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submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Crossing the ice

21st century hero

The Mission:


Justin Jones and I have undertaken a world first - an unsupported polar expedition: Crossing the Ice. Traversing from the Antarctic rim to the South Pole and back, we will journey 2200kms on skis, sled-hauling all provisions essential for three months survival in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

When:
Expedition: Nov 2011 – Jan 2012

How:
On foot and completely unsupported. We’ll be man-hauling a pulk (with 160kg of provisions each).

Antarctic route & Comparative Map

Why:
Through realising a childhood dream and committing ourselves to a groundbreaking expedition, we wish to inspire others to overcome fear and pursue their own adventures and dreams....

James Castrission

James Castrission was born, 14 March 1982. That makes him only 29 years of age in 2011. But in those 29 years he has crammed a “hell of a lot of living”.

His heritage is Kytherian. His paternal grandfather was Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika, and his paternal grandmother was Theothora Coroneos (Belo Kostandinos) from Potamos. Jim Castrission established the famous Niagara Café at Gundagai, in New South Wales. Jim would later sponsor his brothers Vic and Jack to Australia from Kythera. The Niagara was famous for having piped music that could be dialled to every cubicle, and for the Southern Cross constellation, which lit up on a blue domed ceiling, that arched over the interior of the café. The Southern Cross stars were painted stars, set into the ceiling. You can read more about the Castrission family's Niagara Café

James Castrission fathers’ name is John. Mother Vivienne’s Hellenic heritage derives from Akrata, Greece.

In his book Crossing the Ditch, James states “that almost from the day I was born I always seemed to have too much energy. My parents had a rough time chasing me around and trying to protect me from myself. They did a pretty good job, though, until I decided it was time for my first BASE jump.
Climbing my first peak – the kitchen bench-top – during a rare moment when my parents had turned their backs, I threw myself off, yelling, “Look at me – I’m Superman!” before thudding into the tiled kitchen floor and bursting into tears, with a broken leg.

From a young age, father John encouraged his children to enjoy camping, allowing them to light their own fires, and to pitch their own tent. By age five James had developed impeccable navigation skills. He was intrinsically adventurous by nature.

He attended Roseville Public school, until 5th class, when he proceeded to the prestigious Knox Grammar school situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, NSW. http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

His adventures continued during his school years. He and two friends trekked to the source of the stream in the New South Wales Southern Highlands that fed into the Murray River. They then proceeded to float down the stream, through rapids, on their backpacks, where James’ father and other support crew, including Greg Thanos and John Miller, were waiting at the streams end.

His first major adventure involved kayaking the entire length of the Murray River, from the source of the Murray to the end. The first time this had been done.

On another occasion while he was in the cadets and undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award, he undertook a 250 kilometre walk with other colleagues through the Snowy Mountains. The group was caught in a huge snowstorm, and many of them where winched to safety. James and a few colleagues were allowed to continue their trek in the dangerous conditions. We just knew that they could and would survive, said the coordinator.

After completing his Higher School Certificate, he went onto Sydney University, where at age 25, he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting. He gained employment as a consultant and analyst for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before deciding that mountaineering, rock climbing, bushwalking and kayaking should be the focus of his life. He decided to pursue dreams beyond the corporate world.

He has climbed some of the most challenging peaks in Australia and New Zealand and walked some of the most breathtaking tracks. He shot to world prominence however, when he and close friend Justin Jones completed the first Trans-Tasman kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. For photographs and a great deal more information about that epic journey, see: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

On November 13 2007 James, Justin and their kayak Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia, and 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 meter swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the Tasman Sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners.

Crossing the ditch Tasman Map

A documentary was produced about Crossing the Ditch (Ditch would be translated as lagathi in Greek, and is colloquial language used to refer the expanse of water, the Tasman Sea, which lies between Australia and New Zealand). The documentary won it's category for best film on adventure and exploration at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada - the "el primo" outdoor film festival in the world! Cass expressed “a big thanks to the crew from Quail Television for helping this all happen, especially Greg Quail and Doug Howard who saw the merit in our expedition and made it possible for us to share our little trip with the rest of the world”!

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which is staged in England.

The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, is the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival . More than 7,500 people are estimated to have attended the festival over the November weekend to watch films ranging from high-level mountaineering epics, to behind-the-scenes looks at the production of nature documentaries in high environments, as well as listen to a host of speakers. Now in its 12th year, the festival featured 61 films totaling 150 hours, covering a wide range of outdoor and adventure subjects including climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, culture and exploration. Cas (James Castrission’s “nick name is Cas), and Jonesy’s efforts to be awarded the Grand Prize against such illustrious competition is extraordinary.

The DVD Crossing the Ditch can be purchased on the website: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

Cas, spoke for both young men when he commented that “through committing ourselves to achieving one of "Australia’s last great first" adventures, we wish to inspire others not to be afraid of pursuing their own adventures and dreams”.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Department contracted them to lecture to school students, on the need to aspire to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, held a ceremony blessing them, and thanking them for what they had done for New Zealand.

In 2008, after the Tasman Sea crossing, James Castrission was a fitting Guest of Honour at the Kytherian Ball, the youngest guest of honour in the history of the event.

When he is not training for, or engaged in adventures, he has a full time career as a motivational speaker, lecturing to schools, organisations, and corporations at the highest level.

Cas is currently engaged in his most difficult adventure yet. You can read all about it at Cas ands Jonesy’s website: http://casandjonesy.com.au/

In 100 years of polar exploration no-one has EVER walked from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again without assistance. Many have tried, none have succeeded.

Facts about Crossing the Ice:

•This will be the first EVER unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
•The summer of 2011/12 will mark the 100 year anniversary of Scott and Amundsen.
•Cas and Jonesy will be the youngest team to ever reach the South Pole.
•Previous attempts: Jon Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips attempted the return journey in 1998. They reached the South Pole after 84 days on the ice and didn’t complete the return. Kiwi adventurers: Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald also attempted the return journey in 2007, their attempt was also unsuccessful.
•Distance: 2200km return (1100km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole)
•Less people have man hauled to the South Pole (58 people) than have stood on the summit of Mt Everest (4600).

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

[See the website (Nov-Dec 2011) for their current location.]

Antarctica - a lonely expanse

James Castrission and Justin Jones. It’s bitterly cold in Antarctica

Cas and Jonesy are using this expedition to raise much needed funds and awareness for ‘You Can‘; an Australian national fundraising campaign to build specialised youth cancer centres across Australia. This expedition is called Crossing the Ice – and everyone on the planet can be a part of adventure by following their progress on the website, and by interacting with the pair of adventurers. You can read up on the expedition here on the site, or leave a message of support on Facebook.

This is James Castrission’s most challenging and dangerous adventure yet.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Crossing the ice

The lonely expanse

The Mission:


Justin Jones and I have undertaken a world first - an unsupported polar expedition: Crossing the Ice. Traversing from the Antarctic rim to the South Pole and back, we will journey 2200kms on skis, sled-hauling all provisions essential for three months survival in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

When:
Expedition: Nov 2011 – Jan 2012

How:
On foot and completely unsupported. We’ll be man-hauling a pulk (with 160kg of provisions each).

Antarctic route & Comparative Map

Why:
Through realising a childhood dream and committing ourselves to a groundbreaking expedition, we wish to inspire others to overcome fear and pursue their own adventures and dreams....

James Castrission

James Castrission was born, 14 March 1982. That makes him only 29 years of age in 2011. But in those 29 years he has crammed a “hell of a lot of living”.

His heritage is Kytherian. His paternal grandfather was Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika, and his paternal grandmother was Theothora Coroneos (Belo Kostandinos) from Potamos. Jim Castrission established the famous Niagara Café at Gundagai, in New South Wales. Jim would later sponsor his brothers Vic and Jack to Australia from Kythera. The Niagara was famous for having piped music that could be dialled to every cubicle, and for the Southern Cross constellation, which lit up on a blue domed ceiling, that arched over the interior of the café. The Southern Cross stars were painted stars, set into the ceiling. You can read more about the Castrission family's Niagara Café

James Castrission fathers’ name is John. Mother Vivienne’s Hellenic heritage derives from Akrata, Greece.

In his book Crossing the Ditch, James states “that almost from the day I was born I always seemed to have too much energy. My parents had a rough time chasing me around and trying to protect me from myself. They did a pretty good job, though, until I decided it was time for my first BASE jump. Climbing my first peak – the kitchen bench-top – during a rare moment when my parents had turned their backs, I threw myself off, yelling, “Look at me – I’m Superman!” before thudding into the tiled kitchen floor and bursting into tears, with a broken leg.

From a young age, father John encouraged his children to enjoy camping, allowing them to light their own fires, and to pitch their own tent. By age five James had developed impeccable navigation skills. He was intrinsically adventurous by nature.

He attended Roseville Public school, until 5th class, when he proceeded to the prestigious Knox Grammar school situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, NSW. http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

His adventures continued during his school years. He and two friends trekked to the source of the stream in the New South Wales Southern Highlands that fed into the Murray River. They then proceeded to float down the stream, through rapids, on their backpacks, where James’ father and other support crew, including Greg Thanos and John Miller, were waiting at the streams end.

His first major adventure involved kayaking the entire length of the Murray River, from the source of the Murray to the end. The first time this had been done.

On another occasion while he was in the cadets and undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award, he undertook a 250 kilometre walk with other colleagues through the Snowy Mountains. The group was caught in a huge snowstorm, and many of them where winched to safety. James and a few colleagues were allowed to continue their trek in the dangerous conditions. We just knew that they could and would survive, said the coordinator.

After completing his Higher School Certificate, he went onto Sydney University, where at age 25, he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting. He gained employment as a consultant and analyst for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before deciding that mountaineering, rock climbing, bushwalking and kayaking should be the focus of his life. He decided to pursue dreams beyond the corporate world.

He has climbed some of the most challenging peaks in Australia and New Zealand and walked some of the most breathtaking tracks. He shot to world prominence however, when he and close friend Justin Jones completed the first Trans-Tasman kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. For photographs and a great deal more information about that epic journey, see: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

On November 13 2007 James, Justin and their kayak Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia, and 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 meter swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the Tasman Sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners.

