NEWS FEATURE: From film industry to blog community

What do Transmission Films, Glendyn Ivin and AFTRS have in common? They all write blogs. Simon de Bruyn reports on a growing phenomenon.

Trying to follow the progress of a feature film throughout its production and post tends to be a difficult task. Usually the filmmaking team is too busy to speak about what they are doing, or too fearful of spoiling the surprise.

However a surprising trend has emerged, which is opening up the process to outsiders like never before. Filmmakers have started writing blogs.

Director Glendyn Ivin shot to prominence when his short film Cracker Bag won the Cannes Palme D’or in 2003. Since week one of shooting his anticipated debut feature Last Ride, he has kept a blog documenting his experiences on set, in the edit room, mixing the sound, and even videos of co-lead Tom Russell playing the guitar.

Directors are usually exhausted by mid shoot, but as the blog shows, Ivin cheerily updated the blog with insights and pictures from the rural South Australia set, and has continued to do so throughout post production. Here is a typical entry:

I’ve never shot so much, so quickly. But I’m feeling good about what we are creating and what the film is becoming. I guess this first week has been about trying to find a style and approach that works within the massive time and especially stock restraints I have (I have an official shooting ration of 1:12, which is kind of just enough, but as I wanted to shoot on 35mm this is what it has to be… and on Tuesday we shot close to 1:40 of which I was subtly reminded by Nick and Antonia (Producers) that some wildlife documentarians may not shoot as high as that…). So Greig and I are trying to establish a shooting style where we can shoot minimum coverage, with minimum takes but still find an interesting approach without stitching Jack up in the edit.

Ivin tells INSIDEFILM that the blog has since evolved into an informal marketing tool for the film, although it was never intended as such.

"The diary didn’t start out as a marketing element, it was more something I wanted to do to document my experiences as a first time feature director in the most direct and personal way I could, but I’m glad people have caught onto it and I have received a lot of nice feedback from people who have been reading it and appreciating my honesty,” he says.

"I’m hoping as we are now in the thick of planning our marketing strategy for Last Ride that it will continue to play a part of some kind in the film’s release into the world. I’ll keep updating it throughout the process."

Jucy, Louise Alston’s follow-up to All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, is currently filming. How do I know this? Because the film’s producer Kelly Chapman has been regularly updating a blog about it.

Not only has Chapman given insights into the pre-production and marketing plans for the film, but she has used it as a platform to announce major news such as when Chris Adams and Steve Kearney were coming on board as Jucy’s executive producers.

It is easy to understand the appeal of blogging for filmmakers. Firstly you can do it at your own pace and in your own time, as well as pretty much anywhere there is internet access. It also probably acts as catharsis, plus you have total control over what goes online; none of these bloody journalists to mess around with.

Andrew Mackie of Transmission Films has been running a blog with fellow Dendy ex-pat Richard Payton ever since they launched the company last year. He explains that the site felt like the best way to get new information out to the industry, and it surely doesn’t hurt that anyone in the world can check in and see what they’re buying.

“We were the first film distribution company to have a website many years ago. I am personally fascinated by the web and consumer tech generally and blogging is so commonplace it felt like the best mechanism to disseminate new information about our films. It really is a news service,” he says.

“The Twitter feed is intended to be more immediate – so we can be at a festival or market and when we sign a film can fire off a quick Twitter update without having to write and format an entire blog post.”

Mackie says that he wants to expand Transmission’s online presence from the blog, and is brimming with ideas about how it could evolve.

“I’m fascinated by the potential of video and audio RSS feeds, podcasting, and would love to create some form of regular podcast. The key will be the format – not having it sound like an infomercial for our films but something with its own entertainment value and integrity,” he says.

Others in the film industry are giving it a red hot go, like the Australian Film Television & Radio School, which has been running a series of in depth and informative posts about various industry issues and AFTRS projects.

To their credit the Australian Director’s Guild gave it a shot, although no one seemed to know it was there, and the two Australian film industry docos Nothing But The Struth and Into The Shadows have also been using blogs to upload preliminary clips and get feedback from the film industry.

These are exciting times. INSIDEFILM will continue to watch the interwebs, and thus filmmakers, with interest.