The Making Of Mrs Carey’s Concert – Filmmaker Q&A – 11 May 2011


Mrs Carey’s Concert is about music making and coming of age, about talent and courage, compliance and rebellion. About those prepared to open their minds and hearts to what the world has to offer… and those yet to discover the potential within.

Our Q&A with filmmakers Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond (moderated by Jane Jeffes) will explore many issues and challenges, such as:

# Doco story and background – dealing with that many kids!
# Technical Issues – camera, sound, editing
# Broadcaster issues
# Producer issues – self distribution

The Story

At a Sydney girls’ school, music director Karen Carey prepares her young students for a concert at the Opera House. Believing in the transformative power of great music, Carey insists upon a classical repertoire, sets a dauntingly high performance standard and requires the participation of every girl in the school. Carey inspires many of her girls, but some do not share her passion and are not afraid to say so.

Her greatest challenge will be firing up the unwilling, and her antagonist is 16 year old Iris Shi. Waging open warfare against authority, the charismatic Iris is the focal point of student resistance to Carey’s Opera House ambitions, and the only girl who gets seriously under her skin. Emily Sun is Carey’s star musician and a different sort of headache – a gifted but troubled teenager on the threshold of a brilliant musical career if only… Carey wants Emily to solo in a Bruch Violin concerto. But to bring out her best, she needs to keep the girl from going off the rails, and then get inside her head. And that proves no easy task, because young Emily has her own distinctive take on everything.

Production Info

# 263 hours of footage shot.
# 18 month long shoot.
# 18 month edit.
# 1200 release forms signed by every kid and their parents in the school.
# The concert was covered by 11 cameras (2 backstage, 9 out front).
# Bob’s 6th feature length independent documentary.
# Sophie’s first feature length independent documentary.
# Mrs Carey’s 10th biennial concert.
# Took about two months for people to forget the cameras.
# It’s essential to have the right to have access to film in all areas of the school.

Every piece of music in the film, except one, was recorded on location and performed by the kids. Every Chamber Orchestra rehearsal was recorded on a Wednesday at 7.30am for 18 months.

Our greatest challenge in the edit was to chart the musical progression and the emotional development of the girls as they wrestled with the demanding repertoire and the ever looming deadline of the Opera House Concert. It was a multi-layered process, transformations often subtle. As subtle as the difference in speed of vibrato on a single note. Every day of editing brought a new challenge, as we gradually brought our 263 hours of rushes down to 95 minutes.


Bob Connolly

Bob Connolly began his career at the ABC, directing some 30 documentaries there in the 1970s before teaming up with Robin Anderson to work independently. In 1983 they released and FIRST CONTACT, followed by JOE LEAHY’S NEIGHBOURS (1989) and BLACK HARVEST (1992). Shot in the PNG Highlands over ten years, these 3 films won 30 national and international awards, including an Oscar nomination for First Contact. All three won the Grand Prix at France’s Festival Cinema du Reel, and AFI awards for Best Documentary. In 1996 Connolly and Anderson released RATS IN THE RANKS. Their last film together was FACING THE MUSIC (2001) which like all its predecessors enjoyed a lengthy national theatrical release. It too won the AFI Award for Best Documentary, and was voted most popular film at the Sydney and Brisbane Film Festivals.

Sophie Raymond

MRS CAREY’S CONCERT is Sophie Raymond’s debut feature length documentary, and builds on her successful career as an animator and singer/songwriter with academic foundations in Anthropology and Theatre. Sophie teamed up with Bob Connolly after a chance meeting at IDFA in 2003. She was at the festival representing (as co director/ co producer) the highly successful, short animated doco IT’S LIKE THAT. The film went on to garner several awards and enjoy an Australian theatrical release and over 60 festival screenings worldwide.

Previously, Sophie was Assistant Animator on Adam Elliot’s Oscar winning short HARVIE KRUMPET and she went on to work on Elliot’s recent feature animation MARY AND MAX.

As a singer/songwriter Sophie released and toured three albums of her own work Nationally and internationally, and presented a regular segment on ABC National radio, thus bringing a wealth of hands-on experience to her role as sound recordist, editor and co director of Mrs Carey’s Concert.

You can BUY TICKETS to screenings of the film directly on the website… listings for other cities there too.

Suggested donation $7

RSVP not required, but be early to ensure your seat. Please invite your friends and colleagues too! This event is open to the public. Parking fees discounted after 6pm, or with validated ticket from AFTRS.

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