Crossing the ditch Tasman Map

A documentary was produced about Crossing the Ditch (Ditch would be translated as lagathi in Greek, and is colloquial language used to refer the expanse of water, the Tasman Sea, which lies between Australia and New Zealand). The documentary won it's category for best film on adventure and exploration at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada - the "el primo" outdoor film festival in the world! Cass expressed “a big thanks to the crew from Quail Television for helping this all happen, especially Greg Quail and Doug Howard who saw the merit in our expedition and made it possible for us to share our little trip with the rest of the world”!

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which is staged in England.

The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, is the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival. More than 7,500 people are estimated to have attended the festival over the November weekend to watch films ranging from high-level mountaineering epics, to behind-the-scenes looks at the production of nature documentaries in high environments, as well as listen to a host of speakers. Now in its 12th year, the festival featured 61 films totaling 150 hours, covering a wide range of outdoor and adventure subjects including climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, culture and exploration. Cas (James Castrission’s “nick name is Cas), and Jonesy’s efforts to be awarded the Grand Prize against such illustrious competition is extraordinary.

The DVD Crossing the Ditch can be purchased on the website: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

Cas, spoke for both young men when he commented that “through committing ourselves to achieving one of "Australia’s last great first" adventures, we wish to inspire others not to be afraid of pursuing their own adventures and dreams”.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Department contracted them to lecture to school students, on the need to aspire to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, held a ceremony blessing them, and thanking them for what they had done for New Zealand.

In 2008, after the Tasman Sea crossing, James Castrission was a fitting Guest of Honour at the Kytherian Ball, the youngest guest of honour in the history of the event.

When he is not training for, or engaged in adventures, he has a full time career as a motivational speaker, lecturing to schools, organisations, and corporations at the highest level.

Cas is currently engaged in his most difficult adventure yet. You can read all about it at Cas ands Jonesy’s website: http://casandjonesy.com.au/

In 100 years of polar exploration no-one has EVER walked from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again without assistance. Many have tried, none have succeeded.

Facts about Crossing the Ice:

•This will be the first EVER unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
•The summer of 2011/12 will mark the 100 year anniversary of Scott and Amundsen.
•Cas and Jonesy will be the youngest team to ever reach the South Pole.
•Previous attempts: Jon Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips attempted the return journey in 1998. They reached the South Pole after 84 days on the ice and didn’t complete the return. Kiwi adventurers: Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald also attempted the return journey in 2007, their attempt was also unsuccessful.
•Distance: 2200km return (1100km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole)
•Less people have man hauled to the South Pole (58 people) than have stood on the summit of Mt Everest (4600).

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

[See the website (Nov-Dec 2011) for their current location.]

James Castrission and Justin Jones. It’s bitterly cold in Antarctica

21st century hero

Cas and Jonesy are using this expedition to raise much needed funds and awareness for ‘You Can‘; an Australian national fundraising campaign to build specialised youth cancer centres across Australia. This expedition is called Crossing the Ice – and everyone on the planet can be a part of adventure by following their progress on the website, and by interacting with the pair of adventurers. You can read up on the expedition here on the site, or leave a message of support on Facebook.

This is James Castrission’s most challenging and dangerous adventure yet.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Crossing the ice

The Route

The Mission:


Justin Jones and I have undertaken a world first - an unsupported polar expedition: Crossing the Ice. Traversing from the Antarctic rim to the South Pole and back, we will journey 2200kms on skis, sled-hauling all provisions essential for three months survival in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

When:
Expedition: Nov 2011 – Jan 2012

How:
On foot and completely unsupported. We’ll be man-hauling a pulk (with 160kg of provisions each).

Why:
Through realising a childhood dream and committing ourselves to a groundbreaking expedition, we wish to inspire others to overcome fear and pursue their own adventures and dreams....

James Castrission

James Castrission was born, 14 March 1982. That makes him only 29 years of age in 2011. But in those 29 years he has crammed a “hell of a lot of living”.

His heritage is Kytherian. His paternal grandfather was Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika, and his paternal grandmother was Theothora Coroneos (Belo Kostandinos) from Potamos. Jim Castrission established the famous Niagara Café at Gundagai, in New South Wales. Jim would later sponsor his brothers Vic and Jack to Australia from Kythera. The Niagara was famous for having piped music that could be dialled to every cubicle, and for the Southern Cross constellation, which lit up on a blue domed ceiling, that arched over the interior of the café. The Southern Cross stars were painted stars, set into the ceiling. You can read more about the Castrission family's Niagara Café

James Castrission fathers’ name is John. Mother Vivienne’s Hellenic heritage derives from Akrata, Greece.

In his book Crossing the Ditch, James states “that almost from the day I was born I always seemed to have too much energy. My parents had a rough time chasing me around and trying to protect me from myself. They did a pretty good job, though, until I decided it was time for my first BASE jump. Climbing my first peak – the kitchen bench-top – during a rare moment when my parents had turned their backs, I threw myself off, yelling, “Look at me – I’m Superman!” before thudding into the tiled kitchen floor and bursting into tears, with a broken leg.

From a young age, father John encouraged his children to enjoy camping, allowing them to light their own fires, and to pitch their own tent. By age five James had developed impeccable navigation skills. He was intrinsically adventurous by nature.

He attended Roseville Public school, until 5th class, when he proceeded to the prestigious Knox Grammar school situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, NSW. http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

His adventures continued during his school years. He and two friends trekked to the source of the stream in the New South Wales Southern Highlands that fed into the Murray River. They then proceeded to float down the stream, through rapids, on their backpacks, where James’ father and other support crew, including Greg Thanos and John Miller, were waiting at the streams end.

His first major adventure involved kayaking the entire length of the Murray River, from the source of the Murray to the end. The first time this had been done.

On another occasion while he was in the cadets and undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award, he undertook a 250 kilometre walk with other colleagues through the Snowy Mountains. The group was caught in a huge snowstorm, and many of them where winched to safety. James and a few colleagues were allowed to continue their trek in the dangerous conditions. We just knew that they could and would survive, said the coordinator.

After completing his Higher School Certificate, he went onto Sydney University, where at age 25, he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting. He gained employment as a consultant and analyst for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before deciding that mountaineering, rock climbing, bushwalking and kayaking should be the focus of his life. He decided to pursue dreams beyond the corporate world.

He has climbed some of the most challenging peaks in Australia and New Zealand and walked some of the most breathtaking tracks. He shot to world prominence however, when he and close friend Justin Jones completed the first Trans-Tasman kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. For photographs and a great deal more information about that epic journey, see: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

On November 13 2007 James, Justin and their kayak Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia, and 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 meter swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the Tasman Sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners.

Crossing the ditch Tasman Map

A documentary was produced about Crossing the Ditch (Ditch would be translated as lagathi in Greek, and is colloquial language used to refer the expanse of water, the Tasman Sea, which lies between Australia and New Zealand). The documentary won it's category for best film on adventure and exploration at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada - the "el primo" outdoor film festival in the world! Cass expressed “a big thanks to the crew from Quail Television for helping this all happen, especially Greg Quail and Doug Howard who saw the merit in our expedition and made it possible for us to share our little trip with the rest of the world”!

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which is staged in England.

The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, is the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival. More than 7,500 people are estimated to have attended the festival over the November weekend to watch films ranging from high-level mountaineering epics, to behind-the-scenes looks at the production of nature documentaries in high environments, as well as listen to a host of speakers. Now in its 12th year, the festival featured 61 films totaling 150 hours, covering a wide range of outdoor and adventure subjects including climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, culture and exploration. Cas (James Castrission’s “nick name is Cas), and Jonesy’s efforts to be awarded the Grand Prize against such illustrious competition is extraordinary.

The DVD Crossing the Ditch can be purchased on the website: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

Cas, spoke for both young men when he commented that “through committing ourselves to achieving one of "Australia’s last great first" adventures, we wish to inspire others not to be afraid of pursuing their own adventures and dreams”.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Department contracted them to lecture to school students, on the need to aspire to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, held a ceremony blessing them, and thanking them for what they had done for New Zealand.

In 2008, after the Tasman Sea crossing, James Castrission was a fitting Guest of Honour at the Kytherian Ball, the youngest guest of honour in the history of the event.

When he is not training for, or engaged in adventures, he has a full time career as a motivational speaker, lecturing to schools, organisations, and corporations at the highest level.

Cas is currently engaged in his most difficult adventure yet. You can read all about it at Cas ands Jonesy’s website: http://casandjonesy.com.au/
In 100 years of polar exploration no-one has EVER walked from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again without assistance. Many have tried, none have succeeded.

Facts about Crossing the Ice:

•This will be the first EVER unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
•The summer of 2011/12 will mark the 100 year anniversary of Scott and Amundsen.
•Cas and Jonesy will be the youngest team to ever reach the South Pole.
•Previous attempts: Jon Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips attempted the return journey in 1998. They reached the South Pole after 84 days on the ice and didn’t complete the return. Kiwi adventurers: Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald also attempted the return journey in 2007, their attempt was also unsuccessful.
•Distance: 2200km return (1100km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole)
•Less people have man hauled to the South Pole (58 people) than have stood on the summit of Mt Everest (4600).

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

[See the website (Nov-Dec 2011) for their current location.]

Antarctica - a lonely expanse

21st century hero

James Castrission and Justin Jones. It’s bitterly cold in Antarctica

Cas and Jonesy are using this expedition to raise much needed funds and awareness for ‘You Can‘; an Australian national fundraising campaign to build specialised youth cancer centres across Australia. This expedition is called Crossing the Ice – and everyone on the planet can be a part of adventure by following their progress on the website, and by interacting with the pair of adventurers. You can read up on the expedition here on the site, or leave a message of support on Facebook.

This is James Castrission’s most challenging and dangerous adventure yet.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Australia to New Zealand by Kayak - the Route Map

On November 13 2007 James Castrission , Justin Jones, and Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia. 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth New Zealand.

