In this episode, I interview Director Mike Garrick to hear about what went into directing his film ‘Yesterday’s Girl’ which is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime in the US and UK!
Transcription for our heard of hearing fans
Welcome to Action Cut and everything in between episode number nine. We are back. I’ve been taking a bit of time off a bit of a hiatus because the thing with this indie film business is that we all have lives away from the films. And unfortunately, you know, we need to eat. So, yeah, I’ve been trying to build myself up here in the UK. And yeah, that’s taken a bit longer than I was expecting. So the podcast unfortunately had to go on the backburner. But things are starting to level out now. So yeah, I’ve got loads of cool guests lined up and. Yeah, hoping to pump these out on a more regular basis from now on. So thanks for hanging on in there this week. I’ve got great interview for you all from a very good friend of mine from Australia. His name is Mike Garrick. He’s been directing commercials for many years and now he’s turned his hand to feature film directing. So we’re going to talk about his movie, Yesterday’s Girl. So, yeah. Let’s jump right in and let’s have a chat with him.
Welcome to Action Cut and everything in between. A comprehensive guide to shooting a feature film on your own.
All right, Mike. Hello. and welcome to the show.
Greetings from Australia.
How’s the weather there? Getting hot?
I heard it’s like 127 or something today. And that’s why. It’s only spring, isn’t it?
And they’re forecasting rain all weekend.
A bit like UK Summers.
Well, I doubt it. We’ve got torrential rain at the moment. We’re getting hit by like tail end of a hurricane or something. So a moment to wash the dog every day after work. So it’s a bit of a pain, but you got to do what? You gotta do it. All right. So let’s get into it. So tell us a bit about your background, what you’ve been up to over the years.
My background is I’ve been around a little while, a couple of decades. I’m a director who makes TV commercials and have been doing that for a little while.
So basically, I got into this business to actually start doing my own work. And I thought after 20 or so years, I thought, Mike, maybe it’s time you started doing your own work and not other people’s work. So fortunately, I’ve. Directed big commercials. McDonald’s and those sort of things. And, you know, having done that a really felt time, I was I should be doing other stuff, my own stuff. So with that, I started looking around for projects. Did a couple of short films completed a feature which was for four or five years in the making? Once in My Life Film Awards. And so here I am today trying to get the next projects up and running.
Yeah, cool. So how did you actually make the jump from from commercials to a feature film? I mean, did you do. Did you do any shorts or anything like that? Or was it just the commercial experience that did some shorts?
Just dipping Matar in and saying weather is really what I wanted. Well, I wanted to persevere with it. Of course, it was highly unprofitable during shorts, which is a different world from during commercials. And I made as a successful business out of doing commercials in a fairly small nation of only 24 or 25 million people. So out of that, I decided, I know I’m gonna try for FH. So I heard of a feature that needed work, needed someone. And so I sort of helped out on that. And that took for four and a half years.
Okay. And that was yesterday’s girl. Correct. Yesterday’s go. Yes. Okay, great.
As we were shooting, we noticed the ground charging under our feet that a cinema distribution was a dying business model. So based on that, we had to. Change the formula a bit and try and make something that could work on other platforms.
Okay, so what what would that difference be then like if you say theactual commercial?
Commercial. I guess ideally, I guess, in Australia. And I’m talking from Australia’s point of view here, we have an ocean of 24, 25 million people in a theatrical business model. That model does not exist. It does not work very well at 24 million, 25 million. I don’t believe coming from a commercial production point of view where I sort of know the sums and I know what’s needed to make a living out of it. So based on that, Australia, we had to really go for a global audience.
So what did you actually change to do that? Can you go into that in a bit more detail?
I guess we put in some facts and made the message a lot more global in terms of message as opposed to Australian. And, you know, having said that, it worked. We got global distribution, so we were happy with that.
Yeah. Okay. Nice. So the moment you came on board to where it is now, then what how long is the time period?
About four or five years, I think for five years.
Ok. And how long from when you joined did you actually get to start shooting then? What was the process from getting the script where it was to shoot?
Big 2 days. Yeah, well, two days prep, fortunately. Look, as an indie film, micro-budget. And we were shooting on weekends and that’s for filmmakers. That’s a fantastic thing. I’m a firm believer after a fairly substantial production experience that the more pre-production you do, the better off you are. So we were using the weeks in between the weekends to actually pre-produced each number of scenes we were shooting on the weekend. And that that was an enormous help in creating fairly formidable logistics, solving fairly heavy logistics solutions.
