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By the Lake, Tasmania
May 12, 2013 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Three young filmmakers from Melbourne, Australia were set to make a short film on the serenity of fly fishing, focusing on a man named Phipps who lived on a lake in central Tasmania. Once they met Phipps, however, that all changed. Here is a glimpse into Phipps' beautiful, quiet world.

The filmmakers work under the name Betty Wants In. The soundtrack to this short is Pig Food (Discogs) by the Australian band The Middle East.
posted by filthy light thief (44 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The images are gorgeous, but good god that little short is so recognizably in an utterly generic "here is a craftsman/real, non-citified person at work" style (down to the sub-Sigur Ros soundtrack), you basically don't need to watch it at all after looking at the stills, if you've also seen one of the zillions of little shorts about, say, blacksmiths or carpenters or whatever. Ugh, it's bog-standard authenticity porn and it's not even well made.
posted by kenko at 8:18 AM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder why they filmed all of his actions in slow-motion?
posted by Unified Theory at 8:26 AM on May 12, 2013


If he's a sashimi grade subject, why fry him and drench him in tartar sauce.
posted by jcking77 at 8:32 AM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


kenko--having a bad morning are you ? OK, so it was formulaic, I thoroughly enjoyed the content--besides, I love to fish.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:33 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to agree with kenko; I was dubious when I saw it was under four minutes but gave it a shot anyway and wound up stopping half way through with a muttered "this is all a bit precious". And I'm the target market for this stuff.

I was hoping for long, lingering shots I could sink into like a hot tub, and savour like a fine port, but instead it was just 5 second clips out of a dSLR with a wide open lens on a steadicam just noodling around the details, with a few workmanlike startrail shots.

Unified Theory, it's so trivial to shoot at 60fps and then play it back at 30 to get that "almost frozen moment of time" look that is the viewer's cue to appreciate what they're looking at that it tends to be the go-to effect for shooters who don't have any other tools in their toolbox.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, I think there's a great 20 minute short about Phipps and his lifestyle and his island, but this is not that short, and this is not a teaser for that short, and I'm sad that it isn't.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:33 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Once they met Phipps, however, that all changed." Well, yes....

That's because Phipps is going to hate those filmmakers in short order after all the tourists and fly fishermen show up at that lake and crowd him out now that they've made a film about him.

First thing "Artistes" (tree huggers, too) need to learn is that many times, they destroy the environmental beauty they want to glorify and protect.
posted by songdogtech at 8:41 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is really a shame that all of you (other than rmhsinc) were forced to watch this short video. I wasn't even aware that MetaFilter had an official "Watch something you just KNOW you're going to hate, and then give us your opinion" policy. I've been missing the boat on all those rap videos that I know I won't care for. Believe it or not, I just don't watch them, go do something else, and keep my hands off the keyboard.

And, good for you, Kenko, for winning the Mother's Day thread-shitting contest in a nearly record breaking 5 minutes. I'm surprised it took you a whole minute and 45 seconds to compose that comment, time to brush up on the typing skills!

filthy light thief, thanks, I need three minutes of fly fishing in the middle of prepping for guests for dinner today.... That was perfect...
posted by HuronBob at 8:54 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but this wasn't titled as something people would know to skip, like the rap videos you mentioned, this was a very short doc. about Tasmania and a bloke who lives there: there was no way to know whether anyone would like it or not until they watched it. So people did watch it, and didn't like it: are we not allowed to criticise the content now?
posted by marienbad at 9:04 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is the implied change? They state that they set out to "make a short film on the serenity of fly fishing, focusing on a man named Phipps who lived on a lake in central Tasmania."

If "that all changed" then I guess this clip is not about fly fishing or not focusing on a man named Phipps who lives on a lake in central Tasmania?
posted by patrick54 at 9:05 AM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "that all changed" drew me in. Then looking at the idyllic stills, but thinking about "that all changed," drew me in more.

Then I watched it. Very pretty. But like others have said, this short film will probably be the bloke's undoing. If enough people see this, some denizens of the noisy city of which he speaks will put the lake on their bucket list and it'll be adios muchachos.
posted by brianstorms at 9:16 AM on May 12, 2013


marienbad--of course you can criticize the content just as HuronBob criticized the content of some of the posts. I do find the jaded and world weary nature of some posts tiresome. If one is not going to offer new or clarifying information, an alternative interpretation of the post or input that moves a discussion forward one has to ask--why post.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:16 AM on May 12, 2013


"I don't know why these people live in these big cities. All that noise going on. I suppose some people enjoy that noise, but it certainly doesn't appeal to me.."

