PERMUTATIONS stage two: editing and pickup shots

Following filming Permutations in January, I spent the next month cutting footage. While I was happy with it, making four x 30 minute films was ambitious and I could identify some gaps in the story. It probably should have been a five day shoot rather than four and it was amazing that we managed to get all the footage we did in four days.

Below are some stills from the footage:

Fortunately, the location, dancers and team were available for the day except for cinematographer Kevin Holloway who was on a job in Canberra. Thankfully, Saroj Kumar Chauhan, who shot Love Song and Void, was available and willing to take on the task. 

However, the weekend I picked for the pick-up shots was the weekend of the 26th of February when Brisbane flooded. In the lead up to filming while rehearsing and setting up, two of the key team members were cut off in the floods, one of the dancers had to walk through flood water to get to the set (because she could not drive through it), Mill St studios was going under water, and I lost thousands of dollars of show sets and props in my shipping container. The house we were filming at began to leak in multiple places, and some of the dancers were possibly not going to be able to get home.

For the first time I began to question if it was worth persevering. I thought the stresses of COVID during the initial shots was extreme, however in the years of making work I’ve never known such a stressful series of events that just continued to unfold as it did this particular weekend. However, I think I can say we got the shots, mostly due to the amazing team who all helped out significantly and were incredibly supportive through all the dramas. 

This was meant to be a sunny scene but the dancers were such great sports. Here, Lucy Hood embraces the torrential rain.

After bumping everything out it slowly began to dawn on me that the Brisbane Powerhouse had flooded and that where the projectors were being hired from (at Southbank) had flooded severely. Despite feeling like I had got all the shots and beaten COVID and the floods, there came the ‘sinking’ feeling that I would need to postpone the season.

The flood levels at the Brisbane Powerhouse nearly reached levels similar to in 2011. Some say it was higher. Below are some stills from the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2011 and 2022 (see photographer credits attached).

Brisbane Powerhouse 2022 floods
Brisbane Powerhouse 2011 floods
Brisbane Powerhouse 2022

Fortunately, Permutations has been postponed until June 2022. I will need to print new flyers and posters, but that is a small price to pay.
Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 June 2022



After four funding attempts, my application to Arts Queensland to make a new work was accepted. The idea of Permutations came from an idea that evolved through making my dance films for my Master of Fine Arts at the VCA where I was investigating alternative story structures in dance film.

Permutation is an immersive dance film installation that positions the audience in the centre of large screens where a multiple point-of-view story unfolds.

The story of Permutations is centered around two sisters aged 16 and 17 who farewell their mother and her newlywed husband on their honeymoon vacation in 1982. However, the short trip soon becomes an extended holiday and the siblings are left to fend for themselves with the help of the neighbour and the local milkman. What unfolds is a story of two young women cast into a grown-up world – a spiral of abandonment, self-discovery, and recklessness at a time when missing person cases run rampant in the sleepy city. Evoking dark undertones, the experience of Permutations takes a multiple point-of-view structure whereby the audience is able to choose their view of the four characters and of the alternative perspectives of the story unfolding.

Permutations features four stunning dancers, Richard Causer, sisters Bella Hood and Lucy Hood and Jacob Watton.

The starting point of Permutations was to have a strong hero image so I returned to work with photographer Mark Greenmantle who shot the hero image for Flaunt in 2014. Mark cleverly put these three images together which is most exemplary of Permutations with different versions of a story that unfolds at once.

Image by Mark Greenmantle
Image by Mark Greenmantle
BTS of the photo shoot

Due to COVID and state border restrictions, rehearsals were set back until November and December. However, we were fortunate to have space to rehearse at Mill Street Studios (RIP).

I tried to be as creative as possible with rehearsals by creating mock-up scenarios similar to the location and surprised the dancers with games such as Twister and Uno to development movement with them. I had also made a gigantic 2.1m x 3.6m twister with my white tarkette and some coloured vinyl.

In December we had rehearsals on location, and we filmed over four days in January. Rehearsals on location were important for embedding the choreography into the location.

The location was a gorgeous late 1970s house that I’d taken a lot of time to find. I had met with the owner for a recce of the house and she was excited to have a dance film shot there. The house had a great vibe and was ideal for the early 1980s era. Some things needed to brought back to the era however, and my Mum had made some fantastic curtains from vintage sheets I had purchased. Tiffany Beckwith-Skinner and the dancers looked after making and installing other fabric and furniture.

In the lead up to filming state borders had opened but that meant COVID 19 was starting to spread in January. We were faced with the predicament that if one of the team became infected they would have to isolate. Sometimes people are not replaceable and this was the case on this project. There was no other time we could get everyone together. Kevin Holloway would have to fly up from Sydney again but he was booked on a long form project following this. There was no guarantee the house would be available again and the dancers were all still catching up on jobs that had been postponed already due to COVID. Consequently, calling ‘It’s a wrap’ on the Permutations shoot was a moment I will never forget. Fortunately, we made it with all the team healthy through the 11 days on location (bump in, rehearsals on set and subsequent 4 day shoot). However, making what was essentially four x 30 minute films was huge and there was some compromises. It would not be until I got to editing that I would know if I had all I needed. Still, what we achieved was massive.