We had a cast, I think for a hundred at one stage, three hundred under fifty, a whole lot of extras, not principal cast.
And we could only do that by having that time in between the shoots to organize for the next weekend.
Yeah, well we are cutting in between. We managed to get any edits together in that week.
We’re doing really, really rough what I call slapit down cuts. But primarily whilst we’re shooting we were searching for an editor.
And that editor we found in Melbourne and he was great. They brought on board a whole lot of other people that really helped us out. And strangely enough, the assistant editor who used to live a couple of blocks away from where I live used to live in Newcastle. She was in Melbourne and she was an assistant editor on Hacksaw Ridge. And a couple of other things.
Okay, nice. So you mentioned just before we came on about it was a kind of a global team.
Yeah. And so that was one thing I was very conscious of working in commercials is it’s very easy to stitch together, not just rely on your local film making network.
So I was very much interested in leveraging people who could bring fairly unique skills into the film. So pretty much as I mentioned, we use an editorial team that was in Melbourne. Melbourne is about twelve hundred kilometres away from where I live. We also used our composer was in Norway and now we also used VFX out of Nevada. And plus a whole lot of other things as well where we were sort of given the web.
Nowadays, everyone is instantly connectable through Skype or contactable, I should say, through Skype or any other mediums, any other platforms that are around. And pretty much you’ve got the world at your fingertips and it’s just a matter of finding those people nice.
So when you came on board, was the funding already organised and arranged to a point?
It was. And we sort of used supplemented some of that. I guess there’s just an awful lot of man-hours went into that production, more man-hours and money.
So with the way which I’m sure you know something. And so did the funding come from various sources? It was all private. No, private. Okay. Yeah.
And if you got any do you have any experience for people who were looking for funding kind of avenues that they should try to go? People, certain people to approach?
No, not really, because every every every film is or every project is unique. Just basically, I was very conscious that in Australia we have finite resources in terms of film funding. But there is a whole world out there that is waiting to be accessed just through other means.
So I spent a fair bit of time trying to search research that and find people who want to come onto the project for not a lot of funding. A lot, not a lot of money. So that’s what we did.
Yeah. Okay. So going back to the film Yesterday’s Girl, then any major challenges on unset that you faced?
Again, this comes down to pre-production. I don’t think so. The hardest things were organising fairly big locations getting out and s and those sort of things signed off on making sure we had permission to be in there and making sure there were no legal issues. But again, I stress that with that Wake’s pre-production, we could actually saw a lot of that out and we weren’t just sorting out the following weekend’s shoot. We could sort. About a month in advance, what we’re gonna be in a month’s time. Get our legals signed off on locations and all that sort of thing.
Yeah. Nice. What was that location? It looked like a big gum. You know, this big mechanical factory thing, like, I think car-making plant.
Yeah, that was a cow mentioned there. Nine. But it was a mothballed aluminium smelter. One hundred acres saw it because of my commercial production experience I know a location when I see one.
So I actually fronted them and we basically had the run of one hundred acres saw it with millions dollars worth of manufacturing scaffolding you name it for two to three days.
Nice. It looks, it looks amazing. So once the film was all shot and you moved into post, what was the kind of process for that guy.
I guess at some stage and it’s all a little bit hazy now, but at some stage when he out came on board and started editing signs, we were getting pretty close towards completion and off of shooting. And we’re adding signs.
And yeah, I was editing and then we were touring and throwing between me and him, just working out what was working, what wasn’t. That was all happening off line. That was all happening through Ravid. I know other people have used other systems. I would strongly recommend Avid in this situation because at the end of the day I think we had over thirty five thousand different files in the project. And when you get started getting up in those numbers and our project isn’t big by any means, when you start getting up into those numbers, you start getting issues, particularly with other software platforms. I’m not going to mention they know.
And then so the kind of composer we know that they will organize before in principle, composer was playing organize that time we were shooting.
Yeah. So, hey, great to come on board. He had a piece of music which we really liked. So I negotiated the rights to use that music within the film.
