Click on the "Film Diary" link at the top of the
homepage for the latest updates about the making of Blokes. Often the
fun lies not in the destination, but the journey getting there - so this
blog is designed to help our cast, crew, sponsors and supporters share
in the "Blokes" journey.
"Blokes" plots a fictional journey of three North Queensland men into the wilds of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Crack open a stubbie and join us in a pull-no-punches exploration of Nudge, Two-Bags and Magic's politically incorrect psyches.
Independent Australian bands and musicians are contributing songs for the "Blokes" soundtrack. We are aiming for a fully home-grown soundtrack to compliment this truly Oz movie experience. Enquiries by like-minded bands and musicians are more than welcome. A full list of contributors and links to their websites will be published here at the close of post-production. A big thanks to those who have already mailed us music tracks for consideration in the final cut.
In 2002 Heartlink Films filmed and edited a tongue-in-cheek documentary entitled "Gulf 2002" about the adventures of eight Australian blokes who embark on a 2000 kilometre fishing trip into the wilds of Far North Queensland.
That experience provided the inspiration for us to make our first independent feature-length film,
a fictional comedy entitled "Blokes". The following production diary by writer-director Adrian Van Rossum charts the progress of the project to date. Enjoy.
2013 - April 5: Today I'd like to talk about 'unworthy'
films. Don't get me wrong, by 'unworthy' I don't mean films not
worth watching, but the films about unworthy characters which are
often deemed 'unworthy' for awards, film-festivals or ratings
success. Aussie screenwriter, director and actor Brendan Cowell ('Beneath
Hill 60') verbalized this concept well in the documentary
'Into The Shadows' when, in lamenting the Australian film
industry, he says - "I think we’ve got to make some really unworthy
Australian tales, some politically incorrect, unworthy tales with
After a year of submitting 'Blokes' to
film-festivals I have come realize that 'unworthy' need not mean
'unwanted'. And let's face it, it's nice to feel wanted. I wondered if we had gone too far portraying the
politically incorrect characters in 'Blokes' .
Then it dawned on me that we had made a movie that 'someone' wants
to see - a film about flawed blokes, complete with inglorious chinks
missing from their emotional armour, trying to make sense of their
place in the world. No guns blazing, no drug-deals, no oil-refinery
scale explosions sparked by a miraculous gunshot to a car fuel-tank,
no extortion-plots, no uber-cool dudes flanked by blonde bombshells
getting hummers in Hummers. Just a few working-class blokes trying
to navigate the Gordian Knots that are their minds and increasingly
domesticated, dictated lives. Mr Cowell, I think a sometimes unwanted and unloved 'Blokes' is for you.
2011 - June 18: Today's
entry is less of an update and more of a homage to the people and
films that inspired 'Blokes', including filmmaker Kevin Smith and
his seminal indie film 'Clerks'. The 1994 film and Sundance Film
Festival award winner epitomizes the spirit behind getting indie
films like 'Blokes' across the production finish-line. Smith
originally shot 'Clerks' with some friends, a convenience store and
a modest $27,575 budget. It spoke to a generation
hungry for frank, witty dialogue they could actually relate to (and
be shocked by to boot). His honest, grounded take on filmmaking cuts
through much of the Hollywood BS - so much so I have re-posted one
of his video-interviews for your viewing pleasure.
It is a sad fact there are nay-sayers when it comes
to making movies. There's always going to be a few wet-blankets
telling you you're wasting your time and money. If I had listened to
them, I wouldn't have bothered putting pen-to-paper to flesh out the
first draft of 'Blokes' - it would have been much easier to just go
to the pub and piss my ambitions up against a wall. So it is with
immense satisfaction that I now find myself working on the final
score for 'Blokes' and preparing it for film-festivals. Thankyou to
all the dry-blankets who helped turn this dream into a reality :)
"Our truest life
is when we are in dreams awake."
Henry David Thoreau
2011 - March 22: Well,
Cyclone Yasi didn't blow away all the 'Blokes' footage or the edit
suite and if you exclude the score, the movie's done! There's still some music legals to
sort out and a trailer to cut, but we have a 90 minute feature film
in our hot little hands. Talk about an exciting, tumultuous and
challenging four years.
