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Next month I’ll be hosting part of the Digital Masterclass on storytelling through video at this year’s Emerging Writer’s Festival.

In the lead up, I thought I would post a few examples of different visual storytelling techniques that have caught my interest over the past year. The first is Remains (above) by Brooklyn based Nathan Caswell, a visual story told in the poetic documentary style, blending spoken word with striking macro videography.

It caught my attention due to its emotional impact, but also in its simplicity as a video production. Of course there is an unquantifiable element of creativity in there, but the techniques employed could be described as minimalistic and achievable for the most part by a single person.… Read more

The Smokehouse

Over the last few months I’ve been working with Smith Journal on a new video offering for their delicious print magazine. Today I’m happy to share the first video born out of that collaboration (see above).

The Smokehouse was shot over 5 weeks, tracking author and all round pioneer Rohan Anderson as he built a log cabin smokehouse just outside of Melbourne. Rohan’s approach to life sets an inspiring example to the many thousands who follow his blog Whole Larder Love. He’s a man committed to forging a life less ordinary. Not just talking it, living it everyday.

He was a pleasure to work with, as were Smith, and we are totally chuffed to have had the chance to work on such an engaging project. Working with me behind the scenes on this film was my wife Monique, and friends George Husband and Aaron Cuthbert.

The release of this film also marks an exciting new chapter as I start to work under a new name for video production: Commoner.

Aaron and I have spent the last year working together on different projects, and Commoner is the name we’ve chosen to bring all our future projects under. The name … Read more

The Sweetest Thing Trailer

A few weeks ago I met Mischa Merz, a national boxing champion and accomplished author looking to create some unique video content to help promote her new book The Sweetest Thing.

After a brief conversation with Mischa, I got together with a regular collaborator of mine Aaron to see what we could come up with in a short time and with minimal budget. We had a couple of hours to shoot at Mischa’s training venue in South Melbourne and then pieced together the above trailer using a voiceover recorded in my lounge room.

I’d always wanted to make a book trailer, as I think they are a fascinating, yet challenging promotional medium for a book. A book is filled with unique, personalised images that are formed by the imagination of the reader. Everybody takes away their own version of a book; the way a character looks, talks and behaves. Hence circumventing that process with video is fraught with issues of authenticity and believability.

That and of course there aren’t many publishers with the marketing budget to fund actors, build sets and script dialogue for a minute long trailer. The restrictions mean you have to think a bit more … Read more

A drink with Chris Flynn

If you haven’t seen it already over at, above is the latest episode of the “A Drink with…” series I’ve been working on with Angela and co.

For this episode we tried to address some of the feedback from the last episodes; to improve the quality of the audio, introduce the writer sooner, and shorten the overall length.

I think this interview is far more succinct, with very little fat in the conversation. The format retains a personal one-to-one feel, but by controlling more of the elements, the end result feels a little more formal than the first episode we shot (when really we had no idea what we were going to do).

There’s a balance between the two styles that we are still trying to hit, and hopefully we’ll nail it a little more successfully in the next episode.

That said, it’s pretty easy to make a video like this if you’ve got a great interviewee. Chris Flynn is someone very easy to like in a very short time, and comes across as very genuine on screen as well as in life. It was a pleasure to film the conversation between Angela and Chris.… Read more

The power of networks

I found this to be a really interesting talk on our changing understanding of knowledge. For some reason I wanted to post it here, I think because it makes me reflect on my own thoughts about writing and books and what place the latter might have in an evermore interconnected world.

A good one for those writing in the speculative genre.… Read more

Rooftop Bees

One of the most rewarding parts of getting involved in collaborative video making is the breadth of new experiences that opens up to you.

There are not many jobs or hobbies that can equal the opportunity to follow a subject up to the iconic rooftops of Melbourne to gain an up close appreciation for the oft misunderstood honey bee. I got that opportunity with this shoot on Melbourne City Rooftop Honey (otherwise known as Rooftop Bees).

While the end product is an incredibly condensed view of the experience, the real motivation and enjoyment for me is bound up in everything that happens around and behind the camera.

We spend a considerable amount of time with each subject to produce the above 2 minutes 38 seconds. Our hope is that during that time, we (being the team behind the video) are able to capture and present a sincere portrait of the subject.

As this team learns and takes on new projects, we hope to continually lift our game so that people can better experience what we see each time we lift the camera.

Hope you enjoy. As always, feedback welcome.

Check out the rest of the video series at Milk Bar Mag.… Read more

The birth of a book

The extraordinary amount of time, effort and human resource required to bring about one book.

A reminder of that many other things may die with the printed word, including the intersection of craft and art, and the beautiful things humans can produce when working together.… Read more

A drink with LiteraryMinded

A couple of months ago I teamed up with Angela Meyer (of LiteraryMinded) to brainstorm a new video series based around author interviews.

When thinking about the right platform, I did the rounds of what people were doing with author interviews around the web. I found most videos fell into one of two buckets:

1. Video recordings of festival appearances
2. Face to camera QA sessions filmed in a dark room

Both methods have their pros and cons, but overall most of the videos I looked at were recordings of other events and hence the delivery of the material leveraged first the set up of the event and second the video format.

One of the main opportunities to ‘see’ an author comes at festivals, which are financed by people who read books. For those of us switching over to electronic formats, festivals are often inaccessible – both by geography and by area of interest (ie going to a festival to see the one author you like) – and hence the opportunity to visually interact with authors (even in a one way format) become limited.

I feel also that an author’s public persona can be quite under-serviced by festivals, and by the quality of online QA videos. Many writers shine on stage, but many don’t, particularly when in a group or when forced to … Read more

Burch and Purchese

After far too long the first Milk Bar Mag video came online last week, giving a glimpse into the sweet mastery of Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio here in Melbourne.

The video was shot on a Canon 5d Mk2 and Canon 600D, with a host of Canon prime lenses. For the dolly shots we hired a motorised Kessler Cineslider (which works like a dream by the way).

Being only the third talking heads piece any of us had ever done, some parts of the production are still a bit rough. It seems like the deeper you get into video production, the more you learn just how green you really are.

Audio for example, which started off as ‘which mic should I get?’, has quickly become which ‘mics’ (emphasis on the plural) for which situation, recorded in what format, onto which device, cleaned up in which piece of software, and sync’d up using what method?

It sounds like a drag, but learning each piece of the puzzle – or at least jamming in each piece until it fits – is an incredibly rewarding process, particularly when the results show up in the final product.

Anyway, have a watch and stay tuned … Read more

A little tease

So far 2012 has seen much of my creative time dedicated to video projects as I try to make the most of a number of new opportunities open to me, as well as relish the experience of hooking up with creative people to do creative things.

The teaser above is a first taste of a project I’ve been working on for Milk Bar Mag.

More coming very soon.… Read more

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