Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Here's some supporting art that I did for the movie.
As I mentioned, Ione, (Phase's wife) draws a comic book script based on his adventures. The irony is that the one thing that allows her to contribute to the family financially is encouraging the one thing that's tearing it apart: his superhero adventures.
This is one of the panels that I hammered out for it. We see Ione lining the kitty litter bin with it. It's a minimalist and bold style reflecting her personality. But let me be contentious here for a minute.
Is there a particular style that you can attribute to female artists? Is there a style embodied by male artists? I believe that at the extreme ends of the spectrum there is. Most good, solid, non-genre artists are beyond gender. I would also argue that some are defined by their gender, and some are brilliant because they are androgynous (James Jean comes to mind).
While I don't consider my artwork to have a gender, I was consciously trying to shift my artwork towards the more stereotypically "female" end of the spectrum. I was trying to embody Ione and her lines from what I knew of the character. What that means, I'm not so sure.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A break from Phase.
We will come back to it. There's still some artwork that I specifically did for the movie.
So this is Tyrell. The huge, big black Michael Clark-Duncan sorta dude. He's a specialist miner along with Sonny McCann. One of the funny things that I did was that each member of the team has a patch with their symbol on it. The general has a star, Atom has an atom symbol mixed with an A, Sonny has a smiling sun. For Tyrell, I did some research and found the Tyrell symbol from Bladerunner. No one will get it except for me... and now you.
Sorry I've been so AWOL. Been working on INNOCENTS doing art direction. The deadline is super-tight and Bing (the penciller) is doing a stunning job. Been plugging away on ZERO G, but stuck on page 13. So tired...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
So Jay looks the huge green screen up and down and looks over at his nervous fiance. Gripping the crowbar tight he turns back to me and says, "So where do you want me to hit you?"
"Right on my back. Repeatedly. But up here." I gestured to where the makeup of the injury had been applied back on the shoot (continuity points for Jas!).
Jay and I knew each other so well we could throw full powered punches at each other, swing objects at each other and throw each other into walls repeatedly with only small, minor (but irritating) wear and tear injuries. My knees hurt (despite the kneepads) from falling to them after being hit. Jay had a huge bruise from where he kept collecting the wall. My palm was raw red and aching from hitting the ground. A large red welt had appeared under Jay's armpit from where his coat had dug into him from where I was grabbing him.
But it was hella fun.
Jay and Alica (his fiance - generously playing the victim) were awesome. They had to improvise a make-shift dialogue, and learn a fight scene, and where to fall and land within minutes and shoot it again and again for hours. Jay had done very little acting and Sky was totally impressed. What should have taken two days took about 4 hours.
As I said, there was a twist to the fight. I'm telling you this cos this is the last page of the comic. So Phase hears the commotion and sees a man standing over a fallen woman. The man leans forward aggressively. Phase intervenes. After Phase has disposed of the man, by catching his arm and then punching him out, he turns towards the woman who rushes to the man's aid crying, "Oh my god! John! What have you done to my husband?!"
This was my cute idea that nothing in the world is as simple as it is in comics. What appears to be a mugging is nothing more than a couple walking home and arguing. She falls over and he chides here, then Phase mistakenly intervenes.
NEXT: PHASE: More story! More artwork.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
So as you can see there's a fight scene.
I was going to talk about this earlier, but I forgot. Hey, it's not like I pay attention to what I'm saying.
Anyway, we needed a guy and a girl.
The script said that Phase hears a commotion (look at the lighting from John our DOP on panel 4 of page 6!) and teleports outside and intervenes. I will tell you the twist next post.
I've done a little bit of stunt work in the past. Those of you intrepid enough might know or be able to find out which dodgy film. I had also done a fair bit of martial arts choreography in live shows and productions for competition and charity. Sky told me we only had 3 or 4 hours to shoot this fight scene. Also, he couldn't guarantee any rehearsal time. So I knew when I needed someone to work fast, I needed someone who knew martial arts, could act and knew how to handle themselves and knew me well.
I found that person in my business partner Jay George. Here's one of the funny thing about stunt, so much of it is about trust. It has very little to do with how well you trust them with your girlfriend, your money or your reputation. It's all to do with how much you trust them with your body. It's funny, I know incredible stuntmen that I wouldn't trust with any of the first three, but know they would kill themselves to make sure I was safe. Anyway, I trust Jay (and Tim, my other business partner) more than anyone I'm not directly related to.
But as Tyler says, "How can you truly know yourself if you've never been in a fight?"
So I finally hit the set. It was a totally professional production with a crew of about 20 people. The director of photography was a guy who had done a commercial for my gym a while back. He was good. Really good. People ran about, to and fro. It was totally full on.
Sky had been really smart about organising me. It was a four day shoot. On the first day I had one scene and an off-screen voice conversation. The scene on page 1 where I find the letter, read it, then have an angry moment then head off to work. The last thing I had to do was play the other side of a phone conversation with Phillipa (Nicole Nabout). I spent the rest of the day running around the set helping people, holding lights and grabbing stuff. It's the stuff I do when I don't have to do anything. I won't just stand around like window dressing. If I'm there I'm going to do what I have to in order to get this baby over the line.
It was the best thing I could have done.
The crew couldn't believe I was one of the actors. They'd never met any actor that would help out like I did - which doesn't say a lot for actors in general. For the rest of the shoot they totally bent over backwards for me to help me out. Whenever I needed anything (coffee, food, chairs, space) they went out of their way to get it as quickly as possible. Suddenly I was surrounded by twenty friends instead of twenty strangers. It put me totally at ease. They were also instrumental in communicating to me what was going on. The jargon, the pacing, the set ups. It meant that I was totally on the ball. I almnost looked like a professional.
