Challenging, that's the word that comes to mind, I have to admit, and it went so quickly, I had no time to consider what it really means, or what, amid the busyness and stress, I actually achieved, so now it's done and dusted, I'm going to to have a look back, to see if I can make sense of it all.
January started with me trying to cram lines into my head, for a new play, two acts, 2 1/2 hours and 2 weeks rehearsal leading to a season in early February. And thanks to COVID, and a few projects being cancelled or delayed, I hadn't been on any kind of stage for five years. I wasn't panicking, not at all.
The whole rehearsal and performance of Coming Out was an interesting, challenging and ultimately not completely satisfying experience. It is a very interesting play, but mounting a brand new work with the writer, the very talented Scott Taylor, doing multiple duties as director, actor and producer, meant that the actors had to muck in and help with rehearsals and blocking just to give it a shape, and when we found ourselves in front of an audience, I felt like we had only just begun to get a grip on the style , tone and content, and, to be honest, for me, it felt like we never really got there. But the rest of the cast was great, there were so many stand out comedy moments, the reception generally warm, and it was a good way to practice trying to loosen my knee-jerk perfectionism, and just let it be what it was. The play dominated the first two months of the year, and by the time it was done I was already feeling a little battle-scarred.
By mid-March we had to face the harsh reality that, in the hard financial climate with the cost of living rising every week, and having recently changed jobs to give us more time for creative projects, we were struggling to pay our bills, and had to cancel a trip we had planned to attend the Adelaide Festival, so instead, after some serious discussions about how we could keep creating and live at the same time offering no answers, leading to a seriously dark night of the soul, where the crushing possibility for having to quit just to make ends meet nearly broke us, but then a miracle happened, and we were not only given the means to dig our way out of the financial hole, but an opportunity for a future with greater freedom. So instead of heading to Adelaide, we borrowed a beach house in Torquay and had a much needed break, mainly in the spa, and toasted the kind angels that had given us the chance of a brighter future and those hard discussions lead to a breakthrough, though it felt like a hard end of the road breakdown and led to the resurrection of an old idea, but you will read more anon.
In May we had a fleeting visit to Bathurst to see my daughter Immogen and her relatively new husband Sam, short but very sweet. Then I was given the opportunity to help with the development of another new work. The week of development and performance of The Dilly-Dally of Death and Dying was a truly joyful and rewarding experience, jumping into rehearsal with a group of super-talented creatives. But the whole experience was over too soon and and by June 10th and 11th we were crewing a new short film, the first one written and directed by my daughter, and star of Apparitions, Cate O'Connor and shot by her partner, Dylan James, a super fun family shoot, full of laughs and late nights and inspired us to think about restarting an old project.
By mid-July the idea of resurrecting our dancing death Shakespeare short, Three Sisters, was growing into its own special kind of monster, and we launched into rewrites and pre-production throughout July, quickly followed by rehearsals in August and a shoot in early September. We are proud of the work we have done to date, we understand making two micro-budget features is a feat, and proves our tenacity, if nothing else; the talented people we worked with and the lessons we learned are vital to our continued drive to make films, but now, it's time to dig in. Three Sisters was a true experiment for us, as we put into practice our dark night of the soul realisation, that we need to put more of our own special kind of weirdness into our work, we need to collaborate, not compromise, and we need to continue to work on being meticulous, not giving up and not giving in. And that needs time, that's one of the reasons we are still in post production when we were hoping to be finished for Halloween. But with this odd little film, and the incredible work everyone has put in, we knew we needed to find a new meticulous approach, allow the story to evolve and, as the directors, hold the emotional drive of the story close so it doesn't get lost along the way. This has been a wonderful, sometimes frustrating, but very rewarding process, and feels like a new way forward for us, a Cinema Viscera 2.0. It's the beginning of more ambitious projects, maximising creativity and expanding the type of creatives we work with. As well as a wonderful cast and brilliant cinematographer, we also worked with two lighting designers from different fields and experience, a choreographer, a voice coach, a brilliant in-camera effects makeup artist and, for the first time, we worked with a separate editor; each of these people and the great experience we had working with them, is giving the work those interesting layers and helped us make discoveries we would have never found alone. It has confirmed for us, going forward, we want to push the boundaries, give each project the time, care, discussion, digging and experimentation it needs to be as good as it can, within all the crazy restrictions of micro-budget filmmaking. Three Sisters is still not finished, but it's getting close and fingers crossed you will be able to see it at a festival somewhere in 2024, but more important than that, it's given us the beginning of a new roadmap and a taste for this exciting new direction.
The end of this year has seen us continuing through post production while working on larger projects, currently in early script stage, with the aim to be pitching, producing and even shooting through 2024. Expanding feels like the word for the new year. But for now, we are soaking our tired bones in a hot tub, knowing this new year is going to need all the energy and enthusiasm we can muster.