Special guests Jill Bilcock and Kriv Stenders

BY IMELDA COONEY

Almost imperceptibly and without any instructions, students formed a line, pen and paper in hand, at the close of the most recent NFSA Connects event. The desire for autographs is testament to the impact made by our two industry guests.

Kriv Stenders and Jill Bilcock.

 

Jill Bilcock, Australia’s foremost editor (Red Dog, 2011; Moulin Rouge!, 2001; Muriel’s Wedding, 1994) and Kriv Stenders, renowned director (Red Dog; Lucky Country, 2009; Boxing Day, 2007), flew to Brisbane for the day to participate in the Q & A, one of the sessions at the ATOM Queensland annual state conference.

Jill and Kriv (pronounced Kreev) shared their creative working lives with close to 300 Queensland high school students and teachers.

Questions came from Brisbane State High School students in attendance as well as from 12 schools who connected via web conference. Students on the web conference sent comments on what Jill and Kriv said and a screen was set up so their comments could be enjoyed by all, adding to the sense of community between the participants at all the different locations.

Students still queueing for autographs long after the audience has left.

It was clear as Jill and Kriv chatted and laughed, that they had enjoyed their working relationship during post-production of Red Dog. Students asked about the greatest setback they’d experienced, and how they’d dealt with it. Kriv remembered the challenges in casting the lead role in Red Dog and how, at one stage the production team were popping champagne corks on a Friday for having Ewan McGregor on board. By the Monday it had fallen through! Finally, the weekend before shooting began they had Orlando Bloom – a few days later they didn’t. Highs and lows occurred more than once in the process but Kriv was suitably philosophical about it, having learned that there is no certainty in the filmmaking process.

Red Dog was Kriv’s first experience of an audience test screening, while Jill had been through many. She noted that the result you most want is the audience ticking the box marked ‘Would you recommend this film to a friend?’.

Occasionally the questions required diplomatic answers: ‘Who was the most difficult to work with, Koko (the dog) or Josh Lucas?’, or ‘Who are the people that you’ve most enjoyed working with?’.

For Jill, the editing process begins with getting to know the director, their sense of humour and their method of working. She did wonder when she first started working on Red Dog why Koko was running around with a stuffed cat on his back. She soon learned that Kriv has a great sense of humour which he uses very effectively to make the actors feel at home.

NFSA Connects web conference window.

For Kriv, 99% of directing is the casting. He tries to look at as many actors as he can so he knows his decision is informed: ‘Because there’s nothing worse than miscasting a role … no amount of brilliant directing will change it’.

Both Jill and Kriv engaged the audience with their considered responses and amusing anecdotes. The technical side of the session was managed extremely well by Casey Davidson from The Learning Place, Education Queensland’s e-learning section.

Along with Derek Weeks, ATOM Queensland’s President, Casey balanced the number of questions from the floor with those coming in via web conference. (Sadly, next day Casey learned that she is one of 170 people in her department who are to be made redundant. Good luck and thank you, Casey!)

The audience cocooned in the performance room at Brisbane State High School, with its black walls and high ceiling, as well as those around the state, were clearly engrossed. One Brisbane High student enthused that Jill and Kriv had shared ‘priceless’ stories and lessons, heightening his knowledge and appreciation ‘for all who work in the creative industry’. And long after the ATOM audience had left the room, students were still queuing for autographs.