Have Talent: Will Travel

From Byron Bay to Melbourne, filmmaker Nathan Christoffel made the move to make his film.

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It's a long way from the sun-bleached sand and laconic pace of Byron Bay to the self-aware arts-centric hip of Melbourne, even with the insurance of one of the country's best regarded technical training institutions behind you. But for local independent filmmaker Nathan Christoffel the move was a no brainer. "There's not many film opportunities around the Gold Coast and Byron, so we followed the work down here."

The realisation that his feature film debut Eraser Children would need a bigger pool of resources, as well as the desire to be immersed in Australia's most vibrant independent film culture, saw Christoffel and his crew make the big migration south to Melbourne. It was a courageous move that seems to be paying off. To finance the film and pay the bills Christoffel and cinematographer Adrian Kristoffersen started an independent media production company. Their combined talent and resourcefulness saw them land top tier editing and shooting gigs early on, allowing both the film and the filmmakers to stay in the black.

Of course, "in the black" is a subjective phrase. The shooting schedule is elastic to say the least, locking in the next set of shots only after banking the day-job cheques. Still, there were corners they were just unwilling to cut. The film is shot on three distinct formats - HD, HD shot through 35mm still camera lenses for a distorted look, and modified Super 8. "When we were just starting on developing the film we all got really addicted to Super 8 - as you do - and loved the look, and how much fun it was to develop...And we wanted to incorporate that somewhere. But it was too expensive to shoot the whole thing on Super 8, so we decided to use it in specific sections."

Although the After Effects technologies available for HD would have been cheaper and easier to simulate the Super 8 effect, this was one element of production Christoffel wasn't willing to compromise on. "You can't get exactly the same look as film just by putting some plug-ins on [HD footage]. It has different light, and it hits the camera differently... You can't get it exactly the same." The dedication to form has paid off. Given the on-the-fly funding, the aesthetic of the film is remarkably strong and convincing.

  “When we were just starting on developing the film we all got really addicted to Super 8 – as you do – and loved the look, and how much fun it was to develop…”

This kind of dedication to the form may have been a result of Christoffel's training at the renowned audio and film training school SAE in Byron Bay, or the ethic instilled in him by Rolf De Heer, whom Christoffel shadowed on 2007's Dr Plonk. Judging by the passion and ambition in his work, it won't be long before Christoffel is mentoring someone in turn.

Despite the passion for the look of the film there is a solid idea grounding Eraser Children, perhaps betraying some of the frustration the filmmakers feel trying to get a break in the industry. It follows a disenfranchised man caught fighting against totalitarianism and coping with the regress of technology. A distinctly political thread holds the film together, imagining a world where oil has run out before contingencies could be developed. Influenced by dystopian visions, most notably Terry Gilliam's 1985 masterpiece Brazil, the film entices a more visceral response to the imagery than following a logical thread of narrative.

As the film nears completion, Christoffel and company are excited by the idea of finding an audience for their labour of love. Even if Eraser Children doesn't set the multiplexes on fire, it seems as though the Australian film industry will in some way or other see the talents of these mates from Byron. They have talent: will travel...

Eraser Children is still in production. Teaser trailer available at www.eraserchildren.com

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