Online Insights with Steve Davis on FIVEaa, Sunday, September 20, 2009

Akaroy Films

I ran a small business workshop in Port Adelaide last week and met a man called Derek who runs AKA Roy Films. While I am sure he is a movie producer/director/camera guy for hire, his company produces scores of short films on characters around the Port that make the sort of compelling viewing that most television fails to deliver. Derek’s background Video was print media, until he started out on this video path in 2008. Like he says, “little films have a big future”, which is exactly what I preach in my workshops.

There are a few films worth noting:

–          Yelta – we get taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the fully restored tugboat, Yelta, which runs of fish and chip shop oil. It is amazing seeing the complexities of what is below deck – in a little tug boat. It is quite like the Tardus from Doctor Who – a quaint size from the outside but seemingly huge inside. (Have a look at it here)

–          The Haggle – takes place in Porthole records where a seasoned buyer tries to haggle down the owner for a bargain – short and sweet. Great body language.

–          Pelicans – Pelicans circled the Alberton Oval during a footy game and Derek captured it on film. Still has no idea what attracted them.

–          Tattoo You – This is an amazing little sequence of a tattoo being created by Matty down at the Port. The only disturbing thing was a grown woman getting “Daddy’s Little Girl” as the tattoo message – there is something about that that just doesn’t sit right for me about that – mind you, it is probably better than having any old bloke’s name tattooed. At least your dad is always your dad!

You can wander around Derek’s collection of films at AKA Roy Films.

Media Resource Centre

The Media Resource Centre and Mercury Cinema in Adelaide is truly one of our most amazing organisations because it runs on the smell of an oily rag and supports South Aussies who are trying to develop their skills in communicating through video.

And that set of skills will be vital for the next part of history because the internet search engines love video and as small business people and would-be entertainers learn to craft interesting, short films, South Australia will be strengthening its future in this increasingly web-connected world.

A few things to note:

–          MRC just won a Ruby award for their Seniors On Screen program which takes “seniors” through the filmmaking process and is proving to be very popular. It also has a component for watching a feature film from a genre being discussed, hear an introduction by a film critic and then join discussion afterwards.

–          Big Stories, Small Town is a program that placed Australia’s first Filmmaker In Residence into a small town, in this case, Port Augusta. Two doco makers lived in Pt Augusta for 3 months at the end of 2008 and made some terrific stories ‘with’ rather than ‘about’ locals which have been very well received. The project has just been invited to the Sheffield International Documentary Conference, as the programmer thought it was one of the best projects of its kind in the world. You have got to wander through these stories because you get to see real, gritty, matter-of-fact Australia, in a way that is often lost in works of fiction. This collection can be found at Big Stories, Small Towns.

–          Mercury Cinema – I have a soft spot for the Mercury, given I was married in the cinema but that aside, the complex keeps chugging along while multiplexes rise and fall and rise again all around them. One of the curiosities offered there is the Cinematheque program – a year-long membership program that you pay for once and see films all year across a range of genres. What I love about it (and I hope to join next year when my life regains balance) is the thoughtful way films are curated. Some light examples from the current program (2009) include – Rock on Reels (musicians meet the movies – Dogs In Space, Monkey Grip, etc), Skewed Romance (The screwball comedies of Cary Grant – Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, etc), and Silent Remasters where new scores for old silent movies are performed live in the cinema.

This is a place to visit – MRC and Mercury Cinema.

Our Solar System

This short video puts life into perspective, at least in the physical realm. It gradually pulls back from a shot of Earth to show us our size and proximity to other planets of the solar system, and then pulls back further to show how absolutely tiny we are compared to other stars out there. It is humbling and amazing (and, I should point out, one of many such videos on this topic).

You can see our place in the Solar System on YouTube.

A view through Hubble

Space and its deceptive beautyThe Hubble is a Space Telescope project thanks to international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. It has been operating since 1990 and now has just been refurbished and is rewarding us, not only with observations that keep rewriting science books abut also with amazing photos. For example:

–          There is a beautiful picture of a “butterfly” that looks so peaceful but is actually “rolling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit, tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour (fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes). A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury.”

–          Images of a birth star shot in visual mode and infrared mode make for fascinating viewing.

–          Then there is the rush hour shot of space, showing part of our Milky Way like you‘ve never seen it before. It shows space as a large patch of sky literally teeming with stars. The picture is just a “small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri, which boasts nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters, ancient swarms of stars united by gravity, are the homesteaders of our Milky Way galaxy. The stars in Omega Centauri are between 10 billion and 12 billion years old. The cluster lies about 16,000 light-years from Earth.”

You can read more, download the images, and be amazed at NASA’s Hubble website.

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