Yesterday we finished the first week of what will be a 5 wk shot on my movie, The Way, My Way – an adaptation of my book of the same title.
I was rusty the first few days. It took me a little while to remember how to direct a feature film, as against the theatrical documentaries I’ve been doing these past several years.
It’s been 23 years since I directed The Nugget, starring Eric Bana, and 15 years since I directed my supernatural thriller, Uninhabited. But with sixteen feature films under my belt I finally found my groove and recalled that at the end of a take, the director is meant to call out “cut!”
I’m fortunate to be working with one of the best crews I’ve ever had on a movie – and believe me, I’ve worked with some of the finest in the world.
DP (Director of Photography) Calum Stewart will, I have no doubt, at some stage join the élite pantheon of Australian DPs who have made their mark on the world stage. And I don’t say that lightly. How circumstances worked to have Calum do this picture is, quite simply, yet another instance of the Universe doing what it does best – bringing the right elements into alignment.
Second Camera and Drone Operator Scott Last, who’s done the stunning drone work for PGS and Facing Fear, here in Spain on the Camino is like a kid in a lolly shop. The visual opportunities it’s presenting him are spinning him out.
Mind you, Scotty’s usually spun out anyway.
Sound Recordist Nick Emond just completed a $60m movie and decided that he’d “get back to his roots” and do my film.
I saw him the other day carry two tripods up a steep hill in St Jean Pied de Port for the camera department. I was gobsmacked. That simply doesn’t happen on an ordinary movie. The camaraderie on this film humbles me.
Yesterday Nick was joined by one of Australia’s finest boom swingers, Gary Nucifora. We have some tricky dialogue scenes coming up in the next few weeks and I felt the production needed his vast experience.
The camaraderie on set is happening in large part because of “Cowboy” Dave Sutttor, who has stepped away from his role of providing vehicles and doing unit for the mega-budget movies which shoot in Australia to do my small personal film. Dave and I go back a long way, and I’m so fortunate to have him here.
As I am with my First AD, Rachel Artis Evans, whom I wrenched off the golf course and out of fifteen years of comfortable retirement to bring some sanity to this craaaazy production, as Ivan the Terrible would describe it.
(Ivan the Terrible is one of the pilgrims featured in my book. He’s a gorgeous man with a huge heart who made me laugh constantly during my pilgrimage. Beeel, what are you doing here??)
Rachel and I last worked on The Nugget and she is perfect for this movie. Every day I’m in awe of her genius in wrangling the crew, scheduling the day so that Calum and I get the best light, and most importantly, handling me – which as Jennifer will tell you, is no easy task.
Editor Rishi Shukla has joined us this first week to present me with a few cut scenes so that I can determine that the style and look and tone are working as I’d imagined. I am so grateful that he’s come – his presence here has given all of us in the technical areas great comfort.
Backing all this up in the Production Office is Line Producer Annie Kinnane, who is bringing to the production a structure and a fiscal control that’s enabling me to focus on what I need to do, and that is to direct a (hopefully!) great movie.
She’s being aided by Associate Producer Belinda Dean, who has just joined us here in Spain. Belinda has been terrific in organising some sponsorship.
Annie’s lot is not an easy one, because we have such limited resources – but she’s doing a great job in making those resources stretch as far as possible, so we get maximum impact up on the screen.
I can say already after week one, this will be a film that will look many times its budget.
Our daughter Nell is also here assisting us. She speaks both Spanish and Basque fluently, and she’s brought to the aid of the production what we call our “Camino Fixer,” Paco Plaza. He is a high level corporate executive living in Spain. They’re doing big picture stuff, helping organise Spanish Government grants and getting us permission to film in places which are usually inaccessible to film crews.
I can’t mention everyone working on this movie in this post, but a highly experienced Camino guide and author (Finding Love on the Camino), Deb Wilson, has joined the production and has done an amazing job in locking in logistics – accommodation, glorious restaurants etc. She’s English, but speaks Spanish and French fluently, and I’ve snaffled her as my assistant.
Everyday she makes my job easier through her care and exactitude.
I’ll also mention Tiffany Chuck, who’s doing standby props and wardrobe. Her enthusiasm, her energy and her laughter light up the set every day. And Camera Assistant Daniel Acora, who has stepped in at short notice and has become an invaluable part of the team.
And of course there’s Jennifer – who has an overview unmatched by us all, myself included often. Her wisdom and unfailing belief in this project, and me, is what keeps me going.
This film wouldn’t be happening without her.
It’s a small crew I’ve got, but every single person working on this show is top of their game, and a joy to work with.
I’ll do a separate post on cast and “actuals,” those pilgrims that I met on my walk 10 years ago who are coming back to play themselves.
But crew-wise, I couldn’t have a better team of people helping me bring this story to life.