Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm going home...

I guess it had to happen sometime, even if it seemed like it would never end.

We’ve wrapped. (Technically we wrap after today... I’m currently sitting in stage 7, as we set-up on one of our last few shots)

I’m now charged with cleaning and packing all the sound gear into a shipping container so it can travel during the holiday period, and arrive in NZ in time for the next film...

...Of which I can’t disclose any information – mostly because I haven’t officially been contracted yet.

Other things that have happened in the past month, or so;

• I flew home to attend a birthday party – and bought a cheap suit

• Drank lots of coffee as I discovered the virtues of the UNIT truck’s espresso machine

• Saw a few more movies (INTO THE WILD = Good, BEOWULF 3D IMAX = no so much, SICKO = made me glad to be an Australian, SHOOT EM UP = fun, but nowhere near as good as HOT FUZZ {which I picked up on DVD})

• My car was broken into – stealthily, as they didn’t break any windows or destroy the door-lock. They did manage to completely TRASH the ignition in a failed attempt at stealing the car; and took my new-ish GPS system (which was well hidden, but uninsured)

• Subsequently I can’t drive home – instead I’m flying; then renting a car for a small break up the sunshine coast with my mum/sis/brother.

• I didn’t end up re-joining the gym, and due to the extra eating I was doing (and the added stress of recording on splinter unit), I un-did all the good work of the past few months, and feel a little out of shape.

• Attended a cool wrap-party. Not much more to say – ‘twas a fun night.

• I bit the bullet and FINALLY purchased a GOOD set of in-ear reference headphones (even with the online discount it was still about 10 times as much as most people would spend) and the sound is INCREDIBLE...

Okey dokey. That’s it from this neck of the woods.

If all goes according to plan; I’ll be taking a bunch of photos in NZ during late Jan 08 (hopefully they'll match the beauty of the one at the head of this post - which I took in 2004), so expect more from me then.

Until next time

Happy over-commercialised-christian-gift-giving-day,

And a merry new year


Sunday, November 11, 2007


...with a camera

It’s been quite a while, I know.

Things have well and truly settled into a relentless; un-wavering rhythm. I know I say that a lot, but how many ways can you say things haven’t changed much?

Various tid-bits of my mundane (yet strangely fulfilling) life over the past month-and-a-bit
• Still recording sound on the “splinter unit”
• Still going to the gym (until my membership expired this week – now I have to ponder whether I should re-apply for another month?)
• Still sleeping WAY too much on the weekend
• Occasionally seeing a movie (blade-runner final-cut is boring...)
• Climbed the big-ass bridge with the mates I normally climb the hills with up in brisbane
• Drank lots-o-beer at the Lowenbrau (well I was designated driver, so I drank considerably LESS than the others...)
• Got a flat tire on the bicycle, which I repaired; got a 2nd flat whilst taking the photos in this post; fixed THAT tear, re-inflated, and the tire is flat AGAIN (4th time lucky?)
• I’m coming home for Christmas (yay!)
• I may not be able to go skiing (boo!) depending on the start-date of the next-job.

Ok, photo-time.
Till next-time;


Opera-house steps...

...Where people get married...

...then run away.

The opera-bar, at the opera-house (tasty-tapas)



Even MORE-arty-arches

Ummm... stuff.

Curvey-stuff in the city

Statue-y stuff

And a final hero-shot of the centre-point tower.

See ya

Saturday, September 22, 2007

This time I really have no idea for a title...

Yup; I’m truly stuck for something to write about. I guess that’s the reason for the lack of recent posting.

Work; is work. We’re back in the studios (obviously), and things are progressing quite nicely.

As much as we all enjoy the locations aspect of BIG film making (it’s seriously cool – with the sightseeing and travel and per-diems, and what-not) it still feels better in a studio.

When working in the comfort of a (mostly) air conditioned studio, there’s time to relax and focus on the storytelling without the usual demands of MOVING all the equipment and people all over the place.

Case in point – the Public Address Speaker system (Big speaker allowing the director to talk to people over vast distances) that is the usual bane of my sound assisting duties; didn’t move more than 3 times the whole last week; and my right shoulder would like to thank whichever deity allowed this to happen.

Of course when the equipment doesn’t move all the time, you can get stuck for things to do (if you’re not directly involved with the takes – like focus pulling/boom operating/acting/etc).

