The Magic Behind The Legend of the Five

April 24, 2020
The new Australian family fantasy film marks the directing debut of Mad Max’s Joanne Samuel.

“Making an Aussie indie film takes a lot of courage,” says The Legend of the Five director, Joanne Samuel. And she would know better than most. Best known in cult film lore as Jessie Rockatansky, Max’s ill-fated wife in Mad Max, Samuel makes her directorial debut with The Legend of the Five. “There is never a lot of budget; you rely heavily on the passion of cast and crew to get you through. In Australia we have this in spades.

“It was a huge learning curve, not just about a story making process through film, but also about me,” she continues about turning to directing at the age of 60. “I learnt I have to trust my instincts more, and then to communicate them with conviction. I learnt what I am good at, that I love the actors, and I love how all departments fit into the story telling process. I love telling the story.”

Joanne’s son Jesse Ahern (pictured above speaking with Joanne on set) was one of the instigators and producers on The Legend of the Five.

“Joanne loves the classic fantasy stories,” Jesse tells us. “One thing the entire team had in common was their love for films like The Goonies, The Labyrinth and The Neverending Story.”

In The Legend of the Five, a teenage girl (Lauren Esposito) who recently lost her mother and moved to a new country and school, attends an excursion where she and four other students touch an ancient artefact, teleporting them to a magical forest, full of creatures and beasts.

Among various mythological creatures, the film contains a magical tree man (played by The Castle’s Tiriel Mora), ancient druids, fairies, and a horde of goblins who answer to a crazed sorcerer who has manipulated not only the history of the world but the lives of each of the five kids.

Reaching for the skies in terms of CGI and practical effects, The Legend of the Five also acknowledges the public’s hunger for family films, especially in the fantasy genre, which should stand it in good stead when it comes to finding an audience.

“Our goal is to create anything and everything in the Australian space,” says Jesse Ahern. “When writing The Five we asked ourselves what do we have at hand? Our company is located in The Blue Mountains, one of the most amazing environments in Australia. The production value this gives the film has helped to generate a lot of interest.”

Production value was also helped immeasurably by using equipment from Blackmagic Design [BMD], an Australian company, whose products are the go-to for some of the biggest productions in the world.

“BMD, along with other products such as DJI, have changed the film making game,” Jesse says. “The Ursa Mini is a professional camera at such an amazing price. This allows us to run multiple cameras on a production, whereas before we would have struggled to run more than one on our independent budget. Not to mention the fact that we own our cameras whereas before we had to hire.

“In September we will be shooting a dance/coming of age teen drama and will be using the BMPC 6K exclusively. On The Five the UM was the B camera for the entire shoot. The UM was A cam for B unit as well as being used on steadycam, Jib and gimbals.

“Most cinematographers who have shot film tend to be looking for similarities in the look of the images when choosing a digital solution, and for drama especially you don’t want that over cranked super poppy digital look. You want the images to look natural from the get-go. The UM, combined with great lenses delivers, and if you get your lighting right, by the time you get to your grade you’re starting with images that already look great.”

“Resolve is also amazing,” he continues about the post-production tool DaVinci Resolve, also from Blackmagic Design. “I still can’t believe it’s free. I have used most of the other edit suites but always make my way back to Resolve.

“VFX aside, the entire post-production process was undertaken in Davinci Resolve: the edit, sound mix, colour grade and deliverables. Resolve has changed our approach to post. The workflow is amazing and the UI [User Interface] is so refreshingly simply to use. The file management is second to none and the more our team get ‘under the hood’, the more we realise how diverse Resolve is. We save so much time not having to bounce our content between other programs.”

“I loved sitting with Jess and discussing and watching the edit,” adds Joanne Samuel. “It was easier than I thought, plus I trust the people I choose to have around me.”

The Legend of the Five is in cinemas now.

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