The series offers a different experience to the original feature film, largely thanks to the scenes I had to cut out and re-arrange, and the vastly different musical score written specifically for the series. I was also able to enhance the original dialogue and sound-effects tracks thanks to the far superior sound-editing software I have now compared to when I originally made the film. I am pleased with how it turned out, and also that there is now a version of the film better suited for viewing on the internet.
The mini-series aside, the making of the original feature film back in 2001-2 was a great experience, and was by far the largest logistical undertaking I had ever embarked on. Production lasted for three months, and was achieved largely in everyone’s spare time. Multiple locations were required, scenes with numerous cast and extras were called for, and I dabbled for the first, and at present, only time with product placement, which was crucial in securing not only support for the production but also with its marketing later on.
My production team did wonders in helping me bring the film to fruition. Stephan Kern provided much valuable technical and creative support. Mara Warner (my mum!) provided some much needed financial and crew support, while Michael Clarkin brought his saavy marketing and commercial skills to promote the film in ways that really brought a lot of attention from the wider public and media to our ‘little’ film. Andreas Heuer, Pablo Muslera and Christopher Chalubek were invaluable to the process as the assistant directors, with Chris also filming behind the scenes videos of the production.
The casting sessions were quite a challenge. Aside from Andy Cienciala (who played Russell), whom I had worked with on a previous film, the cast for this film were selected from those sessions. We saw hundreds of actors in Adelaide over two weeks, and despite the marathon nature of it, we did attract a lot of attention in the city when people saw the queue of actors lining up around the block waiting to be seen. I appreciated their patience and their time, as well as everyone who helped that day. In the end, we ended up with a great, dedicated cast who contributed quite a lot to the overall production.
Given the scale of the production, it was important to keep myself focused on what I intended to do with this story, and it could be overwhelming at times. Some big scenes that I can remember include the Bar Scene shoot at PJ O’Brien’s Irish Bar on East Terrace in Adelaide, and the Library Scene at the University of Adelaide. It felt like a bigger film on those days, which was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Both scenes required many extras, cast and crew to co-ordinate, and in the case of the bar scene, product placement. I remember Michael leaning over my shoulder at one point when there was only one hour left of shooting and said, “don’t forget to get the product placement shots!”. In my mad dash to get those shots I missed out on one placement, but I ended up putting it in afterwards via some CG work in post. Unfortunately, the library scene was cut entirely from the series version, and the bar scene was cut down to about a third of its original length in order to fit in to the new structure of the series.
Other days allowed for opportunities for creating some grand visuals. The sequences shot at Mount Crawford forest were amongst my favourite days; the location was so spectacular on a visual level that I literally could not point the camera in any direction to get a bad shot. The filming of Carla’s dream sequence was another personal favourite. It was the first day of shooting and the setups really set the tone for the production, and everyone involved started to get a good feel for what I was going for. The use of light and shadows in that sequence was exciting to construct, and was a significant step forward in visual composition over my previous films.
The World Premiere of Guardian was like nothing I had experienced before. After working for five months with Michael on gathering momentum and hype for the launch, the film was screened over two nights to packed houses, with around a thousand people coming to see it overall. The first night was the official World Premiere with invitees from the media, government, private industry and other dignitaries. I remember drinking three litres of water (generously supplied by the cinema) just prior to the screening as I saw the hundreds of people walk in to the cinema to see my film to try and calm my nerves. It turned out I didn’t have anything to worry about, and the second screening the following night turned out to be a real pleasure, as members of the general public came to see the film.
After the second screening, I was approached by a member of the local film industry who tried to grill me in an intimidating way about how I approached making the film, which was quite amusing to say the least given how much I disagreed with him. I forget his name, but he did have the good grace to appreciate what I was trying to do. The incident reminded me of the appropriate way of dealing with people in this ego-driven industry; make sure you keep your political skills as sharp as possible!
Guardian was the last film I made in Adelaide before Digicosm moved to Melbourne in 2004. It was a fascinating experience, from which I learnt a lot. I probably would not make this type of film in the same way again if I had the chance, but it turned out as good as I could have hoped back then. It was a trip well worth taking!
Watch the trailer for GUARDIAN: THE SERIES.
Watch the first of seven episodes of GUARDIAN: THE SERIES.
Click here to visit the official web site for GUARDIAN: THE SERIES.