Thanks Filthy. I've just been standing on the back porch looking at a sky with too few stars and too many planes, and this was a great little tonic.
posted by Ahab at 9:23 AM on May 12, 2013


He did offer an alternative interpretation. The OP called it "Phipps' Beautiful, quiet World" and Kenko called it "Generic" and "not well made." Sounds pretty different to me.
posted by marienbad at 9:26 AM on May 12, 2013


marienbad--of course you can criticize the content just as HuronBob criticized the content of some of the posts. I do find the jaded and world weary nature of some posts tiresome. If one is not going to offer new or clarifying information, an alternative interpretation of the post or input that moves a discussion forward one has to ask--why post.

I don't mean to be cheeky, but I really did find the dismissive comments informative and valuable. The question of "whether this is a good short film" is actually an interesting question to me, and to hear some other MeFites opine about the various (cheap, overdone, cliched) effects was valuable to me. So I think it's incorrect of you to assert that these dismissals don't "move the discussion forward." If someone puts their art out into the world, I think it is fair to discuss whether the art is any good. So the dismissive comments do actually move the discussion forward.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:34 AM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Between the "Fisherman's shack", the modern outdoor duster he is wearing, the absence of wear on any of his flies and case, and the reel he is using; I'm not entirely sure this was not filmed at a rental cabin somewhere. Volvo commercial maybe?
posted by buzzman at 9:36 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I felt like I was being sold something. Just show me the damn fishing already.
posted by argybarg at 9:40 AM on May 12, 2013


Another interesting thing about films like this ... The guy is recorded (with apparent approval of the filmmakers) saying "I don't know why these people live in these big cities. All that noise going on. I suppose some people enjoy that noise, but it certainly doesn't appeal to me.."

But almost certainly these filmmakers are going back to their urban homes and they are not giving up their MacBooks. So what does a film like this signify? "Here's one way you can live, very beautiful and quaint, even if it's not for us"?

It's their apparent approval of his dismissal of urban living, while almost certainly not giving up urban living, that strikes me as, I don't know, banal?

It's a sort of greeting card morality where, for the duration of reading the card (or watching the film), you agree with the platitudes expressed, but then you go back to living your plodding, imperfect, compromised life, unchanged.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:42 AM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If he's a sashimi grade subject, why fry him and drench him in tartar sauce.

It's an advertisement for Betty Wants In (these directors are presumably looking for ad work) masquerading as a documentary about Phipps and the Tasmanian lake. The real subject of the short is their production company.
posted by quosimosaur at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2013


marienbad--to keep the discussion going--I do not think "generic and not well made" is an alternative interpretation of "beautiful quiet world": unified theory--reluctantly I (somewhat) do agree with your comment. For some reason--kenko's immediately jumping on an innocuous but visually attractive video just seemed much to jaded and cynical for Sunday morning in Ohio. Some of this was triggered, I think, by a segment I heard on NPR while walking early this morning--The Cooked Seed--which caused me to look a bit more critically at my own tendencies towards indignation and the imagined suffering of living in the world.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:51 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would not worry about Phipp's isolation: Tasmania is already full of avid trout anglers and has been ever since they replaced the Tasmanian indigenous folks with imported trout stocked from England and California.
posted by zaelic at 9:51 AM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's an advertisement for Betty Wants In (these directors are presumably looking for ad work) masquerading as a documentary about Phipps and the Tasmanian lake. The real subject of the short is their production company.

Ha ha ha, that sounds so true.

It would be really funny if the story was utter bullshit and the fisherman was an actor. He had little of the air of a man who lives in isolation, I thought. His life seems dreadfully boring if what we saw of it is representative, and he really doesn't seem that interesting as a film subject. Maybe that's just me.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:59 AM on May 12, 2013


Geez, gave up halfway through, myself. Serious questions:

1. Is the entire thing in slow motion?
2. Is there a single shot that lasts more than 5 seconds?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:07 AM on May 12, 2013


The entire thing wasn't slow motion. Some of it was time-lapse. :)



