Without doubt, You Are Here 2013 was the most creatively rewarding (and challenging) experience of my life.
Hit ‘im In The Comic Cuts, One Pot Punk Rock and Heartbroken Assassin all pushed me out of my comfort zone and were creative ‘firsts’. Having them in the same week was wild, and if that wasn’t enough, The Missing Lincolns played at Mixtape From Canberra, and I filmed Hashemoto at Prayers In The Streetlight. Oh, and Chris got married. What a week!
I was in a state of euphoria before, during, and after Hit ‘im In The Comic Cuts. Here’s my original pitch to Dave Finnigan:
What I propose to do is to take an “orphaned” film, compose a new soundtrack, and form a scratch ensemble from members of the Canberra band scene to assist with performing it. Stylistically, the music will feature a combination of electronic and acoustic elements, in an upbeat rock vein. Pieces of music will vary in length as appropriate to mirror the footage – I envisage it will comprise short (10-30 second) instrumental pieces, longer instrumental passages (up to several minutes) and a number of “proper” pop songs with lyrics and music to match the mood and themes onscreen. There is also capacity to synch sound effects with relevant action (which can be used to comedic effect – guitar string scrapes for a gun shot, for instance).
Ten months later, that’s exactly what we did! I still can’t believe everything fell into place – I was very ambitious in my choice of musicians, and nearly shat myself when they all agreed to take part. Their dedication and talent is the only reason I didn’t fall flat on my face. Instead, we played to a capacity crowd at the National Film & Sound Archive. That sentence makes me beam with pride. After years feeling like a scrappy outsider, I never felt more validated as a musician and songwriter than that night. It was the quickest 20 minutes of my life. I’ll be at a loss on Wednesday nights now for a while (though there’s some early talk about reforming for the next thing, whatever that may be…).
I was nervous about performing One Pot Punk Rock live – I’d let everything else take priority and felt comparatively under-prepared (I hadn’t made breakfast burritos for months). I shouldn’t have worried – as Nick pointed out, it’d be hard to find a warmer, more receptive audience than You Are Here. The show went well – the volunteers were amazing (¡El Jamo! ¡El Nicko!), everyone laughed in the right places, and I stayed in character. Most surprising were the many compliments on the actual cooking – I made 14 burritos and then had to turn people away.
But the majority of my week was consumed with Heartbroken Assassin. Conservatively, it was something like 25 hours of filming and 40 hours of editing. A mammoth undertaking, none of which would have been possible without Nick. I loved Nick’s script from the start – like Hot Fuzz or the original paintball episode of Community, it brilliantly walked the line between parody and homage. I don’t think I appreciated the scope until we started shooting – Nick had cleverly found ways to incorporate any and all skills, people and locations at our disposal. There’s a very short list of people that could, or would, consider doing what we did (with or without the timeframe), and even fewer that could have also written all their own music. Now it’s done and we’re happy with it, I feel like we’re unstoppable.
I couldn’t have asked for a better producer – in addition to writing and starring, Nick also recruited and co-ordinated both cast and crew. Years of band management/YAH experience would have honed his skills, but this was on a whole ‘nother level. On any other shoot, it would have been someone’s full-time job – Nick made it look easy and freed me to focus on the filming and editing.
I’m so thankful Nick had the confidence we could do this, and for pushing us so completely into the deep end. There really is no better way to learn – we made mistakes, but the experience we gained is priceless. It’s given me the confidence as a director to look at how we can tackle some of my own scripts later this year.
The collective talent of all the people that contributed is staggering, and we are both humbled with the time they gave us, and the passion they brought to their roles (plus their subsequent championing of the show). I have to single out the indefatigable Cameron Ewens – not only was he my rock and confidante in the Shine Tarts, he played bass for The Missing Lincolns at Mixtape, was co-songwriter for Heartbroken Assassin, AND stole every scene he was in as Coordinator #2 (even when acting dead). I’ve yet to find something he can’t do well, and while Nick and I are pretty unflappable, Cam runs rings around us. He’s so multi-talented he’s painted himself into a corner and will be stuck forever taking part in whatever harebrained schemes we come up with in the future.
I also had great fun doing all the promo, including several interviews available on the You Are Here website, a guest artist spot at a festival breakfast, two radio interviews (2XX and 666 ABC), and contributing a One Pot recipe to the You Are Here zine.
My hope now is that (after a short break) we can maintain some of this momentum and use it to propel our dreams even further.