Renee the Face on your Movie Ten network
Renee Brack from Movie 10 Net­work
Movie 10

An estab­lished print and tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, Renée is a famil­iar face on the MOVIE NETWORK Chan­nels.  She sat down a while back to give us a mass media per­spec­tive on our film and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion indus­tries.

Starting out

She start­ed with whom she was and what she did.  Stat­ing that she start­ed in the Print indus­try, she moved around TV and film devel­op­ing a mul­ti­ple range of skills in the indus­try.  She still views her­self as amass­ing skills as she spoke about her­self still learn­ing the craft of Edit­ing film.  She has end­ed up in the Movie Net­work Chan­nel which was for her a goal in itself.  She bills her­self as a Pro­duc­er / Pre­sen­ter — Pro­duc­er first though, as the mod­el­ling aspect of pre­sent­ing is a ten­u­ous and more frag­ile career option. She spoke of grow­ing up only want­i­ng to write and did Mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion course at Mac­quar­ie.  This lead to a Print career path which began with an attempt on the “Great Aus­tralian Nov­el” and some script­ing.

Chopper.

When “Hard Copy” need­ed a pre­sen­ter in which blonde hair and big boobs was a dis­ad­van­tage, she dis­cov­ered the Screen test was easy.  This led into some very inter­est­ing inter­views includ­ing a rather famous one that involved Mark ‘Chop­per’ Reed who was a small time crook with ambi­tions of becom­ing leg­endary crime fig­ure.  The inter­view includ­ed a scene with a 357 Mag­num in which Chop­per demon­strat­ed on screen how he played Russ­ian Roulette.  He sur­prised every­one when he insert­ed a bul­let, spun the cham­ber and pulled the trig­ger with the nose point­ed at his own head.  Then pro­claim­ing that it was her turn, point­ed the gun at her and pulled the trig­ger.  Suf­fi­cient to say the footage became very con­tro­ver­sial and it was a long time before a net­work would show it. ‘Chop­per’ Reed lat­er explained that if the cham­ber were over­ly oiled (which appar­ent­ly it was) then the weight of the bul­let would nor­mal­ly ensure the “spin” result­ed in the bul­let drop­ping to the bot­tom posi­tion.  She even­tu­al­ly left the pro­gram after the chief of staff altered the facts on sto­ry lead on a miss­ing child.

Making films.

She then moved on to mak­ing films and movies until in 2000 she joined the Movie Net­work Chan­nel on a part-time basis to start with and by 2001 was work­ing full-time.  She remarked that the Pay-TV indus­try is quite dif­fer­ent to the “Free-to-Air” TV.  It is often more impor­tant to be pos­i­tive and not to alien­ate users with spe­cif­ic inter­ests that actu­al­ly pay for the view­ing.  By the same token she finds that she does not have to com­pro­mise or lie about what she does so she enjoys the work she does for the Movie Net­work Chan­nel.
She has had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­view actors and film mak­ers.  This has led her to realise that Aus­tralian film mak­ers ought to con­sid­er why it is they want to do the ini­tial release here.  She sug­gest­ed think­ing about releas­ing over­seas first and then ride the wave to come back on the pub­lic­i­ty into Aus­tralia.  She com­ment­ed on the lack of insight when some releas­es in the Aus­tralian mar­ket that did not get audi­ences in on the first week were sub­se­quent­ly dropped with­out allow­ing word of mouth com­mu­ni­ca­tion gen­er­ate inter­est in the films.  She passed com­men­tary on “Aus­tralia” (the movie) and it’s pack­ag­ing.  The man­ner in which it mixed gen­res, was too long, was over­ly CGI’d and should have been pack­aged as a homage to the great Amer­i­can west­ern than as a Aussie tale.  Per­haps that may have had audi­ences appre­ci­at­ing it for what it was rather than for not fit­ting a pack­aged pre­con­cep­tion.