Those of you who feel this is too pedestrian for you, go watch Bestiaire at your next opportunity. You'll have to devote more time to it (it's 72 minutes long) but it's worth it, IMO. Many of the shots are more than 5 seconds long, there's no narration, and it shows a man taxidermy a duck.
posted by RobotHero at 10:23 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fantastic video. Thanks for sharing.
posted by caddis at 10:40 AM on May 12, 2013


posted by caddis
Eponentomologicasterical.
posted by drlith at 11:23 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It looks like this man lives a lovely life in a gorgeous place, and I definitely enjoyed that part. It didn't need the artificial gloss of lingering slo-mo and a swelling soundtrack, though. I think these days there is a fetishization of "craft" that ultimately boils down to a fetishization of "stuff", and that sort of irks me. Like, look, he has a toasting fork and a fire instead of a toaster, that's real authenticity. I like cool things, and just grabbing a stick to toast a piece of bread makes a lot of sense under certain circumstances. However, there's a trend lately to give more weight to the object than the act, and this video panders to that. I doubt we would have been shown the guy firing up the gennie to use his old Black-and-Decker oven from 1998, even if in the end you still get toast. Personally, I would have liked to hear running water and wind and birds, and see more actual tramping around and fishing. The line between gritty reality and pure eye-candy is tough to navigate successfully. I enjoyed watching this, but there was definitely a bias toward style over substance.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:33 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, good for you, Kenko, for winning the Mother's Day thread-shitting contest in a nearly record breaking 5 minutes.

I wasn't aware that expressing an on-topic, albeit negative, opinion counted as thread-shitting. In the future, if I think that a video, or whatever, is poorly made, I'll make sure to wait half an hour for an adequate amount of comments praising the thing in question to be posted, then I'll comment—if I'm allowed to at all.

(And indeed, I had no reason to think I would dislike the video at all, and as I said, the stills were beautiful.)
posted by kenko at 11:59 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is really a shame that all of you (other than rmhsinc) were forced to watch this short video. I wasn't even aware that MetaFilter had an official "Watch something you just KNOW you're going to hate, and then give us your opinion" policy.

So you think people should just praise anything that gets posted, or keep their mouths shut?
posted by thelonius at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2013


If he's a sashimi grade subject, why fry him and drench him in tartar sauce.

In this metaphor, "fry him and drench him in tartar sauce" = "slo-mo shots at foot level".

If it's a sashimi-grade subject, you could just show him as he actually is—which presumably includes walking at a normal speed.

Another interesting thing about films like this ... The guy is recorded (with apparent approval of the filmmakers) saying "I don't know why these people live in these big cities. All that noise going on. I suppose some people enjoy that noise, but it certainly doesn't appeal to me.."

There's a kind of Yogi Berra quality to this question. Given the number of people in these big cities, they couldn't all live the way he does. There isn't enough space. NTM he isn't exactly autarkic out there.
posted by kenko at 12:23 PM on May 12, 2013


So you think people should just praise anything that gets posted, or keep their mouths shut?

The first comment, which included "it's bog-standard authenticity porn and it's not even well made", was the film/art equivalent to "your favorite musician sucks". It's subjective, it doesn't add to any discussion, and it shits in the thread with the first comment, something that is sort of frowned on here. To be honest, I think it set the tone for this discussion (hey, we got all the way to the derogatory term "tree huggers" in just a few more comments) , which could have been about a lot of things other than "this is crap, why did you post it, you have no taste".

But, that's just my opinion.....
posted by HuronBob at 12:25 PM on May 12, 2013


I liked the short because it seemed like a series of photos, but with actual motion instead of implied motion. The music then fits that style, and instead of just picking a Sigur Ros track, the filmmakers actually used music by an Australian band.

And I agree with those who think it would be nice if you don't think the post has any redeeming qualities, please wait a while before sharing your criticism, because I think early comments do shape the conversation dramatically. But that's just my point of view, not an effort to mandate people to only say nice things.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:36 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well I thought it was a very stereotypical piece between the slow motion shots, the intentionally old fashioned color temperature, the obligatory long exposures of stars rotating across the sky. I love a good nature short but this wasn't - it was lazily done. I think the assessment that this is a production company looking for advertising work was dead on. And as long as I'm piling on I found the music intensely irritating. I would have loved to have heard more voiceover from Phipps. Frankly it could have been any of the suburban lakes near you Huron Bob (and near me since we live in the same area far from Tasmania) - other than the discussion of exotic to most of us wildlife - none of which was shown - it was utterly generic and that's my problem with it.

