From here… where are we… September, I zoomed down to Melbourne to put the finishing touches on one of my scripts with wacky, longhaired director Tony Rogers. It was a bit of a writing highlight for me. Tony’s girlfriend generously loaned me her loft apartment in Collingwood and I spread out big time. Tony and I spent 5 days (and drank 18000 cups of coffee) working on the script. One of the best things we did was write out a beat outline on a ream of butcher’s paper rolled out along the floor. Every time a small disagreement arose, there were a few, we jumped to our feet and, arms across chest – hand on chins, referred to the ream. I’ve been working with Tony on and off for the last couple of years and I’m really looking forward to getting back together for the shooting draft next year.
I was extremely flattered when Ivan Engler contacted me again and offered me a co-writing gig on another feature. To be brutally honest, though, I did have a doubt or two. I like Ivan a lot. We’re about the same age, have similar tastes and I’m a fan of his first film, Cargo. Check it out if you haven’t seen it, you won’t be disappointed. But, (‘but’ is my least favourite word in the English language), but, Ivan and I are a hell of a long way away from one another geographically. The logistics of co-writing a script from opposite sides of the world worried me. And, there’s a small cultural thing too. Australians love to beat around the bush. That’s probably why I hate the word ‘but’ so much. “I love what you’ve done here. It’s really great. No, really… but…” Whereas the Swiss, as I’m learning, might say the same sentence like, “I don’t like this.” It’s refreshing, but it takes a bit of getting used to.
Anyhow, we’ve been writing for about a month now and I’m thrilled with the progress. It is really energising to work with a guy with such clear vision and is able to articulate it without a single bush being beaten. He is also able to listen to suggestions and feedback without interruption. This is new to me. Writers I’ve dealt with in the past always, always defend their work ferociously and leap to its defence before you’ve got anywhere near the first ‘but’. The first time I gave feedback to Ivan, I thought the Skype connection might have frozen. Honestly, I don’t think he blinked.
With the ten hour time difference it’s a damn good thing he’s a night owl and I like to work as the sun comes up. Our conversations often go on for hours and we’re becoming really good mates. At this early stage in the process, I’m going to venture that this promises to be the best story I’ve ever worked on and I feel privileged for the opportunity.
So there you have it – 2015 done and I’m living the dream. I wake up every morning knowing I’m going to spend the day doing what I love doing, and this year I’ve spent almost every day doing it with some of my favourite talented, innovative and wonderfully kooky friends.