Filmmaker Mick Soiza is based on the East Coast of Australia, working on commercials, music videos and branded content. As well as directing several clips for Pierce Brothers and signing to Two Little Indians, Soiza has also recently completed a short film – The Best Is Yet Come – alongside frequent collaborator, cinematographer Sean Ryan.
So Mick, introduce yourself and what kind of projects you’ve been working on recently?
I’m a director of commercials and music videos based on the Gold Coast. I’ve also just recently signed with Two Little Indians in Brisbane – pretty pumped to see where this next chapter goes. As for projects, I’ve finished up on a personal project with Sean Ryan on a contemporary dancer called THE BEST IS YET TO COME, which premiered last week on Film Shortage.
How did you start directing?
Mick: I remember when I went to film school all I wanted to do was edit but I also had this obsession with cinematography. I did quite a bit of work experience on film sets and had a job lined up at a small production house cutting smaller projects. No one around me was really pushing to direct right out of film school so I teamed up with Sean and we just started cutting our teeth on music videos for free, whilst still serving up coffees at a local coffee shop on the Gold Coast. After a while on my own and working on smaller projects, I got quite lucky with a ROAM, a production house on the Gold Coast and they thankfully threw me some paid directing projects which led me to be able to freelance as a director.
Do you feel now that you’ve just signed with a new production company, embarking on this film as a personal project has been good timing?
Mick: Yeah, you could say that for sure. I’ve been collaborating with Sean Ryan for a few years now and we’ve been working on commercials, music videos and drama and have been getting to a point of wanting to create our own personal work. We’ve always voiced our next step was to do a personal project together, something we were passionate about and something new that would essentially push us both as filmmakers.
How do you guys know each other?
Sean: Mick and I studied together at Griffith Film school in Brisbane. Once we finished we had an admiration for each other’s work and had similar sensibilities. I think we were both equally hungry to get out there and do great work which is what got us working together in the first place and why we’re still continuing to do so.
Mick: Sean was one of the only ones wanting to hustle and not just create for the sake of creating – he wanted to progress his skill set and was doing a killer job for his experience at the time. Once we shot our first music video straight out of film school a few years ago, the relationship and collaborations just grew stronger. Relationships are at the heart of what we do and I think it’s a gift to be able to work with like-minded people.
Agreed. So, tell me how did ‘THE BEST IS YET TO COME’ come together?
Mick: I feel like as emerging young creators, we could connect with the thought that behind every form of art there’s a lot of hard work and I felt the most visual way to portray that could be in a dancer. Once Sean and I locked that down, I remembered one of my friends had danced professionally a while back and I was always mesmerised to see so much grace in her craft. I love films that focus on the artist’s or athlete’s struggle as it is so inspiring and terrifying at the same time to be immersed in their journey and where it may lead them. I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of overnight success and how suddenly everyone knows any artist’s or athlete’s name instantly when they have been working every day for their entire lives to achieve this moment but the question I asked myself was – do we ever reach that moment? Or is the best yet to come?
THE BEST IS YET TO COME – A Short Film
Injured dancer, Ella, is consumed by her desire to be prepared for an upcoming performance. Forgoing rest and convalescence, she pushes through physical pain and mental exhaustion to perfect her routine. In doing so, she leads a solitary existence, where nothing can deter her from being the best she can be.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME reinterprets the symbols of passion, persistence and fragility of an athlete as a human being. It explores the never-ending pursuit for greatness and ultimately how we must connect with both our past and present experiences to successfully move forward.
Personal projects can be quite hard to get off the ground, how did you end up finding crew and gear?
Mick: Majority of the crew are either friends I’ve worked with previously or were new relationships that I knew I wanted to foster for future projects. Even Midori, our lead is a long-time friend, my best mate was on the edit and Sean shot the project. It was important to work with close friends on this one, not only for a budgetary standpoint but also on a personal level – I feel like everyone involved felt more connected to the project and were willing to give it more love and attention.
What’s it like to work with a small crew?
Sean: Although there’s always some limitations with a smaller team overall it was a really great experience. Mick and I like to move fast and by scouting extensively we were able to keep locations close, when you combine that with a nimble team we were able to achieve a lot in a very tight schedule which was paramount for this film.
Mick: I am pretty accustomed to being able to work with smaller crews and for a project like this it was the only way to go. We were able to work faster with the same amount of passion.
How long was the shoot and post and what was the hardest part for you guys?
Mick: The project was self-funded and we shot over two days. As this was a love project it took around a month and a half in post-production allowing us to work it around other jobs. Self-funded projects always face the challenge of budgets but I would say having no producer or production designer were our major challenges – producers are worth their weight in gold plus some and not having a production designer to collaborate with was also quite difficult. Sean and I have had a few projects together where we have been able to share the payload and band together to work out solutions as a team and having similar sensibilities was quite key.
You mentioned before you had been editing projects in the past, have you seen any value in letting someone else edit on this film?
Mick: 100% – I’ve been cutting most of my projects and having someone else there to collaborate with and can see the project from a totally different angle was really refreshing. You can sometimes get caught up in a project and to take a step back and allow happy accidents to happen is quite nice.
The sound design is quite a significant part of the film, did you have this already in mind?
Mick: I knew I really wanted something raw, emotive and for it to be heavily sound driven. Originally, I had something more guitar lead and minimalistic in mind but when Jonny Higgins our composer hit me with a couple of synths, things went 80’s pretty quickly. Especially with a piece like this, we had the creative freedom to be able to try something a little different – it is something unexpected and not traditional to most dance films but feels appropriate.
Would you say this clip is a good indication of your personal style?
Sean: I wouldn’t say that per say but I’d say it’s a particular aesthetic that I’m excited by at the moment. I think it’s important to project the type of work that you want to come back to you.
Mick: I love stories that have more of a real and raw feeling about them and that can still be cinematic pieces. I do tend to gravitate to more moodier stories and tones but I wouldn’t define this project as my complete personal style. The project came at a good time when I was thinking about athletes and artists pushing for a goal and it felt right to give this story its current aesthetic.
In the current climate of filmmaking how is young talent emerging?
Sean: I think looking side to side a lot of the emerging talent have made their own luck. Many of them are doing fantastic work in music clips, short docs and other short narratives that don’t necessarily look like some generic commercials but show the ability to tell great stories. It’s this skill that is being noted and these are the people joining the rosters of production companies around the country.
Mick: Sean sums it up pretty well and I don’t think you can define one path on how the talent is emerging and to me that is really exciting. Sean and I always say no one is going to just give you the next job on a platter. You’ve got to work hard for it, collaborate and be good to others. It’s inspiring to see other emerging filmmakers creating great work and I feel it only pushes us and everyone else to be their best.
For more information on Mick Soiza and his work, visit: www.micksoiza.com
For more information on Sean Ryan and his work, visit: www.sean-ryan.com.au