I understand the point of view of not slagging something from the very first comment but I don't know how one gets around that if you're discussing a piece of creative work which one doesn't like - for substantive reasons.
posted by leslies at 12:39 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding Phillips' quote ("I don't know why these people live in these big cities. All that noise going on. I suppose some people enjoy that noise, but it certainly doesn't appeal to me."), it's just a clear case that it takes all kinds, and isn't a suggestion that people get the hell away from each other. Some people need acres (or hectares) of land between them and the next person, while others find comfort in urban settings where there isn't really any open land.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2013


By the way if you want to see a great, quiet, film about Tasmania, see THE HUNTER, starring Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. Beautiful Tasmanian wilderness scenes and a dramatic story.
posted by brianstorms at 12:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


leslies: I understand, and my personal take has been to stand back and see what others think before adding my criticism. Speaking in broad terms of posts made on MetaFilter and not on this or my posts specifically, if someone thought it was interesting enough to share, I'll hold my tongue (er, fingers) for a while if I don't enjoy it. Most often, I get distracted and find other things that I do like. But again, that's just me.

In this case, I find the criticism of the short in this thread valuable. I stopped at "ooh, pretty," and didn't process the short further. I've seen similar works, but I enjoyed the visuals and didn't think about how it compares to other efforts.

brainstorms, thanks for the suggestion. It appears to be available on Netflix streaming.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What all changed? HOW?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:51 PM on May 12, 2013


With the "that all changed" I was waiting for the shots of Phipps swearing and raging like a trooper, him firing up the smoky, noisy outboard motor and drag-netting a load of scraggly fish from a muddy lake.
posted by milkb0at at 2:05 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Following through one of the other links in the post, we see this explanation of the 'that all changed' phrase: "We set out thinking we'd make a short film about the beauty of fly fishing but soon found out Phipps was the real star. The end result being a snapshot of Phipps' beautiful, quiet world."

But here in this FPP it simply came across as a kind of 'bait and switch', because all the way through I was waiting to see what was going to happen to disturb the idyllic scene ... but nothing did.

And count me among those who found this one disappointing for 'cinematic' reasons. The content/style ratio was way way too low for my taste ... I think if they had perhaps stayed with their original plan - to focus on the fly-fishing - this might have turned out fine.
posted by woodblock100 at 2:26 PM on May 12, 2013


I wonder why they filmed all of his actions in slow-motion?

Life ... in Tasmania ... has a slower ... pace.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:03 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, now I'm thinking, I'm not sure why Bestiaire was where my mind went. Thematically they are very different. Maybe if you wanted to consider the fish's point of view.
posted by RobotHero at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2013


Yeah, usually when you read something like, "all that changed", it means they found out the guy was a reclusive former child TV star who was now the patriarch of a shadowy, paranoid and incestuous white supremacist clan.
Here it's more like, it changed a little bit.
(I still thought it was a great video though)
posted by Flashman at 7:36 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, it's bog-standard authenticity porn and it's not even well made.

Would you post the same sort of thing about a funny cat video FPP? You might want to give your fellow readers a bit more credit. Many people can enjoy videos (of cats, Tasmania, or other subjects) and find them superficial and saccharine and yet still enjoyable/indulgent. That you were unable to derive any enjoyment from this video (even when others have) is not, in and of itself, worthy of note.

That said, this looks like a beautiful place, but goddamn, those were some fast cuts, way too fast compared to the mood of the music. I would have loved to have had a few shots to just linger on the landscape.
posted by afiler at 8:27 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


That you were unable to derive any enjoyment from this video (even when others have) is not, in and of itself, worthy of note.

It's a good thing I didn't note that, then. I didn't say "I was unable to find enjoyment in this video". I said that the video is bad representative of its genre. (I also find the genre itself pretty silly, but I didn't say that.) Not all criticism is the record of merely subjective reaction: if you think it's good (not: if you enjoyed it), offer some account of its goodness. I'll read it. (I wouldn't say what I said about this about a funny cat video FPP if the cat video were good of its kind.)

In this case, I would be giving my fellow readers credit by assuming they also can see that the video is tripe. So, presumably, they wouldn't disagree with my assessment. They might enjoy it nevertheless—many do—but if you really think something is superficial and saccharine (which, again, isn't what I said—I said it was badly made, predictable, and I'd add pandering superficial saccharine), then why would you object to someone saying "hey, this is superficial and saccharine"?
posted by kenko at 10:05 PM on May 12, 2013


As someone who, being on a metered connection, hasn't even gotten to see the video yet, let me just say...

bog-standard authenticity porn is the most evocative phrase I've heard all day, and I'm probably going to appropriate it some time when it seems appropriate.

Also, this discussion seems to have become rather meta.

Carry on.
posted by MoTLD at 10:42 PM on May 12, 2013


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