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Games
GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Mark Prebble (Futile Attraction) Futile Attraction director Mark Prebble interview

Buttonhole's Sammy and Kris interview New Zealand's Mark

Wed, 2 February 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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As a brief introduction, I figured I'd explain how this interview came about. Basically, it went like this... a little while ago, I was happy to receive the following email:

Dear Sam,
I've just discovered your cool new website via a link on www.moviepoopshoot.com!

I am currently spreading the word about an upcoming independent film entitled 'Futile Attraction' by New Zealand filmmaker Mark Prebble.

It stars actress Michelle Ang (of TV shows 'Neighbours', 'The Tribe', and 'Xena: Warrior Princess') in her feature film debut. It also stars an assortment of actors from the 'Lord Of The Rings' film trilogy and other TV shows.

If you have any questions for me regarding this film, or its cast and crew, would like to interview the Director, or would just like a press release - please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Enric Giro


I replied to Enric and informed him that I’d be happy to give the movie some coverage and would indeed be interested in interviewing (Mark) the director. So, Mark and I got together for a little interview through the wonders of instant messaging. We had planned to meet at 9 am Australian time (which was 11am in NZ) but I actually came on a bit before that and I noticed that Mark was already on too. So, we actually kicked it off a little early. I will admit that I've never been a morning person, but thankfully Mark seemed to still understand what I was saying. Then Kris (Special K) came along at the scheduled hour and joined in the chat.

Enric also sent me the press release, which has a little more info on himself, Mark and Futile Attraction. We've included that for you here. The interview comes straight after the press release info. As Enric mentioned - "Please note; the press release is a bit dated now, as the money mentioned in the article has now been raised!"

PRESS RELEASE

MAKE MARK'S MOVIE.COM

BREAKING NEW GROUND IN INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING

Frustrated by traditional funding methods, 27 year-old New Zealand filmmaker Mark Prebble is harnessing the power of the internet to finish making his first feature film Futile Attraction, which features NEIGHBOURS STAR MICHELLE ANG IN HER FIRST FEATURE FILM PERFORMANCE. In the process he has brought together an international team of grassroots volunteers, all strangers until a few weeks ago, who are making this happen.
In 2002 Mark directed the low-budget digital feature in New Zealand over an intensive 3-week period. He has been editing Futile Attraction ever since.
Faced with US$16,500 of further post-production work Mark decided to go directly to the largest and most generous source of financial support in the world the general public.

He created a website www.makemarksmovie.com that allows people to contribute money online and get their name in the credits of the film. Credits range from "Thanks To" to "Executive Producer" depending on the size of the contribution.

The website has been online for about 2 months. The main publicity has been e-mail word of mouth. The response has been amazing. Says Prebble:

"I'm getting hits and e-mails every day from people all over the world who want to help in any way they can. They're coming from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, DenMark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA and of course New Zealand.

I expected people would like the site and might contribute money. What blows me away is the creative ways complete strangers are offering to help. One woman in Seattle is tracking down musicians for me. Another woman in Australia is organising a fund raising performance poetry night and a UK teenager is designing posters. Web designers, editors and other filmmakers are all coming on board to help out. I’m even getting writers sending me scripts to read and actors wanting to audition for my next film. This is clearly just the beginning."

One such volunteer is 28 year-old Enric Giro of Hertfordshire whose energetic efforts have seen him promoted to UK Publicist. Says Giro:

"It's incredible to think that a short time ago, I knew nothing about this film. Now, I'm publicizing it! It's electrifying! I found out about the project accidentally while surfing the net. I saw this as a unique opportunity to just do something weird and fun, and to bear witness (even though 13,500 miles away in England!) to a genesis in the budding careers of its cast and crew.

It was a pleasant surprise when Mark asked me to be the UK Publicist, but I guess it's just further evidence of how the internet is bringing people together internationally and changing the face of filmmaking."

Futile Attraction is a mockumentary comedy about a film crew making a Reality TV Show about a couple brought together by a dating agency. However, the couple is so incompatible that the crew has to manipulate the relationship to get the footage they need.

