AACTA Spotlight Featuring STANDBY

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Featured image credit: Michael McLennan

We chat to Michael McLennan about STANDBY.

What inspired you to create this production?

I've supervised many pitch processes, and been part of many castings. For every victory in a pitch, there are so many contenders whose hopes evaporate in that moment. Many of them don't even have the opportunity to become the standby.

I appreciate Esther and Phoebe's willingness to tell this story, as young actors who themselves will experience these things.

STANDBY Image Credit: Michael McLennan

What challenges did you face in creating this production?

This was a two day shoot, with a lot of location cheating to create the story world and a very slender crew creating it. Many of us were coming directly from another film shoot of radically different tone and challenges (A TEA PARTY FOR SAD PEOPLE), and so in the days leading up to it, we really hadn't been able to prepare the film. We kicked off with a 2 minute conversation scene filmed from 5 angles in a new location in 90 minutes, and the pace rarely let up from there. The focus of the team, as well as its openness to pivot - even mid-take - into other moments, was impressive.

One of the most impressive moments was watching Rasmus (DP), Justin (first AC), Phoebe (Ria) and Esther (Tash) capture the final shot of the film. Over 9 minutes, Rasmus silently re-set and re-took the dolly shot, slowly working his way to the point where he and Phoebe were in perfect unison of emotion. At the end of what was a 6 minute shooting day, it was a powerful piece of filmmaking.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring filmmakers?

The offscreen world is ever your friend as a storyteller. Most of the strong visual ideas in the film were serendipitous, even though they were prepared for. So be open.

STANDBY Image Credit: Michael McLennan

What are you hoping audiences will take away from watching this film?

There are the endless ironies in the way in which a good performance comes into being. Sometimes a good audition does not a good performance make, and neither does a bad audition forecast a bad one. Sometimes the right person gets the role for the wrong reasons. Sometimes a perception of 'raw talent' or 'a good narrative' wins out over 'hard work'.

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