For the past few months I've been trawling through
the footage all over again to isolate all the bloopers to insert
amid the end credits. It was a blast revisiting the proverbial
'cutting room-floor' to string together a whole new bunch of laughs
and bawdy outtake shenanigans. Never know, they may find their way
into a 'Bonus' section of the DVD release someday.
The master bloopers reel is 30 minutes long, but
it's packed with so much colourful vocabulary and inappropriate
alpha-male behaviour, it's not suitable for posting here on a public
blog that kids may chance upon. Instead, we did a censored bloopers
edit for uploading to the 'Tube of You'. The 'G'-Rated outtakes
video that you can watch on the left came in at just over five
minutes long - which means 25 minutes of the really 'juicy stuff' is
for mature audiences only. Then again, what passes for mature
nowadays? Enjoy ...
Long awaited R&R at Cape Upstart - go the Zook !
2010 - September 4: With
slithers of ash falling from the sky, a crew from Just 4WD and NQ
Crash in Cairns recently transcended upon the Burdekin sugarbelt for
some well-earned R&R - and just as I finished the rough-cut of
the film. Thankfully the panorama of ashy black gliders was not a
realization of the petro-apocalypse portrayed in George Miller’s
iconic 'Mad Max’, but rather 'Burdekin Snow' - a
product of the region’s canefires and beacon of the cane
harvesting season and sickly-sweet sugar dollars that course through the
veins of the North Queensland economy.
Burdekin vacation, the Cairns sponsors and a few miscreants from the
film crew spent seven days at a tranquil beach hut at Cape Upstart
south of Home Hill. The 'Cape' is arguably one of the district’s
worst kept secrets among locals, but an undiscovered gem to many
‘Mexicans’ (as southern folk are dubbed by the local hombre).
Undiscovered thanks to the fact it’s accessible only by boat rather
than road. Yes that’s right, no road, so not a caravan in sight.
Launching from the
Molongle Creek boat ramp and scooting north-east for 30 minutes takes one
to idyllic bays festooned with leasehold and freehold beach huts and
houses, most equipped with power, septic tanks (the sewerage type,
not American tourists), rain-water tanks and in this case, eight
beds and enough beer and food to placate Townsville’s 1-RAR and a
herd of Tibetan yak.
Seven days of
fishing, crabbing and general alpha-male shenanigans ensued with the
unanimous consensus ‘this is the life!’. Thanks to the Viero family
for letting us sample their slice of paradise yet again. Like a
ringer at an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, we’ll be back
for seconds! An added bonus of the vacation was an advanced
sponsors’ screening of the film's rough-cut, thanks to a projector
and screen choppered in from our contacts on the mainland.
I'll confess I was pretty nervous showing the film to our backers,
but they had a few laughs and reckon it’s a film that should strike
a chord with most blokes, provided they have a pulse and shun
metro-sexual doctrine with fervor. Whether
that means blokes should leave the handbrake at home when they see
the film, I’m not sure, but I hope sheilas get the gags as well and
hang about for the ending.
All agreed some of
the jokes were off like a new bride's nightie, but the intent
was always to fight-back against political-correctness gone mad - and
I think we’ve done it with a smidge more aplomb than than a drunken NRL football team out on ladies night. Let's face it - 10 years ago
if you’d said a comedy about a plumber and toilets would become one
of Australia’s highest grossing comedies of all time, you would have
been laughed at and poked in the eye with a swizzle-stick, but look
what happened with 'Kenny'.
It would be great
if we could pull-off the same lightning-in-a-bottle stuff as
'The Castle', 'Clerks' and 'Kenny'. In the meantime we’ll work on
emptying a few more bottles, and I’m sure the upcoming wet season
will provide the lightning! But first, there's a bloopers reel and
trailer to cut while we get the Brasso out and polish up this
cinematic concubine of three years. By then we might even have a
2009 - December 3:
Cutting, cutting, cutting. Hunkered-down in the editing suite for long days and
watching the puzzle pieces of footage, music, titles and effects finally fall
into place. Feels surreal actually, but enjoyable all the same. We have 10 of 32
scenes rough-cut and have been running some of the early edits by cast and crew
for feedback. Months of tweaking ahead, but we enjoy the luxury of not
being bound by a hard and fast release date.
