Dan's painting of St. Tropez
Dan's "Money Book"
Dan's Photos of Newcastle
Dan's Oil Painting
DAN CASTLE (part II of III)
Writer/Director, Musician, Painter, Photographer
“As I was floating around on my surfboard waiting for the waves…alone…I thought how risky this is, that at any given moment an accident can occur. It’s so easy a surfboard hitting you on the head leaving you messed up…then the story just came to me” He says recalling on how the script of the short film “The Visitor” came about.
The concept was simple, a surfer in a wipe out, waking up all confused, entering a home that he thought is his…the problem is that the house already has a lonely man, a writer, living in it. The presence of the surfer forces the writer to confront his emotions that he is trying to bury. Again I’ve only seen the trailers (Netflix is such a let-down) and also since I am not a movie critic, I am not the best person to give any review about it. But what I have seen in those several minutes is a work of a confident director. Barry Otto’s performance was brilliant and Dan catches the raw emotions splendidly. There is a reason why this short film has been critically acclaimed, and there are better persons out there who can give you an insight about it, but what I can tell you is that the scenes in and out of the water are breathtakingly beautiful.
I am very impressed on how Dan shot some of the scenes. It’s terribly difficult to create scenes that are sensual yet so beautiful and poetic. I am doubly impressed by how he got the venerable Australian actor Barry Otto to play a leading role in it. Barry Otto is the father of Miranda Otto, yes that Miranda Otto from the “The Lord of the Rings” (I bit my lip and didn’t tell Dan how much I fancy Miranda). Mr. Barry Otto appeared in the films “Rogue” 2007, “Australia” 2008, “The Great Gatsby” 2013, just to name a few.
I actually had the nerve to ask Dan how he felt in directing Barry Otto as if I am eager to find out if Dan gets nervous (haven’t I mentioned already how supremely cool Dan looks). Dan said that he and Barry just got along so quickly and he was amazed how he found it too easy to work with an actor of that caliber.
“The Visitor” was shot in Tamarama Beach, two hours north of Sydney, Australia. Dan went to see the Sydney Film Festival in 2001, and with the script already written, decided to film it in Tamarama Beach after seeing the place. At that time funding the film wasn’t too big of a problem, since his collaboration with Mike Thomas on Jour de Fete Films has been paying off, and that his friends from Australia did not hesitate to produce.
This is the point of Dan’s story that I really found out how passionate he is with his art. See, any other man would probably just secure his monetary gain and hand it to Morgan Stanley and let them handle his wealth. Not Dan. He wanted to make his scripts a reality and so he did (he co-produced in “Newcastle”). I know to what purpose short films serve (well I presume to know)…they collect accolades and build portfolios for directors (and actors, editors, etc.)…that’s it. It’s not going to be grabbed by the bigwigs in Hollywood and make tons of cash. This was all about great art—creating the shots and capturing incredible acting. No matter the purpose, it is still an expensive undertaking.
From there several years later, Dan worked on the film “Newcastle”, after seeing the place. “I get my inspiration from the places I see…I take photos, paint and write the script…then the music follows...all of those things feed on each other and my inspirations just grow…I just let it, I don’t sulk when I don’t get to write for a week, nor paint, I just have a lot of outlet for my inspirations” Dan said humbly.
If it’s another artist I would think it arrogant for a man to claim that he has such talent it just oozes out of him. But Dan is not that way because what he wants is for people to understand the courage that it takes to create from your inspiration and not focus on the end product of an artwork. “You need to create…work on it…it’s the process that is important” he says wisely.
Let me talk a bit about Dan’s photography, since it plays a big part on his creative process and research. His photographs of “Newcastle”, prior film production, are so surreal—imagine a perfect beach community, laidback, beautiful sand and ocean, a peaceful place yet with tons of young people, he somehow manage to capture all those—and he have it all catalogued in his notebook (he calls it money book as he uses it as a visual aid when he approach investors to fund his film). Abercrombie and Fitch once had a syndicated magazine catalogue and for a second I thought I was looking at photos from those. One has to have an eye and quick wits about him to capture great stills and Dan has it. In Newcastle he saw a cloud that is illuminating in different wonderful colors, he photographed it, then drew a pastel of it. What purpose did the pastel drawing serve the film, I don’t know, but Dan likes beauty and he likes the process of creating and materializing. He calls his art “expressionistic” by producing the mood and feeling as opposed to objective reality.
I agree with Dan. One has to get out of the house go to places, take photos, paint or write (if one can), and just work on your creativity. Don’t worry if it’s good enough since Dan himself has pointed out it’s the process that counts (practice makes perfect right?). Act on your inspiration, express your feelings, don’t let it go to waste.
Dan himself has said over and over again during the interview that “Not all of us are Mozarts, most of us has to work on our talent”. He went to Paris for Art School and he traveled a lot collecting inspiration. He has a painting of St. Tropez hanging in his bedroom and he admitted that a script was already inspired by that trip (his painting of the St. Tropez skyline is one of my favorites).
End of Part II
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