So after months of writing, rehearsing and tearful grappling with social media, The Last Prom grand finale has taken place. My long- held ambition to stage a live narrative concept album has now passed into cockamamie reality. And by every important measure, it worked. All thanks to the most incredible group of artists and performers I've ever worked with, and one stellar crowd.
On the night, we had to wait for the Canberra Youth Orchestra to finish there rehearsal before we could even begin to set up, leaving us with just 3 hours to transform The Ainslie Arts Centre into Aleister Crowley High School. We were still getting sound check done when the crowd began to arrive, but luckily my amazing friends The Sinbirds (pictured below) covered our asses by performing a warm-up set in the carpark.
After that, the entire night was almost derailed when our smoke machine set off the fire alarm (shout out to the local firefighters for their quick response time). Nerve-racking, but nothing could have derailed my excitement by then. People had come! Lots of people! And they'd come in costume, with their own characters, ready to fully immerse in the story world. I was overcome with gratitude, and high on the absolute faith that I had in my band. Ladies and Gentlemen: War! Famine! Pestilence! Death! And myself, The Antichrist!
Over a breathless and surreal 50 minutes we played 10 songs (that had never been played to an audience before) and told the story of the Antichrists's tragic love story with Death. I managed to pull off my lines to an acceptable standard, but most of the dramatic heavy lifting was handled by our director Joel Barcham in the role of the SOCE teacher and Ali MacGregor and Bib Cain as The Muses Of The Apocalypse.
Julia 'Death' Johnson definitely had the toughest role, singing co-lead in all of the songs while assaying her transformation from Death to Death-disguised-as-mortal-girl to Death-as-prom-queen-of-the-apocalypse. She was completely amazing, despite the failure of her keytar strap to fit over her shoulder carapace (your standard performer issue).
Once the show concluded, the real main event was the epic after party set by Dead DJ Joke, who's been a critical part of The Last Prom experience from the start.
There's already some voices calling for us to restage the show, but I'll have to sleep for a good hundred years before I can think about that one. Meanwhile, I'll post more photos and a couple of reviews soon. All photos by the star of The Aleister Crowley Student Newspaper, Adam Thomas!
Eked out some time today to work on Project Z (we’ll have an official You Are Here event name soon…).
Out of the five hours of material I received, I’ve chosen to work with 1922 silent film Sunshine Sally. Set in Sydney, it’s got engaging characters and a lot of fun, breezy scenes.
Before I can score it, I first have to edit it down. The surviving copy (the one I’m working from) is 60 minutes long, and is missing the entire ending. To work around that AND edit it to 20 minutes has meant a major restructure of the narrative – I’ve done away with the subplots, five main characters (including a love interest), and some cool lifeguard rescue scenes that just weren’t going to fit. As is, with some new intertitles, it should flow nicely.
I’ve also been able to shave a few seconds here and there by topping and tailing scenes. Compared to today, movies of the 20s came into scenes early and left late. Cinematic language was being invented as they went along – we now need far less information to process what’s going on.
It blows my mind that I’ve been given a chance to edit footage from 90 years ago (to the month).
I thought I’d write about the process behind an episode of One Pot Punk Rock.
It starts with an idea for a suitable dish – generally one from the repertoire I’ve acquired over the years (though that pool is rapidly depleting – I’m counting on suggestions!). I’ll then research any fun facts or improvements I can make. From there, I write a rough script, adding in gags, ideas for camera angles or fx, and finding the shape of the episode. We didn’t do this for the first couple and it’s part of the reason they ballooned out – we now keep episodes under five minutes. The script is subject to change while filming, but it gives us a head start.
Being a cooking show, we don’t have the luxury of filming out of sequence. As a result, 99% of the episode is filmed in the order you see it. Having to adjust/change lights, lenses and angles, from shot to shot, chews up a lot of time. We start by dressing the set (i.e. cleaning the kitchen), lighting it (we use work-lights pitched at the ceiling, along with some smaller LEDs), and finalising wardrobe (picking the Ramones hoodie off the floordrobe and donning the mask). A typical episode takes around three hours to shoot. Most things need a couple of takes, as I sharpen my performance (and tweak the accent). Some shots have needed eight or more takes, usually when the script is vague, or I have a brainfreeze and can’t move past a certain line.
Filming wrapped, we finally get to eat the spoils. I won’t edit until the following day. A trouble-free editing session takes around three hours (it’s been as high as six for some). I’ll select the best takes and assemble them in my editor, then add in titles, transitions, sound effects, graphics, music and colour grading (a truly dark art which I only now feel I’m getting a grip on). Sourcing music, graphics and sound effects also takes time. Very little changes at this point, though I might cut gags that fell flat, or come up with other cues (the Crunchie graphic in this current episode being an example).
I’ll upload it overnight, and we’re on to the next one!
This Last Prom project has stretched me in more directions than any other arts thing I've ever done. Songwriting, scriptwriting, singing, band-leading, acting, producing, comic- book writing, webisode- making and, as you can see from the above photo, craft assistant! We had a dress rehearsal on Saturday and it's got me ultra-excited for the show. Shout out to all the special people who've done such special work toward this special night.