne's house:

There's a tour of the house on Sunday, which I hope to go to. Whenever Sunday might be.

I'm going to try to remember for another reason too. Rita is on radio at 8am Australian time on this station. Of course she is. Captain Famous Pants talks to the peeps. Can't wait to hear it. Go Rita!

Bundanon Day 2

This is our second full day at Arthur Boyd's farm, Bundanon. I don't know enough about Arthur or Yvonne (I intend to find out more) but I do know that I am a little bit in love with them both. This place is amazing. On our first night we met an enormous wombat on our balcony. We've met many kangaroos, rock wallabies, and birds aplenty. There is a sculpture by Sydney Nolan on our porch. I have two appointments the entire time I'm here. One of them is in 45 minutes and it's Artists' Drinks. The best kind!

 

So far today I have done more writing work than all the weeks in the entire past month combined.

 

Here are some photos of what an artist residency at Bundanon looks like in the first few days. I need to credit Stew of course for the photos. The average ones were taken by me. Like, for instance, this one:

This is Stew's studio about three seconds after we arrived:

Even the bedrooms are cool!

This is our apartment (Stew gets one end and I get the other). Rita gets one to herself:

Note the little desk where I can do work. It's so odd to have a loungeroom with no TV but goodness me do you get some work done.

That's all for now, there are drinks to be had.

Bundanon

Before I write about Bundanon, where we have finally arrived and in which I am already completely in love, let me fill you in on stops 2, 3 and 4.

Our second stop after Mansfield (of Subway fame) was Bright. We drove there via Jamieson, which has a population of 88 humans and maybe a billion birds. It's completely gorgeous. Here's a sample:

As you can see, the locals kept to themselves a bit.

Then we went to the snow. How awesome is nature? It did this all by itself!

Then of course, coming up against nature all the time is humankind. I have a friend who discovered when he came to Australia for the first time that Australians don't like littering.

They don't like it, but they do it anyway, using what they seem to think is a littering loophole: it's not litter if you stand it up.

Slot a chip packet between two boards in a fence: not litter. Stand a beer bottle up on a pub window: not litter. Apparently, the same rule goes for the snow.

Good way of keeping your beer cold I guess.

Mind you, we enjoyed our own beverages on our food and wine tour, OH YES WE DID! Check it:

So much more sophisticated. We were driven to this place in a stretched limo and we tasted cheese, olives, wines and at one point Stewart went missing and was discovered behind a sign that said FUDGE TASTING.

This leg of our trip was a present. It was the most lovely present in the world. Well, that and the new set of tyres we got just before we left (thanks dad!) which have been tested many times along the way, and will be again I'm sure, due to the fact that the driveway to Bundanon is longer and more filled with holes than a long thing filled with holes.

More when the photos have downloaded. We're off for a quick walk with the wombats. Seriously.

Drive to Artists' Residency Stop #4

For reasons to do with technology and small country towns, I cannot upload photographs, nor can I spend long writing this. I write from Narooma, two hours away from our destination at Arthur Boyd's place. Both Stewart and I have now suffered through a vile illness that should have cleared by the time we're supposed to start work (ain't it always the way?) and we have so far experienced snow (Hotham), a winery tour in glistening sunshine (Bright), and Stew's grandmother's cooking (more? are you serious? I might die!). It has all been excellent, although a feature of it has been vile coughing and repeated nose blowing. Stew currently sounds like the wimmawe guy in The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Sometimes I get him to do it and dissolve into giggles.

Tomorrow we arrive at the residency! Huzzah!

I will upload photos when I can. There is no TV so I won't be watching the olympics anymore and will therefore have several hours per day in which I can do other things.

 Meanwhile, Rita has left New York and is currently in LA. Slightly different pace, but there you go. Hugo, her short film that won the Grand Prize for fantasy at the Rhode Island Film Festival, has won an AWGIE for the script written by Rachel Bowen. All extremely exciting and they should all be sent to the congratulatorium. Where, hopefully, nobody coughs.