Consequently allot of the crew are shuffling around, trying NOT to make noise (failing miserably by the way). It becomes MY job to somehow quieten them, and try to lock-down any other noise that might render the performance of our lovely actors acoustically useless.

Actors’ shoes can make quite a bit of noise on hard surfaces, especially when there’s dirt to crunch. These “footsteps” are abnormally loud in relation to someone’s voice – so when you’re recording an actor’s dialog, all you can hear is a MASSIVE CRUNCH, where there should be the dulcet tones of their lustrous voice. The disconnect is even worse when you can’t see the feet of the actor with the offensive footsteps because they’re “off-screen”. (It’s truly weird to be hearing crunching during a close-up on the other actors face)

We have various ways of overcoming the problem (ranging from simply taking the shoes OFF, to applying a layer of foam). The best way however is carpet.

I’m now quite adept at laying down carpet quickly and securing it with gaffer tape so the actors don’t slip over. (NB – gaffer tape doesn’t stick to dirt)

If you don’t lay the carpet at the correct time (after they’ve laid dolly-tracks for the camera, but BEFORE they put down any focus-marks) people get miffed. There’s no way that they’ll give you a 5 min window to JUST lay the carpet, so a good percentage of my day is spent standing around, then trying to roll-out carpet whilst still getting out of the way as lot's of HEAVY equipment is wheeled around me

Once you get the carpet down. It’s time to prowl around the studio and shut things down.

• Why is that door open?

• How do you make the fire-detection-system shut-up?

• What can I use to plug-up the hole in the wall where the additional power cables are coming-in?

• How do I politely tell someone who may or may-not be extremely important (and way above my pay-scale) to be quiet during the highly emotional exchanges of our actors...?

Once you’ve bored yourself stupid trying to be a sound-nazi; it’s time to clean equipment, go for coffee runs, think about what you’re going to have for lunch, check your phone (for the time, missed calls etc) and eventually change a battery or two.

Such is the life of a sound assistant. Although I prefer the term Utility Sound; it implies that I’m more of a rounded person; plus I CAN mix if needed to, or even Boom.

Speaking of; I’m going to be booming for the next two weeks, as our regular boom op has some family stuff to attend to.

So we’ve shipped out our attachment from W.A. and he’ll be assisting (sorry... utility-izing?) until such time as either our regular-boomie returns, or I burn enough bridges by causing boom shadows and smacking people in the head that I go mysteriously missing and never come back.

Other things that have happened since I last posted.

• I joined a gym – as much as I HATE gyms (especially the pretty-poser-society that’s attached to them) I decided to do something semi-constructive with the 10 hrs I have to myself each and every-day. The local-ish gym is open ‘till 2200 four nights a week, so that means I get a good 1 ¼ hour after we wrap, to bash myself silly and return home completely exhausted, thus expediting the sleep-process...

• I saw a movie... no seriously, this is a highlight (as I hadn’t watched one in quite some time) it was the talking rat/chef one; and surprisingly less kiddie orientated than I’d ever thought possible.

• I bought a backpack. And when I buy a back-pack, you’d better believe I buy the heck out of it... as always, I went for a good one. (water-bladder/metal frame-chasis-thing/etc/etc) mostly so I can carry a set of clothes and towel whilst cycling to the gym after work; but also for when I next go skiing...

• ...I’ve made plans to go skiing... This was my first choice for a title to the post – but I decided against it because the dates are still not locked in, and it’s so far into the future (late Jan 08). Still; plans are afoot for a week-long tour of Hokkaido, JAPAN (powder capital of the world – where they measure snow-depths in METERES, not inches)

• I did some washing. Ok moving along...

• Purchased an e-tag for the car (now I can use ALL the toll-roads in Sydney without fear of needing coins – yippee?)

• Had some fish and chips at Bronte beach, before swimming in the natural baths (man is it still cold.)

• Found some Burt’s Bees lip-balm online (well ebay actually) and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of the peppermint lip-balm from Burt’s bees you’ve never really lived. (yes I’m aware just how ridiculous I sound here, but my girlfriend at the time got me hooked on the stuff back in 2003, and I’ve never been able to find it in Australia).

