Film Making


A (Very) Brief History of the Bushranger 'Ned Kelly' and the 'Kelly Gang' PRODUCTION NOTES

This is what I wrote when I first submitted this film to the Brickfilms Historical Fiction Contest

The Concept:
Tell the story of the famous (to australians) bushranger 'Ned Kelly' and his gang. I didn't just want to tell the story of ned, I wanted to show how australian culture represents him, this is because as much as he was a very nasty criminal he is still a famous part of the history of australia. A famous australian artist, Sidney Nolan, has painted many stylised pictures of ned kelly telling his story (known in australia for his unique way of representing the helmet as a black box with a rectangular hole in it, sometimes containing eyes, sometimes completely open).

My idea was to present the experience of going to an australian gallery to look at these pictures (thus experiencing an artistic representation of who ned is). But at the same time experiencing an old film giving more details about his life.

What better way to do this than have a theatrette in the gallery and cut between people watching the film and a person looking at the actual paintings at the same time?

In addition, one of the first full length feature films in the world (some historians claim it to be THE first) is a black and white australia film about ned kelly.

So i combined all of these ideas into one film: Selected actual Sidney Nolan paintings, a documentary type old film (based loosly on the idea that one of the first full length films ever made was about ned kelly) and an art gallery experience.

I took it a little further by editing the cuts between gallery and film so that the painting progression matched what was happening in the theatrette AND used the scenes in the paintings as inspiration for some of scenes in the film, trying to mimic the style and construction.

Unfortunately I got very hard on myself and decided that as old film doesn't have sound (just a pianola playing along) and that older film wasn't as good at capturing motion I should make an effort to make actions of the minifigs in the film exagerrated and fast while trying (i say trying) to make the animation in the gallery, especially of the guy wandering around, much smoother to point out the difference between the modern and the old film making techniques.

The Film:
With all of my ideas in mind I think I did ok. Some of the animation in the 'film' is a bit too quick, but I was really happy with the overall look of the old film, including the special effects and text dialogue and descriptions.

I was really happy with the movement of the guy in the gallery, but some of the camera pans were way to jerky for my liking. As it turned out, I was too far into postproduction with the deadline approaching to consider re-filming, and then too scared to risk it being late (until of course the offical extension was announced...oh well).

I really feel the chromakeying of the film onto the projection screen in the theatrette turned out extremely well.

Such a big thing to me. It took ages for me to find appropriate music, and even then I would have liked more exciting stuff during the Glenrowan part of the film. I spent ages matching the footsteps in the gallery and that seemed to turn out very well. I felt it was important to have the sound during the old film louder while it filled the screen but softer and overshadowed by the sound of the projector when you could see the theatrette, i was happy with that.

The decisions to add the 'ghosts' was a late one, but very satisfying, I really felt it brought the past into the present in a way not possible in other parts of the film. (Film Fact: Notice how ned kelly, the all black fig, is directly in front of the most famous painting of him...)

I had wanted to do them in NK2020 but I ran out of time. I had intended to do a few with the gang falling off horses etc, but as the hanging in the film turned out so well i decided to focus on that. Definately fun to film!

In conclusion:
A very satisfying experience for a new film maker...

I'm pretty happy with this film! The only thing I'd change if I wanted to re-edit is to slow the frame-rate down a little. Sometimes the action is really too fast. But all in all I'm still very happy with this one!

I can still remember getting up early in the morning to check on the results and discovering that I'd been awarded best film, I was so excited. To be up against so many other quality entries (Especially Kerouac, a film that to this day is still a huge inspiration to my film-making) I honestly thought I had no real chance, especially as I was so new to stop motion animation!!

Want to know more about Ned Kelly?
Check out these links:

Want to contact me?

Nick Maniatis at h26fsok001@sneakemail.com
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