The Sound of Milk

(Prologue)

The Sound of Milk (Prologue) - 14' 03", stereo mix © 2004

Background

Funded by the Australian Film Commission's Strand-X Fund, The Sound of Milk (prologue) is developed from the feature film project The Sound of Milk, currently in development: a sci-fi feature film with a little action, a lot of sex, and lots of sound. It is a culmination of Philip's interests in bodies, sound and Japanese animation, transformed into a narrative that fuses these interests into a suitably mutant post-human end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story.

The plot: It is the year 3073. No Northern Hemisphere. South East Asia is now one land mass, including Australia. No Caucasian genes exist. Men and women have become separate species. Women can self pro-create. They live in domed communities in the desert. Male sperm is now impotent, and Men have redesigned themselves as cyborg machines. They live in darkened high-density coastal cities. Heterosexuality is unthinkable. Gender war rages. Sensed through the perspective of a warrior women living in this future, The Sound of Milk (prologue) creates an evocative series of futuristic landscapes and filmed portraits of racial and sexual types and differences that may exist in the future of what once was called Australia.

Fai Lo Man - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Credits

Cast

Font - Fai Lo Man
Skeleton - Masayuki Hasuoka
Ra - Linda Lim
Ro - Derek Burns
Shon - Choy Hardisty
Sexdroid - Sophie Poole
Tork - Frank Foo
Boushinja - Shailah Rudoph
Khulshahl - Farah Haroon
Cassandra - Sunila Shrivastava

Crew

Writer & director - Philip Brophy
Producer - Julie Marlow
Production manager - Monica Zetlin
Casting manager - Tze Heen Kenneth Cheong
Location manager - Corrina Dichiera
Cinematographer - Michael Williams
Camera operator - Rocco Fasano
Key grip - Freddo Dirk
Production designer - Philip Brophy
Art director - Miriam Johnson
Props maker - David Bell
Super Dimension Fridge - Michael Trudgeon & Anthony Kitchener
Costume designer - Annette Soumilas
Costume assistant & wardrobe - Sophie Poole
Hair & make-up - Leanne Hanley
Location cinematographers - Michael Williams (Pioneer Sand Quarry – Bacchus Marsh; Caltex – Werribee; ACMI - Melbourne); Philip Brophy (Odaibo – Japan; Mong Kok & Cheng Shah Wang – Hong Kong; Melbourne city & docklands; RMIT Chemical/Metallurgic Engineering)
Location camera assistant - Peter Murphy
Extra effects cinematographer - Pancho Colladetti
Editor - Philip Brophy
Edit log - Pancho Colladetti
Effects compositing - Philip Brophy & Pancho Colladetti
Storyboard - Philip Brophy
Continuity - Monica Zetlin
Sound designer & composer - Philip Brophy
Voices - Philip Brophy
Dolby Digital 5.1 mix - Philip Brophy
Studio - Premier Lighting
Edit & sound post-production - Gelatin
Insurance - H.W. Wood

2011

AWFULLY WONDERFUL, Performance Space, Melbourne

2005

BOX, Federation Square, Melbourne

2004

ACMI, Melbourne

Linda Lim - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Overview

The Sound of Milk (prologue) is a speculative fictional projection of how gender will be defined in a futuristic post-human era. The science fiction genre is a general reference for the themes and iconography of such a speculative narrative, however notions of the body, genetics, race and land are central to this project – as they have been in much of my film research and production to date. The project had been organically developed the 7 years preceding the video short. Ideas had been sketched continually over this time (incorporating drawn images, written scripts, recorded sounds and filmed imagery) as part of an extended investigation into how these ideas and materials they might be assembled. This experimental collage/layering approach is one that Philip has developed for many of his film, video and sound projects.

While a feature-length script has been completed for The Sound of Milk, the audiovisual actualisation of this SD short funded by the AFC Strand-X is crucial to the overall project. The feature script articulates causal, narrative and character ideas, which in term have strengthened notions as to the types and figures which might best service the project’s concepts. The Sound of Milk (prologue) tests some of these ideas in sound and image rather than in written dramatic form alone. Technological issues also determine this direction, as the suitability of formats in relation to the amount of post-production requires considered attention. This project aims to find ways of utilizing compositing and layering in ways that references the flat planar quality of Japanese Edo prints and contemporary manga (comics). The style being explored is more of a flat hyper-designed look than an old world European naturalism which tends to govern many of the more grand sci-fi spectacles. Illusion is not the central concern of The Sound of Milk: this is a film about ideas of how sex and gender will be in the future.

