Logline: The Australian suburbs are a crucible of the creative vision in Australian art. This film merges the studio with the world, unfolding the development of a landscape painting of Hawthorn over 10 months, in the open air at Swinburne University.
Director: Zac Hodgkinson
Producer: Zac Hodgkinson & Alexandra Sasse
Executive Producer: Alexandra Sasse
Editing: Mark Raffety & Zac Hodgkinson
Cinematography: Zac Hodgkinson
Sound Mixing: Audio Chemistry
Creative Consultant: Mark Raffety
Music: ‘Freefall’ by Helen Jane Long
About the writer, director and producer:
Alexandra Sasse is a painter, who studied art at VCA and Monash University. She is passionate about painting and the Melbourne landscape. She also writes art criticism.
Zac Hodgkinson is a freelance director and editor. He specializes in documentaries (like this one) and comedies involving wild gestures and loud noises. Fun Fact: He often eats 3 meals before midday.
Key cast: Alexandra Sasse (as herself)
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): All of these.
Funders: Alexandra Sasse
Made in association with: Swinburne University
Release date: 9th July 2016
When will it screen at MDFF? Saturday 9th July 2016
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
AS: Artistic process is a mystery to many people. People really respond to seeing a work of art develop, and I wanted to make that available. Every painting is a story unfolding. The film format allows people to travel the journey with me.
ZH: Alexandra is a local artist I’d known about for a while, but something of a mystery I guess. I’d seen her work hanging up inside the houses of different friends and family - but I’d never actually met her myself. So I was curious.
For a filmmaker like me who probably teeters on ADHD at times, this film was also good for me technically and mentally. Shooting this required me to really be patient and focus in on little things, really little moments.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
ZH: I guess it’s kind of simple. The film’s about the loneliness, the mundane struggle and the innocent joy of making art. You should watch this because we are all creative beings, we all love to ‘make stuff’ in one form or another, and this film encourages and nourishes that side in us.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
AS: We are image-makers, in film, in words, in visual art. This is part of the human condition. The task of translating the world into images is endless and always entails risk – of failure, of exposure. Artist work against the odds, wrestling with doubt, driven to create. This film shows that struggle on a personal level, as the artist works in all weather over 10 months to make this picture.
ZH: A personal theme is loneliness or solitude…making art can be a lonely, meditative process.. the film celebrates both the beauty and mundane-ness of that I think. A universal theme is ‘creation’, that there’s joy to be found in the process of it - just as much as there is in the end result.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
ZH: There was no script. I don’t believe in them (that’s a lie!). Alexandra and I had all sorts of ideas about what the film could be, but really the end result was a product of the editing process. I shot a lot of material - for every minute used in the film, there’s about 140 minutes that isn’t, so there’s tons of different choices one can make in terms of the sequence & content of what’s on screen. Mark Raffety (co-editor and a freaking brilliant creative mind) was instrumental during this, and really led this process.
AS: The only thing we knew at the beginning was that the aim was to share the artistic process with an audience. Shooting took place every four to six weeks and went for 10 months. The director was not familiar with the artist’s process, and this was a benefit, as he was able to see the process from the perspective of the audience and develop this into a narrative form.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
AS: People have been very enthusiastic – they find the film very engaging and are excited by joining this creative journey.
ZH: People seem strangely drawn into this film. I’m still working out exactly why!
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
AS: I have been surprised that what feels quite mundane to me – the daily task of making a picture - resonates so much with the audience.
ZH: I guess it’s challenged my view about the speed at which I need to cut things. I normally do projects that feel fast paced, and kind of mash the audience over the head with sights/sounds. This film is much more down tempo, but yet it doesn’t seem to be any less engaging for many people – in face probably more so. The pace of cutting is like the pace of speaking. Slow speakers can be more engaging when each word carries significance.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
AS: Ideally audiences will become connected to the fabulous and vibrant part of contemporary art that is landscape painting today. We have some terrific painters in Australia at the moment. Take a look at Philip Wolfhagen, Mary Tonkin, Geoffrey Dyer or Nicholas Harding’s work. I hope audiences will feel closer to the art that is being made now and that we can break down some of the inscrutability we as artists tend towards.
ZH: Fame and Glory! Nah I’m just super chuffed that you’ve even asked to speak to us – so honoured!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
ZH: Spielberg? Wow, everything is a bonus. More festival screenings would be fun – and a vimeo staff pick and more commissions for Alexandra’s work as an artist
AS: I need distributors, buyers, journalists, and film festival directors to connect this film to a wider audience, and to other creatives who may want to collaborate on future programs about the intersection between creativity and ordinary life.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
AS: I would like this film to help people to reclaim the creative process in their daily lives. Ideally they would be encouraged in their own creative journeys.
Landscape paintings can help us to see our world more clearly; and to understand that we are connected to it; it forms us as we form it. Tim Winton has written eloquently on this in his recent non-fiction Island Home: A Landscape Memoir (2015).
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
ZH: Everywhere is beautiful. Because of 20th century pop culture - it’s too easy to see the romance in the landscapes of Paris, New York or Tuscany, but it takes a real artist to see the beauty in the seemingly mundane places of everyday existence. Like South-East Hawthorn.
AS: There are many artists at work every day in Melbourne, and many people find the creative process inspiring. How can we bring audiences closer to artists’ processes and share that creative spark more widely? Can we shift the focus from production of a commodity to a more generous and rewarding relationship for both sides?
Would you like to add anything else?
AS: I am always looking for the next perch to make a painting. If you know of one, or want to host me as Swinburne did, please get in touch.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
AS: I am working more paintings, to complete this series which will be exhibited in 2017 at fortyfivedownstairs gallery, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. I have just returned from Madrid and my review of the exhibition Madrid Realists at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum will appear in the British art magazine The Jackdaw on June 29th 2016.
ZH: I’m working on a comedy video for realestate.com.au and soon to be released comedic short film called Keys/Velociraptor – which is a sort of cross between Wes Anderson movies and Jurassic Park.
More info: http://alexandrasasse.com/contact
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