Award winning Darwin film-maker Thomas Midena has spent the last three years at university in Melbourne. For the past six months he has been working on his final project to complete his studies – a short film – complete with cast, crew, production, post-production and crowd funding.
Thomas wrote and directed the film called Conductor of Earth, and after a stressful last few months, Thomas and I talked about the film…
What is Conductor of Earth about?
The elevator pitch for this film basically runs out of my brain and mouth like it’s second nature at this point. I have completely lost track of how many times I’ve said it and I’m so sick of it at this point, but here goes… ME: And yet I’m already exiting the elevator because you’re only starting it now. (Laughing) Okay, hop back in the elevator and we’ll go up another couple of floors. Conductor of Earth is a fantasy drama about an angel who travels back in time to try and prevent a murder from happening.
The very initial idea for it was – I wanted to tell one of those stories kinda inspired by fairy tales and fantasy stories, and shows like Doctor Who where they use something from ordinary everyday life and put a twist on it or add to it. Like tell a fantastic tale that could be true, there’s no way of disproving it. So that, and I wanted to do a story where “What if someone was charged with taking care of the Earth?” So that’s where the angel idea began and eventually in developing that and grounding the story, it became the fact that the angel is old and disillusioned and kinda fed-up with his job and how does he rediscover joy and happiness in his job.
How long have you spent working on Conductor of Earth? That includes when you came up with the idea to right now.
It has been about a year. I don’t have a date, but I was definitely working on the script in November 2015. So it was almost exactly a year ago that I started on it and at this point we’re still not done.
You’ve handed in a copy to be marked, so what are you still working on?
The copy that we submitted had a few little issues with it, like it was a good copy, a very solid draft. People who watch it for the first time probably wouldn’t notice any problems but there were things that we rushed at the end. Particularly some visual effects and colour grading, which we rushed at the end, but we’re going to improve them over the next couple of weeks.
What’s going to happen to the final film? Are you planning on showing it anywhere, posting it on YouTube?
First off, in December it will be screened in Melbourne for the first time at Swinburne Graduate Film Screenings, that will be the first opportunity (to see the film). Next all our Pozible backers will get to see it and then we’re entering it into festivals, whatever film festivals we can find and see how that goes. And finally, yes, I am very keen to just have it really accessible on the internet somewhere. I’d love to just slap it up on YouTube so anyone can see, as soon as possible.
I noticed you mentioned that “we’re hoping to get it up” and “we’re entering it in festivals”, so how many people were involved in this project?
It is interesting that you point out that’s the way I say it. I hadn’t noticed that, but now that you mention it, I notice I’ve used the ‘we’ with this project for months. There’s been a lot of people, you’ll see our long credits in the actual film when you see it. Basically, we have five main team members, or heads of department as I call them. We had a cast of five, we had a couple of extras, in all around twenty on-set crew, about fifty Pozible crowdfunding supporters, and a few other people who helped along the way. So, hundreds if you do the math. Hundreds. Don’t do the math.
During this project, did you find it easy or hard to work with others?
Mostly very easy. I think I was very lucky to find the cast and crew that I had who were very keen and upbeat and professional, also skilled at what they do, but I care less about that than just being friendly and having fun, which they did. Of course there were some stressful times where we got a bit annoyed at each other, but you’ve gotta have that. No massive dramas though.
What is your favourite part of Conductor of Earth?
First of all, how dare you ask me that question! Because I like very many things about this production, Conductor of Earth. So you watch your mouth! If I had to name one thing it would actually be the music, which is original, an original score. Earlier this year I stumbled across the YouTube channel of a young composer in England called Thomas Field and I liked his YouTube videos a lot. He just talked about music and Doctor Who, so I knew we had some things in common, we liked similar music, shared tastes. So I asked if he would compose for Conductor of Earth and he agreed. His original score for Conductor of Earth is big and bold and thematic and just what I dreamed of.
Does it sound similar to Doctor Who?
It most definitely I would say has a lot of flavours of Doctor Who. It also sounds like Broadchurch and The Sims.
Are we going to be able to listen to this soundtrack?
I hope to get it online as soon as possible. I hope this year sometime and our Pozible crowdfunding supporters will get it too.
Have you got any random or interesting stories about the filming?
There’s one or two little things that I can’t say and won’t say until I’ve officially graduated from university. And so for cool stories, unfortunately, most of the shooting and production went really smoothly. I was very sick during the actual shoot. I had an ear infection, an eardrum burst a few days before (shooting). So I couldn’t hear out of my right ear at all. So on the first day of the shoot we were about to go for the first take and that’s when I realised I couldn’t hear all the crew calls, so I didn’t know when to call action. Didn’t know when everyone was ready. So, after that I just asked my wonderful assistant director Cameron Boscoe to call action himself. So, I didn’t call action on set for most of the shoot. So, I felt like a pretty chill director.
Conductor of Earth’s first screening will be on the 12th of December (Unfortunately this screening isn’t open to the public). By early next year the Pozible crowdfunding supporters will get to watch the film. The film’s soundtrack will also be provided to the Pozible supporters and available to hear online. To find out more about Conductor of Earth you can follow the film’s page on facebook, or look at the page on IMDb.