And then one night sitting in edit and suddenly realizing that four minutes’ worth of music is not going to fill a feature film. Although Holly Dooley, what do I do now? So I basically are then organized the choir and organized the choir master to actually compose to the original track. And then we did our audio session of a couple of hours. And then basically I went to why I have a musical experience and actually then created, I think about forty eight minutes worth of additional music on top of the original soundtrack original track that take out the solar actually composed and take out was fantastic. It was all on board on that and we got really, really big, big soundtrack for not a lot at all. Which I was really surprised to do, but it just reinforced to me the power of collaboration at an international level, because if you imagine the composer was in no way I was in Newcastle. The sound studio with the choir was also in Newcastle and I was using Conservatorium of Music. In Newcastle, we were sort of collaborating and it all came together in two to three hours in a sound studio.
And I noticed online the day that the soundtracks available to download isn’t. So where can people find that?
That’s on Spotify. Apple. YouTube, Amazon, cool, all the big players. It’s all on all the major platforms. Topping yesterday’s girl, you call up the soundtrack.
Nice to have a listen today.
I guess the other thing we could talk about is we also gryce with a post-production company here in Newcastle that it might especially of doing indie indie projects.
And so we did what’s called D.I. It’s called Digital Intermediate, which is basically crowding the mass, the fall for what we call DHP or cinema release. And for then distribution to our distributor, who then distributes onto Amazon Prime or whoever has the rights to show it. And I saw that we’re lucky in that respect. So that but the I guess there’s plenty of post houses that do want to do these sort of projects. If you talk to them nicely, I think. And if you have your act together.
Yeah. Cool. That’s good advice. Don’t be afraid to ask because you never know.
Yeah, well, you know, do eyes eye is a fundamental. It’s a basically the capping on the foundation of the film.
So actually get it out there. And if it’s what we call deliverables and if deliverables aren’t met, then the distributor can’t accept the film. Yeah. Okay. And creates a whole lot of problems like Caligari writing if it’s not right. It’s not in PI3 color spice, a whole lot of issues like that.
Yeah. Okay. Lots, lots to do. Isn’t that a lot of people probably don’t even think about.
No they don’t think about. And then I get caught at the end when they spend all this time and those rejections or there’s legal issues with sound and that sort of thing.
Yeah. Even the probably the smallest sound effect that you got in there will have to be kind of signed off and approved wouldn’t it.
Yeah, I guess that depends on your sounds. Wait. But yes, you’re right.
I guess fortunately a lot of our stuff was created to not and a lot of other stuff was recorded naturally. So we’re pretty lucky in that respect. But you’re right. Yeah. You’ve got to check all your sound files. Yeah.
Did you do like a folie session?
We did folley sessions. Yes. Folley sessions. I think everyone needs to do. There’s always because you’re working on such tight budget, there’s always things that need polishing. And for whatever reason, sometimes the visions. Right. But the sounds terrible or the sounds. Right. But the vision is terrible. And you’ve got to sort of say what’s going to work and then correct either one or the two. So I guess the other thing we did, which was a little bit different, but the Americans do do it is after a pretty solid shoot schedule. I think we shot for 40 days. After reviewing edits, we did what we call pickup shots. Everyone knows pickup shots. But what we did at the end of the editing process and we knew exactly what we needed and we inserted those into the edit to actually cover a whole lot of production faults. And it worked really well. So it’s a good way to do it. Don’t don’t lock off your vision until after your final edit, then decide if you need a couple of pick up shots and pick up shots and nothing that can be a hand holding a pen, knife, gun, lighting a bullet that can be anything.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s great.
Okay, so. So the film’s all in the can. It’s wrapped, everything signed off and now you got to look at distribution. So what was the kind of process for you? Did you do any festivals?
Ok. With with our film January, what happens with these wide budget films? Indie films are done. To go on the festival circuit and the hope of being picked up, we didn’t do that because I know there’s an awful lot of films that aren’t being picked up.
So we actually decided rought we’re gonna do it differently. The business model, that’s a 20th century business model. We’re going. 21ST century. We’re gonna find a distributor. So I basically I jumped on a plane, too. We jumped on the plane to the US and we talked to quite a few distributors and we got picked up for distribution. So, yes, we got applied at a fierce festivals, but that wasn’t really the deal for us. Our deal was always excited on getting distribution.
And that was it. The American film market.
Yeah, I FAMM. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. That was a couple of years ago.
What did the stupidest thing you’ve already done a couple of festivals today have any kind of problems with that? Because the film is not now.
We hadn’t released that. I was very much aware. And that’s a really good point. I would never release to a festival until after I’ve spoken to distributors. Okay. Because what you’re actually doing is interrupting their own release pattern or release a schedule. And yeah, they are wary of accepting something. It’s already being released. Yeah. Okay.
