KODAK AWARD New Directors - In Conversation

Published on website: December 02, 2009
Categories: Feature Films , Johanna Gravelle , The StoryBoard Blog

On September 9th, in a special presentation held in Sydney Australia, Kodak introduced and celebrated the 2009 KODAK AWARD New Director of the Year winners to more than 200 members of the entertainment industry in the Asia Pacific region.  The KODAK AWARD New Director winner is Dael Oates from Prodigy Films Sydney and the KODAK AWARD New Director - Student or Current Graduate winner is David Rusanow from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. 



Dael Oates


Dael Oates

There was quite a bit of discussion about which commercials Prodigy should submit to the Kodak AWARD New Director of the Year.  Should we put this one in or that one?  And, in the end, it really came down to which ones had a strong fundamental idea, rather than just being good-looking ads.  But my favorite is the Sony Vaio job.  It was really the most enjoyable because the agency just let me go.  The whole thing was quite exciting, driving around Auckland, New Zealand, projecting images on buildings, getting pulled over by the police…   

I like to make things off the cuff, guerilla style, I shot the Sony commercial digitally because we had to 'roll camera' on all kinds of stuff.  I really wish I had shot it on film, but it was a budget thing.  I come from a photographic background and so I always want to shoot film.

Coming from a film background, there is a discipline involved in shooting film - a sense of commitment -- that you don't have with digital.  With digital, it's more shooting from the hip, you can shoot, shoot, shoot -- but then you have to add the discipline later.  So, you push all the time and the money back into the post-process which is more expensive.  And you still lose this commitment part of the process upfront

My refrigerator is always full of bits and pieces of film left over from jobs I've done, different film speeds and emulsions.  I'm in the middle of a short film with my DP, Peter Eastgate, where we're exploring three different perspectives on one theme; it's more on the 'art side', less commercial.  Winning this KODAK AWARD, that also includes a film prize, will be a great help to us finishing that.

I've been really lucky, my style is hitting some marks with creatives and now this award from Kodak helps.  Directors are inherently insecure; there is a part of me that when I'm putting my work out there -- and even though there is a production company behind me -- if people don't like it, I'm the one who will take the hit so I feel vulnerable.  To get an award like this is confirmation I'm doing something right; it's a little push along. It's just great confirmation for a director, I'm very grateful for the award, because I was just plugging away and suddenly this little bright light happens.  So it's all good.

David Rusanow:


David Rusanow

  My favorite work on the reel was the black and white condom ad because it was simple; the idea just came to me one day and it works really well as an ad. It was a one-day shoot; and I wish I had been able to spend a bit more time on the texture of it.  Budgets got in the way when it came to spending time color timing it, but it's a very stylized piece.  We shot it in color and then showed it in black and white.

There are so many factors in choosing between film and digital.  It's money, it's logistics, it's your producer as well.  In some cases I know, the director has said this is what I want to shoot on and his producer has gone out of his way to get that for him, to enable him to do that.  If I had the money, I would probably shoot 80-percent of everything I shoot on film.

I had written something that wanted to be self contained -- a short movie -- and I knew the quality I wanted, the feel I wanted, and I knew that film could get me there.  And also I was on a small set and I wanted to be able to control depth of field, I didn't want to see everything, so shooting on 16mm made a huge difference and it was really lovely.  Film really helped me to tell that story.

The whole HD revolution is creating competition, it's upping the ante.  To me, that's a great thing.  Look at 2-perf film cameras, for example.  Three or four years ago, you couldn't find one.  Now they're available.  You can shoot 2-perf, save some money, and still shoot film.

In the digital world, there are so many formats; it's hilarious when it comes to trying to find a way to play everything back.  With film, you have two options - flat or scope.  That's it.  When you have it on film, it's easy.  You look at it, figure out which format it is, and you project it.  That's why, at the end of the line, no matter what I shoot on, I'd like to see it projected on film; I like to see all my stuff projected on 35mm. 

I really like to be forced to tell a story in 30 seconds.  When you make a TV commercial, you learn that you can say so much in just four shots in 30 seconds.  It's great because the ability to do that really helps when you are making a short film or even a feature; you know how to tell a story simply and visually. One of the great things about the KODAK AWARD is that more people will see my work.

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