This will be a very familiar situation to anyone out there who has made films.
Sound recording on set is one of the weird catch-22s of filmmaking. People perceive you as less important than camera, and wasting everybody’s time when you want to hold things up to get better sound quality. What do you mean, there’s cars? This is entirely your fault, somehow!
But then, they get to post-production. Suddenly, they realise how important it is! And it’s still somehow your fault as the sound recordist that they ignored you.
But none of that – none of it – is nearly as irritating and frustrating as the mic picking up traffic that you can’t hear with the headphones off. The only thing that’s more aggravating than that is when a car drives past, just when everything is ready for the director to call action, and you have to say ‘hold for cars’.
Also, the characters from L-R are named Rebecca ‘Holly’ Holiday, Fazilah Abdel-Fattah, Alice Flanagan and Note Tenuto. I’ll talk more about the others over the next few comics, but I wanna talk about Alice right now, cos this is her only appearance.
Alice was going to be a chipper and optimistic character, who was secretly an asshole. Characters who love being assholes just for the sake of it are usually surly and belligerent, and I really wanted to write one who was always upbeat and cheerful and smiling. And why wouldn’t they be, if they’re enjoying being a prick to everyone? Plus, I wanted to write the jerk character as a woman. They’re more often than not men.
Over the next three weeks, I’m running five strips I drew for my comic-that-almost-was: Life on Sticks.
Life on Sticks was a daily comic I envisioned about a new year of students attending the Victorian College of the Arts film school – the university where I did my film degree. It’s a place unlike any other; designed to attempt a replication of what working in the industry is like, you do practical filmmaking on both your own project each year and everyone else’s. Everyone is the director doing pre-production on their own project, while simultaneously being a sound recordist or runner or something else on everyone else’s. It’s a weird little pressure cooker full of unusual people with huge creative potential, with fertile ground for drama and pain and hilarity. It was fantastic.
I loved going there (it’s where I started drawing, in fact) and I knew there was a good webcomic idea in it. But I couldn’t write and draw a daily five-panel story comic, while still maintaining Zunfa Comics. So I drew five strips to pitch Life on Sticks to a large webcomics-backing site, which would have allowed me to do both. It didn’t get picked up at the time.
(“On sticks” means to put the camera on a tripod so the shot is stable, incidentally. Eg, “Put it on sticks for this one and the reverse, we’ll dolly in the wide.” Stability in life rarely happens at film school, but you do start viewing the world around you through the lens of the camera.)
It was weird drawing these strips out of context – I had all these characters in my head, but I couldn’t draw an entire story arc just to pitch the comic. So instead I tried to draw five strips that felt like I’d plucked them out of larger arcs, but whose jokes still worked standing alone. Some of the characters were amalgamations of (or single elements from) people I knew, and as always, all of them are partially me (some more than others). Because the comic didn’t end up happening, they never had the chance to grow beyond that, but I’ll talk about the what-might-have-beens of the characters as the strips run.
I didn’t make up the ‘Devil Magic’ effect, either. It’s a real effect in Avid called Fluid Morph. Being able to join two shots together without a cut really is like dark magic, though. One of my friends called it the Devil Magic Filter, and that permanently overwrote any other nomenclature for it. I pretty much stole this joke from real life, and by “real life” I mean Tim.