Back in Oz now, awaiting our fate in the form of a flight back to the States on the 10th. But our hearts and minds are still firmly implanted in Bali, even if our rain-soaked goosefleshed skin tells us otherwise. Both Ian and I have some more (and more) to say about that magic leg of the trip so we’ve decided to do a big giant catch-up post that goes back through some more highlights of our island life of bliss.
For my part, there is just one last memory I wanted to relay, the rest would be too tough to capture, hopefully you’ve gotten enough of an idea to hop on a plane when you can and see the magic for yourself:
•Something I never got to a chance to describe is the endless game of ATM roulette we played the whole time we were in Bali. See, the Indonesian rupiah is so inflated by now that 5 dollars US is something like 50,000 of their currency. Thus, if you spend any time in a Balinese bank, you will see people carrying in backpacks containing brick upon brick of rupiah. They look like some sort of criminal, but are more than likely just a vendor trying to exchange their day’s earnings from the store. Because of this inflation and because it was high season when we were there, the ATMs on the island regularly ran out of money, only they don’t say this, they give you an error message that makes you think there is something wrong with your card so you’ll spend loads of time and money trying to reach your bank back home.
But pretty soon, we got in the swing of things and learned to play the game.It goes like this: get in line, watch the people in front of you for the nod or the shake when they come out of the booth, think you can do better anyway and try it, futiley, for yourself, drive on until you find one that works which could take days.During that time you ration your supplies and hope for places that take credit cards, which most do not. Things could get so bad that it was not uncommon to hear a young Chinese couple exclaiming with such glee at getting the equivalent of $50.00 out that you’d think they were playing a slot machine. In fact, one day a group of us got very angry as we qued behind a Frenchman who just kept sticking his card back in to get more until we were all sure he’d cleaned the machine out. At the dirty looks he received upon exiting, he grinned and said, “I kipt on weenning zo I kipt on playing.”
Now for Ian’s part, see the guestpost below plus the next one (“Loose Ends 2”)
Phantom the Menace
So I get the call in Austrailia a week before we split for Bali that there may be a possibility of doing a commercial for Hurley’s new Nike-lab inspired high tech fabric “Phantom” boardshort. Ironically enough, the local surf shop that’s a few minutes from where we stayed in the ritzy area of Whale Beach (Northern beaches , Sydney) happened to be the #1 seller in the world of the previous model. I had just heard that info a day before, now I’m being contracted to do a commercial for them…weird.
1st question from my agent/co-producer is “Ian, can you pull this off over there?” This was a very slick ad campaign combining 3d effects , CG environments and live action greenscreen. This is my specialty…in America, but in Bali? Going through the normal channels of filming in another country proved fruitless and would have crippled our limited timeframe and budget with bureaucracy and bribes.
Just a week before we left for this trip I went to the premier of Taylor Steele’s new kick ass and take no prisoners surf flick: “Stranger than Fiction”. Aside from all the bleeding edge surfing, high energy music, and rapid fire editing, was a lot of greenscreen work. “Aha!”I thought, Steele’s been living in Bali with his family for several years, and hes got a greenscreen. I made one phone call to Rob and it was magic. The next day I took a ride from the mountains of Ubud where we were staying and made my way to the villas amongst the rice paddys of Caangu. My last time here there was one bombed out looking cinderblock of a restaurant and that was it, now…quite a bit more development, but no addresses, no street names and no villa names makes finding someone really challenging. After taking every single dirt-track, and sideroad, I finally made it. It was like a scene out of Scarface
when my driver pulled me up to the massive villa amongst the paddies. On the second floor deck looking down at me and my driver stood Rob, bronzed, backlit, rocking some gold rimmed Dragon glasses and looking comfortably feral after having been embedded in Bali from our shire of Cardiff for the past year filming with Taylor. His entourage of editor Sebastian, shooter Yvonne Tangung (Rizals brother), Sipping Jetstream’s DP legend; Todd Heater and of course Mr. Steele. So after two weeks of coming up “bupkas”, in a day I had the whole deal sorted out…sort of.
Aside from having a killer co-dp/producer and Steele’s Red Camera we didn’t really have much. Even up to the morning of the day of production we got a call saying we had to move to a different facility. No problem right? Oh, by the way , the place were moving you to is a professional badmitten warehouse on the outskirts of the rice fields, and guess what? the annual Bali Island badmitten championships are happening at the same time our talent ; Mr Machado shows up for his greenscreen work. So we go with the flow like bamboo and flex and say yeah. And it works out. Producer Mavis flies in from the OC with his driver Ben and …Bada boom, bada bing! We get our shots.
Although the week leading up to the production was a little hairy, the day’s events unfolded like many chaotic motorcycle filled intersections of this island; at once it seems like despair and that there is no way out, but miraculously, every time, all the elements come together , everyone works together to create art and in the end, survive…That’s what everything’s about, right?!?