Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I wanted to create an impression of the dresses from the original film rather than try to recreate them. However, finding 4 white dresses that look similar in Savers, the Salvos or wherever proved to be a lot harder than I thought. So they were going to have to be made from scratch. I did this with the help of Beckett Rozental, who found and adapted a dress pattern that matched what we were doing and took me on a shopping trip to Lincraft (and opened my eyes to another world).
She had to head back to Tassie for a family emergency so we passed the pattern onto Caroline Thompson who did a great and very fast job of sewing 4 dresses together in as many days. I got her to do a couple more as spares.
The dresses add an easily recognizable link to the "other film" which even people walking past the shoot have commented on.
They also look very nice in the green bush.

The prisoners all wear overalls with an old convict style arrow sprayed on the back. I wanted numbers on their back, or the name of the correctional facility, but ran out of time. I also wanted them to be orange at one stage, and there are plenty of
2nd hand orange overalls but it's hard to find any in a small size. Even the "small" size is very big. Also, orange against green? You have to think about those things.

Speaking of time, the dresses became one of those things that I didn't think would take too long to organize but ended up taking over the pre-production time. You never know what these things will be.

Hanging at Picnic Rock

The name is Aaron O'Donnell's idea but if you google it you'll find a song with the same name and a comedy skit. A couple of people have told me that they had an idea for an updated version of Picnic at Hanging Rock but had never finished a script.

There is a picnic in this story but no hanging. No one seems to have noticed so far.


The entire film is storyboarded which is a process I did as I went along. Initially I didn't want to do too much storyboarding, as it tends to lock you in, but a few things made it necessary.
First, special effects (and there's a few) need to be storyboarded to work out whats needed, and not needed, for the shot and get the idea across.

Action sequences are also helped by a good storyboard to make sure we are getting all the shots we need.

It also saves time on the actual shoot day if I limit the amount of coverage we can try to get and just go for the shots we need with a few extras.
Finally, due to my large cast, I needed to stage the actors and work out who was needed on what day. This is proving quite a difficult thing to juggle as not everyone is available at the same time.
I turned down a lot of people to get a group who would be able to show up together on the first shoot day. After that, it hasn't mattered so much, but its still been quite hard to coordinate.
I've kept the storyboard art fairly simple, as Its easy to "read" and quick to draw but sometimes I've been drawing storyboards the night before the shoot so they vary in quality.

See what I mean? Some I had to do again as I couldn't work out what I'd drawn.

The Cast. Penelope

Penelope Arvanitakis plays Miranda; a tough prison dyke who doesn't shy away from a bit of shot gun decapitation.
I met Penelope on a student music clip shoot for a song called "Cry Like You Mean It", where she had to stand dead-still in a room full of light bulbs. I worked with her again on a couple of other student films and liked her attitude and energy. When I ran into her on the street in Belgrave I told her about the project and offered her the lead role without telling her too much. I was a little apprehensive that, after she read the script, she would either jump at the opportunity to try out a character unlike anything she'd done before or throw the script away and never talk to me again.
There is a bit of Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron in Monster)and Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russel in Escape From New York)in her character and I did have a Tattooist lined up to give her some (fake) full sleeves of dodgy prison tatts but she traded the mountains for the sea, to get away from the bush fires, and couldn't make it to the shoot.
So the other girls drew a few on with texta.
Its a Trasharama film.


A 21st Century, all female, prison gang fight for their lives against 19th Century Demon-possessed, private school girls.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shoot Day 1 and 2

I had planned to start shooting on Sat Feb 14th, Valentines Day, which would have been great, as the original film is set on that date. However, I pushed it back a week to Sat 21st to give a little more time.
I also thought I could shoot the whole thing in three days, with some pick ups, but I really underestimated the time frame. Usually I'm pretty close, but I'd hadn't taken into account the amount of time we'd need to set up effects shots and getting the large cast to the location took a bit of effort. It went pretty smooth, in the end, but I could have done with one more person to organise a few refreshments.
Luckily, Sabina, one of the Zombies, stepped in and took over catering.
My original 1st AD had pulled out.
I also wanted to shoot in two locations but my second location was blocked off due to bush fires.
This gave us more time to spread a one day shoot over two and everyone seemed to have a nice time in the bush. Except maybe for Zak who was buried up to his waste and covered in stinking guts. The flies were intense.
We shot in Wrights Forest (which is listed as Weights Reserve in Google Maps?), close to Cockatoo, which looked really nice.
Ben Mann took some great photos.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Look

While I was at film school I came across a site that is used to find work paid/ and unpaid, in the local film industry. I posted adds for Actors and Crew and what I noticed was the little interest I'd get in anything except for acting roles for females, where I'd get around 80 hits for anything I put up. So the idea of an all girl cast was going to be relatively easy.
Some of the Trasharama films are very low budget, often very amateur and often shot in peoples back yards. They use toy guns, bad effects and peoples friends for actors. This makes for some funny stuff and laid back, unpressured style of film making. At one point I thought of paying for an armourer for the guns in the film but then, due to its budget, the rest would have to be pretty low-tech so they might stand out anyway. I look at the Trasharama style as a genre I decided to keep with it.
I still needed costumes so I drew up some sketches.

The Story

At first I had the idea to do a short, unofficial, rip-off of Predator. Like the Italians did with Alien. It would be easy, I could shoot it in the bush, wouldn't have to use sets, get some tough looking actors, would need a lot of guns and explosions...
So that was going nowhere, then, driving past Hanging Rock I got the idea for a "sequel" to Peter Wiers, Picnic at Hanging Rock whith the original school girls coming back as Demon Possesed Zombies and attacking modern school girls. It may have been a house I stayed at in Sydney that had a DVD collection of the old Aussie TV show Prisoner, all set in a womens prison, that made me change them to a work gang of prisoners. It just gave a better premise anyway for conflict.
It was on a drive between Sydney and Melbourne that I wrote the script. I'd think for a few hours, stop and write stuff down, think for a few more, write another scene. By the end of the trip I had a Script (in biro).

The Idea

The idea came about by a combination of three major things.

First off, I'd finished film school but my final project had gone quite bad and I didn't really have a film that I could show with any confidence. So I wanted to make another, but I'd spent my savings at school, so this one had to be very low budjet.

Second, I really wanted to make a film for Trasharama as I'd been to the festival in 2008 and really enjoyed the event. However, I get a bit put off by the amount of bad, slasher, low grade, zombie, horror films that are constantly being made and didn't want to go down that path. At least, not at film school. There seems to be, at least one Zombie feature a year, being made in Melbourne somewhere. They are always made for no money with an expectation that they'll make everyone rich and famous. I think that comes from George A Romero kicking off the whole genre with the Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Its such an easy thing to do but I wanted to do something different.

Third, I saw the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, which had the director of the doco and Brian Trenchad-Smith (director of Turkey Shoot, The Man from Hong Kong) come out and give a talk after. The doco talked about the TBA tax era of Australian cinema and focused a lot on the horror and Ozploitation(I think the doco coined the term) films of the 70's and 80's. One of the films that was often criticised, or alluded to at least, was Picnic at Hanging Rock.

So I wanted to make a cheap film, I wanted it to have some gore and I wanted it to be like an Ozploitation flic and driving past Hanging Rock on the way to Castlemaine the idea came to me.

Picnic Rock

This blogs intent is to give cast, crew and fans an update on the film, Hanging at Picnic Rock, currently in production. HaPR is a short, horror, film being made with the Trasharama film festival in mind.

Have a look at them.