Took a break from the liquid-crystal glow of the computer
monitors at the weekend to record Nudge's .... sorry, Ron's ode to Barack Obama
and blast it out into the nether regions of cyberspace. A dusty old
tractor in a dusty old shed on a dusty old Burdekin canefarm made the perfect
backdrop. Think the rustic charm of John Cougar Mellancamp merged with the
refinement of that silver-haired mongoose, Michael Parkinson.
Hear that ? Yes, it is the hark of the film editing equipment
which adorns the inner sanctum of the "Blokes" Bunker. Alas,I must disappear
into the edit suite's electronic aura for another few weeks. Catch you in
the New Year.
Ron Odgers and his ode to the new
Off the beaten track .... and on the set of "Blokes"
September 30: Just one more scene to
shoot and we've wrapped principal cinematography on "Blokes". Eight
weeks of filming in the Burdekin, Ravenswood, Cairns, Cooktown and
most places on the coast road in-between leaves us with more than 30
hours of footage to sift through over the next six months of
post-production. We've added a 'Galleries' section to the website to
give everyone following the project an insight into the experience,
with both footage screenshots and behind-the-scenes photos. Many of
the 'making-of' shots were snapped by our on-set photographer Rob
Bagnall who went above and beyond the call of duty each and every
Personally, long shooting days and
stunning locations made shooting "Blokes' enjoyable hard work, if
there can be such a thing. Cast and crew take with them memories for
life - from Ron and Rick entertaining the Thursday night crowd at
the Imperial Hotel in Ravenswood with their singing, to Robert's
specially modified 'cane-cutter' singlet, which he wore without
notice for maximum shock value. And who could forget Nudge using the
diesel black off the truck exhaust pipes to top-up his make-up.
The main hiccup on the shoot was that
the fish were not biting in Cooktown, so we had to spend some extra
days on the water at 'secret spots' to get shots of the guys landing
some big barramundi. The actors already have a few fans and
followers with people asking for autographs when we were shooting in
Cooktown - one sight of the Red digital cinema camera and people
assumed we were Hollywood, so we explained we were more the
'Ravenswood' of the film world with a smaller budget, but hopefully
Now we have to record Nudge's voiceover. That will be the production
arm's last big blast before hiding away in the edit suite for months
on end with a bottomless cup of coffee. I set out to show moviegoers
the memories of North Queensland that were on replay in my mind
while living overseas, and so far I'm chuffed with the imagery we've
captured so far. If some of the screenshots from the film don't make
North Queensland enticing to travelers, I don't know what will.
2009 - April 10: Things
are baking nicely in the "Blokes" campoven. Our actors have
the final version of the script in hand and have started running
lines and developing their on-screen personas. Rick put in a request
for his own trailer on set, so we told him he'd be lucky to get a
boat trailer! With the wet-season over, Robert's managed to
get back out on the canefarm by day and by night Ron's blowing the
dust off the guitar and amplifier for a return to the live music
scene. Who knows, might be the 'Blokes' theme-song in the making?
In other news we've been compiling a "Blokes"
workflow whitepaper as a result of months of camera and software
testing. They say when you're on the bleeding edge of technology,
you've got to bleed a little so we are recording all our
findings to make life on-set as smooth as possible. The whitepaper
is now 38 pages and growing. Well worth it to show you
North Queensland's 'top-end' in all its glory.
Nudge (from left), Magic and
Two-Bags take a break from
running lines to blow the froth off a stubbie or three.
The blokes who will star in "Blokes"
2008 - November
12:Struth! After more
than two-months of reviewing the audition tapes, international phonecalls and e-mailing scripts, Two Burdekin canefarmers and an
Ayr miner have landed the three lead roles in "Blokes".
Miner and country singing identity Ron Odgers will play the role of
Nudge, with canefarmers Rick Romeo and Robert Zandonadi accepting
the parts of Magic and Two-Bags respectively.
Choosing the three actors from a wide range of
contenders was the hardest part of the movie-making process to so
far. I just wish I had a part for everybody who auditioned, but with
just three blokes in the film this unfortunately was not an option. I
reckon we have the right "Blokes" mix with Ron Odgers playing our
narrator and family-man Nudge, Robert Zandonadi bringing his
Burdekin Singers stage experience to our mild-mannered Two-Bags,
with Rick Romeo exaggerating his ‘Rat-Pack’ crooner charms to bring
our lothario Magic to life.
