Capturing the Magic: Filming "The Italians" for Australian Theatre Live
In a daring fusion of stage and screen, The Italians has made its way from the intimate setting of Belvoir St's 25A to the digital realm of Australian Theatre Live. With its recent release on the theatrical streaming platform, audiences now have the opportunity to experience the magic of this critically acclaimed play from the comfort of their own homes. In a recent conversation between Emma O’Sullivan, one of the talented actors in the production, and Grant Dodwell, founder of ATL, Theatre Thoughts delved into the experiences behind the staged filming and were given insight into the challenges and triumphs of bringing live theatre to the digital screen.
Preserving the Energy on Camera
"Emma, how did it feel acting for the cameras on the stage? Did you have to change anything in terms of how you were performing or how it was blocked?" asked Justin, host of the Theatre Thoughts Podcast.
"It was pretty much business as usual because they were so visible in that space. There were so many of them, and they were quite big!" Emma replied. "So it was actually trying to forget that they were there because we wanted to still perform for the people that were around it and still create some energy."
Emma explained that despite the cameras' presence, the primary focus remained on delivering a captivating performance for the live audience. "We were aware that it was a smaller audience size due to how many cameras were in there, so if anything, it was actually trying to ignore them as much as possible and not worry about what angles there were."
Grant chimed in, describing the logistical challenges of finding suitable positions backstage for the filming crew. "We had to be tucked around backstage at the entrance where there was really no space. I mean, talk about a cluttered area, but we were sort of tucked away so the actors could zap in and out."
The Connection with the Audience:
When asked, "Did you find that you were making bigger choices as an actor because you knew it was being filmed?" Emma replied, "Actually, if anything, Justin, when I realised it was getting filmed, I couldn’t stop laughing!" she confessed. She went on to share her uncertainty about how her performance would translate on camera. "I was so aware of it, but I just thought, you have to do what it is. I think if we had known early on in the process that it would be filmed, it would have subconsciously affected our choices without even realising it."
Grant added, "It was hugely collaborative coming in with camera equipment, laying cables, the whole thing. It was a massive exercise. We were really good at doing it, but it required the theatre creatives to sign off on it."
Behind the Scenes of Filming:
In discussing the behind the scenes content, the pair were asked, “How many cameras were used to film 'The Italians'? Was that a normal number for Australian Theatre Live, or did it change depending on shows?" Grant answered, "We had about five operators on this one, and sometimes we might have four, but generally, it was about five or six." He further explained the camera setup, including specific angles and shots. Grant also highlighted the distinctions between Australian Theatre Live and National Theatre Live, with the latter having permanent tracks for dynamic camera movements.
Reflecting on the swift setup and filming process, Emma acknowledged the tremendous effort of Danny Ball, the writer and producer of The Italians. "Looking back on it, it was such a testament to Danny to get it organised because we had to try and find a time during the day to work around the huge cast and people who had family in town. Danny just did whatever needed to be done."
Grant praised Danny's dedication and leadership, emphasising his crucial role in the post-production phase. "But that’s the thing about Danny, is that he’s very much a leader. It’s hugely collaborative... It requires the theatre creatives to sign off on it."
The Italians successfully made the transition from live theatre to digital screens, now able to continue captivating audiences with its outrageous performances and hilarious narrative. Through the innovative platform of Australian Theatre Live, the magic and essence of this production are preserved, ensuring that the legacy of Independent Australian theatre thrives and continues to inspire audiences both in Australia and, now, around the world.
The Italians can be streamed via the Australian Theatre Live website or app available on Apple Devices now.
For just $7.99 per month or $74.99 per year, with your first week free, gain access to some of the best of what Australian theatre has to offer, regardless of your location, income, or access needs.
The Italians Cast and Creatives
DANNY BALL WRITER & PRODUCER
RILEY SPADARO DIRECTOR
GRACE DEACON SET DESIGNER
PHOEBE PILCHER LIGHTING DESIGNER
LUKE DI SOMMA COMPOSER
AMY HACK MOVEMENT DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER
THOMAS DE ANGELIS DRAMATURG & PRODUCER
ELIZABETH GUY STAGE MANAGER
CAMERON HILL-HARRISON ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
PHILIP D’AMBROSIO PRODUCER