What is better than randomness from me?
Randomness from someone else! And tonight that someone else is my best friend and a huge influence on my life, Thomas Midena. Thomas is a film maker, and a very good one, but be warned, he is almost as random as me…
How long have you been making films?
Probably since about 2004/05. That’d make it a decade now! Feels shorter. I guess early on I wasn’t really aware that I was making films, I was just having fun.
Were these early films scripted?
No, they began very improvisational. One of the earliest ones I remember making simply shows me walking up to a plastic toy frog and looking scared. Another time I decided I wanted to make a zombie film, so I jumped in a car with friends and pointed the camera at them as they improvised the whole thing. There was no planning at all back then.
Back then there was a website to feature all these films. It was called LCM Film. The website is gone, but the videos still exist. Here is ‘The Zombie’, which stars someone you might know……
What was your favourite LCM Film?
Oh tough question! I’m super fond of stuff like ‘Toy Killer’ and ‘Darkness Blazer’ (no idea how and why I came up with that bizarre title). But one I’ll never forget is ‘Heerlo’, which had a sequel but the original was always best. It has so many weird and ridiculous ideas in it that I have no idea how we came up with back then. It’s the ultimate zero-budget short fantasy action film made by kids in an hour.
Here’s ‘Toy Killer’, a favourite of mine……
Why all the short vlogs?
I’ve found it’s a fairly easy and enjoyable way of quickly making and sharing some smaller ideas I have, when I don’t feel like fleshing them out into something larger like a short film. It’s also a format that requires literally only myself and a camera – so it’s easy to experiment and just try to make something I’m unsure about. Over the past couple of years there have been maybe half a dozen vlog-type videos I’ve made and haven’t shared because they didn’t turn out how I’d imagined.
Here’s one of my favourite vlogs. It’s called ‘A Saddle’ and it inspired my post ‘Does this scare you?’
You’ve done quite a few films with Nat Kelly, how did that start?
Well I had already known of him for a while. Nat gets around, I think he’s pretty much as close to a celebrity as Darwin can get. I’d enjoyed his videos on YouTube. When I started putting together plans for ‘Intelligence’ I knew I’d need some keen assistance in producing it, so I got in contact with Nat. I expected him to be tentative or freaked out or in some way uninterested. Flatteringly though, he turned out to be as much a fan of my videos as I was of his, and he was incredibly keen to get involved. Since then I’ve relied on his assistance in almost all of my filming projects – recently crediting him as Director and Co-Director in a couple.
Here’s ‘Old Man Charles’, by Nat Kelly and staring Thomas……
What are you currently doing at Swinbourne? What does that involve?
I’ve just finished my first year of a three year Bachelor of Film and Television. It’s a pretty broad filmmaking course which has a bit of everything – critical research, creative writing, practical camerawork and everything in between. This makes it pretty ideal for someone like me who hasn’t decided on a specific area of filmmaking, and instead wants to try a bit of everything. So far I’ve found it quickly becomes clear the things I do NOT want to do. Documentaries are not my area and I loathe pitching.
What do you prefer doing: acting, writing, directing, producing or editing?
Impossible to choose a favourite at the moment, but I can definitely divide them into categories. Enjoy: acting, writing, directing, editing. Dislike: producing. Very much. Seriously. The thought of filling in production documents makes me need to breathe into a bag.
Thomas recently made ‘Intelligence’, a short web series that I helped with. Here is the first of three episodes, Thomas gives us his thoughts….
Remembering ‘Intelligence’ is like remembering that you climbed Mount Everest with one hand. Not that I can relate to remembering such a thing. But ‘Intelligence’ was a big, difficult, 60-minute long three-part webseries that I only attempted because of ignorance. We created it over only a couple of months, including some crazy shoots. For student films if you shoot about 30 seconds worth of a film in an hour you’re doing well. On ‘Intelligence’ there were times when we must’ve shot close to 10 minutes worth of scenes in one hour. We charged through. But anyway, it’s done now, and it’s a nice and very strange little series about terrible secret agents protecting Darwin against some riffraff.
Another recent film, ‘One Of Us Like To Eat People, So What’, Thomas gives us his thoughts…..
One Of Us is definitely one of, if not my favourite film that I’ve made. It’s got one of the most intricate scripts, with a diverse cast of characters who are all connected in some way. It’s dense enough that even I still discover new things when I watch it. It was also done entirely by myself (excluding some explosion effects by Nat Kelly). This meant pointing the camera at myself and a lot of difficult costume changes as I try to get two characters in the same shot before the light changes. I’m also pretty pleased with how my unorthodox approaches to heavy issues like cancer, cannibalism and the end of the world ended up being depicted. It’s a film about the end of everything but also about a guy who sits on a chair every day.
Fist Full of Films (FFoF) is a short film competition for Territory filmmakers held each year. Last year Thomas won ‘Best Actor’ for his entries.
How many films do you have in FFoF this year?
I had quite a few short films recently completed and ready to go in time for FFoF entry this year. I’m very excited to have a total of 4 accepted and screening on the final awards night.
What are they about?
There’s a short fantasy animation about a village of people who are trying to get to the moon. Then there’s ‘Serendipity’, which is already online actually, about an almost-romantic encounter. ‘Case: Fluff’ is a pretty big murder mystery which could be thought of as a spiritual successor to ‘Intelligence’. Finally there’s ‘Marco’, a horror film about a blind monster.
Here’s the teaser for ‘Case: Fluff’…..
And a teaser for ‘Marco’…..
Do you think you’ll win?
I decline to answer on the grounds that I may jinx myself.