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CAPTION: L-R: Mark Wareham, Rachel Perkins and Jub Clerc location scouting for MYSTERY ROAD

Last year Western Australian writer / director Jub Clerc was announced as a recipient of Screenwest’s year-long Feature Navigator program which provides tailored professional and project development support.

The multi-talented Indigenous creative talked with Screenwest to reflect on the opportunities, learnings and outcomes the Feature Navigator program has provided.

Screenwest:  Tell us about how the program has assisted with your feature script, SHE BEGINS BY BREAKING.

Jub Clerc: The Feature Navigator funding provided support for me to attend 2 week-long script workshops in Sydney where my co-writer Steve Rodgers and I were happily locked away in a room with the film’s Producer, Liz Kearney.

The first workshop involved extensive assessment of the treatment and what the journey of our protagonists was whilst moving through the world we had set up, this also involved refining our supporting characters.

Liz, being a creative producer, worked through the characters and their journey with us and supported us to plot the story staying true to the protagonists’ arc. By the end of the week we had established the world of our characters and were ready to lock in our second workshop where we would set to task on writing the first draft.

With a solid foundation laid in the first workshop and the dialogue Steve and I have, we smashed out 80% of the first draft by the end of the second workshop!

The third workshop, to complete the first draft, is slated for end of the year.  I’m looking forward to having a first draft completed as I’ve had this story as a concept for many years.

Screenwest:  How did you approach co-writing with Steve?

In the second workshop, Steve and I divided the scenes on our strengths, weaknesses and life experience to ascertain who would write what. This was a very easy process due to the trust we have in each other’s abilities along with a complete understanding of who the characters are, what their journey is and the world we have created.

Screenwest:  You’re currently up in Kununurra working on MYSTERY ROAD.  Tell us about your experience so far.

To be a Directors Attachment was part of my Feature Navigator wish list and I am extremely lucky to have secured one with the extraordinary Rachel Perkins who just a few weeks in I have already learned immensely from.

Rachel is a friend and colleague, and having an established and trusted relationship has allowed me to have an even richer experience on set.

Rachel is directing all 6 x 1 hour episodes of MYSTERY ROAD. This, I have found, is like working on six features films in one swoop as we are shooting in one hit instead of in blocks.

Because of this we have had to be completely on top of the scripts across all six episodes to navigate our way through pre-production.

Screenwest:  What have you been your responsibilities on set?

I have been providing extensive cue notes on each episode which involved combing through the scripts and noting any moments where the scripts provide a clue to the mystery in the drama and whether the continuity merges or clashes in the other episodes.  I relay this information in my spreadsheet to Rachel and the producers. They, in turn, feed this back to the writers.

Whilst in production meetings with all departments, I am called upon to provide information of what is happening in the episodes so that all departments can align information and be aware of any adjustments they need to make in their preparations.

The quality of my work and attention to detail has recently opened up an opportunity with the role of Script Supervisor on the Second Unit which I’m super excited to take on.

I also provide Rachel with a spreadsheet of scripted and non-scripted music cues for her to add her notes and provide them to the Music Supervisors.

I work with the Locations team to provide all departments with a drawn-up map of the world our characters live in. This has been beneficial in clarifying locations our characters are in and in turn the locations.

I also attend recys, camera blocking, and all meetings with all departments.  Needless to say, I’ve been busy, but wouldn’t want it any other way.

Screenwest: Wow, you must be incredibly busy.  Do you feel valued?

Rachel, DOP Mark Wareham and all the crew have been extremely generous in sharing their time and knowledge = going out of their way to make sure I am included. They actively seek my opinion and value my input. They answer any questions I have about the film lingo and take the time to make sure I am on track with everything going on around me.  They certainly are helping me get the most out of my experience.

Screenwest:  What is one thing you’ve learnt so far?

I am learning that I am not as green as I thought! This has been a wonderful realisation as I have only directed two short films.

I believe my involvement with Bunya Productions on MAD BASTARDS, SATELLITE BOY and JASPER JONES, as well as working with Wawilli Pitjas on JANDAMARRA’S WAR, has allowed me to absorb the basic ins and outs of feature film/doco drama practicalities.

I’m confidently holding my own and indeed have become a part of the team, mainly due to the trust Rachel instilled on me in the very beginning. I will be forever grateful for her generous heart. I have also learnt that there is so much more for me to learn before I obtain the sort of respect and trust commanded by Rachel on such a mammoth production.

All of these experiences have fed into my knowledge and enhanced it ten-fold. It has enhanced my knowledge of preparing for shoot and indeed how to view a script in a shooting sense. A great eye opener to what is and isn’t achievable and how you can keep the heart of the story and the production value without blowing out the budget!  I’m eager to apply these learnings from my experience on MYSTERY ROAD to the next drafts of SHE BEGINS BY BREAKING.