Excited by the rushes from the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade I was dead keen to crack on with my film. Faced with so many great story lines I knew it would be a challenge: Jehovah’s Witness; clubbing; breast cancer; ageism; relationships. I allowed, to a degree, the action, the characters and the events to dictate the film’s journey. Constantly considering how I was going to mesh everything into a building, flowing plot. So I planned to film at every available opportunity. Yes the parties themselves. But also behind-the-scenes Mardi Gras prep, and Trish at home chilling with her family.
It was about a third of the way through filming that I brought on board my first editor, Paul Dinnerville who began putting together a rough assembly edit. Since we both worked on Final Cut v7 it proved easy sharing ideas via project files. There was no doubt bringing Paul on board this early proved crucial. Paul was impartial, less precious, more objective. I was becoming too close, wanting every shot, every emotion, every character. Paul soon put a stop to that!
If this first, albeit crude, cut proved anything it showed we needed something to bond the scenes together. A ‘God-like’ voice [be it Trish, me, a friend or a professional VO artist] wouldn’t be enough on its own. What we needed was an extensive controlled interview with Trish from start to finish, which cameraman Mark referred to as ‘his slab.’
Our ‘slab’ interview comprised a two camera setup on tracks. Mark ensured we had full coverage handling the Master Shot, whilst his colleague Dominique Flanagan provided 2nd angles and cutaways. We rolled cameras and just talked. I intentionally made it informal, relaxed, not like a conventional Q&A but more a private conversation. I was hoping to gain a deeper insight this way, get more of the raw emotion out of Trish.
By day’s end we had 4 hours of footage, from Trish’s past life to her present family, from discovering she had been diagnosed with breast cancer to promoting her first Hot Kandi event. Yes, I had notes based on research, an order, some sort of structure but I allowed the interview to flow without interruption. This style of IV later proved time-consuming since real conversations rarely have any chronological order. Points are forgotten then remembered, so the chat goes backwards and forwards. Those of you who have worked this way before will be only too aware of what’s coming next. Yep, this exposed a number of continuity issues. Some were overcome by means of cutaways but many weren’t. This also exposed a number of holes. But I decided to worry about that later. The key was to lay down a narrative which not only answered questions but also served to drive my story forwards.
With 50 minutes on the time-line it became obvious which pictures I needed to ‘show’, rather than ‘tell’, my story. I discovered anything longer than 2 or 3 minutes on the same set-up, even with different angles, was too long. I needed more pictures … a lot more! It was during this time that something became obvious – other peoples perspective to either endorse or provide an alternative experience. Yet this presented a slight problem. I quickly discovered, whilst many were supportive of this film, some preferred not to be interviewed since, not knowing me, there was some suspicion as to what this film was really about.
It became abundantly clear, if I were to gain the respect and trust of these people I had to join them! Oh the sacrifices of being a filmmaker!!
So at home that night I told my wife to put her dancing shoes back on as despite being in our mid and late 40’s we were going clubbing again. Being a former Moulin Rouge dancer my wife took took the news rather well.
And here’s the surprising thing, I can safely say some of my most recent and fondest friendships have developed from meeting folks at these events. People, many, like us, with kids, who don’t sit at home watching TV but after 10 – 15 years of marriage continue to go out partying as a couple. This entire experience was so interesting from a relationship prospective I’ve decided to dedicate a short blog on this very subject later on.
Trish Karr / Joan Rivers interview – Mardi Gras 2009