How is the documentary looking?
“The Ford Maestro”, set in Rino’s garage, is looking very rock’n’roll. If you accept rock’n’roll is ultimately about cars and girls. The 2006 Art Director / Mayhem production is currently set to bulldozer mode. Full speed ahead, and damn the tomatoes. We are going all out. We pin 83-year-old Rino down and grill him at length under bright Arri lights. We allow him some brief respite, when a customer in a Cadillac Eldorado rolls in to fill his tank. We shoot a quick interview with this tank commander. "Rino is the dictionary definition of cool," says the young Cadillac driver. How long has he been coming to Rino's garage, we ask? "Since before i was born," he says - completely truthfully. He books up his fuel and rolls on down sunny Scarborough Beach Road. When i fill the Madaz, i discover Rino does not have eftpos or credit card facilities, but is quite happy to take a cheque. Hmm. The good old days.
We record some of the Rino lifestyle, logging interviews with Rino and his real estate agent, who turns up with an offer on the garage; film tasty overlay shots around the place, and capture Mayhem hurtling around the Town of Vincent in a lipstick-red ‘64 XM coupé - the 2 door Pursuit model, retro-fitted with a late model V8 powerplant. Quite a rude proposition when combined with Mayhem’s urban guerilla driving tactics. So cool it’s zero cool, says Melinda 'Che' Mayhem. The simple narrative (Girl in Red Car with Engine Problems pulls into Garage) draws the viewer seamlessly into a touching exposition of Rino’s life as Sicilian Immigrant slash Ford Specialist: Rino, who arrived on these shores in 1948, who used to deliver market produce to Wellington Street markets on a horse and cart and race Norton motorcycles. Although not at the same time. A well-tuned Norton will win hands down over a horse and cart nine times out of ten.
The little red coupé is courtesy of Brendon, deep-sea diver and underwater construction specialist. Brendon may make a future appearance on the electric nerve, explaining to avid readers what life is like on the inside of a fibreglass helmet wrestling with steel pipes supported by airbags on the ocean floor, armed with a compass, a two-way and a set of spanners. We will ask the tough questions: is there time for spearfishing?
Meanwhile, Brendon is being driven around the streets of Vincent by Mayhem. He is impressed by the effectiveness of his coupe’s air vents in lifting the hem of Mayhem’s 50s style dress to reveal the fishnet stockings and suspenders which grace the upper regions of her milky white thighs. Ahem. A true professional, I have the presence of mind to carefully document the entire wardrobe malfunction on video. “One of the most erotic sights I’ve seen in a while,” Brendon tells me confidentially when i deliver his carton of Coopers a few days later. “Will that be on my copy of the DVD?” Yes. A definite for the Director’s Cut. And anything said to me confidentially will almost certainly appear on the blog.
The documentary rolls on. You notice, once you start making a film, how everybody has an opinion on how you should go about it? Well, i've got two words for back-seat film directors: shut the fuck up.
Storyboarding a documentary seems to be a contradiction in terms, but all documentaries are constructed. For me, documentary filmmaking tends more toward organic growth, like Bonsai, rather than the plastic brickwork of Lego. You must choose a start point, and an end point. This in itself will construct a narrative. The rest depends on your view point. The in-between ... how much of it is to be directed? How much is pruned, and how much left to run wild? How much is to be explained, how much left open to interpretation? These are some of the choices facing the documentary filmmaker.
Art Director chooses rock’n’roll. Never apologise, never explain.
A narrative has a beginning and an ending, a fact that simultaneously distinguishes it from the rest of the world and opposes it to the “real” world.
– Christian Metz, Film Language
All reality is constructed, but unreality is really constructed.
– Art Director, Out of Range
Thursday, October 26, 2006
How is the documentary looking?