RMIT University, Building 80, Level 10 – Room 80.09.07
Post-Hollywood: Animating the Illusion of Location in Melbourne’s Post, Digital, and Visual Effects Industry
Tara Lomax, University of Melbourne
Melbourne’s post-production, digital, and visual effects (PDV) sector, contiguously located within the inner-city suburb of South Melbourne, is significant to the innovations in animation and special effects of many major Hollywood productions. Luma Pictures has a long-sustained relationship with Marvel Studios, with recent work including The Avengers: Age of U!tron (2015) and Ant-Man (2015), as well as the Coca-Cola tie-in advert, ‘A Mini Marvel’ (2016). Moreover, lloura have made significant contributions to Ghostbusters (2016) and Game of Thrones (2011 -) following their acclaimed work on Ted (2012), and DDP Studios’ credits include Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and The Lego Movie (2014). Therefore, it is possible to reimagine South Melbourne as both a centralised hub in Australia’s PDV industry, as well as a trade diaspora for the increasing global dispersal of Hollywood’s post-production sector.
The Australian Screen Production Incentive (ASPI) reinforces this POV hub as a centre for creative and technological excellence in local Australian screen production and also a far-removed Hollywood outpost, almost inscribing the sector with an illusionary sense of location. The POV Offset provides a sizeable rebate to ‘large budget productions, including those not necessarily shot in Australia’ (“Fact Sheet”). In contrast to the Location Offset, which requires that principal photography be carried out in Australia, the PDV Offset ‘is aimed at attracting PDV work to Australia on productions which shoot offshore’ (“Guidelines”). In this way, the virtual nature of animation and visual effects parallels the almost indeterminable nature of location in the POV Offset eligibility.
In this paper, I argue that the dynamic between Hollywood and Melbourne’s POV industry can be conceptualised as a spatiotemporal convergence of divided locations and production workflow. The phrase ‘we’ll fix it in post’ has taken on proverbial significance within Hollywood production. As such, the temporal role of post-production in the sequential moviemaking process is problematised by the incorporation of post-production into the production workflow, and the geo-virtual incorporation of Melbourne’s POV industry into Hollywood.
Tara Lomax is a PhD candidate in Screen Studies at the University of Melbourne. Tara’s research examines the conceptual nature of franchise cinema as a mode of production that interfaces industrial conditions with complex textual forms. The objective of this research is to investigate how franchise cinema, as a dominant contemporary mode of Hollywood cinema, re-informs traditional areas of study in the screen studies discipline, such as authorship, form and genre, and visual effects. Tara has previously completed postgraduate degrees at AFTRS and the University of Sydney and their other research interests include transmedia and world-building, superheroes and fantasy, creative industries, and film serials. Tara is also a sessional tutor and lecturer in Screen and Cultural Studies, having previously coordinated the unit Hollywood and Entertainment, is a postgraduate member in the Transformative Technologies Research Unit, and was on the organising committee for the Feasting on Hannibal conference.
Predestination and Uncanny (Mis)recognition
Djoymi Baker, University of Melbourne
Filmed in Melbourne but standing in for Cleveland, Predestination (The Spierig Brothers 2014) provides local audiences with moments of recognition in which the familiar becomes estranged in a new context, relocated in time and space. The film is set in an alternative past, one in which time travel is invented in the 1980s. Although seemingly ‘futuristic’ in its technological premise, the film stays firmly in the past, using costuming in particular to evoke our cultural memories even as it reshapes them. Within this reconfigured Melbourne, the film’s characters must similarly re-categorise the people they meet in a series of temporal loops, and must learn to empathise with those they have previously despised. In both its process and narrative themes, then, Predestination is about rewriting memory, both those of its characters, and of its local audience.
Vivian Sobchack (1999) has argued that location shooting provides local audiences with ‘documentary’ moments of recognition even within fiction films. Admittedly, Sobchack is being characteristically provocative here, in order to question the overly easy boundary we tend to assign to fiction· and non-fiction, which often bypasses considerations of affective spectatorship in the process. However, she underestimates the impact of layering fact and fiction onto known spaces. In this paper, I use Predestination to argue for uncanny moments of audience (mis)recognition, in which the familiar is rendered strange even as it is recognised and affectively realised. The filmic scene functions both as a document of a lived experience and memory, and as its simultaneous reassignment into an alternate, fictional world in which place, time, and Melbourne’s identity (as well as that of its protagonists) are all in science-fictional flux.
Djoymi Baker teaches Screen Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, where her dissertation on myth and the transmedia franchise Star Trek won the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence. She is the co-author of The Encyclopedia of Epic Films (2014). Her articles (on topics including cinematic affect, television stardom, science fiction television, online TV fandom, and the sword-and-sandal epic) have appeared in journals such as Popular Culture Review, Senses of Cinema, and Refractory, and in anthologies such as Millennial Mythmaking (2010) and Star Trek as Myth (2010). Forthcoming work includes television spectatorship in the streaming era, and current research examines affective engagement with the inhuman on screen. She previously worked for many years in television news and current affairs.
Paris, Melbourne: the appropriation of Parisian chic in marketing Melbourne
Felicity Chaplin, Monash University
According to historian Graeme Davison, the Parisian iconography of Melbourne dates back to the Impressionists, “whose vision of the backstreets and boulevards of Paris became the template for a new Australian urban aesthetic. Local painters, photographers, and filmmakers imagined Collins Street as Melbourne’s Rue de Rivoli”.
Two separate advertising campaigns for Tourism Victoria, the first made in 2007, the second in 2012, draw heavily on Parisian iconography to market the city of Melbourne. This iconography is depicted both in images and narrative which date back to the nineteenth century. In particular, these advertisements, entitled respectively ‘Lose Yourself in Melbourne’ and ‘Play Melbourne’, create an image of the city synonymous with the fashion photography of the 1950s and 1960s which, according to Jess Berry, “exploited the continental facades of the city, attempting to capture the aura of Paris”. At the same time, these advertisements follow a typical romantic narrative trajectory featuring a fashionable young woman walking the labyrinthine streets and laneways in search of self-discovery and romance. Both advertisements are examples of the way Melbourne, according to Susan Van Wyk, has “traded on its cultivated air of Parisian chic”.
While both cinema and television have tended to use the suburban as the proper setting for Melbourne life, advertising has focussed on those aspects of Melbourne which link it visually to Europe. This is most evident in the use of the so-called ‘Paris End of Collins Street’ as the setting for haute couture, cafe life, and romance. Indeed, this notion of Melbourne as Paris was literalised in 2012 when the Paris precinct was transformed for the British-Australian action thriller The Killer Elite. This paper looks at the development of a Parisian iconography for Melbourne which has become not only an integral part of selling the city, but which has also found a place in the Australian imaginary.
Felicity Chaplin is Scholarly Teaching Fellow in French Studies at Monash University. She is the author of Between Art and Life: La Parisienne in Cinema (Manchester University Press, 2017). Her work appears in Screening the Past, Lola, Colloquy, Metro and Australian Journal of French Studies.