Tears, left turns, fire, neo-realism and film noir...

I leave a very wet Hobart at about midday. The morning is spent purchasing last minute supplies and packing up the car. When I left my home in West Hobart I cried until I got well onto the Brooker Hwy. The last thing I looked at before driving off was my 9 year old in tears and my 11-year-old son bravely holding them back. I’ve felt strange about leaving them the last 2-3 days. Like I haven’t really wanted to leave at all. Don’t get me wrong I am most excited, and somewhat nervous, about this residency, but the last few days has seen an anxiety level higher than normal. I suppose that’s just my nerves letting me know that I am on the verge of something good.

The 4-hour drive is easy, very little traffic on the road with intermittent rain. Once in Burnie, I call Merv, Parks ranger, he gives me a perfect set directions, a series of left turns, to Rocky Cape shack my home for the next 4 weeks. I have visited this shack some time ago but only for an afternoon when I was doing a site visit for Arts Tasmania in relation to the Wilderness Residency program. It seems smaller than I remember but it’s a really nice layout.

Sunset, Rocky Cape

The sun is setting so I head out take a few photos of ‘home’ and the view from the balcony. A quick call to home to tell that I arrived safely then I settle into unpacking the food, books, etc., I set up a fire and soon after realise that I didn’t bring any matches. A quick search of the shack and no matches to be found so it’s a 5-10 minute drive to the nearby service station about 5 kilometres away on the corner of Rocky Cape Road and Bass Hwy. I figure whilst I’ve come this far I might as well check out the tavern down the road. A bottle of JD and some dry later and I’m hurling back towards the shack grinning in the knowledge that I'll soon be warm both on the inside and out.

As I drive past the service station it is now shut, phew, just made it to get fire. Upon approach to the shack I must slow down as I recall a fair bit of wallaby poo around the perimeter of the shack and I wouldn’t want to hit one on my first evening. Sure enough, there’s 2-3 wallabies chewing on grass when I pull the car into the shack.

Back in shack, fire started, bed made, a quick bite to eat, and a soothing JD in hand, here now the residency begins. Lists started, what do I need? Plans being hatched, maps checked, computer working, bourbon being drunk.

For my birthday in May I received a copy The Story of Film, An Odyssey on dvd. Due to the busyness of life I have only been able to watch the first 4 episodes - the early stages of film - which I must say have been utterly fascinating. Tonight I put on episode 5 featuring film making during world war 2 – mostly about Italian neo-realism, American film noir cinema and the brilliance of Orsen Welles. What a great episode. I now must see ‘Rome Open City’ 1945, and ‘Bicycle Thieves’ 1948 both Italian. ‘The Hitch Hiker’ 1953, and ‘Gun Crazy’ 1950, as well as Stanley Doolan’s later film ‘Two for the Road’ 1960, and UK films ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ 1946, and ‘Listen to Britain’ 1942. But most of all, I really must see ‘The Third Man’ 1949, known for its use of horizontal compositions to 'show off' the moral imbalance of the film the narrator says.

Some interesting points – the Italian neo-realists explored the use of deep focus with short lens to capture the complete scene - also used in Citizen Kane and in the Third Man. Hitchcock once said, 'film is life with the boring bits taken out', in response to this the Italian neo-realists said that their films were ‘putting the boring bits back into cinema’. I like this. More again soon...