They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 metre swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the tasman sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners. Find out how they did this incredible feat!!

Interview with Cas and Jonesy

1. Why did you call the project Crossing the Ditch?

The Tasman Sea has for many years been referred to as “The Ditch” by Australians and New Zealanders. The exact etymology for this term is uncertain, however when traveling between Australia and New Zealand, it’s commonly referred to as “crossing the ditch”.

2. Tell us about your kayak Lot 41? Also, what’s with the name?

Jonesy –We reckon she’s really really beautiful … bordering on sexy. We firmly believe that paddling the Tasman was an exercise in risk mitigation rather than risk taking and I guess that’s reflected in the craft that we built. We isolated the risks we’d face on the Tasman and built Lot 41 according to that. Sure, she could have been more lightly built, but when it came to having 10metre waves out there crashing on us – I’m glad we decided not to skimp.

The kayak Lot 41 was designed for the trans-Tasman crossing by Rob Feloy, who had designed the kayak for Peter Bray´s trans-Atlantic Crossing approximately six years earlier. The Lot 41 design includes two cockpits, a cabin at the stern of the craft, a large water tank and storage for over 60 days of food for the two kayakers. An array of solar panels was incorporated into the design in order to charge the batteries used to power communication systems, bilge pumps and a water desalination unit. The fibreglass kayak was built in Australia in 2005 and fitted with support systems including emergency beacons, satellite phone, global tracking system, and GPS.

3. What you did was an incredible feat. Did your bodies hate you for it? At any point did you think the physical torture was too heavy a price to pay?

Jonesy – After a week out there, the bodies really started to degrade at quite a fast rate. We developed sores, muscle stripped off us, the joints ached, we were constantly wet and getting bashed around and in the bad storms getting ripped through 10 metre waves we really thought that we’d entered hell but we signed up for this and weren’t going to be detered.

4. With Cas’ seasickness, did it ever occur to you that crossing the ditch might not be the project for you?

Cas – When you work on something so hard and for so long, you really aren’t going to let anything stand in your way. So I went out there and had to find a solution and after 17 attempts at different remedies- Bingo! I settled for some pretty hardcore drugs that they give Chemo patients (valued at 40 bucks a tablet, self hypnosis and accupuncture. That combination made life at sea bearable.

5. One person got very close – Andrew McAuley. Cas, in your book Crossing the Ditch, you’ve talked about nursing a guilty conscience about his failed attempt. Since completing your crossing, have your feelings changed or resolved?

Cas – Andrew was an incredible adventurer who has done so much in the outdoors. We have so much respect for him as a kayaker and expeditioner. It was a real shame that a rivalry popped up between both expeditions. When he disappeared it messed with my mind like you would believe.

Spending 62 days out on the Tasman helped me deal with his dissapearance enormously. I felt Jonesy and I were able to get a tiny glimpse into the suffering Andrew would haver gone through in his voyager- and interestingly, that time out there, semmed to help me make peace with him. I’ve now come to grips with the enormous difference in the trips that we were planning, the different ways and different risk profiles we each had. Jonesy and I can’t hold any responsiblity for the ways that others will act. Beacuase of the profound impact Andrew had on me, I dedicated the book to the memory of Andrew as a sign of the respect and admiration that I have for his amazing attempt.

6. Obviously many months were spent getting boat and yourselves ready for the journey – what would you do differently (if anything) if you had your time again?

Jonesy – Probably pick a better person to paddle with, Cas has the long hair but the curves just aren’t in the right spot!

Cas – Calm down J! In all seriousness, we’d make some minor changes to the hull structure and make the kayak slightly more aerodynamic but not too much more…perhaps paddle from NZ to Australia but we werern’t to know that we’d get a abnormal weather pattern across the ditch.

7. What was the single-most difficult aspect of the expedition? The sores, mental strength, physical labour, planning, surviving each day, or something else?

Jonesy – Of the actual trip, I would really have to say the sleep deprivation…you get so tired that your bones would ache and you’d feel like shit for hours on end. Sure we suffered with sores, the physical toil etc but the tiredness really just added to everything else.

8. Each day you used a Desalinator to convert salt water to freshwater. Did you consider calling the expedition off after your de-sal unit carked it?

Cas – Not a chance, for every bit of critical kit or system we tried to have 2 or 3 levels of redundancy as back up. So when the de-sal broke, we pulled out our manual pump and were resigned to having to pump that by hand for 3 hours a day. It sucked.

9. Were there any moments when you contemplated the possibility of failure – or even the chance that you might not survive the journey?

Cas – Yep the para anchor tangle was one for sure, but there were a couple of other occasions. Stuck in that 2 week whirlpool in the centre of the Tasman, trying to untangle the rudder on another occasion in 10metre waves…all very confronting and you can’t stop negative thoughts popping up. The only thing you can do is trust in the preparations that you have made prior to heading off and our actions and proceedures out there.

10. Cas’s book paints a penetratingly personal picture of the quest. By contrast, the DVD seems a bit ‘lighter’ – was this intentional? Is documenting your excursion in various ways and sharing it with others as important as the mission itself?

Jonesy – A book is the better vessel to really explore the deeper and darker aspect of any expedition. You have alot more time to delve into a number of diifferent themes and do them justice, somthing hard to complete in a 70 minute doco. The doco was deliberately much lighter because this expedition was a success- Cas and I have always been great mates and whenever we’re in the outdoors we’re normally having fun and i guess that was reflected in what we filmed.

11. Jonesy, did you ever use that enormous two-pronged fork your mum bought you for stabbing sharks?

Jonesy – Unfortunately (or fortunately) not! Even on the nights we had sharks grinding up against our hill we never really thought of it as an option. We really took it along solely to placate my mum and it had the unplanned effect of making us smile everytime we pulled it out.

12. Did you have a daily routine and did you ever break it?

Cas – Yep we had a routine that involved getting up at 6am for a sked and then paddled for 12-15hours before retiring into the cabin for a sked, dinner and attempted rest. We varied the schedule when we had to ask dictated by heavy weather.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival. Kendal is loctaed in England.

The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal is a multi-purpose arts complex presenting a year round programme of theatre, music, films, lectures and exhibitions, together with a range of amateur participatory activities including art and craft workshops, Cumbria Youth Theatre, and classes.

As well as holding superb music and theatre from across the globe, the centre also hosts an array of great festivals throughout the year, such as the Kendal Mountain Film Festival, as well as the annual Gateway - international roots music festival, and the NEW Women's Arts International Festival - described by the Guardian newspaper as 'The Mother of All Festivals', and many many more.

Well over 300,000 people walk through the door of the 9th Best Attraction in the UK, each year, the Brewery Arts Centre is now a top place on the UK cultural map!

James Castrission

James Castrission was born, 14 March 1982. That makes him only 29 years of age in 2011. But in those 29 years he has crammed a “hell of a lot of living”.

His heritage is Kytherian. His paternal grandfather was Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika, and his paternal grandmother was Theothora Coroneos (Belo Kostandinos) from Potamos. Jim Castrission established the famous Niagara Café at Gundagai, in New South Wales. Jim would later sponsor his brothers Vic and Jack to Australia from Kythera. The Niagara was famous for having piped music that could be dialled to every cubicle, and for the Southern Cross constellation, which lit up on a blue domed ceiling, that arched over the interior of the café. The Southern Cross stars were painted stars, set into the ceiling. You can read more about the Castrission family's Niagara Café

James Castrission fathers’ name is John. Mother Vivienne’s Hellenic heritage derives from Akrata, Greece.

In his book Crossing the Ditch, James states “that almost from the day I was born I always seemed to have too much energy. My parents had a rough time chasing me around and trying to protect me from myself. They did a pretty good job, though, until I decided it was time for my first BASE jump.
Climbing my first peak – the kitchen bench-top – during a rare moment when my parents had turned their backs, I threw myself off, yelling, “Look at me – I’m Superman!” before thudding into the tiled kitchen floor and bursting into tears, with a broken leg.

From a young age, father John encouraged his children to enjoy camping, allowing them to light their own fires, and to pitch their own tent. By age five James had developed impeccable navigation skills. He was intrinsically adventurous by nature.

He attended Roseville Public school, until 5th class, when he proceeded to the prestigious Knox Grammar school situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, NSW. http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

His adventures continued during his school years. He and two friends trekked to the source of the stream in the New South Wales Southern Highlands that fed into the Murray River. They then proceeded to float down the stream, through rapids, on their backpacks, where James’ father and other support crew, including Greg Thanos and John Miller, were waiting at the streams end.

His first major adventure involved kayaking the entire length of the Murray River, from the source of the Murray to the end. The first time this had been done.

On another occasion while he was in the cadets and undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award, he undertook a 250 kilometre walk with other colleagues through the Snowy Mountains. The group was caught in a huge snowstorm, and many of them where winched to safety. James and a few colleagues were allowed to continue their trek in the dangerous conditions. We just knew that they could and would survive, said the coordinator.

After completing his Higher School Certificate, he went onto Sydney University, where at age 25, he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting. He gained employment as a consultant and analyst for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before deciding that mountaineering, rock climbing, bushwalking and kayaking should be the focus of his life. He decided to pursue dreams beyond the corporate world.

He has climbed some of the most challenging peaks in Australia and New Zealand and walked some of the most breathtaking tracks. He shot to world prominence however, when he and close friend Justin Jones completed the first Trans-Tasman kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. For photographs and a great deal more information about that epic journey, see: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

On November 13 2007 James, Justin and their kayak Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia, and 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 meter swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the Tasman Sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners.

Crossing the ditch Tasman Map

A documentary was produced about Crossing the Ditch (Ditch would be translated as lagathi in Greek, and is colloquial language used to refer the expanse of water, the Tasman Sea, which lies between Australia and New Zealand). The documentary won it's category for best film on adventure and exploration at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada - the "el primo" outdoor film festival in the world! Cass expressed “a big thanks to the crew from Quail Television for helping this all happen, especially Greg Quail and Doug Howard who saw the merit in our expedition and made it possible for us to share our little trip with the rest of the world”!

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which is staged in England.