The impressionistic structure of The Sound of Milk (prologue) is based around suggesting a sexual tonality of a series of character portraits. Each character is set against a highly stylised landscape or background, produced by processing footage shot predominantly in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bacchus Marsh & Melbourne. These backgrounds’ stylisation suggests a sci-fi setting, but more importantly take on a psychological dimension. Recent films at the time which have influenced through their suggestive approach to portraiture in non-narrative form are Phillipe Grandrieux’s La Vie Nouvelle and Kitano Takashi’s Dolls. The project's overt mix of sexuality and futuristic technology directly references key anime titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost In The Shell and Akira.

Derek Burns - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Technical

Locations

Locations for shooting in Japan and Hong Kong were established during various trips to both places, with shooting taking place in early 2003. Locations in Melbourne & Bacchus Marsh were delivered by Corrina Dichierio. All up a total of 20 hours of background footage was filmed on DV-CAM by Philip Brophy and Michael Williams up to early 2004. The shooting involved documenting complete variations of selected environments (from close-ups to extreme wide-shots; from static to multiple pans/zooms; focus-pulls, etc.) from which libraries of these locations were assembled.

These libraries of source footage were narrowed down to 13 composite locations, each of which contained 2 to 4 perspectives to allow for shot/reverse-shots and various camera tracks and arcs. All filmed footage from these locations was assigned a position within the storyboard which specified which layer the footage would become - from a distant mountain to a close-up of building edge, etc. After this, the storyboard was developed to prepare for shooting of actors in a blue-screen environment in preparation of compositing into the background location composites.

The location footage was also used to determine the colour tone and range required for the costumes, so that the costumes blended with the environment. Colour relationships were deemed a driving aesthetic in the layering of actors into the background, in keeping with the idea to reference Japanese Edo prints and contemporary manga.

Farah Haroon - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Casting + Costumes + Make-Up

As The Sound of Milk (prologue) is primarily a visualization document, actors were not cast for the project. No dialogue was required either, so casting was undertaken by Kenneth Tze-Cheoung with the brief to secure body types for the project. Rough costume sketches were drafted by Philip as starting points for Annette Soumilas who then created the outfits for the cast of 9. The colours were based on matching source location footage filmed in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bacchus Marsh & Melbourne. Make-up notes were drafted once the cast was selected. Make-up and hair was designed by Leanne & Nickie Hanley.

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Sunila Shrivastava & Fai Lo Man - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Post-production + compositing

The Sound of Milk (prologue) is an attempt to experiment with a different mode of visualization that is not tied to the Renaissance-era painterliness which seems to govern many CGI productions. The major visual influence for The Sound of Milk (prologue) is Japanese 17th Century ukio-e print portraits and yamato-e print landscapes, as well as 18th century byobu folding-screen paintings. The overall flatness and layering of these art movements orients the primary visual direction of The Sound of Milk.

The exterior action can be divided into two areas. The male domain of Lock-1 has been shot mostly at day and night in the downtown narrow market streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, as well as various apartment blocks around Chen Sheng Wah. Additional building backgrounds were also shot in Tokyo (Odaibo) Melbourne's CBD. The female domain of WoSpan and the Periphery Desert separating the two dimensions has been shot at day mostly in a massive quarry in Bacchus Marsh. Both environments have great visual appeal. Both are symbolically appropriate to convey the dry, rustic quality of the warrior women and the seedy, sweaty, dark quality of the unscrupulous men.

All footage for was shot on DV-CAM on a Sony PD150 camera. Extensive footage from the locations has been compiled, creating a library of settings, camera perspectives, visual scales and textured details. From these libraries, the panoramas and wide-shots have been generated through multi-layering in alpha channels in Final Cut Pro 3. The studio shoot of the actors has been designed to capture a series of moments/performances by the actors in accordance with the script’s emotional suggestion. The actors were shot against blue screens at Premier Lighting to allow flexibility for compositing.

Masayuki Hasuoka - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004

Fai Lo Man - The Sound of Milk (Prologue) © 2004