I had another friend who actually had done that gonne festival release and was getting feedback from distributors. Well you’ve released. It’s bit hard for us to do anything.
Wow. Okay. Well great, great point there.
And while the journey for me as a director is I’m not actually the producer on it, so I’ve left the distribution with the producer and he is in the process of talking with our distributors about the best, best release pattern, the best release strategies for that. I guess the thing I would say is we are not releasing theatrically. The actress, a theatrical release for indie low budget films, I believe is is really not viable. It’s you might get a wake release in a cinema here or there. But really, in terms of recouping funds, you’re not going to be recouping much.
So the whole strategy of doing a theatrical release is most probably to Rumbaut, the SVOD business model, say, hey, we saw this in the cinema, let’s watch it and create some create some advertising vibe about it that’s well worthwhile. But I really believe in the Ijaw marvel of 300 million dollar movies and Disney that really your little indie film competing on a pay and a budget of what? Not much. You need to find other strategies for trying to get film out there.
So SVOD for people who don’t know SFI I day is subscription description video on demand. Okay. And Todd, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple.
That’s where the power is. If you’re looking at Netflix right now, they’re doing a lot of indie stuff that used to be on cinema. And it’s not it’s not there anymore. Purely because it’s just a better business model. So we’re pretty much focused on doing SBI. I do.
And is it a good idea to try and get on all the platforms or is it need exclusivity on kind of a single one night? Just go for Netflix. Netflix only because.
Well, I think I think the big boys, Netflix, Amazon and Apple are only interested in exclusivity in a certain release window.
So I don’t think they’re gonna allow you or your release on Amazon Prime. Maybe, maybe on a more mature sort of release cycle, maybe they will. I really don’t know.
I guess I’m still new in the process yet to find that out.
Yeah. So I’m just thinking of, you know, Netflix where people are paying a subscription price and they get in all of it as opposed to i-Tunes or Prime where you’re actually paying individually to watch that film.
Yeah, I guess. Well, that’s a good. You’re right. I guess from what I’ve heard is Netflix pie production costs plus a certain percentage. I’m not sure what that is currently. Whereas with the other platforms, you’re right, they’re paying pay per view.
Remains to be seen how effective that is. Okay. Obviously, Netflix is the the biggest show in town in that respect, I believe. But, you know, there’s a lot of competition there.
Yeah. Okay. So where can people check out yesterday’s girl then at the moment?
I think it’s been released in the UK and US. Oh, I know it’s been released in the UK. US on Amazon Prime and other other markets are being negotiated as we speak. Also, as I also think you’ve got release into China. I think it could be subject to sense of restrictions, I guess. Yeah. Okay. So yeah, I guess from a little film that. Was made for a lot of money. We’re more than happy with what the results we’ve got.
So just go back to the China thing. You have to do a separate edit for countries like China.
No, they do. Oh, they do, apparently. Yes.
And you have no control over what they.
Yeah. Well, which I mean it’s. Yes.
Right. Okay. That’s interesting. Yeah.
So. And violence is an issue. I can’t believe China apparently. Apparently someone said to the censors. View it from through the eyes of a 5 year old, Mark Seifert. If if the violence is too confronting for 5 year old, then they’re not gonna let it through.
Mike. Yeah, I remember watching the mag, and I think that was definitely made for a Chinese audience because I’ve never seen so many people getting eaten by sharks and like hardly any bullets.
Yeah, well yeah, they’re more like swallowed by sharks are they. They’re not. It’s not, it’s not like jaws, like Spielberg’s jaws where there’s arms and heads floating out of water and all. I know that’s that’s the fun stuff. That’s the good stuff. Yeah. Well, yeah, why? Chinese censors frowned down upon that, apparently. Not that I know because I don’t speak Chinese or can I can’t view what they’ve done in China.
Okay. Well, we’ll have to see if it’s out there somewhere. Get hold of it. So what’s next for you then?
What’s next is we’ve got two or three projects trying to get off the ground. Both genre films, I guess at the moment I’m doing genre because it seems to be.
A ready market for it. Whereas if you’re going art-house, then I think you’re going to have issues with distribution, I believe and this is M-E believing that there’s going to have issues with distribution and who’s going to pick it up. I mean, it’s been some fantastic, beautiful films being made, but I’m not sure where they might pick it up. I guess I’m sort of deferring to what the market wants. Marketplace wants. So that seems to be genre and genre. Can I mean, yesterday’s girl was what we call the dystopian thriller. And so we know we can sell into that market again if we had to.