The consensus among the 'Three R's'
seemed to be ‘How often does a chance like this come along?’ and
we're glad they have accepted the thespian challenge with
gusto. Robert Zandonadi brings years of theatre restaurant and
Burdekin Singers experience to the table, with Ron Odgers joining us
fresh from his time as an extra on the set of Baz Luhrmann's
"Australia". If you are not familiar with Ron's Burdekin blend of
country music, you can pick up his albums "Sittin' Sippin' Fishin'"
and "This Land Is Not For Sale".
A fellow crooner who is no stranger to the
limelight is Rick Romeo, who will draw experience from on-stage
acting exploits which include "Les
and "The Full Monty" to name a few. As if he was not busy
enough with growing sugarcane and treading the boards, Rick is a
member of the singing trio
With filming in 2009 and post-production in 2010-2011, our
announcement of actors represents a mid-point milestone for the
four-year production. All aboard the "Blokes" Express!
2008 - August 30: The last
month was huge in the making of "Blokes" with several major
milestones crossed on the road to making a feature film. We held
auditions with actors keen to play either "Nudge","Two-Bags"
and "Magic" in our bawdy boys adventure. Actors
were thrown into the 'Suzuki' hot-seat and asked to deliver their
lines while driving a 4x4 down a bumpy, dusty Burdekin canefarm
headland and the Bohle motorbike tracks in Townsville. All the
while I filmed applicants from the passenger seat to produce a swag
of audition tapes to review as we shortlist the final three.
While auditions took the whole month of August, avoiding the
traditional "cattle call" style audition meant I could meet the
applicants one-on-one and this made the whole process far more
personal. The multi-tasking (driving, delivering lines and not
crashing!) proved a challenge and the candidates made a good
fist of it. Emails from people asking for auditions kept rolling in
thanks to excellent local media coverage, particularly by the Ayr
Advocate and a live radio interview on the Burdekin's Sweet-FM.
Amid scouting film locations and talks with film sponsors and
soundtrack musicians, our new Red One Ultra-HD camera arrived from
America and we now have a full year to do screen tests and decide
our post-production (editing) workflow. The Red One camera has been
embraced by Hollywood, so much so it was used to film the new
Nicholas Cage blockbuster "Knowing" to be released in cinemas
'Realm' writer- director Dean Robinson on set with
'Natasha', one of film's key characters.
2008 - March 23: With the
script almost locked down, the search for our three
central characters of "Nudge","Two-Bags" and "Magic" has begun.
Casting for 'Blokes' will begin in Townsville in August, 2008. A
casting call advertisement will be placed in the Townsville
Bulletin and Ayr Advocate asking interested actors to visit this
website for further information and to contact us to arrange a
suitable 'audition' slot.
The quest for 'home-grown' music for the soundtrack has begun
with former Townsvillian Dean Robinson hooking us up with
contacts in and around Brisbane. Dean directed his own
independent film 'Realm' which was shot in the Townsville area
over four years and appreciates the trials and tribulations of
making an independent feature-length film.
2007 - December 21:
What a journey it's been so far. More than a year after coming up with with this crazy idea I now have an initial draft of the "Blokes" film script and have started farming it out to friends, family and industry insiders for feedback before I make the necessary changes.
My move to Ipswich, Suffolk in the United Kingdom, and the four months spent touring Europe by car, have helped distinguish all the male Aussie mannerisms
begging to be put under the magnifying glass of cinema. The
result is a fictional, politically-incorrect comedy exploring
the psyche of three North Queensland blokes as they journey into
the wilds of Cape York.
My challenge for 2008 is to find
three suitable actors from the Ayr, Burdekin and Townsville
regions to fill the three main roles of Nudge, Magic and
Two-Bags. It's a big ask - blue-collar blokes who can learn
lines and act convincingly, and who can take a month break from
their work and families to realize this dream. Filming is
scheduled for 2009 with post production slated for
"Blokes" will be filmed on the new Red One 4K camera that records at almost six-times the resolution of High Definition (HD), but at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. Ocean's Eleven and Traffic Director, Steven Soderburgh,
filmed his two recent movies "Guerrilla" and "The Argentine" on the Red One.
The advice I've gleaned from the writings of known scriptwriters is "write what you know". I don't know much about law, medicine or engineering, but I know a few Aussie blokes and downright larrikins - so here goes .....