Time to meet Arlo
The short film, “Arlo”, will make its premiere this afternoon as part of the Blacktown Shorts Film Festival. “Arlo” is the story of a young boy who likes to wear dresses and just exactly what happens when his grandparents discover this.
“Arlo” was partially funded by Blacktown Council through their Magnify initiative, where they gave five Blacktown filmmakers $2000 to make a short film. I was lucky enough to be selected and we were able to shoot this lovely little film.
I was on location in rural Victoria when I wrote the script. I had a lot of deadlines and was unsure whether I would have enough time to write a script. I was acting in a horror feature film called, “Apparitions” and we were shooting in the middle of nowhere. As you may know, for actors, there is often a lot of downtime on sets; and in this film I had several days where I wasn’t need on camera much but was still on the set. It also helped that there was no reception, so I could concentrate on work (and watching the occasional TV show). I was finishing writing a preschool theatre in education show called, “Carol Claus”, about Santa’s long lost song writing sister. It has a deadline, so needed to work on that. But with all the free time, I got through it with plenty of time and decided to write a script to apply for the funding. I had an original idea and I just couldn’t formulate it, I was struggling and if I am not feeling something, it usually means I should scrap it. I took a lovely walk around this property and suddenly the idea was there. I sat down at the kitchen table, popped in my iPod and wrote the script, it was a fast process - which for me is always a good sign. The rest, as they say, is history.
The team at Blacktown Council, especially Maria were wonderful, and Vonne Patiag, who was curating the event; were very supportive and I was ready to get shooting. After being stuck in post production hell for so long with “After Nightfall” and “According to Otto”, I was so keen to do a project that had such a rapid fire turnaround. My producing partner and Director of Photography, Nicholas Price, was excited by the project and had some amazing ideas - so the film looked like it was going to be a good one. I cast the grand parents first. Janine Penfold and I have worked together twice before, on the stage, so it was great to get her in the film. I have admired Kim Knuckey for so long, and had been trying to find a great project for us to work together on. We weren’t sure about schedules, but when he became available, I was so very excited. Kaden Munroe, who plays Arlo, is a student of mine. He is very new to acting, but is keen and a has a wonderful exuberance that is hard to get past. We cast the lovely Kelly Monisse through auditions, and Tom Harwood and I had done a play together the year before, so I was really happy when he was the last cast member to come on board.
On a very early Sunday morning in June, we all got together to shoot the film. We had set the film on a bright and sleepy Sunday morning, so naturally it poured with rain. Nick, and his amazing crew, still managed to get a massive light (covered by many umbrellas) to shine through the window and used a haze machine to get that beautiful morning feel. One of my favourite parts of the day was everyone discussing what scent the hazer was releasing. Johno, our sound recordist, settled on molasses, and I had to agree. The actors did such a good job, they brought range and new offers with each take. We actually ended up ahead of schedule, something very rare.
This crew, what a crew. Most of us have now worked together many times, on “After Nightfall”, “According to Otto”, and the music videos we have been shooting. They are incredibly talented and I feel honoured to work with them. So thanks, Johno, Lakme, Cayla, Lisa (Mangers), Jess, and was great to have Sean join us for the first time. Sam did a beautiful job with the editing, Miro’s music is lovely and the wizardry of PJ’s sound editing and Keiran’s colour grading is wonderful. Nick’s camera work is so good here, it looks beautiful, picturesque and quite grand for a little low budget film shot in Blacktown.
This story felt important. I am a strong believer in letting children be themselves. I have taught drama for nearly 20 years and have met and taught so many wonderful kids. When parents let children be themselves, they thrive. People still judge if a little boy puts on a dress, they try to assign adult emotions to what the boy is doing. I remember once walking into a preschool, ready to perform a show. A little boy in a fairy dress, ran up to me, span around and said, “Do you like my dress?” He was smiling and happy. I naturally said I loved it. This was pure innocence, a child doing what made them happy. The world is depressing enough without stealing joy from children because it doesn’t fit into society’s version of normal. That is why I wrote this film.
So this afternoon, the film makes it’s premiere in Blacktown Showground. The place I used to compete in Little Athletics and play football. I had my 21st Birthday Party in the now demolished hall. It feels a part of me, so it’s exciting to launch the film here. I love the film, now, I just hope everyone else does.