There are few people that can match the passion and drive that propels a man like Charlie Sharpe.
As part of the Kimberley Characters series produced for Australia’s North West, we got the chance to get hang out with Charlie and explore his unique backyard: Lake Argyle.
A man of seemingly infinite energy and drive, Charlie’s ideas flow as fast as his speech (we had to spend a little extra time in the interview to get him to slow down). His story, and that of the Lake Argyle area, are deeply entwined. Charlie’s family moved to the area during the damming that created Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest body of freshwater, covering up to 2000 square kilometres when in flood.
He has watched over the lake for more than 40 years, playing witness to what Charlie calls rapid evolution as a thriving ecosystem of birdlife and crocodiles has developed since it’s construction in 1971. The scale of the lake is difficult to comprehend, there are stretches where the horizon is so far and the water so calm that it becomes difficult to see where the sky stops and the water starts.
And each part of the lake bears its own bounty of wildlife and scenery, from the striking red gorges and crescent bays that Charlie’s Lake Argyle Resort overlooks, to the wetlands teeming with crocs and birdlife that punctuate the tanin soaked southern end. Plenty to see, and plenty to keep our memory cards full.
This story was shot on Canon 5d Mk2 and Mk3. The Mk3 footage steals the show for any landscape shots crying out for that extra notch of detail, but the Mk2 still holds its own for closeups and people shots.
Check out the other characters at australiasnorthwest.com
As the Characters of the Kimberley campaign is now making it’s way around the interweb, we thought we would share a few of our favourite subjects from the campaign.
The first is Brian Lee – an Aboriginal elder and mud crab fisherman from the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia. The area Brian is from is a contrast of pristine white beaches and tough unforgiving red desert.
In the peak season, the days are mild and sunny, and the nights refreshingly cool. Unfortunately, we arrived just as the camp was beginning to wind down for the season. With days topping 39 degrees celsius, and nights rarely dipping below 32 degrees, most of our shooting was done early in the morning and late in the afternoon to try to avoid the heat.
Mud crabbing is an interesting experience to film. You spend a great deal of time up to your waist in water waiting for a creature with claws big enough to take a finger off to drop out of a hole a few feet away – hoping of course that Brian’s thin bit of wire will be enough to lasso the creature before it drops into the water at your feet.
That doesn’t always happen, cue the scene as the white man from Melbourne attempts to gracefully exit the water whilst claiming to be ‘changing angles’.
Despite needing a few retakes, the crabs are really the star of this video, hence why we decided to leave their big reveal until the end. Hope you enjoy.
Very excited to share the first video from our latest project for Australia’s North West (above).
Last year and this we were lucky enough to explore the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Carrying our camera packs through mud flats, across picture perfect beaches, and along dense bush trails we followed the stories of four characters representing equally fascinating yet different aspects of this remarkable slice of untarnished wilderness.
I’ve always maintained that part of my love for my home state of WA is the intimidating beauty of its landscapes. In a single day you can have your breath taken away and your heart tested, as the country pulls no punches in its indifference towards your presence. There are places (as one of our characters suggest) here that literally have never been marked by human feet.
Many holidays take you to places you already know, and experiences you can likely predict. Your holiday passes by as if looking from aboard a train.
But here, the Kimberley watches you. Tests you with hot days, crimson dirt, alternating scenes of beauty and boredom. Days can pass between major towns, time enough to displace the everyday. To transform you. It makes you question why you travel, and does not point obviously to the answers.
Hopefully some of that passion translates into our work. You can enter the competition to meet one of the characters at the Australia’s North West website.
Over the past 10 days we’ve travelled on 8.5 planes, 3 boats, 2 helicopters and 4 very tired legs, and now we’re heading home from our second tour of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Once again we’ve been lucky to be invited to some extraordinary places, and to be hosted by some generous and inspiring characters. This trip saw us lugging camera equipment about as far from Melbourne as you can get whilst staying on the mainland. This remoteness seems to encourage great empathy in the people we have met, and it’s been a pleasure to work with the team that has helped steer this project to completion.
