Sunday Shorts: Somersault Pike

Cinematographer Darrell Martin and director Kate Lefoe on the set of Somersault Pike.

Written, Directed and Edited by Kate Lefoe
Produced by Honeylyn Lisson
Starring Mary Holgate
Cinematography Darrell Martin

Somersault Pike is a poetic exploration of the thought process involved in working through self-doubt, mentally preparing for action, and taking the final steps towards achieving a goal. It is played out in on the ten-metre dive platform, where failure can mean serious injury.

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The Director

Written by Kate Lefoe

I was drawn into the world of competitive diving by the strength and commitment it demands to succeed. Divers chase the elusive perfect score of ten.

And I was chasing the perfect graduate film during my Masters at the Victorian College of the Arts. Going to film school was a dream come true, and I placed a lot of pressure on Somersault Pike to define me as a filmmaker.

Perfectionism can be a strong and powerful motivator, but it can be paralyzing if the focus is too much on the outcome rather than the process. This is universal. The film suggests that the final results matter less than the journey to get there.

My philosophy of filmmaking is to explore my own darkest fears, bringing them into the light to share with an audience.  By tapping into a raw truth, I believe these stories will always resonate with an audience. I have learnt through the process of making Somersault Pike that through simplicity, there is poetry.

The process of editing Somersault Pike was challenging but ultimately it was where I was finally able to find my voice and my vision. The first rough cuts of the film sat awkwardly between a narrative story and a poetic film. I drew on inspiration from director Lynne Ramsay’s films where her style is to focus on the details of the scene, believing that they say everything about it. I understand that being an editor is like being a doctor. A scene might not be working, but that maybe just a symptom, and the cause of that illness may lie in another scene.

I continued to refine the film, seeking feedback from a select few people to protect myself from being overwhelmed. I worked with an editing consultant for a few sessions, and found this invaluable, as she was able to help me to process the feedback into action, e.g. diagnose the illness. On my last day of editing, I cut out about 1 minute of the mid-point of the film. And it worked! A few more tweaks on other shots, and it was finished. I found the editing process incredibly rewarding. It was only the last day of editing that I became proud of my film. A film is reborn in the edit suite.

It has had a fantastic festival run, and it has been really lovely to have the editing appreciated with awards at several festivals.

I’ve just returned from making a several documentary shorts under the guidance of Werner Herzog in the Amazonian jungle of Peru. They’re currently in post-production.

I’m on writer’s residency in Bali at the moment to develop a drama feature based on Australia’s first lesbian erotic magazine in Sydney in the 1980s.

Lastly, I’m working with a team of writers and producer on a comedy webseries Twingers: The Ginger Conspiracy. It’s shaping up to be a very busy year!

You can keep up to date with Kate’s work through her Facebook page website 

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The Cinematographer

Written by Darrell Martin

Somersault Pike was a joy to work on. I’d seen some of Kate’s earlier works and knew she would have a distinct style to the film. I wanted to work on a project that was different to a lot of the television work I’d been doing in recent years – a project that could stretch me in different directions. I felt Somersault Pike helped me do this.

Kate’s approach is very filmic, with minimum dialogue, sparse cutting and where possible letting the action play out in frame but not necessarily in real time. To this effect we used the Phantom flex HD camera with speeds up to 1ooofps for the diving shots. It gave us a very balletic feeling our sequences!

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