It stars Michelle Ang (Neighbours, Xena, The Tribe), Alistair Browning (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Veritcal Limit, Rain, Sullivans) and a host of up and coming New Zealand talent. Says Ang:

"The low budget filming of Futile Attraction was a completely new experience for me. It felt great working with a cast and crew who were all there because of their love for film and supporting one another with their endeavours. We had a lot of fun... especially since many of us had worked together before. The script and idea are a real credit to both Mark and Ben. Their brand of humour is quite original. It gave me a chance to deal with comedy for the first time, which was a bit daunting.

The website is a clever little idea really. In desperate search of resources, its amazing that the people who turn out to help are the ones furthest away! In particular.... its is amazing the number of loyal Tribe and Xena fans who have extended a helping hand. The fact that they remember me and programs made so long ago is just phenomenal. I'm blown away, and really would like to say a huge thank you to everyone helping to get this project completed."

For more information contact Enric Giro - futileattraction@excite.com

Or Mark Prebble - makemarksmovie@paradise.net.nz,
www.makemarksmovie.com


Now, as promised, here's our interview.

Sammy: Good morning Mark

Mark: Hey, how's it going?

Sammy: Pretty good thanks, getting some coffee into me and hoping that'll bring me back to life. How are you?

Mark: I'm all coffeed up. Ready when you are dude

Sammy: I guess the first question is when is the film coming out?

Mark: Tricky question...I hope for it to be finished finally in the next month as all the money has been raised and the last work in place. The problem is that very generous people are doing the work between their fully paid work, which means there is a slow complicated scheduling involved

Sammy: Yeah I can relate to that (meaning that most of the Buttonhole staff also have other jobs)

Mark: However... I hope to be submitting it to film festivals by mid Feb. I have already spoken to several distributors who would cover Aus/NZ video/dvd distribution, but haven't shown them the film yet (waiting till it's finished). There's a good chance for at least some film fest screenings, maybe a few cinema screenings then video/dvd later in the year. We are unlikely to get a wide cinema distribution though.

Sammy: Will the dvd have a bunch of cool extras on it?

Mark: I certainly hope so. I've always wanted to do a commentary. Me and Ben (co-writer) will rip it to shreds, show everyone the mistakes, fight over who wrote the good jokes and who didn't write the bad ones, etc. Also there are over 25 hours of behind the scenes footage that I hope will be edited into a cool making of doco.

Sammy: Sounds good. I love all that stuff myself. How did you come up with the idea for the story of Futile Attraction?

Mark: We reverse engineered it - what would be easy to film? Doco style. Comedy was a given. What hasn't really been done in "mocumentary" comedy? Relationship analysis. Who could we use? We wrote some characters around actor friends. It evolved heaps from that. Keep in mind we wrote it over 4 1/2 years. When we started it was before Blair Witch, before Survivor or any of the "reality TV" craze thing started

Sammy: Wow! I assumed it was the reality TV craze that sort of "inspired" the story, so now I know differently. Did the story change much over that time period?

Mark: Oh yeah! It kept changing and developing each re-write with us concentrating on different characters more or less at different times. It's also changed a lot in editing, as most films do, when you can see which characters and subplots are working better or worse than others

Sammy: Did you do the whole test screening thing where you saw what different people where responding to most, or could you just tell?

Mark: Test screenings. Just small ones with a mixture of friends or industry contacts whose "eyes" I respected. There've been 3 or 4 at different points, and it's always been interesting showing it to people who've never met me and haven't ever heard of the film. Often they give the best feedback, as it is the most objective and critical (which you need sometimes)

Sammy: The assistant editor has just shown up, do you mind if he joins our chat?

Mark: Sure.

Sammy: Mark, this is Kris, I am just emailing him what we have talked about so far.

Mark: Hi Kris

Kris: Hey Mark. Sorry I'm late...

Mark: You're not, we were early. You had enough coffee yet?

Kris: Yep. Extra large mug this morning before work.