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, is the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival More than 7,500 people are estimated to have attended the festival over the November weekend to watch films ranging from high-level mountaineering epics, to behind-the-scenes looks at the production of nature documentaries in high environments, as well as listen to a host of speakers. Now in its 12th year, the festival featured 61 films totaling 150 hours, covering a wide range of outdoor and adventure subjects including climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, culture and exploration. Cas (James Castrission’s “nick name is Cas), and Jonesy’s efforts to be awarded the Grand Prize against such illustrious competition is extraordinary.
The DVD Crossing the Ditch can be purchased on the website: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

Cas, spoke for both young men when he commented that “through committing ourselves to achieving one of "Australia’s last great first" adventures, we wish to inspire others not to be afraid of pursuing their own adventures and dreams”.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Department contracted them to lecture to school students, on the need to aspire to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, held a ceremony blessing them, and thanking them for what they had done for New Zealand.

In 2008, after the Tasman Sea crossing, James Castrission was a fitting Guest of Honour at the Kytherian Ball, the youngest guest of honour in the history of the event.

When he is not training for, or engaged in adventures, he has a full time career as a motivational speaker, lecturing to schools, organisations, and corporations at the highest level.

Cas is currently engaged in his most difficult adventure yet. You can read all about it at Cas ands Jonesy’s website: http://casandjonesy.com.au/
In 100 years of polar exploration no-one has EVER walked from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again without assistance. Many have tried, none have succeeded.

Facts about Crossing the Ice:

•This will be the first EVER unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
•The summer of 2011/12 will mark the 100 year anniversary of Scott and Amundsen.
•Cas and Jonesy will be the youngest team to ever reach the South Pole.
•Previous attempts: Jon Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips attempted the return journey in 1998. They reached the South Pole after 84 days on the ice and didn’t complete the return. Kiwi adventurers: Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald also attempted the return journey in 2007, their attempt was also unsuccessful.
•Distance: 2200km return (1100km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole)
•Less people have man hauled to the South Pole (58 people) than have stood on the summit of Mt Everest (4600).

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

[See the website (Nov-Dec 2011) for their current location.]

Antarctica - a lonely expanse

21st century hero

James Castrission and Justin Jones. It’s bitterly cold in Antarctica

Cas and Jonesy are using this expedition to raise much needed funds and awareness for ‘You Can‘; an Australian national fundraising campaign to build specialised youth cancer centres across Australia. This expedition is called Crossing the Ice – and everyone on the planet can be a part of adventure by following their progress on the website, and by interacting with the pair of adventurers. You can read up on the expedition here on the site, or leave a message of support on Facebook.

This is James Castrission’s most challenging and dangerous adventure yet.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 20.12.2011

Crossing the ditch. Another James Castrission adventure

On November 13 2007 James Castrission, Justin Jones and Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia. 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth New Zealand.

They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 metre swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the tasman sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners
.

James Castrission

James Castrission was born, 14 March 1982. That makes him only 29 years of age in 2011. But in those 29 years he has crammed a “hell of a lot of living”.

His heritage is Kytherian. His paternal grandfather was Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika, and his paternal grandmother was Theothora Coroneos (Belo Kostandinos) from Potamos. Jim Castrission established the famous Niagara Café at Gundagai, in New South Wales. Jim would later sponsor his brothers Vic and Jack to Australia from Kythera. The Niagara was famous for having piped music that could be dialled to every cubicle, and for the Southern Cross constellation, which lit up on a blue domed ceiling, that arched over the interior of the café. The Southern Cross stars were painted stars, set into the ceiling. You can read more about the Castrission family's Niagara Café

James Castrission fathers’ name is John. Mother Vivienne’s Hellenic heritage derives from Akrata, Greece.

In his book Crossing the Ditch, James states “that almost from the day I was born I always seemed to have too much energy. My parents had a rough time chasing me around and trying to protect me from myself. They did a pretty good job, though, until I decided it was time for my first BASE jump.
Climbing my first peak – the kitchen bench-top – during a rare moment when my parents had turned their backs, I threw myself off, yelling, “Look at me – I’m Superman!” before thudding into the tiled kitchen floor and bursting into tears, with a broken leg.

From a young age, father John encouraged his children to enjoy camping, allowing them to light their own fires, and to pitch their own tent. By age five James had developed impeccable navigation skills. He was intrinsically adventurous by nature.

He attended Roseville Public school, until 5th class, when he proceeded to the prestigious Knox Grammar school situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Wahroonga, NSW. http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

His adventures continued during his school years. He and two friends trekked to the source of the stream in the New South Wales Southern Highlands that fed into the Murray River. They then proceeded to float down the stream, through rapids, on their backpacks, where James’ father and other support crew, including Greg Thanos and John Miller, were waiting at the streams end.

His first major adventure involved kayaking the entire length of the Murray River, from the source of the Murray to the end. The first time this had been done.

On another occasion while he was in the cadets and undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award, he undertook a 250 kilometre walk with other colleagues through the Snowy Mountains. The group was caught in a huge snowstorm, and many of them where winched to safety. James and a few colleagues were allowed to continue their trek in the dangerous conditions. We just knew that they could and would survive, said the coordinator.

After completing his Higher School Certificate, he went onto Sydney University, where at age 25, he gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance and Accounting. He gained employment as a consultant and analyst for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before deciding that mountaineering, rock climbing, bushwalking and kayaking should be the focus of his life. He decided to pursue dreams beyond the corporate world.

He has climbed some of the most challenging peaks in Australia and New Zealand and walked some of the most breathtaking tracks. He shot to world prominence however, when he and close friend Justin Jones completed the first Trans-Tasman kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. For photographs and a great deal more information about that epic journey, see: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

On November 13 2007 James, Justin and their kayak Lot 41 departed Forster, Australia, and 62 days later they arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They had kayaked 3318km, braved 10 meter swells, faced howling winds of over 50 knots, endured severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles and adverse winds and currents to become the first kayak expedition across the Tasman Sea as well as become the longest trans oceanic kayaking expedition undertaken by two expeditioners.

A documentary was produced about Crossing the Ditch (Ditch would be translated as lagathi in Greek, and is colloquial language used to refer the expanse of water, the Tasman Sea, which lies between Australia and New Zealand). The documentary won it's category for best film on adventure and exploration at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada - the "el primo" outdoor film festival in the world! Cass expressed “a big thanks to the crew from Quail Television for helping this all happen, especially Greg Quail and Doug Howard who saw the merit in our expedition and made it possible for us to share our little trip with the rest of the world”!

On Sunday 20th November 2011, Crossing the Ditch won the Grand Prize at the prestigious Kendal Mountain Film Festival, which is staged in England.

The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal

Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre, the main venue for the Kendal Mountain Festival
More than 7,500 people are estimated to have attended the festival over the November weekend to watch films ranging from high-level mountaineering epics, to behind-the-scenes looks at the production of nature documentaries in high environments, as well as listen to a host of speakers. Now in its 12th year, the festival featured 61 films totaling 150 hours, covering a wide range of outdoor and adventure subjects including climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, culture and exploration. Cas (James Castrission’s “nick name is Cas), and Jonesy’s efforts to be awarded the Grand Prize against such illustrious competition is extraordinary.
The DVD Crossing the Ditch can be purchased on the website: http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

Cas, spoke for both young men when he commented that “through committing ourselves to achieving one of "Australia’s last great first" adventures, we wish to inspire others not to be afraid of pursuing their own adventures and dreams”.

In New Zealand, the New Zealand Education Department contracted them to lecture to school students, on the need to aspire to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential. The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, held a ceremony blessing them, and thanking them for what they had done for New Zealand.

In 2008, after the Tasman Sea crossing, James Castrission was a fitting Guest of Honour at the Kytherian Ball, the youngest guest of honour in the history of the event.

When he is not training for, or engaged in adventures, he has a full time career as a motivational speaker, lecturing to schools, organisations, and corporations at the highest level.

Cas is currently engaged in his most difficult adventure yet. You can read all about it at Cas ands Jonesy’s website: http://casandjonesy.com.au/
In 100 years of polar exploration no-one has EVER walked from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again without assistance. Many have tried, none have succeeded.

Facts about Crossing the Ice:

•This will be the first EVER unsupported return journey to the South Pole.
•The summer of 2011/12 will mark the 100 year anniversary of Scott and Amundsen.
•Cas and Jonesy will be the youngest team to ever reach the South Pole.
•Previous attempts: Jon Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips attempted the return journey in 1998. They reached the South Pole after 84 days on the ice and didn’t complete the return. Kiwi adventurers: Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald also attempted the return journey in 2007, their attempt was also unsuccessful.
•Distance: 2200km return (1100km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole)
•Less people have man hauled to the South Pole (58 people) than have stood on the summit of Mt Everest (4600).

At this moment (Saturday 26th November is day 25), James Castrission and Justin Jones are attempting to achieve the impossible. For the next three months and over 2200km they will drag 160kg sleds with everything they need to survive in the harshest environment on Earth.

[See the website (Nov-Dec 2011) for their current location.]

Antarctica - a lonely expanse

21st century hero

James Castrission and Justin Jones. It’s bitterly cold in Antarctica

Cas and Jonesy are using this expedition to raise much needed funds and awareness for ‘You Can‘; an Australian national fundraising campaign to build specialised youth cancer centres across Australia. This expedition is called Crossing the Ice – and everyone on the planet can be a part of adventure by following their progress on the website, and by interacting with the pair of adventurers. You can read up on the expedition here on the site, or leave a message of support on Facebook.

This is James Castrission’s most challenging and dangerous adventure yet.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 06.12.2011

Massive production studio at CarriageWorks, Redfern Sydney

where George Miller's Happy Feet 2 was produced.

You see the animation team that numbered 670 at its peak, working on production and sound editing.

Australian Financial Review.

December EDITION, 2011

pp. 1, & 28-34

Brook Turner

Photograph: Dr D studios at Sydney’s CarriageWorks, Redfern, Sydney. Photo by Nic Walker

Millers Crossing


Four years after reaching the pinnacle of his pfofession, George Miller has embarked on a whole new game.