Well that’s about it since I last posted. I don’t think these will be regular anymore as I’m struggling to find anything useful to blog about.

Plus – I’m running out of

PHOTOS from the Archive...

That’s me, the only time I’ve ever fired a gun (it had a blank round in it)
Post-wrap on “convictions” 2004 - which has just been accepted into the “BIG BANG” film festival in Philadelphia, USA.

Ok, see ya


Friday, September 07, 2007

I love my job...

...more specifically, I love the things that I get to do in my job.

How many people can say that they’ve recorded the rushing waters of a fast-flowing, croc-infested river-crossing whilst driving single handed, sticking a microphone out the drivers window... At night...

Or sat by yourself in the centre of over 500 head of cattle; 100s of kms from the nearest “city” with only the milky-way lighting your way... (I’m guessing a few more than the river –crossing thing)

In what other profession do they pay for your accommodation, transport, and food; then give you access to a massive dried mud-flat to play cricket on as the sun sets...

Where else can you watch over 1100 cows being mustered by helicopter; whilst a 6-wheel ATV races alongside and a massive wire rig floats a camera mere feet above their heads...

There are of course; downsides.

Many full-time film technicians are lonely souls; so devoted to the pursuit of these amazing sights and experiences, that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to maintain a normal life.

I don’t have any hard statistics, but I’m sure the failure-rate of relationships in the film industry is higher than most others.

It takes a certain type of personality to subject themselves to the “instability” of feature film production. They often work VERY HARD in a short period of time, then not at all; until they get the chance to try again.

That chance may be mere hours after their last job had finished, or months – there’s no telling what will make a crew person (or talent for that matter) hireable.

How do you buy a house; start a family; if you’ve no idea when the next paycheque is coming.

Sorry for the rambling post – but I’m in a reflective mood right now.

This time tomorrow I’ll be back on Main Unit in my usual sound assisting position.

It’s been an amazing run, and I always knew it would come to an end. Just didn’t want it to.

You can expect my posts to become more sporadic as we finish-up in Kununurra throughout the next week, and return to the stages of Sydney.

Once there, I’ll have less to post about (if anything); and it’ll all return to normal as we plow through the interior scenes of this epic film.

It’s been a wild and crazy location shoot, but one that I’ll remember fondly.


Mt Coot-tha Lookout Sunrise 3rd May 2005

Friday 7th September 2007
UPDATE – it’s been almost a week since I composed the entry above.

We returned to Diggers Rest – this time with the full cast and crew for a few days of mad scrambling in the DUST and WIND.

I was bumped up to Boom Op for those days, as our regular boomie had to return early to Sydney; and I have a newfound respect for the sheer amount of work that he does during our shooting day.

I fly our of Kununurra tomorrow. It’s done. There’s a small unit cleaning up various shots here and there, but the majority of us are moving onto the next component of the filming – Studio work in Sydney.

The landscape is still breathtaking; even after 5 weeks of it. If you ever get a chance to make your way up to the far north west – do it.

Ok, time for me to sign off

See ya


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What do you do....

...On your day off?

Well if you’re a part of 2nd Unit, you head out to the salt-flats location, and play cricket as the sun sets.

During the day – a mild-mannered carpark...

...On Sundays: playground for the gladiatorial heroes...
as the sun sets, it gets progressively harder to see the ball, yet they soldier on

Ready... aim...



You could also grip it and rip it (good luck finding the ball)

Well, 2nd unit has almost finished; and soon I shall re-join the main shooting unit in Kununurra, which ironically enough, may be then moving out here to Diggers Rest...

Cool Dam, where I managed to record some eagles, and crows....

The Equine Influenza scare, has halted any movement of horses... so we can’t even transport our thoroughbreds from their holding area, to the shooting locations. (keep in mind I’m not that well informed on the ACTUAL restrictions, all I know is that it’s not good for us)

Bowen had rain, Kununurra was delayed, and now the horses are inadvertently changing our schedule... at least none of them are sick.

Sunset Tree.

I'm too tired to write anything else, so I’ll leave you all with a PHOTO FROM THE ARCHIVES

...which is from an Ice hockey game in Vancouver 2001, I think the Canucks won...

Ok, possibly going internet-dark when I move back into town, and my 3-phone still doesn’t work – but I can actually check messages from a land-line now.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007


...are normally pretty relaxed.