And when I had nothing to do, I held lights and studied what Asher was doing.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I was also very involved in the pre-production stage. The wife Ione, played by Asher Keddie, was a comic book artist. It's Phil's (Phase's) exploits that she illustrates. I drew all the art for her. Some specifically for the film, others was stuff of mine that we thought she would draw. You might be able to see some of it on the walls.
I also did storyboards for the action sequences, which I will talk about next post.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
So after working with Nicole, I threw myself back into the rehearsals with renewed vigour. I also read and asked around a lot on acting theory. Do you do each take differently (like Sir Ian Holme) and let the director pick the take he likes, or do you pick one take yourself and then try and perfect that?
Anyway, by the time I hit the set, what really helped was Asher. It's incredible when you work off someone with that level of talent and passion for acting. The intensity you get off someone like that brings a realism to the table that actually left me speechless everytime I was supposed to be rendered speechless. It was such a breath of fresh air, because the rehearsals were starting to get stale. I really needed something more to bounce off than Sky was giving me (no offence to Sky, but he wasn't as invested in the role as Asher was).
And when you work opposite someone like that, the imagined suddenly becomes extraordinarily real.
Again, it's one of those things I learnt so much from and would love to pursue again sometime.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Now most of my life I've been second best at what I do. At school I was the second best artist. As a martial artist I was never the best in the class. I struggled against faster, stronger, more talented training partners and opponents.
What I've found though, is that anything that comes too easily gets taken for granted.
The premiere artist at school, effortlessly drew anything and everything with a style and ease that eventually led to boredom with his talent and the art of comics. As a martial artist people found the victories too easy and the loses to infrequent.
Unfortunately I put in way too much work on both these disciplines just to be mediocre to stop. I really just reached the point of no return and had to keep going forward. The funny thing for me is that when I put that much work into something I don't want to be seen as a rip-off of something else. I want to be recognised as unique. Eventually these things also paid off: a gig with Top Cow and an International title.
So when I found I was crap at acting, I just hunkered in and did what I always did: I studied and practiced my ass off. For me all these skills are about creating a mental framework that all this plugs into. You see the situation enough times you start developing trained responses. I guess that's what I did with acting. I watched performances with similar characters, I mimicked them. Then I did my own take. I created the situations in my head. I rehearsed the material over and over again to create an ease and insight into it.
I did end up working with Nicole (pictured here) and it was incredible watching an adept actor work their craft. She did a spontaneous take of my role and the conclusions, responses and artistic decisions she made covered everything I had done in the weeks leading up to our meeting and went several steps beyond. I was floored, and it showed me where I was going.
So this was the first time anyone had asked me to act in anything. Sky had budgeted for me to have some lessons with Nicole Nabout one of the co-stars (you will see her on an upcoming page). But first Sky wanted to give Nicole something to work with and decided to teach me himself to begin with.
We began by doing some read-throughs. At the end, Sky was politely skeptical. I don't like people sugar coating stuff. If I suck, tell me. Nothing makes me want to succeed more. But he was having trouble communicating exactly what was wrong - other than he seemed to imply that it wasn't very good. I told him that I'm an excellent visual mimic. From my art, I'm very visually orientated. I study body language, posture and form. I had also won several martial arts tournaments by memorising forms that I'd seen other people do, sometimes off video tape (one being the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sword form that Chow Yun Fat does which was taught to him by Ang Lee). So next week Sky brought along a video camera and we taped the rehearsals.
I sat down and watched the tape. Sky looked at me, "So what do you think?" he asked.
I looked back at him, "Oh my god. I'm shithouse."
NEXT: PAGE 3
Thursday, November 02, 2006
As I mentioned previously I did a Diploma of Multimedia at Holmesglen TAFE. I then lectured there for a year before I started Body United. During that time I became good friends with all the teachers. The film lecturer there is Sky Crompton who basically offered me my dream job: he asked me to co-star as a superhero in his short film, PHASE.
It was an incredibly professional production with a significant budget which starred Asher Keddie (from Love My Way). Sky is a graduate of the New York Film Academy, and he wrote this script as his first serious foray into film. Flatteringly enough he actually wrote it with me in mind. After running it by me asked me to be involved - despite all my time pressures, I really couldn't say no. It really is one of the highlights of my life. Sure it has some problems, but overall I think it's a decent watch and a good story. Asher totally shines in it.
As part of the promotion for it, Sky asked me to do an 8 page comic. Unable to draw it I used screen caps and played with levels, contrasts and colours to create a more graphic feel. All the dialogue is written by Sky, and I wrote all the captions to tie the story together. It was a lot of fun adapting a film into a comic.
NEXT: page 2!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
So here's the leader of the US team in Zero-G: General Eugene White. The brief was for an older black man. He obviously still had to be young enough and athletic enough that he could still lead the mission on the ground. In the face of Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington, I wanted a more unique for my character.
In fact one of the key elements of designing a comic book characters is to make them distinctive. You want to make sure that because you're drawing them panel after panel after panel that they look unique. Judging for the possibility that you may not knock it out of the park with every panel (ie. not do your best, ie. f@ck up) you want to make sure that they're distinctive enough from every other character even on your worst day.
I like his white hair and black beard. I don't think anyone will confuse him for any other character.