Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monster From The Hill (2000)

Well here's a very old film by me. My third year student film, "Monster From The Hill".

Through the course I was exposed to German expressionist cinema and that had quite an impact on me and SBS was running Hammer horror films ever Saturday night. So when I got my chance to make my film it was definitely going to be an old style studio horror film.

Ok like I did for "Jim" here's some behind the scenes notes. Most of my friends just remember it as a blur (this film is about 6-7 years old) so I guess I'll just tell you what I remember hopefully they will correct my mistakes:

  • Adrian Tolman (who now does the sound for all my films) was my offsider on this film. He basically did all the jobs I didn't want to do. Most of that was asking the head of Tafe for more money. He was pretty dam good at this as we were never turned down a single dollar (I heard that Tafe went well over budget that year, although that I believe was another filmmakers fault who was a jerk)
  • One of the most major influences for this film was the fact that we had all seen Tim Burton's "Edwood" and we shot this film very similar only using one take for almost everything. This was more due to the fact that we were shooting on film and we only had 2 reels to use. We did rehearse a lot before we shot. Oh and the Lugosi line "Let's shoot this f**ker" was said for nearly every take.
  • "The Monster" was played by Jason Rado. A very old friend of mine who was living with me at the time. He was brilliant. He studied the part hard and was very pro about it all. One of the things that I found out as we were rehearsing was that he had problems saying "th" sounds instead he would say them with an "f" sound. I'd known this guy for years and never realised that he did that and to top it off nearly every sentence contained "mother" or "father" in it. Credit to Jason however because he continued to practice everyday until he got it right.
  • The brick walls were these brilliant flats that were lent to me from "Plumb Construction". I was doing work experience there (which I got through a wonderful teacher who taught me art direction at TAFE) working on some "Powerball" commercials. This was so much fun even though I was positively useless with power tools. While I was working there I was telling them about this film and they pointed me to these 3meter+ (guess) wall flats and said they would be perfect. This was exactly what I needed but at the same time I had to work out how to transport them to the TAFE studio. They were too big for a trailer (which we found out didn't we Adrian?) so instead we used a large trolley and had to wheel these very real looking walls across Perth (comedy gold). It was harder to get the walls back as about the start of our journey across the city a nut fell off one of the wheels and we had to do it very slowly. I remember one girl feeling compelled to yell out "you guys look stupid". Still to this day I have not been able to think of a good comeback... dang it
  • The film was shot on 16mm B&W and the cinematography was done by Geremy Rouse. He with his team was really very good and they spent a heap of time making sure everything was lit well and framed well. I think we spent a lot of the time wanting the other to work faster but at the same time we wanted the best. It was a pretty good combo I thought.
  • I do remember the day we did the test shoot I had to call Geremy up and tell him to shoot without me as the train I was on ran over someone. This day I just happened to be wearing "The many deaths of Kenny" t-shirt. I haven't worn that shirt since that day.
  • The "Monster's Claw" was made from a welding glove, some op shop belts, and this really cool bendy metal we found. I'm not too sure what the influence was for this. Maybe Joe Mad.
  • I'm a huge fan of Doug Tennaple and I loved the game he created called "The Neverhood". In this game everything had this plasticine texture to it that I thought was pretty dam cool (Rob Lee and I even did a very heavily influenced animation based on this style which I'll post soon). We used this style for the outer walls of the Laboratory.
  • The laboratory was built by Michael Lewis. A good friend of mine who I left in charge to build the 1.5meter laboratory based on this crazy little sketch we did. This madman worked non-stop digesting only coke and caffeinated ice-cream for a week straight (maybe longer). You may notice the little spikes on top of the Laboratory and the very wonky base. The top of that Lab contains a good amount of Mike's blood.
  • The laboratory is still standing today (of its own accord) in the corner of my room. Masterful craftsmanship!
  • The street sets were built by me and this more resembled the German expressionist film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". I built the set out of cereal boxes, masking tape, black plasticine to round the edges and I had a foam base to help with keeping the stop mo characters upright. When I brought the set to the TAFE studio, I did the mistake of leaving it in the car and all the plasticine melted. Due to the fact we were shooting at the time and Mike couldn't do anymore work because of the coke and caffeinated ice cream for a week, I called in Rob Lee to take over and repair the set. This added the Rob Lee style to the set and I think it was better for it.
  • The animation was probably the only thing we shot twice and that was due to the bolex camera chewing the film. This was quite heartbreaking but the news was delivered well by Will Jones who said "Hey Tim, I've got some bad news the film in the bolex was all chewed so yeah ...OH OH SPAGETTIOS!” (South park episode where they sent up Jar-Jar). I couldn't be mad after that instead I got Adrian to ring around (see I told you I got him to do everything I didn't like) the other film makers and try and get whatever leftover film they had. We reshot the animation using the frame capture on the Arton (since I didn't want to trust the bolex again) this function is more for capturing slates so when I got the film back I had to digitally process every frame and add lightning over the top to smooth the transitions.
  • The films score was composed by Chris Cobilis. This is my favourite score for all my films. I had so much stuff to choose from. It had this really dark and wonderful, edgy style. The end credits are extra long so I could fit in the entire last song. I used to listen to the tape all the time. I gave it to Adrian years ago to convert it to Mp3. One day he will get around to it.
  • There’s a special track that only a few have heard. One that will get stuck in your head for years. I hope to be able to post that at some point.
  • The film had to be edited twice due to it being deleted off the Media 100s at TAFE. I was really broke at the time and had to work down in Manjimup and could only come up on weekends. Mike did quite a lot of the re-editing while I was in Manjimup. I never credited him for this because I was too lazy to re-render the end credits.
  • I did no animation on this film due to having very shaky hands. I regret this but it was good to have so many friends to help me out
  • My friends used the last bit of film to hold up a big white sign saying “Tim sux” do some crazy dancing and pull finger signs. Haha thanks guys!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'ello. this is regan. just watched monster from the hill, it brought back some memories, oh for the good ol' days.
i remember working on this, not that i did much but it was a good experience nonetheless.

keep up the art and the uploading of cool stuff.

ever the cheerer,