Two weeks ago today, the crew of A Life Unexpected made the early morning journey down to Albert Park in Melbourne to shoot another day of interviews with some more truly fascinating people who knew and/or were coached by Franz Stampfl.
Before we go any further, we would like to take a moment to thank two brilliant and generous people we had the pleasure of dealing with in the lead up to filming, as well as on the day – Tikali Nicholls at Athletics Australia and Andrew Pettigrove at the Melbourne Sports Hub, who between them, made this shoot possible. Both individuals took such excellent care of us on behalf of their organizations and made this shoot so easy to accomplish, for which we are very grateful. Special mention also to Luke Galle at MSHUB for managing to juggle two film crews from different productions (us and one other) at the same time in the same venue that morning – and do it with grace and humour!
We were all on set bright and early at 6.30am (apologies again Tikali for getting you into work that early!), so we would be ready for our first interviewee an hour later – General Manager, People and Culture, Athletics Australia and Chef de Mission, Australian Olympic Team, Rio 2016, Kitty Chiller.
Making time to chat with us before another busy day of meetings and appearances in a flying visit to Melbourne, Kitty is also Australia’s first female Olympic Pentathlete (Sydney, 2000) and was coached by Franz Stampfl.
We had a delightful hour chatting with Kitty about her work with Franz, his impact on her own work and life and the various roles she is now undertaking within Athletics. We have been talking to Kitty about getting her on camera for over a year, so it was wonderful to finally have the opportunity to interview her – and we can tell you it was worth the wait!
Thank you again to Kitty and all the Athletics Australia team for allowing us to take over their boardroom and CEO, Phil Jones’ office (which was transformed into the Makeup room for Kitty’s interview – much to Phil’s amusement when he turned up to work in the middle of it all!), you couldn’t have been more lovely about a film crew descending and taking over for the morning!
Once Kitty’s interview was concluded, we pulled up stakes and moved the filming side of the production to The President’s Room at Lakeside Stadium, part of the Melbourne Sports Hub and housed adjacent to Athletics Australia HQ.
Here we welcomed Alf Lazer back to the interview chair to continue our chat about his close friendship with Franz over the many years Franz lived in Australia. It was lovely to speak with Alf again and his additional stories and thoughts about Franz very much added to the insightful and entertaining picture he has provided for us of their friendship and of Franz himself.
Next up in our interviewee lineup was Paul Jenes, Official Statistician and Life Governor of Athletics Australia, Sports Historian and author. Paul was a joy to interview, with fascinating insights into the history of Athletics in Australia and Victoria and Franz’s place within it, as well as some fantastic stories about Franz himself from the times he spent with him personally. Also a coach (Basketball), Paul brought so many different angles and perspectives to his interview and had the crew laughing several times, which is always welcome!
A quick lunch break, during which, one of the young athletes participating in Athletics Australia & Melbourne University’s #RaiseTheBar program for Indigenous youth dropped by the set to check out how a professional documentary team did things with one of the Athletics Australia staff members. This young man (from Arnhem Land) is also interested in filmmaking, so we were delighted to host him for a quick tour, as we’re always happy to encourage the next generation – and we need more Indigenous filmmakers, as well as track and field athletes!
Our final interviewee for the day was the lovely and interesting Ron Carlton, former Australian Champion in Javelin, author and historian and Franz athlete. Ron was again, a joy to chat with, telling fascinating stories about his time working with Franz, as well as the history of Athletics in Victoria and talking about Athletics today. Ron also has a great sense of humour and a great insight into Athletics at many levels and we are looking forward to eventually reading his and Paul Jene’s book on the history of Athletics Victoria which they are currently co-writing.
The day finished on schedule with all our interviews complete and a tired, but happy crew with another filming day ticked off the list.
Huge thanks again to Melbourne Sports Hub for their support- Lakeside Stadium made an amazing backdrop for the interviews and firmly placed the film in Victoria, with the Melbourne skyline clearly in the background.
We couldn’t have done this shoot in the first place without the support of Kitty and Tikali at Athletics Australia and thank them both for their enthusiasm and support for the film. Kitty’s interview in front of the wall of Australian Champions was the perfect setting and we are very much looking forward to sharing her thoughts on Franz in the film.
Athletics Australia are currently running their #SUMMERofATHS hashtag on social media to celebrate all the amazing Athletics meets going on in the lead up to Rio, so follow them on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with all the latest news there.
While you’re at it, follow Melbourne Sports Hub on Twitter or Facebook as well to keep up on all the latest happenings at Lakeside Stadium, the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
And finally, thank you to our amazing crew for another seamless day of shooting: Shaun Herbertson (Director of Photography), Tim McCormick (Sound Recordist), Marg Woodlock-McLean (Unit and Interviewee Liaison), Jo Fletcher (Makeup), Billy Smedley (Production Assist) and new team member Marcus Cropp (Camera Assist) who fitted in perfectly with the group and was so great to have on board.
We are now prepping for our next lot of filming and are fundraising to bring Herb Elliot into the interviewee chair, along with playwright David Williamson, among others.
All donations for the project can be made via the Documentary Australia Foundation, come with a tax deduction for amounts over $2 (for Australian residents) and any help spreading the word is most appreciated. You’ll find all the information on how to donate here:
The direct donation link on the DAF site is here:
Thank you again to everyone for your continued support and encouragement. We have an amazing community building around this film and we couldn’t do it without your help!
Speak again very soon,
Sally McLean (Director/Producer) & Ben Steel (Producer)