Of course there were learnings for us: we extended our knowledge of insect repellant (we highly recommend Skoot), and found the sweat saturation point of our quick-dry uniforms. I think we’ve finally got a good balance in our camera kit; large enough to make a scene in every airport we land in, yet small enough to fit snugly on a chopper (or two).
Come the end of April, we’ll be able to share the final products with you all. We hope that we do justice to this remarkable corner of the world.
Bottled History (above) is the second of our films for Smith Journal, which helps bring to life the characters featured in their gorgeous print magazine. This project introduced us to the timeless craft of ship building.
Ray Gascoigne has spent a lifetime at sea as a shipwright and sea merchant. His memories and love for ships are made physical through miniatures he constructs with extreme care within old whisky bottles. Over the past 60 years he has built hundreds of replicas of ships from the past and present of maritime legend. Many were built at sea, in the lonely cabin hours of night, and Ray (now 85) continues his craft on land today.
The patience required to construct these miniatures is a little intimidating, and then to fit and reconstruct each ship inside of a bottle…it’s hard to conceive the dedication required.
Ray was a humble, inspiring and accommodating subject as well as a great conversationalist. We hope we have done his story justice.
One of the best things about doing what we do is getting invited to shoot in amazing places. This month we’re travelling through the north of Western Australia to capture the personalities of those who inhabit this pristine and still largely untouched region.
Being behind a viewfinder gives you a different perspective than when on holiday. Your senses when shooting are heightened, your purpose much more clearly defined. You are not wandering as much as you are hunting (in a non violent way of course). It becomes easy to forget the usual factors that define your participation. That you are standing waist deep in a murky mangrove swamp in crocodile country, that the caked on mixture of red dirt and sunscreen is steadily sliding into your eyes, that your skin is red and beginning to darken.
It is a refreshing thing for someone not accustomed to idle time, even in beautiful locales.
This project is still a few months off completion, so this is as much as we’re allowed to show at this point. Suffice to say that over the week, plenty of discussion was had on the correct way to put a camera case down on beach sand, as well as the perilous relationship between salt water and batteries. At some point we may even get time to summarise our in-depth comparison between leading insect repellant brands.
But for now, hold tight, full video coming in 2013.
For two weeks in September/October, the Commoner team traversed the lower western corner of Australia to shoot 10 shorts on local food and wine producers on behalf of Tourism Western Australia. The videos are to support the upcoming Margaret River Gourmet Escape, which brings chefs like Heston Blumenthal, David Chang and Rene Redzepi together for an incredible long weekend of wining and dining (and maybe a little whiskey too.)
Bahen & Co, featured above, are a fantastic example of the innovation and of the passion inherent in people working in this part of the world. Their chocolate truly lives up to the promise – an astonishing product with a worthy story behind it’s creation. Check them out at bahenchocolate.com
We hope you enjoy this first taste of the series. More to come.
Shot on 5d Mk2/3 and Canon 60D. Window and suction clamps used for driving shots. Kessler Pocket dolly used for all tracking shots.
A collection of some our favourite shots from our recent trip to Western Australia. Shot on Canon 5d mk3 & mk2 & 600D.
Looking forward to sharing the full series with you very soon!
Working with Australian men’s magazine Smith Journal, we tagged along as popular food blogger and all round nice guy Rohan Anderson (of http://wholelarderlove.com/) built a log cabin cold smokehouse from the ground up.
The first in a series of videos planned for Smith Journal, our aim with this video was to deliver a visual style to match the look of the Smith brand, and a storytelling vehicle to extend the appeal of the print magazine online. We feel that the subtle delivery of the story, along with the engaging camera work really brings to life a magazine we love and read ourselves.
The film was shot across 5 weeks in chilly Ballarat just outside of Melbourne, primarily using Canon 5d Mk2 and Mk3 cameras. Though people have criticised the soft look of the Mk3, here I think it shines, delivering a more filmic look to the scenes the camera was used on.
We make films for people like us, capturing the stories of brands and people who strive to do things just a little bit differently. Our focus is on telling a story through engaging visuals, and as such we spend time with our subjects to do them justice.
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