Sunday Shorts #10: Magic Miles

DoP Jerry and editor Denny. Driving up and down the Magic Mile was a lot of fun, although shooting in a car is pretty complicated (to me)! We’re in Caitlin Franzmann’s charming car with charming sunroof. Caitlin is an artist and sometimes collaborator.

DoP Jerry and editor Denny. Driving up and down the Magic Mile was a lot of fun, although shooting in a car is pretty complicated (to me)! We’re in Caitlin Franzmann’s charming car with charming sunroof. Caitlin is an artist and sometimes collaborator.

Magic Miles

Written by Audrey Lam:

The starting point of Magic Miles was that I felt like there was a bunch of art and music – together with small everyday but somehow ecstatic stuff – going on around me, that seemed quite wonderfully joined in a tenuous but breathtaking way, by their shared thrill and chance and emotion, and I wanted to hold it together in a film.

There’s not really a story or narrative in Magic Miles, it’s more that I wanted to convey some of the feelings and atmosphere of living in a place where things can feel both freeing and trapping, shaped by your situation, where you are in life, and the dreams and stuff you make of it.

It was really nice shooting out here. Joel and I found this spot while we were driving around town trying to find quiet places to do post-production sound for Faraways (it was too noisy though, all those birds and cicadas!). I’d been interested in Queensland timber houses for a while, the kind of curious spectacle they can be, in their ability to be moved from one place to another. Architects Momoyo Kaijima and Andrew Wilson introduced me to thinking about it, they were doing research projects on it. There are quite a few such yards near Queensland highways, and I liked that this wasn’t by a highway. I was thinking about this road, this sparse graveyard-like gathering of moved empty Queensland timber houses as a contrast to the packed stretch of car dealerships with its parked empty cars.

It was really nice shooting out here. Joel and I found this spot while we were driving around town trying to find quiet places to do post-production sound for Faraways (it was too noisy though, all those birds and cicadas!). I’d been interested in Queensland timber houses for a while, the kind of curious spectacle they can be, in their ability to be moved from one place to another. Architects Momoyo Kaijima and Andrew Wilson introduced me to thinking about it, they were doing research projects on it. There are quite a few such yards near Queensland highways, and I liked that this wasn’t by a highway. I was thinking about this road, this sparse graveyard-like gathering of moved empty Queensland timber houses as a contrast to the packed stretch of car dealerships with its parked empty cars.

For the past few years, I’d really enjoyed seeing the music and art shows of friends and people I knew. There’s a really great art and music scene in Brisbane – a lot of the younger artists and musicians hang out with each other, many make both.

The shows were great, low-key (though not necessarily low-noise/spectacle) hangout times, I especially liked the ones at houses and backyards, parks and car parks. Of course, it’s only one small scene I know within all the other stuff going on in Brisbane that it overlaps with. But I really liked how small this bit seemed: friends making music and playing for just a few people, it felt like they were really making it for its sake, and for themselves and a few others. How by nature it all became inevitably private and intimate, and part of the lives lived.

Coffee break. You can see me in the rear-view mirror.

Coffee break. You can see me in the rear-view mirror.

I realise just now I’m talking about it in the past tense, because I’ve been away for a little while (but returning soon!). Anyway, I was also thinking about how brilliantly – but in a quiet and ordinary way – they fitted in with the buildings and landscapes they happened within. For instance, my friend, David Creed, his performance – where no car/one seemed to notice while he danced like the inflatable figures along the busy stretch road of car-dealerships in Brisbane inner-suburbia – kind of summed up and physicalized all this joy and melancholy and aloneness.

Like Faraways, the short I made before Magic Miles, I didn’t have a script written down. But I do think and go through a lot of stuff before shooting – it’s really important and exciting to me to figure out the kind of film I want to make, and I have generous friends and collaborators to talk things over with. I love cinema, and it’s one of my favourite things about filmmaking: how the film forms through thinking and talking about cinema, about art and books and music, and all other random and shared ideas and anecdotes and experiences.

Athena shining. Here she’s playing her Kanye sound mash-up to Kate and Xiao. I laughed so hard the first time I heard it. I was thrilled as well, because I’d wanted to make a film with Athena for a while, and her artwork presented itself as the perfect excuse.

Athena shining. Here she’s playing her Kanye sound mash-up to Kate and Xiao. I laughed so hard the first time I heard it. I was thrilled as well, because I’d wanted to make a film with Athena for a while, and her artwork presented itself as the perfect excuse.

 

Definitely Magic Miles was triggered and shaped by the art and music and stuff of people I know, but there are always filmmakers who figure strongly in my thoughts. I’ve been a cinema projectionist for the past six or so years, and I really love going to the movies. If I remember right, I was thinking a lot about Jean Rouch, Pasolini, Kaurismäki and Buster Keaton, especially the method and form and rhythm of their films.

The crew who worked on the film, they’re all great friends and conversationalists – Joel, Denny, Jerry, Kate, Rosie – we’ve whiled away so many hours talking about movies and stuff.

C

Matt only ever sleeps in the film too, but we roped him into being Xiao’s stand-in as well. It’s Matt’s house, he’s been there for years and it’s very much him. He loves plants, and there are plants everywhere. The place is a bit on an institution – Matt has gigs there all the time. He runs an excellent record label called Breakdance the Dawn. I think The Saints and Go-Betweens used to play house shows there (many) years ago. The front of the house is on one of Ed Kuepper’s album covers.

Shooting was fun, I hadn’t made a film with anyone else in the group of us except Xiao before, who was also in Faraways (Joel and Marly did the sound on Faraways too, but they weren’t around for either shoots). We were all excited, the light was beautiful at that time of the year, and it was such a joy to discover filming Athena – she shines.

I loved her mood and feeling against Xiao’s. Filming them both is wonderfully, simultaneously familiar and mysterious: it’s so nice to watch it unfold.

Magic Miles is screening at MIFF in Accelerator. It screened at Oberhausen; there are also a few other international film festivals coming up, which will be listed once the press embargos lifts.

For more information about the film you can visit: www.magicmilesmovie.com

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