Farewell Europe – it’s been swell … now onto filming in Oz!

Sarah Alkemade at Vienna Airport with boarding pass

And so, it is finally over.  The first stage of filming for “Franz Stampfl: The Man Behind The Miracle Mile” is completed and “in the can” – or rather, on hard drives stored in my hand luggage with a back up copy in our Gaffer, Saraj Alkemade’s checked in luggage.  Saraj and I have just flown home from Vienna via Dubai while our DOP, Tim Egan takes a short break in Prague before following us back in just over a week’s time.

And we’ve done it.  Saraj and I had a moment at Dubai airport where we looked at each other and shared a high five in celebration of actually getting through the shoot in one piece and with all the interviews we intended to shoot captured on film – or rather, hard drive.  Shooting overseas is never easy, things always go wrong, mobile phone cards don’t work (that was a saga we went through twice – a story for another time), people get injured (turns out that was only me and it wasn’t debilitating, just painful!), equipment that had been pre-booked isn’t available when you get there, people who were supposed to be doing certain things for you while you are in the country don’t carry through, etc, etc.

Statues near the entrance to the Hapsburg Palace just up from the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School)

Despite all that, we managed to get through it all without too much scarring or any long term dramas, but I have to say I’m glad to be home!

Putting aside any challenges we might have experienced over the last five days, Vienna was a lovely city to visit and I do intend to go back for a holiday so I can truly appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the surrounds and the lovely nature of the Viennese people.

Impressions of the city from my short encounter with it?  Impressive architecture that displayed proudly it’s previous standing as a city of emperors.  Warm people who laugh a lot.  A huge array of food – from Italian to fish & chips to traditional Austro-Hungarian fare.  I even found somewhere that did gluten free Wiener Schnitzel – which made me a very happy girl indeed!

nside the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History), Vienna

Beautiful churches.  St Stephen’s Cathedral is stunning, but St Peter’s church was breathtaking.  History.  Everywhere, history!  Finding unexpected treasures – walking through Stadtpark on our last night and coming across Johan Strauss’ statue that I hadn’t yet seen – all lit up and framed perfectly against the dark sky.

Johann Strauss Monument at night in the Stadtpark, Vienna

Our fabulous penthouse apartment in the 5th District that looked over Vienna towards the centre of town that was covered in the owner’s own artwork.  The walks to Pigrimstrasse U-Bahn in the increasingly colder evenings.  The Bankomats.  Learning to automatically say “Dankeschon” and “Enschulegung” (the cabin crew thought I was German, because I couldn’t stop myself from saying it on the plane!).

And the interviewees in Vienna were lovely.  All Stampfl family members and all delightful.  Franz’s brother Otto was a joy – and I even found myself understanding some of the answers given in German – asking the next question before the interpreter could finish translating!

Cinematographer Tim Egan getting closer to Mozart – via his statue, Vienna

I would very much like to thank the following people who made the Vienna filming possible:

Interviewee, Otto Stampfl as seen between translator Arno Rupp and director, Sally McLean (Photo by Ingo Folie)

Firstly, Ernst Vogl from Location Austria at the Film Commission of Austria who deserves a big THANK YOU for all his help.  Nothing was too much trouble – he lined up all our equipment hire (and even drove us out to collect the lighting gear, then returned it for us) as well as securing the interview location itself: a suite at The Hotel Imperial – who, in turn, need to be thanked for their support and help with filming the interviews and for taking such good care of us while we were there.  Thank you Ernst for everything you did for us – I truly appreciate it and am forever grateful.

The Front Entrance to The Hotel Imperial, Vienna

Arno Rupp very kindly agreed to translate from German to English for me for the first two interviews of the day – thank you Arno, you were great!  Gregor Stampfl translated for the third interview and Hedy Cech translated for the fourth and final interview.  I truly appreciate all their help and thank them all from the bottom of my German-language challenged heart.

And so we are now home.  Seven interviews in three different countries over ten days and we’re done for the first leg of filming.

It was a crazy, mad, thrilling time and a great start to the production of the documentary.  Once again I would like to thank Daniel Salter in England for acting as our Production Coordinator for London and Dublin and Ernst Vogl for the same in Vienna.  Also thank you to Daniel for being our stills photographer in the UK and Ireland and Ingo Folie for being our stills photographer in Vienna – both of them took beautiful shots of our interview subjects and behind the scenes stills of the production and I am truly grateful again to both.  We are slowly collating all the photographs and will post them on our Facebook page as they become available.

Hedy Cech, Otto Stampfl and Sally McLean in the lobby of the Hotel Imperial, Vienna (Photo by Ingo Folie)

I would also like to thank Gear Head Ltd, who provided the Sony F3 camera and Zeiss lenses for the production and Video Craft for the use of the PL Mount for the 102.  Without their support we wouldn’t have been able to capture any of this on film and I highly recommend both companies if you are looking to hire (or in Video Craft’s case, also buy) equipment in Melbourne.  Gear Head are also based in Sydney and LA, so get in touch with them if you are looking to hire in any of those cities and tell them we sent you!

Finally – a big thank you to all our interviewees and to the production team back here in Oz who kept the home fires burning while we were away and all those who donated to the project to make this trip possible – we truly couldn’t have done it without your support!

Marg Woodlock-McLean and John Landy catch up at Government House during the official Governor’s Reception, Sunday November 19 2011

And now, it’s onto the planning and pre-production phase for the first lot of Australian interviews.

After flying into Melbourne yesterday morning, I attended the 100th Anniversary of the Victorian Olympic Council Dinner at the Sofitel last night, then the official Governor’s Reception at Government House this afternoon with my mother, Marg Woodlock-McLean, and had the chance to catch up with some of the interviewees we will be speaking to on camera come January in Melbourne including John Landy, among others.  Our line up of Melbourne-based athletes as well as prominent figures from the Arts, Politics and Literature is shaping up to be an impressive one and I am truly looking forward to speaking to this next lot of interviewees on camera early in the New Year.

Thank you to everyone for their support – onward and upwards we go!

Sally McLean