As Brook Turner writes, it's one that has profound implications for the future of filmaking, not least in Australia


Sydney, Mid-October and summer has arrived in a day. By 10am, the skies have stormed and cleared, the bitumen steaming, the air drinkable. Not that you’d know to look at George Miller, a woollen scarf around his neck, tucked into a huge leather bomber jacket as he slumps in a chair at his Dr D Studios in Sydney’s CarriageWorks.

Gone is the trademark chilli shirt, adopted years back because it meant one thing less to decide each day. It’s four years since his last major roll of the dice, the penguin musical Happy Feet, which took out the Oscar and confirmed him at the pinnacle of his profession; six weeks before its sequel Happy Feet Two, opens in the US as Warner Bros tent-pole hope for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Miller has been the prototype of all his blue-eyed heroes, from Mad Max to the penguin Mumble, his landscapes always interior. “It’s almost embarrassing,” he says. “I live way too much in my head.”

Right now he is dressed for Antarctica. Or one last aerial raid. “At this point you’re always on a war footing,” he says. “When I made my first film, Mad Max, I was constantly bewildered, it felt so chaotic. I remember Peter Weir telling me a film was like a battle zone, and it’s true: you have to be alert, resilient, prepared for anything. There are lots of stumbling blocks along the way, but you have to prevail.”

Around him, out in the cavernous halls of what he calls ‘Penguin Prison’ (“but I’ll be on parole soon” ), geeks sit in the gloom adding feathers to bird carcases onscreen. They are the survivors of a workforce that peaked mid-August at 670. Pretty soon, however, even the stragglers will be gone. Some will be picked off by the the talent scouts who have already flown in from the northern hemisphere, while their handiwork flies north to lift (or not) the Warner Bros big top on a crucial US weekend.

The rest, the 50 or 60 on the longer-term contracts, will be made redundant within weeks. It’s the latest setback in a story that dates back to when George Miller last spoke to The Australian Financial Review Magazine in 2007. Back then, Miller deplored the creative brain drain under way, not least the computer-generated-imagery (CGI) talent he helped develop on Happy Feet, then watched disappear offshore to work on other international projects.

In the intervening years a director who has always kept Hollywood at arm’s length has done something about it, opening Dr D three years ago with his partner, Doug Mitchell, and Omnilab Media Group, to handle Happy Feet Two, their next project, Mad Max 4: Fury Road, and other animated-feature projects down the line. Even with most of the staff gone in mid-October, it’s a true Tardis of an operation. Outside the punters stream past from the Saturday growers market, eyes down as they navigate the puddles, oblivious to the dream factory lurking behind Dr D’s heritage facade.

Inside it’s day for night. Old rail carriages have been repurposed as offices. A single frame of a dancing penguin is frozen onscreen in the empty in-house cinema. The place is so big it requires its own generator, the sheer number of departments you pass through – art, animation, surfacing, stereo (3D), digital-crowd – an indication of the complexity of a project in the final fortnight of an extraordinary two-year production. In the middle of the main warehouse, the now deserted motion-capture stage faces what is effectively the bridge of this ship: a suite of demountables that serve as HQ for Miller and Mitchell, though they prefer to be interviewed in the ‘Fury Road meeting room’, a roofless cubby at one end of the hall, lidded in blackout fabric so it cannot be seen – worse, photographed – from the walkways above.

That is because their next Warner Bros-funded adventure, the most anticipated film of Miller’s career and the one he has fought longest and hardest to make – the one, too, on which this particular dream palace is about to founder, it transpires – is storyboarded around the walls in hand-drawn cells.

The Fury Road room is actually more a cubby within a cubby, given Dr D itself is just the largest and latest of the playhouses Miller has been building all his life, from Mad Max 2’s desert outpost to Beyond Thunderdome’s Bartertown, or the forts and tree houses that he and his brothers built as part of what he calls “an invisible apprenticeship in play” in Chinchilla on the edge of Queensland’s Darling Downs.

Problem is, this particular version was conceived in the good old days – pre-GFC, before a levitating Australian dollar and unseasonal rains in the NSW outback – as Miller’s answer to the mini-Hollywood Peter Jackson had conjured across the ditch in New Zealand, which has pumped out everything from James Cameron’s Avatar to his Hobbit films and Steven Spielberg and Jackson’s new blockbuster Tintin.

Dr D’s original ambitious scale was premised on handling at least a couple of major projects simultaneously. And, as anyone who’s cast an eye in the direction of the Australian film industry lately knows, that premise no longer pertains. The dollar’s impact on big-budget foreign-film production in Australia was confirmed by the annual production report Screen Australia issued in October, with no major foreign films shooting here for the first time in decades and even local features down almost 70 per cent in the last financial year to $88 million, from $400 million two years ago.

But even that isn’t Dr D’s essential problem. The studio was established to handle Miller’s creative projects. The workflow issue it faces is his rather than the broader industry’s. Fury Road was to shoot in Broken Hill in September last year, then April 2011, but heavy rain had turned the desert into a flower garden and the water table stubbornly refused to drop. The film will now shoot in Namibia from April (see box, p.32) with additional filming and post-production back in Australia. With Happy Feet Two poised to finish production when we speak, Dr D faces a reckoning familiar to boa constrictors: without decent-sized prey in view, it is about to shrink much as it grew, on the films it swallowed.

Not only is Max not ready, those headaches have “diluted” Miller and Mitchell’s “creative overview of other animated projects”, Doug Mitchell says, including what Miller refers to as “the most ambitious thing we’ve done”, a new animated bear film, Fur Brigade. That has meant a rethink of the Omnilab joint venture. Not that Miller’s latest and greatest cubby will necessarily cease to exist. At the time of writing, Miller and Mitchell were keen to continue on their own account with some restructured version – possibly renamed ‘Dr G’. And they could see a critical mass of work going begging that would sustain it between major films.

Mitchell is the latest in Miller’s long line of fraternal collaborators, from his actual twin John and brother Bill – his co-producer on everything from the Babe films to Happy Feet – to the late Byron Kennedy, with whom he founded Kennedy Miller in 1973. An accountant by training, Mitchell joined Kennedy Miller nearly three decades ago, becoming so central to its fortunes that it was renamed Kennedy Miller Mitchell four years ago. “It’s definitely part of the twin thing,” Miller says. “We’re brothers in arms.”

Six months prior the pair embarked on a concerted, behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade the federal government to extend the 40 per cent Australian producer tax rebate introduced in 2007, which has significantly mitigated the impact of the foreign production downturn by allowing star Australian directors such as Miller, Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby) and Alex Proyas (Paradise Lost) to bring big-budget, foreign-studio-funded projects to Australia. So much so that Screen Australia estimates production will almost return to 2009’s $350 million, when the likes of Gatsby and Paradise Lost are counted.

Miller and Mitchell want that offset extended to cover what are still quaintly referred to as video games. But if that sounds minor, it’s not. Because by video games they mean the whole interactive entertainment industry, which they suspect may yet prove the salvation of not only Dr D, but Australia in the fast-converging game of 21st century storytelling.

It’s a punchline Miller has been working towards for years. When he spoke to the Financial Review Magazine four years ago, he had just joined Hollywood's biggest agency, Creative Artists, for some heavy Hollywood help in understanding the way “the storytelling of games and the storytelling of cinema [were] converging”. Since then, “what everyone predicted would happen has happened,” he says. “This fantastic convergence, but to an astonishing degree, and much more rapidly than people had imagined.”

Which is why immediate action is required. Filmmaking has reached a tipping point, he says. Distinctions between platforms or genres no longer make sense, with a film’s release windows – cinema, DVD, download, even game – ever shorter stops on a single trajectory. “Multi-platform, that’s the thing,” says Miller. “Create once; publish many times, on multiple platforms. You create a world and then you go in to all the different platforms – your iPhone, your iPad, on the net . . .

“At the same time, animators are moving to live action and vice versa. I tend to conflate digital animation with the game world, but Pixar’s Brad Bird – who did [acclaimed animated features] The Incredibles, Ratatouille – just made [the Tom Cruise live-action film] Mission: Impossible IV, and Andrew Stanton, who did Finding Nemo and WALL-E, has just done his first live-action film, while Spielberg and Jackson have just moved into animation with Tintin. The result is that there are more roads leading in to the intersection, and they’re cross-fertilising much more rapidly than one might have predicted.” (The moment is commemorated within a fortnight of our interview in a Time cover devoted to Spielberg’s 30-year wait for the motion-capture technology to finally allow him to film Hergé’s classic comic strip).

The problem is that, unlike Jackson, Miller and Mitchell don’t have a compliant government to rush through emergency legislation, as the NZ Parliament did last October, amending employment laws to ensure the Hobbit films were made there. Not that federal arts minister Simon Crean, at work on his big, new cultural policy, hasn’t taken them seriously. “Simon’s popped in several times over the last six months,” Mitchell says, including a day spent watching Dr D at work. “And we’ve also had Kevin Tsujihara [president, Warner Bros Home Entertainment] visit Australia and meet Screen Australia. Simon has definitely understood it, and he’s discussing it with the treasury. And they get the point, but given the budget situation, it’s difficult to persuade treasury.”

Film-production incentives need to keep pace to capitalise on what Miller calls “an enormous opportunity for Australia”. As he sees it, potentially exponential shifts lurk in the cross-fertilisation of those previously distinct genres, platforms and formats. TV has long been hailed as the new film, the medium of choice for high-concept, long-form storytelling from The Sopranos to Mad Men. Now games, too, have turned filmic (and vice versa if you look at films like 300).

The examplar is LA Noire, the game developed by Australia’s Team Bondi using MotionScan to capture actors' performances, including hyper-real facial expressions, for New York-based Rockstar Games, home of Grand Theft Auto. Set in the 1940s Los Angeles of LA Confidential, but with multiple digressive story lines, LA Noire became the first video game to premiere at a film festival – Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival, no less – in April.

The Guardian’s perfect-score review is symptomatic of the fairly stunned reaction: “Ever since it first worked out how to assemble pixels so that they resembled something more recognisable than aliens, the game industry has dreamed of creating one thing above all else – a game that is indisting-uishable from a film, except that you can control the lead character. With LA Noire, it just might, finally, have found the embodiment of that particular holy grail.”

