the 57

26 Feb 13

‘The 57’ is a short essay film about my experience of the Melbourne tram route I often use for transport in and out of the city. The film is 15 minutes long and was shot entirely on an IPhone. What appears here is a nearly-finished version but, given the nature of the production, it is relatively easy to make changes. I am interested in getting feedback from filmmaking and academic peers before I finish it. I am hoping to try out a form of peer review that may be suitable for the academic screen production discipline.

Please feel free to make comments on this blog post – positive or negative, specific or general, named or anonymous are all welcome.  You can also email feedback to me at leo.berkeley@rmit.edu.au. Because this is not the final version of the film, I have set it up so you need a password to access it. You can contact me if you do not already have the password.

A standard definition version may play better if you do not have a fast connection.


6 responses to “the 57”

  1. jenny weight says:

    The images are great. The theme is great, once you get into it. Your intro sounds too moralistic – I think this is partly stilted delivery, you need to chill out more. Once you’re talking about what you can’t film, it’s much better
    I think putting the quotes on screen in text works better than you reading them.
    Perhaps you need to work on a better transition to the machinima. (How do you do that lipsync?)
    Don’t apologise for the Murnau scene.
    Find a voice which is less like a lecture?
    I like the end.
    Take the music from Murnau and use it with the 57?

  2. Laurene says:

    hi leo

    thanks for sharing this. i agree with jenny i think that the main thing i would comment on is the voice over. it does sound like either a lecture or a presentation rather than a voice over narration of ideas. i like the use of observation, reflection and quotation but it just seems some how to be too formal for the film and the content. the more poetic moments throughout the film have as much power as anything – the shots of people just doing their thing, the masks, or the final scenes with the tram just having its life almost without you.

    i think if you can work on this you will have something that is both interesting as a piece of academic research and as a film unto itself. and i kind of think that this is the thing about this kind of practice based research – the practice has to speak to the field in its own manner and not seem self conscious which at the moment it seems to. i suppose i’m thinking – could this screen with other films or only for the academy? (academic academy that is – not that other filmy type one)


    • Leo says:

      Thanks for the feedback Laurene. You’ve raised a couple of important issues for me. The question of audience is a big one. For better or worse, I have been aiming primarily at an academic audience. This might be a mistake but I was wondering what an ‘academic’ film might be like, by which I mean a film that explicitly connects its content (and form) to intellectual ideas more than usual. Maybe not a good idea because the academic audience is not a big one and films that try this can easily become boring but, on the other hand, there are some impressive examples where it works. It also does raise interesting questions about to what extent this approach suits the film medium but I’m interested to explore the possibilities. The other issue, which is related, is about me performing the voice-over, which is new territory for me but I’m keen to get better at it. The lecture-like quality of some of the voice-over might mainly be my lack of performance ability but also finding the right voice, both as a writer and a performer. I’m intending to have another go where I try to make it less formal and more engaging, so it’s good for me to know how it comes across to others.

  3. Christine says:

    Just watched the 57 and really enjoyed it, I love the personal voice, and the images of your daughters.

    some thoughts:
    I found the academic stuff a bit dry and boring, I think it’s around the 3 min mark, and couldn’t make the connection to the mask. I was relieved to come back to the 5 min or so mark about unruliness, which I really liked. I felt you made a digression before this which was less personal, and less interesting, more like a lecture. I think it was about what you can’t film – I don’t mind you acknowledging this but so much emphasis on it made me think oh no what will he film then, will it be boring? but if it wasn’t.

    I’m not super keen on the avatars, but that’s not my cup of tea anyway.

    I really liked the William Castle stuff, and the beautiful Murnau (sp?) scene and the shots from your feature. At about 12 mins I zoned out a bit, I think it got a bit abstract and academic again, about affect? Then I loved the ending about going to the end of the line, really lovely.

  4. Federico says:

    Hi Leo,

    it is a great project. just few observations from the filmmaking side

    from a film side I think the second part is better than the first, more fluid. So I think the beginning should be more fluid too. I would get rid of the slow mo bits, it just looks like you di not have enough footage, or you can edited all together in a slow-mo sequence before the title.

    I particularly like the Sunrise insertion and the one from your film, but I have to disagree about “train and films are quite rare” so much so that there quite a bit of literature about train and film being two sides of the same coin, from the view from the train’s windows being a early film, to the visual metaphor of the train carriage and the film strip, to many train shots in the Lumiere’s Catalogue (one from Melbourne), Phanton rides, Hale’s Tours, (Sydney first existing footage is from a tram, 1906), Vertov, Renoir, Ozu, Wenders. Personally I think train and trams (and travel in general) are at the core of the fascination with cinema.

    Music/Sound I was missing a bit of ambient sound, live recording

    finally I have heard similar stories from other tram lines, in particular the 86 line which guarantees quite eventful rides. This episode made it in The Age, the letter of protest and answer from Yarra Tram is worth reading.



  5. David says:

    Hi Leo

    I also think that it takes you a while to slip into a more relaxed essayistic groove – at the start the voice, combined with the guitar music (which I really don’t like) makes it seem more like a straight documentary. I thought it really kicked in about the time your daughters first appeared. Your narrative voice really varies throughout but sometimes its really lovely – I liked it when you said you just had to let the Murnau run and there could be more of those playful self-observations. I love the Murnau clip, the clip from Holidays and the masks – the playful mixing of visual sources and textures that you get into. i found the introduction of the ‘big conflict’ on that particular line a little too overdramatic, and I wondered why we couldn’t even ever hear any signs of disruptive behaviour, if we couldn’t see them. I agree with others re the overly ‘academic’ tone – I think the challenge is to be essayistic and engaging the rich ideas you are exploring but its when you bring the scholarly into the everyday poetics that it works, rather than if it sounds like you could be reading a ‘paper. I quite liked the animations being the ‘unrulies’ but perhaps if so they could be introduced earlier – and I was less sure about the ‘animated you’.

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