Sammy: I couldn't help but notice, being the geek that I am, that you mention that you've wanted to make movies since seeing Star Wars as a young kid, Mark. Do you still like the star wars movies? And why do you think that it had such an impact on so many people who are in the movie business today?

Mark: How long have you got...?

Sammy: Haha. Yeah, loaded question there

Kris: As long as you want. We're all part of the Star Wars generation!

Mark: From a writing perspective it's the Joseph - what the hell's his surname, hero with a thousand faces guy...

Sammy: Yeah I forget too. I know the dude you mean though. (By the way, the “dude” we were thinking of is author Joseph Campbell)

Mark: You know tapping into cultural myth story structure. It engages your imagination on a really subconscious level and lets you connect emotionally to it unlike many other Hollywood films of any genre. I should avoid putting anything in print about the prequels, but the original holy trilogy I could geek out about forever

Kris: Amen brother. I still like the New Testament too!

Sammy: It (the website) also mentions your work on the Lord of the Rings, which must have been a fantastic experience.

Mark: Yeah, it was only one night in Minas Tirith, but that was pretty mind blowing. I totally adore LOTR and have been getting into King Kong through the production diaries you can download. Very, very cool.

Sammy: Awesome. Now, we should get back to your film. Basically, it seems you managed to put your cast together from friends and other people you'd worked with earlier. Were they all really taken with your story or just keen to work with you?

Mark: Props need to go to Dra McKay the casting director. She was a friend of mine who I asked for advice and offered a small role to. I expected a coffee and a chat, but she got into the script and worked full time for a month for free and most of the actors actually auditioned! I was soooo lucky with that. Some actors I knew, others were strangers before the shoot. They all worked for free

Kris: Is that the general feeling within the filmmaking community; to support up and coming directors/actors to help them get a start?

Mark: Basically people like to work, so if there's something that might be fun to do for a couple of weeks and they're not too busy you can usually find people

Kris: That's pretty much how Buttonhole came in to being too!

Mark: Also, I made the wise choice to work in industry before hand, so people knew that I knew my way around a crew and wasn't going to waste their time

Sammy: True. New Zealand seems to be full of talented film makers and actors etc, is there something in the water there?

Mark: I think it's basically our size. There are lots of problems with being so damn small, e.g. consistency of work. But you just get to know everyone and people get to try stuff more than you would in a bigger place

Sammy: Of course you understand that when you are huge we will claim that you're an Aussie.

Mark: Yeah we notice that...have you guys claimed Peter Jackson yet?

Sammy: Somehow he slipped past us, don't know how

Kris: No, I think PJ did a really good job of promoting the fact that it's all from NZ! What has been the spin-off of the whole LOTR production in NZ? Has it left you with better facilities/resources to make movies?

Mark: Definitely better facilities, more trained people and more exposure for actors. It can make it hard to do local productions because everyone is working on Kong or Lion/Witch/Wardrobe and you obviously can't compete financially with them. But don't get me wrong I'm not complaining about it, I think the spin-offs have been great and it means that you need to work harder at making your script worth people doing in the first place. There are a lot of really shitty low budget films made here which no one ever sees, so things which make us make better films is good.

Kris: It must give you hope that PJ went from Splatter to Hollywood, to George Lucas style self-made Mogul?

Mark: Yeah, very inspiring. Particularly as he has kept everything here and invested so much into Kiwi film infrastructure. I'm well into splatter movies and horrors, so I love the fact that in US supermarkets you can buy Bad Taste on dvd with "From The Director of Lord of the Rings" splashed all over the cover.

Kris: Are there any government initiatives to support the film-making in NZ. I.e. there are State and National based film financing funds in Australia. Is it similar to that?

Mark: Yep, very similar. The NZ Film Commission funds almost all New Zealand films; they have a new initiative for digi-features too, which I'm hopeful about.

Sammy: I think your story of getting this movie made will be inspiring to many. What advice do you offer aspiring directors on how to best get their projects up and running?