THANKS: I need to say I was absolutely in awe of the four dancers (Richard Causer, Lucy Hood, Bella Hood, Jacob Watton) who went above and beyond to help things all come together, Kirrah Jobst with short scene too, as well as the creative team (Kevin Holloway, Amelia Le-Bherz, Tiffany Beckwith-Skinner and helpers). We also had some amazing help from Jane Hood (and the entire Hood family), Judy Le-Bherz, William Eggleton, and my Mum – all who were so kind to help in various aspects of the production.


LOVE SONG stage three: editing and parallel structure

LOVE SONG stage three: editing and parallel structure

LOVE SONG is a story of a perception in a relationship of constant flux, where deception and emotional manipulation occurs, implemented for each persons’ agenda. Featuring dancers Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman as two men in the ever shifting relationship, LOVE SONG unfolds in a parallel structure, highlighting two sides of a relationship that unfold concurrently. 

Along the way, several challenges, including a shift from a traditional cinematic aspect ratio of 2.39:1, (or CinemaScope), allowed the investigation to lead rather than remaining fixed on the original idea, and opened up the idea of presenting two stories at once to investigate how a parallel tandem structure as a split-screen story could enable a deeper exploration of the role of perception in conveying the relationship between two dancers. While editing was initially a secondary aspect of this investigation, it eventually became a prominent element as the parallel structure presented problem solving challenges, requiring new aesthetic and editing decisions.

The techniques used to present these two perspectives that occur in duality range from subtle, to oppositional in style to show contrasting stages of the story and chronology manipulated by: cinematography styles, editing techniques, and with some consideration of location.

The same location but different chronology occurring at once
Movement similarities matched in different phrases and in different locations
A scene that occurs simultaneously shows different perspectives

The idea to present LOVE SONG in parallel structure opened up the idea to enhance the idea of alternative perspectives in a relationship and provide the viewer alternative perceptions of the characters and story. While each upper and lower frames occur individually the audience may wish to just follow one story, however, both stories are ideally absorbed concurrently – permitting the viewer’s eye to follow what they wish and their ‘perception’ to inform their experience of the story. 

Below: stills showing the parallel structure that eventuated.

Cinematography by Saroj Kumar Chauhan, Hair and Makeup by Amelia Le-Bherz, and Score by Ken Evans for Tycho Sound Design. 


LOVE SONG stage two: process and filming

LOVE SONG stage two: process and filming

Drawing conceptually from the idea that vision and perception is altered through the camera and film lens, Love Song explores perception and deception in a relationship – from what we can’t see when blinded by love, to what we can only see when there’s fear or trust is betrayed. Love Song is a story of a relationship in constant flux; where a where a game of manipulation, deceit and revenge unfold.

Initially the idea began using the lens and forced perspective entirely to create a story around the idea of perception in a relationship, however with intermittent rehearsals spread over a longer time frame due to the constraints of COVID-19, through conversations with the dancers, the story narrative as seen through the lens became the most important part of this project.

Reuniting to work with Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman was a wonderful experience, and despite months or even years in between projects, it felt like time had barely passed working together. Furthermore, after this crazy year of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the opportunity to create in a studio was something I will never take for granted. 

As the complexity of the story developed, using the split diopter lenses, tilt shift lens and forced perspective techniques became a secondary consideration. The precise focus required for these lenses was not exactly suited to dance and meant the dancer in the foreground had to remain almost still. but almost felt naïf, and I needed to find another way to implement them for storytelling purposes.

Furthermore, the use of found moments when filming such as in mirrors and reflections became more interesting than warping the scale of the images with the lens particularly as the story became more focused on the idea of deception.

The shoot was a very long four days which probably could have been a five or even six day shoot. Below are some stills from various scenes.


LOVE SONG stage one: rehearsals

We commenced rehearsals in August at Mill Street Studios with some time in between rehearsals and filming in September/ October. Due to COVID 19 and the enforced restrictions saw some new collaborations, and allowed time for the idea to evolve over a longer rehearsal period. Over rehearsals discussions with the dancers became informing the story of Love Song and the idea became more about perceptions in the character’s relationship rather than my previous idea of exploring particular elements of the lens.

Following rehearsals, filming occurred over a number of locations for four long days. While filming some ideas were scrapped as instead I saw potential in other locations such as the reflections in the hotel scene. In some locations such as the hotel, there was time to work with the choreography on set.

Here’s a few iPhone photos taken during rehearsals and at some of the locations.

THANKS: Just a little note to say thanks to everyone who was on board this project – from jumping in as extras at the bar, and discotheque, delivering missing props and cables, helping with the costumes and more. Sincere thanks to Amelia Le-Bherz – amazing makeup as always and stepping into many other roles to help, Matthew Overberg, and Saroj Chauhan stepping things up on this second collaboration. 

