You can watch HOPPER, the film that we made above.

Jump Into Film Making – HOPPER

A film made in Western Australia

It was Wednesday night, the 1st July, 2015 and I was in Northbridge at Cinema Paradiso with my wife, at the premiere of Sandy Bay. Sandy Bay was a pilot episode for a comedy series that Joel Gray and some other talented Perth filmmakers had produced. My role in the show was that of a council inspector who was threatening to close down the struggling surf club. It was a lot of fun.

After the premiere, I got chatting to Stuart Shepherd, a Perth filmmaker. Stuart had been the DOP on the Sandy Bay project, so I had met him a couple of times and also had a couple of skype/messenger chats with him. We were chatting about film making and I told him about a few of the scripts I had been busy writing. The following afternoon, on the Thursday, I received a call from Stuart. He was keen to direct and shoot a short film and he wanted to use one of my scripts, and he wanted me to act in it. But there was a catch. He only had Saturday free to do it!

“That’s in just two days”, I laughed.

But Stuart was serious, he wanted to film it in in just 2 days time! I knew it was a great opportunity, it’s not every day that a filmmaker of Stuart’s caliber offers to make a film with one of my scripts, with me as the lead role.

We decided that it would be good to make something that could be entered into Tropfest, and the “theme” or signature item from Tropfest 2015 was “CARD”. I didn’t have a script written that had the signature item “card” in it! Could we really pull this off at such short notice? Could I really write a script, find supporting actors, crew, location etc in about 48 hours?

I decided to dig up an old draft script that I had initially written for a student film (The Ralph Files), but which had ended up being modified so much that was almost unrecognizable. So I re-wrote the script, added in the”signature item” of a card (an SD card) and then sent it to Stuart the following day. He liked the script and I continued to make minor adjustments to it the following day (the day before shooting!).

I contacted a bunch of actor friends who I had worked with on previous projects (Amy McDowall, Bryan Chance, Neil Mackinnon) and by about 8:30 pm on the Friday night (the night before filming) we had all the actors locked in, ready for a shoot first thing in the morning. I sent them all the script and began stripping the junk room in my own house. I was up until midnight transforming our junk room into the set for our short film.

I was in charge of catering, so I got up early and made salad rolls and baked some muffins. Okay, I’m kidding about the homemade muffins. Everyone arrived early on the Saturday morning and helped to dress the walls in the room with newspaper clippings, as well as helping me board up the window in my laundry to help create a crazy man’s “derelict house” effect.

It was a crazy couple of days, a rushed production and we had virtually no time to learn any lines, but I am still pleased with the final outcome. Stuart turned up with all of his professional gear and even a smoke machine. The rest of the props were things that I had found around my home and a few things that I had grabbed from the shops the day before.

Again and again, the message that I am hearing from successful film makers is that there is never a perfect time to make a film.

You will never have everything just right, the right budget, A-list actors, a perfect script, the best equipment, a perfect set location. You might only have a few friends and a junk room. The best thing you can do is to JUMP IN AND DO IT! Start making films. You will learn along the way, make great connections and eventually some great films. What are you waiting for!?

Western Australian Film, Hopper

ABOVE: Junk Room Before

ABOVE: Junk Room After. To see the final room transformation, watch the below short film.

ABOVE: Heath John in Sandy Bay