Nice. So is that at a stage of approaching funding bodies and things like not just trying to get off the ground?
No, I will say my problem is because I’m a commercial director, people really I’m a little bit. All of them.
You know, the 20 to 30 year olds, film school grads, they’re most probably need more runs on the boards and commercials despite doing significant numbers of commercials for a significant multi-national corporations that they’re not really that interested in you until you have some runs on the board in terms of IDB credits or those sort of things. That’s the other thing I would say is that people who are wanting to have conversations with their distributors or or people you need you need to brush up on your I am Debbie because quite a few meetings I’ve gone into. I knew exactly who I was and I knew exactly what I’d done purely through I am dbe yet more powerful than people realize. Yeah. And I think a lot of people in the indie gein tend to say, well, I’m not. You know, it’s really hard to to update all those sort of things, but it’s well worth your time, particularly when you’re fronting production companies or studios or those sort of things.
Yeah, I find a lot of emails and inquiries just from people who does find in my two films just. And I am DBE. Yep. So yeah.
Animals. So I don’t think I’m gonna make it to AFM this year. So I’m going to aim for Berlin next year. Have you ever been to Berlin?
I reckon Berlin could be from here and good things. I reckon your film could do all right. Okay. From what I’m hearing. Yeah. Yeah. I do love an Australian film. So I bet the question is, is it Australian or is it UK?
Unless you have to show up on your Aussie accent.
I’ll just walk in. Im a cool cat in the middle of it.
Yeah. And then you’ll say say it with that accident. I got it. Yeah. That’s just a you know that will really work.
Be like who’s this mongrel. Oh that’s good. So yeah it is Bellina kind of similar format to to AFM.
I haven’t been, I’ve been a con. I haven’t been to Berlin.
Okay. How does Con work.
Khan is big. It’s it’s a lot more.
They’re all about the art of cinema. I believe so there’s a lot more acceptance, I believe, of of art house projects like it’s quite like that. I AFM is to May is a bit like.
It’s very product driven. What’s your genre? What’s your product? Is it gonna work? Whereas a guest can talk a lot about the concept and those sort of things and story, which is right. You know, it’s right. It’s just a different way of doing business. Definitely worth going.
And is kind of the more kind of tuxedoes than, you know, laptop bags and scooters.
Yeah. I guess the thing I noticed coming from Australia, American and Australian audiences are similar.
We’ll go to cinema in shorts and a singlet and flip flops, as I call it. It seems to me a lot more of an appreciation of cinema in in in Europe. To me, anyway, whether that’s right or wrong, it’s just in our little Australian guy wandering around with it.
And yes, I had to wear a tuxedo for the first time in 20 years. AdCom. I didn’t have to do that. At for.
Well, maybe. Maybe at the carousel you could have Putland.
Yeah. I would have stood out like a sore thumb. Yeah. Yeah. Who is that. You know what?
Oh listen Mike. This is being great. Some great tips in there and stuff and good. Good to hear your journey is still fun.
Yeah, hopefully. Emma, I’ll get to see you in Berlin then. Maybe we can find. Yeah. Yeah, I’d love to. Yeah. We can find a dive bar somewhere in the dark.
Balzarini. I’m not sure what the equivalent of a dive bar in Germany is. Maybe someone could suggest that. But. And with some good some good local knowledge, I reckon we could sell some out. Yeah, sounds good. We come out with some great ideas of the last one.
Yeah. Hopefully, you know, it’s still a chance they could happen. Who knows?
Yes. Well you never know. The big wall. I want a wall of things. Yeah.
All right, listen. This is being so good. Thanks for your time. Really appreciate it. Ah, come out and. Yeah. Have a good one.
And good luck with all the future projects. Yeah. Fingers crossed and fingers in these. Yep. Cheers, mate. Catch. Yep. So there we have it. Some great insights there from Mike. Really appreciate given his time there today. And thank you all again for listening. And I really love when you leave comments and things like that. Gives me ideas of future episodes. I’m please, if you can, please leave a review. Reviews gets more is more view is that we get you know, the more content we put 5p knowing that you all out, then you are listening.
So thanks again for listening and let’s all help support indie film. See you next time.