Not that that helped Team Bondi. Like filmmakers, local video-game makers had thrived for a decade while the dollar was low, and were decimated as it rose, Mitchell says, unable to compete with Canada, which offers a 40 per cent rebate for games, and Ireland, which recently introduced similar measures. Team Bondi got into difficulties as LA Noire emerged, as did Brisbane-based Krome, which Mitchell says had offices in Melbourne and Adelaide and employed 400 people at its peak, and was several million dollars into working on the game of Happy Feet Two at the time.

It was Krome’s travails that initially led to the formation of Kennedy Miller Mitchell Interactive, with Krome maintaining its Brisbane office. Since then they’ve “taken the risk and absorbed not only the Krome team but Team Bondi’s last standing warriors,” says Mitchell. “There’s never enough critical mass in this country to keep going,” adds Miller. “What’s fascinating, though, is that Team Bondi immediately went to work on Happy Feet Two. People can move from a game to a movie and be completely at home, because it’s the same skills, process – the same game.”

Which is why, after resisting the impulse for years, and watching imitators clean up, Miller is now finally going to make Mad Max, the game. Backed by Warner Bros, the game version of Fury Road was to be made in Sweden, until Miller saw what Team Bondi could do. He has also acquired the rights to Team Bondi founder Brendan McNamara’s next game, Whore Of The Orient.

“With the government’s support we can immediately go forward with two games,” says Mitchell. “Warner Bros is standing by, willing to do Fury Road; the incentive would bring it back here in a New York minute. It’s not immediately obvious but the potential in the video games sector is massive. Just from the statistics people are showing me, it’s a $60 billion industry fast-tracking towards $90 billion. And it’s not dominated by any particular country. Films are very expensive, so studios . . . are making drastically fewer of them, but much higher quality, and they invest in sequels, because they know that they’ve got an opening which they don’t have to buy with their marketing dollars as aggressively.

“They’ll make 10 films where they used to make 20. So, instead, people are drifting to game acquisition because of the budgets. The cost of a film may be $170 million – twice that to market it – whereas the basic cost of making a game might be 10 per cent of that. Look at LA Noire, they sold about 3 million units in a week, about $US135 million ($130 million) net revenue, off a cost base which was infinitely lower than even your average low-budget film.”

That will inevitably change how films are made. “There are technologies they have to develop in games because things need to happen more quickly in a game,” Miller says. “Those are going to speed up digital filmmaking and television way more, because they’re obliged to do it if they want things to look as real as possible and happen in real time. And that’s really pushing things – so that instead of years to make an animation film, that time could collapse.” Adds Mitchell: “Video games will end up the engines to distil TV episodes, movies, and generally move stuff very quickly in a much more cost-effective way, back out and deliver almost instantly to situations where you’re buying it online.”

But that’s just the business case. Characteristically it is the storytelling possibilities that have really seized Miller’s imagination. His apparently disparate oeuvre, with no film resembling its predecessor, has always been about finding fresh, compelling ways to entice punters into cinemas to watch essentially archetypal heroes’ journeys, from Mad Max and Lorenzo’s Oil to the cutting-edge animatronics that allowed him to film Babe a decade after he read the book; CGI with Happy Feet and now 3D with Happy Feet Two.

Each time, a technological breakthrough enabled a story to be told in a new way, providing a point of difference, a selling point. Games potentially represent the next quantum leap, he says. “It’s four-dimensional storytelling. A game can literally become the equivalent of a novel. That is the thing that people like me who write screenplays envy about novelists: that you can actually stop time and explore little cul de sacs. Whereas in a movie, you’d love to stop and examine that character, but you can’t. You’re on a rail . . . and if you talk to Brendan [McNamara], who is the brilliant mind behind this, it’s all the same issues as film. Instead of writing a 100-page screenplay, he wrote a 2800-page screenplay. But it’s the same dialogue, acting, blocking, wardrobe, costume, lighting, vehicle simulations. It’s a movie that’s played interactively at home.”

Which leaves Miller at yet another interesting juncture. Happy Feet Two won’t materially affect his future: Warner Bros long ago gave Fury Road the green light; indeed the studio has supported its darling through hell and high water – literally. Nor does the old saying that “you’re only as good as your last work” apply as much in the film world. “If you have one success, one conspicuous success, it allows you about three failures before people start to question your efficacy,” Miller says. “I don’t know how Happy Feet Two is going to perform; no one does,” he says.

“But the great attraction of sequels is it gives you a chance to do it better. What makes me quite relaxed at the moment is I know we’ve made a better film than the first one. There’s no question this film is significantly better in virtually every dimension. And that makes me feel, well, at least I’m progressing. It’s incredibly tempting to just phone it in, to say, well, let’s just cash in. That’s absolutely not what drives me.”

So what, at 66, is it that makes him trade Penguin Prison for the Namibian desert and whatever work camp comes next. “Curiosity,” he says. “To work with this new media, it’s like Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch. It’s just so exciting.

“At my age, the saddest thing to me is that I’ve got way more stories than I’ll ever have time to tell. I somehow thought my imagination would plateau. It might mean that I’m in early dementia, but my imagination is way more fervent than it was, and it stands to reason. I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid. My imaginative powers are probably the most muscular part of myself.”

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Australian Financial Review on 06.12.2011

The tragedy and the trilogy

Australian Financial Review.

December EDITION, 2011

p. 32

Brook Turner

Photograph: Brothers-in-arms. George Miller (right) with his business partner and collaborator Doug Mitchell


It’s a measure of George Miller’s pulling power that his long-time studio Warner Bros has not only persevered with Mad Max 4: Fury Road, but pumped additional millions into a budget, initially reported at $100 million, to allow it to transfer to the Namibian desert, where it will begin shooting in April next year.

So, too, is the fact that Screen Australia has invoked the ‘Gallipoli clause’ – named for the 1981 World War I film that was shot partly on location in Egypt – to allow the film to still qualify as Australian for the purposes of the 40 per cent producer tax rebate that has single-handedly sustained the local film production industry.

Warner Bros gave Fury Road the go-ahead to shoot in Broken Hill in September 2010, 25 years after the last film in the series, Beyond Thunderdome. Then it rained and the desert blossomed. Pictures pinned to the walls of the ‘Fury Road meeting room’ at Miller’s Dr D studio show the desert around the lone pub, familiar from a thousand TV commercials, buried under a coral garden of brilliantly coloured flowers, alongside shots of some of Africa’s more extravagantly weird tribal people and a suite of swirling sunset-coloured sets straight off the side of a 1970s panel van.

“Happy Feet Two was made here because we live here and we want to make our lives here: the last thing we want to do is not make Mad Max here,” says Miller. “I seriously had to think about whether I wanted to disrupt my life and my family’s . . . it still weighs heavily. We were out at Broken Hill with a huge number of massive vehicles – they were built and parked for almost a year there. Some of them are back here, in secret locations not far from here. A full Australian crew picks up and goes there to shoot the desert scenes, and comes back here to do other scenes, then all the post-production and digital work is done here.”

As for the final size of the budget, “it’s confidential but it’s massive”, Doug Mitchell says. “Because the studio has so much money on the table, they did bravely step up their exposure. If you’re talking about a big film, an action film, find a budget that’s big and it’s that.”

So what’s a big budget for an action franchise these days? “If it’s above $100 million it’s a big budget,” says Mitchell. “This is a bigger budget. People have speculated around $200 million [which] I’d neither deny nor confirm. It’s a massive film.”

But not as massive as it may get. If Happy Feet Two fares as well as its predecessor, which took just under $US200 million according to Box Office Mojo, “there’s every expectation Happy Feet Three might be possible,” says Mitchell. That pales beside the potential of Mad Max. Because Miller has, in fact, written a whole new trilogy. “We started with [Fury Road], but we then started to do a second story and a third,” he says. “We’ve written the script for the second and almost finished the third. We never intended to, they were part of the exploration of the characters.”

The punchline is that “they’ll all come back to Australia,” says Mitchell. “So if we can bring a film from a different era alive again, there’s a huge amount of work for a lot of people.”


AFR Magazine

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Australian Financial Review on 06.12.2011

George Millers new script

Australian Financial Review.

December EDITION, 2011

pp. 1, & 28-34

Brook Turner

Photograph: Dr D studios at Sydney’s CarriageWorks, Redfern, Sydney. Photo by Nic Walker

Millers Crossing


Four years after reaching the pinnacle of his pfofession, George Miller has embarked on a whole new game.

As Brook Turner writes, it's one that has profound implications for the future of filmaking, not least in Australia


Sydney, Mid-October and summer has arrived in a day. By 10am, the skies have stormed and cleared, the bitumen steaming, the air drinkable. Not that you’d know to look at George Miller, a woollen scarf around his neck, tucked into a huge leather bomber jacket as he slumps in a chair at his Dr D Studios in Sydney’s CarriageWorks.

Gone is the trademark chilli shirt, adopted years back because it meant one thing less to decide each day. It’s four years since his last major roll of the dice, the penguin musical Happy Feet, which took out the Oscar and confirmed him at the pinnacle of his profession; six weeks before its sequel Happy Feet Two, opens in the US as Warner Bros tent-pole hope for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Miller has been the prototype of all his blue-eyed heroes, from Mad Max to the penguin Mumble, his landscapes always interior. “It’s almost embarrassing,” he says. “I live way too much in my head.”

Right now he is dressed for Antarctica. Or one last aerial raid. “At this point you’re always on a war footing,” he says. “When I made my first film, Mad Max, I was constantly bewildered, it felt so chaotic. I remember Peter Weir telling me a film was like a battle zone, and it’s true: you have to be alert, resilient, prepared for anything. There are lots of stumbling blocks along the way, but you have to prevail.”