Interviewing Stars perspective

Renee delved into the issue about main­tain­ing per­spec­tive when inter­view­ing stars.  She thought it impor­tant not to be star struck and not for­get that she is being a Jour­nal­ist.   She told an amus­ing tale about Simon Townsend being told by her that while he may be worth huge mon­ey to some film mak­ers, when she or any mem­ber of the pub­lic was decid­ing which movie they want­ed to see, he was only worth $15 bucks.

Lesbian Vampires.

She said in her job it was impor­tant to find the good in what­ev­er you are review­ing.  There was an exam­ple of review­ing “Les­bian Vam­pire Killers” and com­par­ing it to films like “Shane of the Dead” or “Bill and Ted’s Excel­lent Adven­ture”.  It seems that many fel­low film mak­ers have seen “Les­bian Vam­pire Killers” and despite it’s “shon­ky” name and the pre­sump­tion of  “B_gradeness”, it appar­ent­ly rates as an enjoy­able and watch­able movie.  Who’d know?  [I’ll let you know when I have seen it!]  She con­tin­ued with the impor­tance of being spe­cif­ic in your ques­tion and avoid­ing the gener­ic ques­tions. Find­ing an unusu­al angle, the impor­tance of a set vis­it, and the occa­sion­al teas­er pieces that are often treat­ed with sus­pi­cion by some stu­dios but can be indis­pens­able in gen­er­at­ing inter­est by the pub­lic. If you do get on set vis­its explore the options of an angle, that when the film releas­es, and you are allowed to screen the footage, may be some­thing noone else may have. Think about what it is in your the media you want peo­ple to have a per­spec­tive of.

Assessments of Film Sets for Success?

She com­pared that analy­sis to check­ing the suc­cess of a horse by look­ing at the sad­dle. Using exam­ples from her per­spec­tive of the set of Matrix, she said it is very dif­fi­cult to go from the set to fig­ure out what will be done in post-pro­duc­tion.  Film suc­cess has too many vari­ables.  She not­ed that Aus­tralian films, which were once seen by all, are nowa­days not viewed unless the reviews are “Very” good.  This is because of how Aus­tralian audi­ences devel­oped a mis­trust of review­ers in the ear­ly 90s.  There was a heavy affir­ma­tive action bias in the media to pos­i­tive­ly review­ing many Aus­tralian films.  After a while the pub­lic began to under­stand they were being lied to.  It’s a clas­sic “cry wolf” sto­ry.  So skep­ti­cism creeps in.  The media needs to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for the integri­ty of their reviews.

Professionalism of Actors.

Renee spoke about the con­trasts  she dis­cov­ered in inter­view­ing var­i­ous actors and of vari­a­tions in pro­fes­sion­al­ism that these actors bring to the inter­view. Mor­gan Free­man was used as an exam­ple of some­one who exhib­it­ed a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent lev­el of pro­fes­sion­al­ism.   In par­tic­i­pat­ing in a series of inter­views with Mor­gan Free­man, dur­ing the pro­mo­tion of the film “Along came a spi­der”, she found Mor­gan so engag­ing that she began to sus­pect that he was flirt­ing with her.   It was his abil­i­ty to make  her as an inter­view­er feel spe­cial,  that she also found in oth­er high cal­i­bre actors such as Will Smith and Sylvester Stal­lone,   While the list of peo­ple who know how to inter­act at this lev­el pro­fes­sion­al­ism dur­ing an inter­view is not long,  she includes names like Nathan Phillips, Renee Zel­weger  and Aus­tralian actor, Hugh Jack­man.

Documentary Making.

Renee also spoke with enthu­si­asm  about how she loved the renais­sance of doc­u­men­tary mak­ing as a release into cin­e­ma  that was  insti­gat­ed by Michael Moore’s  doc­u­men­taries about Amer­i­can cul­ture.   It is made doc­u­men­tary mak­ing a viable and com­mer­cial propo­si­tion  for film­mak­ers in the 21st cen­tu­ry.   She encour­aged film­mak­ers to be cin­e­mat­ic with doc­u­men­taries and not to fall prey to the per­cep­tion that you need to dumb things down for them to be under­stood by the pub­lic.   Instead it was bet­ter to make the films acces­si­bly smart.