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18 September 2018
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Adam Bayliss, creator of Luna and the Moon, a winner in the Raw Nerve Initiative

The Raw Nerve initiative provides emerging filmmakers with the opportunity to produce quality short films on a minimal budget. The scheme was created to address the AFC and Screen Development Australia's (SDA) shared objective of showcasing the new talent emerging through the screen resource organisations in each state.

Metro Screen coordinates the NSW component of Raw Nerve. The aim is to provide first-time filmmakers with an opportunity to showcase their filmic storytelling ability. The scheme targets people who do not have the resources to make a film without assistance. The immediate outcome is the production of a short video as a show reel or festival entry. The long-term benefits may be further development funding or pathways into the industry.

AFC Editorial Coordinator Kirsten Krauth spoke to one of the NSW winners, producer Adam Bayliss, creator of the Raw Nerve short film
Luna and the Moon.

KK: What is your background? Have you made short films before?

AB: I've been working in the film industry for several years in various roles, particularly a lot of work as a set dresser and as part of a production office team. I've been involved in several no-budget short films in the past.

Why did you decide that your project was suited to the Raw Nerve Initiative?

To be honest, the decision to enter Luna and the Moon into Raw Nerve was partially because I couldn't let an opportunity to get some support for a film go past without jumping on it. Luna and the Moon is a project that I thought could benefit stylistically from a low budget, utilising handheld shots and video quality footage, to give a rawer, more energetic feeling to the story.

What is your project about?

Luna and the Moon is a brief exploration into the world of a transsexual woman, Luna. It explores both the psychological and emotional issues of being transgendered, as well as being a story that tries to create a deep relationship with a single character. It is created partly as a slice of raw realism, partly as a piece of highly visual fantasy.

What does Raw Nerve offer when you are a successful applicant?

Apart from being able to work with a budget, the initiative also offers the opportunity to work with experienced professionals supporting and nurturing you throughout the filmmaking process.

How helpful did you find the Digital Micro Movie Weekend Workshop? What did you cover?

The Digital Micro Movie weekend was a useful refresher course for me. The course covered basic use of a DVCPro camera and simple editing on the Media 100 suite, as well as a bit about lighting and some definitions for common industry terms.

The majority of the knowledge in this course was knowledge that I had picked up elsewhere, TAFE and on-the-job training, but it was good to go over it all again.

How did you choose your team given your limited budget?

The team was sourced through several avenues. Many were contacts and collaborators that I've known for some time, through other projects and previous jobs; others were found by advertising in internet posting sites.

How did you find your actors and did you go through a rehearsal process?

I placed casting notices around in various locations, Actors' Centre, internet noticeboards etc, and held auditions based on reactions from those. Once actors were cast that embodied the film's characters, there was a rehearsal period where the lead character got to spend time with the other actors and perform a series of improvised scenarios with those characters, as well as going over the script. On top of that, the actor playing Luna took it upon himself to dress in character, as a transgendered woman in public, to better understand his character. He went to Wigs International for a consultation (they donated a wig to the film), went shopping in the city for his costumes, and spent time at The Gender Centre, hearing the experiences of transsexual women.

Your key character is a transgendered woman and you chose to film in the heart of Kings Cross. What were the challenges of shooting in such a busy area?

Not only did we choose to shoot in Kings Cross, but we were shooting on a Saturday night. Apart from the challenge of finding a quiet area within Kings Cross, we had to also be aware that there are plenty of people in the Cross who don't like the idea of a camera, let alone an entire film crew - they do not want to be captured on film. Then there's the other end of the scale - people who have been out drinking, whose curiosity is piqued by the presence of a film crew, and a bit of intoxication makes them happy to stick their face in front of the camera and wave to mum.

Did you find you had to work around certain limitations because of the low budget?

Naturally there are limitations with working with a low budget. You have to keep all costs down. You can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars on an elaborate set, or wardrobe. Cast and crew need to be prepared to work for nothing or very little.

You are now drawing to the final stages of editing and post-production in sound. Do you have a certain style in mind in terms of editing?

The editing will focus on playing with pace and colour, and of course cleaning up the problems that occur on a shoot with no budget and a tight schedule! Audio will be interesting because of the interference shooting in the Cross, even after bribing buskers not to play while we shot the dialogue!

Why did you choose Coda to do the soundtrack and how did you talk them into it?

Coda is the ideal band for the film's soundtrack because of their ability to shift between soft and dreamy melodies and full-bodied percussive beats, perfectly reflecting the style of Luna and the Moon. I had actually met one of the members of Coda at this year's IF Awards and, when Luna was accepted into Raw Nerve, I contacted them and asked if they would be interested in donating some of their pre-existing music to the film. While they were happy to do that, they were more interested in honing their own composition skills by writing an original score. Naturally I was happy to oblige.

Where can readers see the film?

Cannes? Ha ha ha. But the film will be entered into a variety of international film festivals, as well as screening on the new Community TV Channel in Sydney, TVS (Ch 31).

For more information on Raw Nerve: launches, screenings, application guidelines and entry deadlines please contact the screen resource organisation in your state.