Trip to Bundanon Artist Residency - Stop #1

Report on first leg of road trip to Bundanon Artists' Residency.

KEY STATISTICS

Expected time of departure: 10am.

Actual time of departure: 1.30pm.

Reason for delayed departure: technological malfunction (Stew's iPhone died).

Kilometres traveled: approx 190 kms.

Percentage of those kilometres traveled in the Carlton/North Fitzroy area making "final arrangements" before leaving: 10%

Number of arguments regarding the packing of the car: none. This is due to Stewart's superior skills in this area. Here is a month's worth of stuff and both of our offices packed into a ford laser:

 

By the way, probably the number one thing it's best not to forget by thinking "That's obvious, I'll pack that later" when packing for a month of writing: your laptop. Yairs... Don't worry, Stew found it in time.

I write this from the freezing cold but very gorgeous Mansfield. Somewhere near this squiggly line:

 

In fact, we're right near the Subway, which, as Stew noticed, is 15 metres from here:

 

Also, I see from the cinema screen someone has erected in the local pub above the bar that the Australian women have been swimming back-to-back relays all day. They must be exhausted. From my calculations, they've won nineteen medals since dinner time. Good for them. Either that or they are REPLAYING THE SAME RACE OVER AND OVER AND WE NEVER SEE ANY OTHER FOOTAGE OF ANYTHING EVER AGAIN IN OUR LIVES. Dunno.

 

 

Tomorrow: Jamieson, Bright, cold, rain, potentially snow... life is good.

Off we go to artfully reside

 So. It has come to this. 

 

Stew and I are leaving tomorrow for Arthur Boyd's farm. We're doing a four day road trip and we're packing pretty much every camera ever invented (Stew) and several pairs of tracksuit pants (me) into a red ford laser. 

 

Rita Walsh, who is (see below) galavanting in the US of A, will join us in a few weeks. It will be a case of culture meeting nature and may the best man win. 

 

Seriously. This is getting exciting. To see more about our artist residency and where we're going and what the people who've been there appear to have done (worn boxes on their heads by the looks of things! HUZZAH! ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE THINGS!)... please go here.

 

You will, on the whole and there are some notable exceptions and you know who you are, be greatly missed and thought of often. So long!

Am techno idjit

So I'm a techno loser and I linked to the wrong thing. For photos of the action with Captain Famous Pants (our Rita Walsh, see my previous post)... go here.

YOU RIPPER, RITA

Okay so I know it's not cool to boast, but I mean seriously.

 

Check this out.

 

Standing There producer Rita Walsh, whose photograph in the Leongatha Star earlier this year was aptly emblazoned with the headline, "You Ripper Rita", is swanning about in America picking up Grand Prizes. Grand ones! Not just normal ones! GRAND PRIZES.

 

Next, she's taking the short film, Hugo (made with her "other" family, Nick and Rachel), to Palm Springs because they're screening it there as well. After that, she's meeting us at Bundanon for our residency, which by the way starts on Sunday. Huzzah! By the time Rita gets to Bundanon she may well just sleep for nine years, because I tell you what, if there was a Grand Prize for Most Parties Squeezed Into An Overseas Trip, I reckon she's sitting on very good odds.

 

Sometimes, after an awful meeting or an impossibly complex conversation about some tiny element of some project that might never happen, Rita and Stew and I look morose and wonder what the hell we're doing with our time. But Rita always straightens up at about that point and says "Good meeting, guys. We'll get there". She drives off in her little car, already thinking about something else, and I always believe her.

 

It's hard to know sometimes if things are going well. The best way to know is to have someone tell you. The absolute best way is for someone to tell you you won a Grand Prize.

 

Congratulations wonderful Rita and of course to everyone involved in Hugo. Awesome effort, justly rewarded. And about frigging time, too.

 

Why?

Why, when you're about to take time off work for three and half weeks to write and think and plan and produce...

 

Why, when you're about to take four days to drive up to Nowra from Melbourne...

 

Why, when the film festival is in its final week and you've just spent seventy extra bucks on tickets...

 

Why, four days before your birthday...

