I was thrilled to be awarded (along with sound team Lawrie Silvestrin and John Simpson) an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) award for the best sound in a documentary for Whiteley. For those outside Australia, an AACTA award is our equivalent of a British BAFTA or American Oscar.
Not only did the feature documentary Whiteley pick up the sound award; it also won best composer Ash Gibson Greig, best editor Lawrie Silvestrin and best director James Bogle. So, as you can imagine, it was a very happy table and we partied well into the night.
The documentary, produced by Northern Pictures, is the story of Australia’s iconic artist Brett Whiteley, told ‘in his own words’ using personal letters, notebooks and photographs, interwoven with reconstructions, animations, archival interviews and rare footage.
The documentary was quite a challenge, as there is no narrator to link the story together. We used actors to read press stories and letters and melded those voices into the actual archive footage. After working very hard to clean up the archival sound, I then had to take the pristine recorded voices of the actors and grunge them up so that they matched. Some also had to be playing out of old radios and TVs of the time. We had an actor reading Brett’s writings, and this voice, too, had to be matched to the archive.
Because of the complexity of the edit, it ran well over schedule, and the film already had its cinema release dates, so it transpired that I had only three days to do the final mix on the 90-minute film. As I always want tweaks to the music in the mix stage, Ash moved his whole studio into my mix suite, which allowed us to add and change little bits as we went.
The day before the awards, I took part in a ‘Meet the Nominees’ panel. It was a buzz to meet up with the other panellists: Stephen Smith (Wake in Fright), Robert MacKenzie (Lion), David White (Blue) and Cate Cahill (Killing Ground). Nigel Christensen did a great job as the moderator. You can see the panel here (my bit starts at 34 minutes).
It is always said that filmmaking is a collaborative endeavour, so it is fantastic when the work of the whole team is recognised.