Around him, out in the cavernous halls of what he calls ‘Penguin Prison’ (“but I’ll be on parole soon” ), geeks sit in the gloom adding feathers to bird carcases onscreen. They are the survivors of a workforce that peaked mid-August at 670. Pretty soon, however, even the stragglers will be gone. Some will be picked off by the the talent scouts who have already flown in from the northern hemisphere, while their handiwork flies north to lift (or not) the Warner Bros big top on a crucial US weekend.

The rest, the 50 or 60 on the longer-term contracts, will be made redundant within weeks. It’s the latest setback in a story that dates back to when George Miller last spoke to The Australian Financial Review Magazine in 2007. Back then, Miller deplored the creative brain drain under way, not least the computer-generated-imagery (CGI) talent he helped develop on Happy Feet, then watched disappear offshore to work on other international projects.

In the intervening years a director who has always kept Hollywood at arm’s length has done something about it, opening Dr D three years ago with his partner, Doug Mitchell, and Omnilab Media Group, to handle Happy Feet Two, their next project, Mad Max 4: Fury Road, and other animated-feature projects down the line. Even with most of the staff gone in mid-October, it’s a true Tardis of an operation. Outside the punters stream past from the Saturday growers market, eyes down as they navigate the puddles, oblivious to the dream factory lurking behind Dr D’s heritage facade.

Inside it’s day for night. Old rail carriages have been repurposed as offices. A single frame of a dancing penguin is frozen onscreen in the empty in-house cinema. The place is so big it requires its own generator, the sheer number of departments you pass through – art, animation, surfacing, stereo (3D), digital-crowd – an indication of the complexity of a project in the final fortnight of an extraordinary two-year production. In the middle of the main warehouse, the now deserted motion-capture stage faces what is effectively the bridge of this ship: a suite of demountables that serve as HQ for Miller and Mitchell, though they prefer to be interviewed in the ‘Fury Road meeting room’, a roofless cubby at one end of the hall, lidded in blackout fabric so it cannot be seen – worse, photographed – from the walkways above.

That is because their next Warner Bros-funded adventure, the most anticipated film of Miller’s career and the one he has fought longest and hardest to make – the one, too, on which this particular dream palace is about to founder, it transpires – is storyboarded around the walls in hand-drawn cells.

The Fury Road room is actually more a cubby within a cubby, given Dr D itself is just the largest and latest of the playhouses Miller has been building all his life, from Mad Max 2’s desert outpost to Beyond Thunderdome’s Bartertown, or the forts and tree houses that he and his brothers built as part of what he calls “an invisible apprenticeship in play” in Chinchilla on the edge of Queensland’s Darling Downs.

Problem is, this particular version was conceived in the good old days – pre-GFC, before a levitating Australian dollar and unseasonal rains in the NSW outback – as Miller’s answer to the mini-Hollywood Peter Jackson had conjured across the ditch in New Zealand, which has pumped out everything from James Cameron’s Avatar to his Hobbit films and Steven Spielberg and Jackson’s new blockbuster Tintin.

Dr D’s original ambitious scale was premised on handling at least a couple of major projects simultaneously. And, as anyone who’s cast an eye in the direction of the Australian film industry lately knows, that premise no longer pertains. The dollar’s impact on big-budget foreign-film production in Australia was confirmed by the annual production report Screen Australia issued in October, with no major foreign films shooting here for the first time in decades and even local features down almost 70 per cent in the last financial year to $88 million, from $400 million two years ago.

But even that isn’t Dr D’s essential problem. The studio was established to handle Miller’s creative projects. The workflow issue it faces is his rather than the broader industry’s. Fury Road was to shoot in Broken Hill in September last year, then April 2011, but heavy rain had turned the desert into a flower garden and the water table stubbornly refused to drop. The film will now shoot in Namibia from April (see box, p.32) with additional filming and post-production back in Australia. With Happy Feet Two poised to finish production when we speak, Dr D faces a reckoning familiar to boa constrictors: without decent-sized prey in view, it is about to shrink much as it grew, on the films it swallowed.

Not only is Max not ready, those headaches have “diluted” Miller and Mitchell’s “creative overview of other animated projects”, Doug Mitchell says, including what Miller refers to as “the most ambitious thing we’ve done”, a new animated bear film, Fur Brigade. That has meant a rethink of the Omnilab joint venture. Not that Miller’s latest and greatest cubby will necessarily cease to exist. At the time of writing, Miller and Mitchell were keen to continue on their own account with some restructured version – possibly renamed ‘Dr G’. And they could see a critical mass of work going begging that would sustain it between major films.

Mitchell is the latest in Miller’s long line of fraternal collaborators, from his actual twin John and brother Bill – his co-producer on everything from the Babe films to Happy Feet – to the late Byron Kennedy, with whom he founded Kennedy Miller in 1973. An accountant by training, Mitchell joined Kennedy Miller nearly three decades ago, becoming so central to its fortunes that it was renamed Kennedy Miller Mitchell four years ago. “It’s definitely part of the twin thing,” Miller says. “We’re brothers in arms.”

Six months prior the pair embarked on a concerted, behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade the federal government to extend the 40 per cent Australian producer tax rebate introduced in 2007, which has significantly mitigated the impact of the foreign production downturn by allowing star Australian directors such as Miller, Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby) and Alex Proyas (Paradise Lost) to bring big-budget, foreign-studio-funded projects to Australia. So much so that Screen Australia estimates production will almost return to 2009’s $350 million, when the likes of Gatsby and Paradise Lost are counted.

Miller and Mitchell want that offset extended to cover what are still quaintly referred to as video games. But if that sounds minor, it’s not. Because by video games they mean the whole interactive entertainment industry, which they suspect may yet prove the salvation of not only Dr D, but Australia in the fast-converging game of 21st century storytelling.

It’s a punchline Miller has been working towards for years. When he spoke to the Financial Review Magazine four years ago, he had just joined Hollywood's biggest agency, Creative Artists, for some heavy Hollywood help in understanding the way “the storytelling of games and the storytelling of cinema [were] converging”. Since then, “what everyone predicted would happen has happened,” he says. “This fantastic convergence, but to an astonishing degree, and much more rapidly than people had imagined.”

Which is why immediate action is required. Filmmaking has reached a tipping point, he says. Distinctions between platforms or genres no longer make sense, with a film’s release windows – cinema, DVD, download, even game – ever shorter stops on a single trajectory. “Multi-platform, that’s the thing,” says Miller. “Create once; publish many times, on multiple platforms. You create a world and then you go in to all the different platforms – your iPhone, your iPad, on the net . . .

“At the same time, animators are moving to live action and vice versa. I tend to conflate digital animation with the game world, but Pixar’s Brad Bird – who did [acclaimed animated features] The Incredibles, Ratatouille – just made [the Tom Cruise live-action film] Mission: Impossible IV, and Andrew Stanton, who did Finding Nemo and WALL-E, has just done his first live-action film, while Spielberg and Jackson have just moved into animation with Tintin. The result is that there are more roads leading in to the intersection, and they’re cross-fertilising much more rapidly than one might have predicted.” (The moment is commemorated within a fortnight of our interview in a Time cover devoted to Spielberg’s 30-year wait for the motion-capture technology to finally allow him to film Hergé’s classic comic strip).

The problem is that, unlike Jackson, Miller and Mitchell don’t have a compliant government to rush through emergency legislation, as the NZ Parliament did last October, amending employment laws to ensure the Hobbit films were made there. Not that federal arts minister Simon Crean, at work on his big, new cultural policy, hasn’t taken them seriously. “Simon’s popped in several times over the last six months,” Mitchell says, including a day spent watching Dr D at work. “And we’ve also had Kevin Tsujihara [president, Warner Bros Home Entertainment] visit Australia and meet Screen Australia. Simon has definitely understood it, and he’s discussing it with the treasury. And they get the point, but given the budget situation, it’s difficult to persuade treasury.”

Film-production incentives need to keep pace to capitalise on what Miller calls “an enormous opportunity for Australia”. As he sees it, potentially exponential shifts lurk in the cross-fertilisation of those previously distinct genres, platforms and formats. TV has long been hailed as the new film, the medium of choice for high-concept, long-form storytelling from The Sopranos to Mad Men. Now games, too, have turned filmic (and vice versa if you look at films like 300).

The examplar is LA Noire, the game developed by Australia’s Team Bondi using MotionScan to capture actors' performances, including hyper-real facial expressions, for New York-based Rockstar Games, home of Grand Theft Auto. Set in the 1940s Los Angeles of LA Confidential, but with multiple digressive story lines, LA Noire became the first video game to premiere at a film festival – Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival, no less – in April.

The Guardian’s perfect-score review is symptomatic of the fairly stunned reaction: “Ever since it first worked out how to assemble pixels so that they resembled something more recognisable than aliens, the game industry has dreamed of creating one thing above all else – a game that is indisting-uishable from a film, except that you can control the lead character. With LA Noire, it just might, finally, have found the embodiment of that particular holy grail.”

Not that that helped Team Bondi. Like filmmakers, local video-game makers had thrived for a decade while the dollar was low, and were decimated as it rose, Mitchell says, unable to compete with Canada, which offers a 40 per cent rebate for games, and Ireland, which recently introduced similar measures. Team Bondi got into difficulties as LA Noire emerged, as did Brisbane-based Krome, which Mitchell says had offices in Melbourne and Adelaide and employed 400 people at its peak, and was several million dollars into working on the game of Happy Feet Two at the time.

It was Krome’s travails that initially led to the formation of Kennedy Miller Mitchell Interactive, with Krome maintaining its Brisbane office. Since then they’ve “taken the risk and absorbed not only the Krome team but Team Bondi’s last standing warriors,” says Mitchell. “There’s never enough critical mass in this country to keep going,” adds Miller. “What’s fascinating, though, is that Team Bondi immediately went to work on Happy Feet Two. People can move from a game to a movie and be completely at home, because it’s the same skills, process – the same game.”

Which is why, after resisting the impulse for years, and watching imitators clean up, Miller is now finally going to make Mad Max, the game. Backed by Warner Bros, the game version of Fury Road was to be made in Sweden, until Miller saw what Team Bondi could do. He has also acquired the rights to Team Bondi founder Brendan McNamara’s next game, Whore Of The Orient.