Most of all, heartfelt thanks to Richard Causer and Anthony Trojman for their collaboration and contribution to this story. Our long history of friendship and years working together enabled sharing so much in rehearsals as we reflected on our lives in a way you can only do with your oldest friends. We experienced a rollercoaster of emotions making this project with some physically gruelling and emotionally taxing scenes for Anthony and Richard, and I am so appreciative of their investment in this project. It is always an honour to work together, but more than ever, I am totally in awe of them both!


VOID stage four: completion

VOID stage four: completion

The VOID dance film was a significantly tedious process due to a number of reasons including COVID 19, editing processes, new collaborations and other technical factors. VOID was completed in December 2020. From here I will screen the film and submit it for a few film festivals and see how it fares.

I cut a trailer:

There is also this alternate edit which was a part of my process (see earlier blog)

VOID stills:


VOID stage three: editing and exploring multiples

As the idea of the multiple selves evolved making Void, I was exploring ways to create multiples of Erin O’Rourke’s character.

Below demonstrates a part of my process, but also the easy way to achieve multiples with the Kaleidoscope effect rather than the tedious and intricate way with Erin repeating the movement multiple times in multiple places, and many matte layers.

Void (Collide edit)

I shelved this edit because it was just an early exploration and does not demonstrate the editing complexity as in the final version of Void (see the Void Montage as an example Nonetheless, it is interesting to see the body chopped up and mashing into itself and into the space, especially with so much visual repetition in the location.

The kaleidoscope effect was a starting point in unpacking some visual ideas before doing things the correct way with all the duplicate shots and matte layers as the example shows below.

This is what the footage looked like from creating the layers above

I was curious to see how many versions of Erin I could include before a moving image of her would clash with another moving version of herself. I managed to layer in 18 multiple moving images of Erin but that could only continue for about 8 seconds. Below is an image of what the timeline looked like. I was still using Final Cut Pro 7 then.

Section of Void timeline. Each yellow circle correlates with a level of the staircase in the outcome below.


VOID stage two

Following the creative development for VOID, I began to think of the project visually as a short dance film. Making a dance film entirely in one location was a counter point of view to Shift which was shot at numerous locations. Finding a location took a lot of time and research, but I found one suitable and organised permission to film there. There was just one problem: the Old Museum stair cases used in the creative development spiralled in the opposite direction to the shoot location. The direction of the spiral is determined from the bottom looking up, so our location stairs were clockwise stairs and the Old Museum stairs were anticlockwise. The building differed in age by 30 years, and I wondered that was the reason why they spiralled in different ways. I found this theory most interesting:

Why stairs were clockwise in Medieval towers:

I wondered why the Old Museum staircases were antilock-wise. It was not just one, but all of them in the building are. Perhaps there was a lot of left handed people that were going to be working at the museum?

We were fortunate to be granted an additional two days of rehearsal to work in the space and flip-flop the material before filming. It was important that Erin felt safe in the space and familiar with all the little details of the space. With so much visual repetition, it was easy to forget what level we were on, but every corner has slightly different details and it was important to be aware of all of these.

For this project I worked with a young cinematographer – a Griffith University masters film student, Saroj Chauhan. Amelia-Le-Bherz was on board again doing hair and make up. A small team of just four of us meant were could work quite quickly. On the second day, we also recorded sound capturing the interesting acoustics of the location and Erin’s vocals.

Below: Stills from footage of the two day shoot.

I tried to exhaust the use of the stairs as much as possible and use them in as many ways as we were permitted. We explored filming each scene differently to make each section unique.

The idea of various selves also began to emerge and from a story perspective, the film is a shedding of former selves as new parts of the self come to the surface. Editing techniques were the major tool is sculpting this in the story through precise editing of many duplicate shots.

Traditionally when there’s two dancers in a location, the tendency is to focus on the relationship between the two dancers, however with one dancer, the focus on a relationship with another dancer is negated and the dancers relationship with the location becomes more significant in the sense of the story.

In October, we returned for an additional day of filming as there were some ideas emerging I wanted to explore further as well as get some pick up shots missed on the first day of filming. Here’s stills from the 3rd day of filming.

Day 4! After a number of weeks editing, I felt like there was a section of choreography missing from the perspective of the overarching story. Furthermore I had an idea to push some of the duplicate shots a bit further, so we returned for another day of rehearsal followed by a day of filming. Here’s a few stills from Day 4.


VOID stage one

Dancer: Erin O’Rourke

In July I received a small stART grant through Metro Arts. After months of COVID-19 and writing for my MFA, I was craving creating something so the stART grant was perfect timing. Given so much of COVID-19 was spent with people staying home, or self-isolating, I wanted to explore a solo work in some confined spaces. I worked with recent QUT graduate Erin O’Rourke who I had seen in the QUT performances and graduation shows over the past three years and her work impressed me.

The creative development spanned one week, initially commencing rehearsals at Mill Street Studios and then to the Old Museum where we started working on the stairs.

The idea of a stairwell became interesting and I began researching stories of people who get trapped and even die in stairwells. However not focusing too much on the macabre death elements I liked the idea of a spiral staircase for all the metaphors it provides. I began to see the creative development manifesting as a short dance film and after the week of rehearsals decided to invest in making the second stage of the project.