Feature Filmmakers and Their Documentaries – 8 July 2004

Title: Feature Filmmakers and Their Documentaries
Location: Level 3 – Peter Johnson Building – UTS Building #6
Description: WHAT:

Screenings and discussion, chaired by Peter Galvin, with
Geoff Burton, Donald Crombie and
we are waiting to hear from another VERY SPECIAL GUEST… further news will be sent ASAP.

NOTE VENUE CHANGE FOR JULY ONLY!

WHERE:

UTS GUTHRIE THEATRE
HOW TO GET THERE…
Level 3 – Peter Johnson Building – UTS Building #6.
Enter from Harris Steet, Ultimo.
From Central Station, it’s before the ABC.

WHEN:

Thursday 8 July 2004 – 7pm

ENTRY:

Gold Coin Donation
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2004-07-08

In the July Ozdox we bring you a session chaired by writer Peter Galvin (Film Australia and IF magazine, amongst others), where prominent Australian feature film and drama directors Geoff Burton and Donald Crombie discuss documentary production – and their own docos!

GEOFF BURTON
…has a long list of productions including these recent documentaries:
The Fall Of The House – Eugene Goossens;
Australians at War;
Sydney: A Story of a City.

And as a cinematographer, Geoff has worked on a host of productions, including:
After the Deluge;
Brilliant Lies;
Hotel Sorrento;
Sirens;
The Nostradamus Kid;
Garbo;
The Year My Voice Broke;
The Picture Show Man;
Storm Boy;
Sunday Too Far Away
…and many others!

In reference to this OZDOX session, Geoff says “My first work in documentary, as both a cinematographer and a director, was in ethnographic film making where objectivity and non involvement with the subjects were rigorous working principles. It was a quantum shift to then move into the totally manipulative world of feature film and television drama production – but interesting to see now how these widely differing disciplines effectively informed each other.”

“The use of drama within a documentary context, perhaps a better way to put it is ‘the use of fiction film making techniques in telling a non-fiction story’, is something that has interested me for some time and as audience and broadcaster acceptance has increased over the years, continues to be my preferred way of working. This has been made easier for me because of the extensive work I have done in feature production, both on my own films and those of other directors.”

“I propose screening excerpts from two ‘dramatised documentaries’, one made in 1982 and the second finished just four weeks ago. The comparison indicates how far we have come in developing a contemporary documentary language and I believe offers pointers to future applications.”

DONALD CROMBIE
…has written and/or directed a great body of material including:
McLeod’s Daughters;
Tales of the South Seas;
Flipper;
Rough Diamonds;
The Alien Years;
Robbery Under Arms;
Cathy’s Child;
The Irishman;
Caddie;
Do I Have to Kill My Child?
…and many others!

Donald, also current President of ASDA, will screen his early documentary “The Fifth Facade” which was made by Film Australia in 1973 to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Opera House. It was theatrically released newsreel-style the Thursday after the Queen opened the building.

The film is in part narrated by the architect Joern Utzon who also provided valuable insights into what lead him to that design and how he solved the major engineering problems. Being so soon after Joern Utzon’s controversial dismissal from the project, Film Australia’s heirarchy was determined that the film should have no position on the politics of his removal. Despite this, the filmakers felt a great injustice had been done to Utzon and were determined that the film should not ignore what had happened. A way was found, albeit subtly, to say that Utzon would live on, long after those that took the project from him were forgotten.

As well as these screenings, the evening will be spent discussing a number of topics: and with your participation, a wide variety of issues!

Here are some pointers the panel may address:

* How does the discipline of making docos inform directing other genres;

* Why have you moved away from / returned to doco-making;

* Should docos properly be made for the cinema or for television or other media; does it depend on the content; in which case, what would you suggest works better on the big or small screen;

* Advances in technology: do they make doco-making more attractive to you now, or less so;

* What is wrong/right with today’s doco scene in Australia: is it about funding and budgets, commissioning editors and broadcasters less/more willing to push the envelope, a paucity or plethora of meaningful ideas, or the effects of several years of a government that prefers us to be “relaxed and comfortable”;

* Why did you concentrate on feature film and drama production despite an earlier interest in the doco form;

* With the prospective “Innovative Filmmakers Fund” being mooted by the FFC, should funding agencies be less reliant on broadcaster presales and take more funding chances with docos that have no such backing;

* How could doco-makers access other forms of funding?

* Are first-time filmmakers going to be increasingly squeezed out by funding agencies, in favour of the “tried and tested”; and what does that bode for young and vital “new” ideas? Or are older filmmakers just as capable of coming up with innovative approaches;

* Are Australian doco makers telling enough grassroots Aussie stories; are they thinking outside the square.

These and many more issues will be discussed and debated on Thursday July 8th!
Be there, and tell your friends!

OZDOX 7.00pm Thursday July 8th 2004
at UTS Guthrie Theatre,
Peter Johnson Building,
Harris Street, Ultimo