So sometimes cattle properties have to use use Helicopters to Muster (round-up) the cattle.

We’re doing the same thing...

The pilots are usually VERY nimble in their little craft, and pull some serious turns

2nd Unit is going well – the camping is turning out to be great, catering is still Fantastic; and I’ve been able to drive around and collect Atmospheres and sound FX using the uber-cool Surround-sound microphone.

As a part of my FX collection, I’ve been hanging out near the cattle guys when they collect the cows at the end of the day.

Here are a few shots.

The stockman’s 2nd best friend (behind his horse... of course) is the trail-bike

Aforementioned Stockman – closing the electric fence at the end of the day.

I finally went through the rest of my Emma gorge photos, and picked a few of the actual gorge...

Bonus shots

Arty-shot of the Cockburn (pronounced CO-burn) ranges; a fitting backdrop to our cattle action...

...and a shot of the local emu that stalks guests at diggers rest.

Ok that’s it for the moment.

I’m back on main-unit at the end of this week (2nd unit continues, but without any sound recording)

my 3-phone still doesn’t work in Kununurra, so email is best.



Photo from the archives...

...Is a shot of customs house in Brisbane

Thursday, August 16, 2007

2nd Unit... fun.

Normally reserved for things that are either too dangerous for main cast (big stunts); or something that doesn’t involve main cast (pretty shots of landscapes/animals/buildings).

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent onto 2nd unit as the sound representative.
The BEST part however; is that most of the shooting, will involve NOISY equipment to get the visuals.

This noisy equipment means that rolling sound while filming is not really a requirement (it’ll be designed/replaced later), and I’m free to record Sound FX/Atmosphere tracks.

This is the purest form of sound recording for film (the collection of sounds that are not directly related to a picture, but are used creatively to support those same pictures)

I’m rambling now, but in short; it’s like I’ve won the sound recording lottery...

To make things even better, I’ve been given the Surround Sound mic. So I can capture the natural soundscapes of these amazing locations.

Post-Sound Supervisor recording a sound-scape, whilst being recorded by the Behind the Scenes Crew...

Nice Boab on the Diggers Rest property...

Early-morning sun through the trees...

Sunday was a bit of an anomaly – we got the day-off (due to some scheduling conflicts between main and 2nd unit) – so a bunch of crew headed off to the local races...

3rd race – coming off the final corner

Local race-goer, checking out the starting line-up

I think our safety-supervisor and paramedic won a bit on this particular horse...

I’m told that the Wyndham races are one of the few; if not the only, races that are held on Salt-plains

Time for the usual PHOTO FROM THE ARCHIVES

This week it’s a shot of a toll-gate for the local “city-cat” ferries in Brisbane

Ok that’s it for the moment,

Keep safe, and happy.



The only time that it’s really important to record sound on 2nd unit; is when main cast are present, and today was spent sitting on a tracking vehicle, pointing a mic at our male lead – charging along on a horse. Fun times

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Digger's Rest... insanely pretty!

2nd Unit are “camping” at diggers rest. About an hour and a half away from Kununurra.

I throw the air-quotes around the term “camping” because it’s actually quite civilised.

We have a 4-person tent each, a nifty camp bed, chair, and light.

There’s running water for showers (if you get in early it’s hot), flushing toilets, and even facilities for washing the dust out of your clothes (‘tis quite dusty up here in northern WA)

Here are some more photos from my little day-off excursion to Emma Gorge and El Questro.

Amalia Gorge – in the El Questro Park. Swimming here was a little cold – but worth it.

Awesome tree on the way out to Emma Gorge

Rock-pool reflection of the sun setting on the walls of the Emma Gorge

Arty photo of the week

Tent-city; there are over 80 tents in a small area – so people are getting quite neighborly.

last night a whole bunch of the crew tried to stay-up and see the meteor shower.
one massive one, and a bunch of little falling stars, caused many to abandon the vigil at midnight; turns out it was a smart move on their behalf, as I didn't see any more spectacular ones at the "scheduled" time...

Another angle of the tents at night.

Time for that regular segment known as

This week it’s a shot of the summer ski-jump training jumps on Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler BC, Canada circa 2001.

Well, it’s time I got back to planning my recording requirements for the next 2 weeks

See ya