Mark: Hmm…fall in love with you project so that you'll do anything to make it...don't fall in love with your film too much, because then you won't change things that need to be changed. Get feedback on your scripts and don't assume you know what you're doing. Changing things at script stage is SOOOOOOOO much easier than in editing. Work on film crews, you learn more in 5 minutes on a crew then in 5 years at film school.

Kris: When you say digi-features are we talking animation or HD movie cameras?

Mark: By digi-features I mean low budget movies like mine, shot digitally instead of film. Check out www.headstrong.co.nz for more info about that

Kris: Cool. What was the movie shot on? Are we talking DV camcorders or better?

Mark: Digi-beta - the other advantage of working on film crews is that you earn favours and I used to focus-pull (camera assist) for the guy who ran the main camera rental company so we got a sweet deal on top gear

Kris: So it is like the big clich : "It's not what you know but who you know!"

Mark: It's a clich for a reason...

Sammy: Most of them are.

Kris: How did you go about promoting yourself? Obviously the internet is a good place to start... We're looking for tips here!

Mark: Being totally shameless with publicity is important, and having nothing to lose is a good start...I started plugging the website with Tribe fan sites, bonding with other geeks.

Sammy: I am shameless with it too!

Kris: Pardon my ignorance, but what was Tribe?

Mark: Tribe is a kids TV show I used to work on that some of the actors were in and it is massive in Europe. All the actors have their own teenage fan sites (some are linked to from my link page) so I wrote to the sites and told them about what I was doing. They got into it big time and started writing about it on chat rooms, etc. Then I started with Xena sites as Michelle Ang (from my film and Neighbours and Tribe) killed Xena in the final episode. Xena fans have been great. Being a geek has its advantages sometimes

Sammy: I'm familiar with her Neighbours work, but don't tell anyone.

Kris: WHAT!! You watch Neighbours!?

Sammy: No comment. (Ok, I'll confess now folks; I do sometimes watch it. The girls are hot. Michelle Ang is hot too for that matter.)

Mark: I also contacted Neighbours fans as well. They've all been so cool with helping me and been so supportive with creating a waiting audience for the film before it's even finished.

Kris: Mental note, get Neighbours stars to write for buttonhole!

Sammy: We have mentioned a couple already, but who are some of your favourite directors?

Mark: David Lynch, Coen Bros, Peter Jackson of course, Costa Gavras, Lucas Moodyson, Kubrick and Tarantino. Christopher Guest… I could keep going; you know what it's like...

Kris: You noticed our out of 11 scoring system then? (Referring to our scores going to 11 in honour of Spinal Tap- the Christopher Guest connection)

Sammy: that's a quirky list. All very interesting and individual directors with distinctive styles.

Mark: Jim Jarmush as well. God I love Dead Man! Woody Allen… Okay, I should stop now.


Sammy: Haha. I love dead man too actually. Iggy Pop and Johnny Depp is a good combination

Mark: I saw Donnie Darko again last night one of my favourites. Richard Kelly's only made one film but I'm insanely jealous that he made that at 26!

*At this point we had to wrap it up due to Mark and Kris both having other commitments to get back to.*

Mark: Any last questions?

Sammy: Is there anything in particular you'd like us to put in?

Mark: Maybe mention the fact that Xtra (biggest ISP in NZ) have sponsored the site and want to promote it as an innovative use of internet. The final money came from Radio Pacific (talk back radio station) live on air in an interview. Gotta keep everyone happy.

Kris: Done!

Sammy: Yep, that'll be there for sure.

Sammy: Well, thanks again for your time Mark and good luck with everything!

Kris: Thanks Mark, all the best with Futile Attraction!

Mark: I look forward to reading it. Thanks for the publicity... bye

So there you have it folks. Make you sure you check out Mark's website and see his movie when you get the chance! Also, on a very positive closing note, Taika Waitit aka Taika Cohen, who has a comedic cameo in Futile Attraction, wrote and directed a short called "Two Cars One Night" which is up for best live action short at the Academy Awards!


by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman



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Toons
ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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