David Black chats with Melbourne Film maker, Glen Cook, about changes within the indie film industry since the Covid19 restrictions.
DB – Hi Glen, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. I last interviewed you for the journal on April 12 2020, soon after Melbourne went into lockdown. That interview was called “The Plagues of Oz” and covered how various indie film industry people were dealing with the crisis. I wanted to come back to you now that Melbourne has been out of lockdown for a month or two because you work as a Gaffer in the film industry and get around to a lot of sets and can shed some light (no pun intended) on how things have changed since the lockdowns. Before we get to that though, can you give me a brief overview of how things were during stage 4 lockdowns?
GC – G’day Dave and thanks for interviewing me again. What a year we have had, fire, floods, plague, we have had it all really and due to lockdowns, a lot of time to contemplate life and where we are going. I was no different in this situation and besides spending the down time making sour dough bread, roasting meats on a spit, and thinking of ideas for when we come out of lockdown, it was a chance to look at where I was, what I was doing and how I should proceed next. While it was restrictive, I found the whole situation quite freeing as well and a time to heal in a number of ways. The situation concerning a pandemic like this is quite serious, and we have seen just how many lives around the world have been lost, and that isn’t going to go away soon. Its a once in a generation event, so it should be dealt with the seriousness it deserves, and that's ok, because it allows us to step back from the ultra self centred, and greedy environment we were living in, kick back and get in touch with things that are much more simple and humanitarian.
DB – Now that we are out of lockdown, I get the feeling that things have changed a fair bit. I mainly see things from the perspective of my own projects though, whereas you get onto many sets. One thing I’ve found is that instead of champing at the bit to get onto sets, many people seem to be holding back in the fear that a snap lockdown will happen again. Are you seeing this too, or is it just me?
GC – Its interesting you ask that. There is a change, that is for sure. Its a bit like the person who is an arrogant loud mouth, who then cops an absolute beating, and after they are some what subdued. That is how it feels. Certainly productions are happening all over the place, but there is a certain weariness now. I'm not sure its a fear of another lock down, but more the case of the effects of a major life changing event. I think some people have taken the time to leave the industry at various levels, seeing the pause as a good time to get off the merry-go-round. the other aspect of production is the lack of funds. The “industry” has been without its usual income sources, and everyone has taken a hit financially, so people are planning more and waiting to get their bank balances back where they should be. All these things have a cumulative effect, and it doesn’t help that our “industry” isn’t really an industry with all the support and back ups that an industry usually has. So it will take a little while for it to recover.
DB – Over this last year, have you seen many people simply leave the industry? I know that I’ve lost touch with some people and was wondering why. What has been your experience here?
GC – I have to say its honestly very hard to say from my perspective. I have the situation where I come onto a set and its a different crew every time, so its hard to know who is here and who is no longer making things. Pretty much all of the full time industry people I know of are still doing their thing, but honestly as to who is still indulging in making films and who has had enough its very hard to say. I certainly expect a certain number of people to drop out. Its natural and a lot of people do have a gut full of the nonsense and move on to better things.
DB – Whenever we are in trying times, there are always those that shine. Did you feel that some people managed to turn this disaster around for themselves and come out on top?
GC – Anyone who has come out the other side of this in any way shape or form has come out on top. That might sound a bit like, lets pat our selves on the back even though we are battle scarred and weary etc, but its true. We got through this and now its a case of moving on. But, yes there are those people who will be looking at the down time to review where they are and plan for when things get rolling again. Some people such as yourself made isolation films where part were filmed in isolation and then edited together. Its a great bit of creative thinking, and an exercise of making something with restrictions. It can be done, its just a matter of deciding how to do it. I chuckle in some aspects, because in the photography side of things, people were doing “isolation shoots” where the photographer was in one location and the model was in another. I personally don’t subscribe to it, because its not even close to being in a location together and using the lighting and location to create some magic. If this was the case, every screen shot from an onlyfans visit would count. Maybe this is why OnlyFans did so well Hahaha, who knows? But with the film medium you certainly can do it, and create this patchwork of a film. Its interesting as a concept and it certainly can be done.
DB – Of all of the changes during this time, which do you feel are the most important ones? What stands out to you the most?
GC – Tricky to say, because not all the effects and changes are apparent yet, and as with the whole pandemic, the effects will be felt for a very very long time to come. Its the one where our kids will say to their grand children, “I remember when”. I think there needs to be a lot of soul searching on what the “industry” sees itself, what it represents, and where it is going in the future. I think one thing that has stood out is how out of touch the industry has become with what the public want from it. Maybe this wasn’t so obvious previously, and this certainly more in reference with Hollywood, but we follow closely in their foot steps, so it pertains to us too. The film world needs to go back and focus on entertaining people, bringing some escapism for a couple of hours instead of forcing political agendas, quotas and identity etc down peoples throats. That is not to say these things aren’t important, and there is certainly an avenue for that sort of thing. But in a global climate where a majority are suffering because of the pandemic, it really sucks to have the rick elite virtue signaling their hearts out. The Academy Awards really demonstrated this big time with the worst ratings ever. If people don’t watch or care to watch, then you don’t have much of a living from your industry and you aren’t teaching the masses with your story either. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to say, if you force it down peoples throats, in a time that all people are looking at doing, is surviving in the game of life, then your preaching to a minority choir.
DB – And just to round up, how do you feel all of this has affected the future? What changes do you see on the horizons?
GC – Well there really are two ways we can go. We can entertain again and draw the masses back to watching great products, (and lets face it, there have been some real stinkers on screen of late) and restore some hope for the future, or the industry crashes and burns and is picked up in the future by someone else who isn’t blighted with arrogantly telling people how to live. Honestly if you want to watch a great film about, say, prejudice with some brilliant actors, even more brilliant screen writing, entertains you, and gives you a good laugh as well, watch a brilliant film called “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
DB – For those that wish to follow your work more closely, can you give us some links?
GC - Some of my work can be found at: www.lone-viking.com