 

Why, when you've been working full time and you could have been sick AT ANY POINT DURING THAT TIME...

 

Does your head decide to infest itself with throaty, snotty I-need-to-lie-down-and-be-useless-now style illness?

 

Why?

 

PS Yes I am aware there are wars and famines and that I have a cold and a job and a writers residency and that I should pipe down and stop being such a drama queen but shoosh please. This is clearly some kind of law of nature and it is my job as a writer to report it. 

 

PPS. I saw a really good film last night at MIFF. Boy A. Apart from a few mental Japanese films (huzzah!) it's been mostly doccos that have piqued my interest, but I can't get Boy A out of my head. Look out for a release.

Context is everything

Place someone in front of a coffee machine and give them an amusing or inexplicable T shirt and they instantly become cool and borderline attractive.

 

True or false?

 

Am currently taking a survey.

2:1 in the office this afternoon in favour of cute and cool. Someone from our coffee place was seen out of context and appeared, devastatingly, to be normal, borderline unattractive.

 

Am thinking of other contexts in which this is the case. Certain bars? Bookshops? Some may say behind microphones and under lights but I have significant experience to indicate this is a delusion and should be ignored with every fibre in one's body. Maybe that's the case with bars too. And cafes. Or just maybe... it's the case with cool.

 

Profound. I just had a coffee.

AFL

 Dear The Rest Of The World, 

 

Just in case you were wondering why we treasure our free speech over here in Australia, I thought I'd explain to you how the billions of dollars spent by media organisations, including our public broadcaster, were utilised today to stimulate discussion and promote democratic ideals such as freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and the right of the public to access information. 

 

Our glorious news outlets have revealed the following to an enthusiastic public this morning:

 

1. Apparently a person appeared on television. The person was attractive and had an X chromosome. As a result of this person appearing on a top-rating television show about a sport nobody outside of this country plays, this person was subject to "lewd" comments from a "colourful" "celebrity" whose public relations platform consists of apologising to people with X chromosomes. The X chromosomed person in this instance has now been hospitalised. These elements have been mentioned by newspapers without any explicit links being drawn or any independent research having been done. 

 

2. As we speak, discussions are taking place on the national airwaves regarding the crucial question of whether Australian sportsmen playing the abovementioned sport are role models. Should they be role models? Do we expect too much from them? Are they a symptom of a broader problem in Australian society, namely binge drinking, or are they just boys making mistakes in hundred thousand dollar cars with alcohol running through their TAC sponsored bloodstreams? This is a particularly important question when considered alongside figures on Aboriginal life expectancy.

 

3. Heath Ledger remains deceased.

 

Excellent work, media.

Films

 So this year I haven't done the "book a billion films and don't go home ever for two whole weeks" thing, which is my usual caper for the Melbourne International Film Festival. I have scaled down my filmgoing due to:

a) financial disincentives, namely poverty

b) health related disincentives, namely scurvy

c) mental health related disincentives, namely insanity

d) film related disincentives, namely the quality of the films last year interesting me less than they have in past years.

 

If one scales back, of course, the cinematic grass appears a whole lot greener, so to those peeps who find themselves bamboozled by the scale of things and don't know how to scale back, here be my advice:

1. See all Japanese live-action films that are only shown once. They will never be seen again and they are nearly always brilliant (special mention goes to their naturalistic dramas in which two people will, for example, converse on the nature of gravity while a giant twig grows slowly out of the side of one of their thighs). So far, the Japanese Film Rule has never lost me a customer.

2. See any documentary on any topic that interests you or potentially might interest you. The doccos are usually good and often on interesting topics. Sometimes, doccos are more interesting than their topics imply.

3. See, where possible: Korean, Iranian, Icelandic or American indie films that won't get distribution.

4. If you like story, avoid films described as "bleak" or "meandering". If you enjoy cinematography, book online and take popcorn.

5. Become a member. Skip the queue.

 

If you're going to the film festival on a full pass, may I suggest the following:

1. You know that V8 vegetable juice? Secure an intravenous drip on a pole.