“With the government’s support we can immediately go forward with two games,” says Mitchell. “Warner Bros is standing by, willing to do Fury Road; the incentive would bring it back here in a New York minute. It’s not immediately obvious but the potential in the video games sector is massive. Just from the statistics people are showing me, it’s a $60 billion industry fast-tracking towards $90 billion. And it’s not dominated by any particular country. Films are very expensive, so studios . . . are making drastically fewer of them, but much higher quality, and they invest in sequels, because they know that they’ve got an opening which they don’t have to buy with their marketing dollars as aggressively.

“They’ll make 10 films where they used to make 20. So, instead, people are drifting to game acquisition because of the budgets. The cost of a film may be $170 million – twice that to market it – whereas the basic cost of making a game might be 10 per cent of that. Look at LA Noire, they sold about 3 million units in a week, about $US135 million ($130 million) net revenue, off a cost base which was infinitely lower than even your average low-budget film.”

That will inevitably change how films are made. “There are technologies they have to develop in games because things need to happen more quickly in a game,” Miller says. “Those are going to speed up digital filmmaking and television way more, because they’re obliged to do it if they want things to look as real as possible and happen in real time. And that’s really pushing things – so that instead of years to make an animation film, that time could collapse.” Adds Mitchell: “Video games will end up the engines to distil TV episodes, movies, and generally move stuff very quickly in a much more cost-effective way, back out and deliver almost instantly to situations where you’re buying it online.”

But that’s just the business case. Characteristically it is the storytelling possibilities that have really seized Miller’s imagination. His apparently disparate oeuvre, with no film resembling its predecessor, has always been about finding fresh, compelling ways to entice punters into cinemas to watch essentially archetypal heroes’ journeys, from Mad Max and Lorenzo’s Oil to the cutting-edge animatronics that allowed him to film Babe a decade after he read the book; CGI with Happy Feet and now 3D with Happy Feet Two.

Each time, a technological breakthrough enabled a story to be told in a new way, providing a point of difference, a selling point. Games potentially represent the next quantum leap, he says. “It’s four-dimensional storytelling. A game can literally become the equivalent of a novel. That is the thing that people like me who write screenplays envy about novelists: that you can actually stop time and explore little cul de sacs. Whereas in a movie, you’d love to stop and examine that character, but you can’t. You’re on a rail . . . and if you talk to Brendan [McNamara], who is the brilliant mind behind this, it’s all the same issues as film. Instead of writing a 100-page screenplay, he wrote a 2800-page screenplay. But it’s the same dialogue, acting, blocking, wardrobe, costume, lighting, vehicle simulations. It’s a movie that’s played interactively at home.”

Which leaves Miller at yet another interesting juncture. Happy Feet Two won’t materially affect his future: Warner Bros long ago gave Fury Road the green light; indeed the studio has supported its darling through hell and high water – literally. Nor does the old saying that “you’re only as good as your last work” apply as much in the film world. “If you have one success, one conspicuous success, it allows you about three failures before people start to question your efficacy,” Miller says. “I don’t know how Happy Feet Two is going to perform; no one does,” he says.

“But the great attraction of sequels is it gives you a chance to do it better. What makes me quite relaxed at the moment is I know we’ve made a better film than the first one. There’s no question this film is significantly better in virtually every dimension. And that makes me feel, well, at least I’m progressing. It’s incredibly tempting to just phone it in, to say, well, let’s just cash in. That’s absolutely not what drives me.”

So what, at 66, is it that makes him trade Penguin Prison for the Namibian desert and whatever work camp comes next. “Curiosity,” he says. “To work with this new media, it’s like Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch. It’s just so exciting.

“At my age, the saddest thing to me is that I’ve got way more stories than I’ll ever have time to tell. I somehow thought my imagination would plateau. It might mean that I’m in early dementia, but my imagination is way more fervent than it was, and it stands to reason. I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid. My imaginative powers are probably the most muscular part of myself.”

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 20.11.2011

Snow Business

Sydney Morning Herald

Garry Maddox

November 19, 2011

Photograph: Cold feet ... (from left) Bo, Erik and Atticus were created for Happy Feet Two
.

On the set of Happy Feet Two Oscar winner George Miller opens up about emotional, intellectual and visceral storytelling (and dancing penguins).

A brutal deadline for Happy Feet Two is looming but George Miller could hardly be calmer as he reflects on how he has spent the past 3½ years.

''Here I am telling stories about singing and dancing penguins and six or seven hundred people are following me down that yellow brick road,'' he says, genially. ''It could be a madness.

''There's a millennium-and-a-half of human years put into this film. That's a crazy effort to put into a 90-minute film. So you've got to ask yourself the question: what's the purpose of doing it?''

..The acclaimed filmmaker is working with animation so complex it requires a ''render farm'' with 19,000 computer processors to create scenes, yet the location of the enterprise is decidedly 19th-century industrial.

Miller, beaming behind glasses, is talking in an old railway carriage converted into a conference room in the middle of the cavernous former locomotive workshop at CarriageWorks. His office is a construction hut plonked inside the building, near a crane.

All around, more than 600 crew recruited from 30 countries are working at computers, finessing the details of wings flapping, penguins waddling and snow scattering for the 3D sequel.

''You go back a century and there would have been people forging steel and making railway stock and massive cranes and people shouting,'' Miller says. ''Now they're making water and snow and fluff and hair and feathers on their computers.''

And the purpose of doing a sequel? For Hollywood studio Warner Bros, that's easy. Made in Sydney, Happy Feet charmed audiences worldwide with a comic story about Mumble the tap-dancing penguin, taking an impressive $US384 million at the box office. It beat Pixar's Cars to win an Oscar and entered popular culture to the extent that a lost penguin in New Zealand was named after the movie.

But for Miller, it's all about the storytelling. It's certainly not the awards, given he needs to ask his assistant where his Oscar is kept when Spectrum asks and has given away most of the rest.

The former doctor, 66, is deeply interested in not just how to tell stories but why we are driven to tell them.

''When you get down to it, you realise that stories do have a function,'' he says. ''It's clear that the way we survive as much as anything else is through narrative - the way we make the world coherent. I think it's wired into us …

''Our ancestors needed very powerful narratives and accurate narratives to help conduct their lives - all their moral codes, all their observations of the world, all their science was held in stories. Probably the most spectacular example of that is the Australian indigenous culture. We continue to do that, mostly unconsciously, but we do it.''

Happy Feet Two, which opens in more than 3600 cinemas in the US this weekend, has Mumble dealing with a son, Erik, who can't dance but wants to fly. Elsewhere in the Antarctic, a krill named Will tires of living at the bottom of the food chain and sets off on an adventure with his terrified friend, Bill.

The voice cast includes Elijah Wood returning as Mumble and Robin Williams as Ramon and Lovelace, with singer Pink replacing the late Brittany Murphy as Gloria.

Miller started thinking about a sequel before Happy Feet was released. He traces his vivid imagination back to a childhood based around play - without television - with his brothers in the Queensland town of Chinchilla.

''I thought as I got older my imagination would diminish,'' he says. ''But because I've been doing it all my life, it's even more active. Maybe a sign I'm going crazy. I have an intense imaginative life. There are so many stories; they just keep on coming.

''That's why I like writing: once you immerse yourself in a world, the characters and the world keep on playing on you … You live in an imaginary world with your imaginary friends.''

While it has an environmental theme that could easily upset conservative commentators just as happened with the original Happy Feet, the sequel is partly about parenting.

''It's Mumble trying to deal with his child as the world is in a rapid state of change,'' Miller says. ''Events are taking over. It's not leisurely parenting - he has to do it while the world is swirling around them, which is as it is for us. So it's not so much what he says to his child that influences him, it's what he does.''

The movie started with a script written by Miller with Gary Eck, Warren Coleman and Paul ''Flacco'' Livingston, which reflected what was learnt during a weeklong workshop with Antarctic experts. More than two years ago, this was turned into a rough prototype of the movie called a story reel, with basic animation and temporary voice-overs.

''We had a full run of the film that we could play for the whole crew, before the incredibly detailed and expensive work where we've got A-list actors coming in,'' says the co-director and director of photography, David Peers.

''We can actually watch the film and go 'this part's kind of slow, that doesn't work at all, people are confused at what that scene's about and everyone finds that character annoying' and all those kinds of things. So we can go in and revamp it.''

Miller wanted to know how everyone responded to the story reel, even the receptionists and cleaners. He is famous for remembering the names of crew members.

''We'd have big rallies out on the motion-capture floor where there was a wandering microphone so people could say 'I think Mumble is a dickhead because he did this' and so on,'' Peers says. ''You just find out where things are working and where they're not.''

At an early stage, every element of the Antarctic setting, including landscapes and characters, had to be created on computer. In the motion-capture process, performers including star tap dancer Savion Glover were covered in reflective discs, filmed dancing, then converted into digital penguins a second later on nearby screens.

Animators visited a zoo to study the way water beads off penguin feathers or take photos of leopard seals. Other times, they made faces in the mirrors on their desks and re-created the expressions on their characters.

The photorealistic style that made Happy Feet stand out from other animations five years ago adds to the complexity. Carrying it off for birds and animals is highly detailed work, especially when it comes to something like non-verbal communication.

''To be able to convince an audience that Mumble is unsure of something or is questioning something or is worried by something, all of that comes from facial expressions that are animated frame by frame,'' the animation director, Rob Coleman, says. ''So there's incredible detail put into what I call the micro movements around the eye - the movement of the eye itself, the dilation of the pupils, the movement of the head, just the slight pursing of the beak - just to tell you he's a thinking character.''

It doesn't stop there. Making the Antarctic landscape look realistic is a scientific as well as creative exercise.

''[We study] the behaviour of light on surfaces,'' says the production designer, David Nelson. ''We trace the light bouncing through the surface of the snow and how the light scatters about in the snow. We work out the refraction indexes of things, we talk in terms like 'sub-surface scattering' and we consider the absorption of the colour of the light as it goes into water.''

All those ''millennium-and-a-half of human years'' have gone towards the movie working on multiple levels - not just as fluffy entertainment.

''Stories have to be experienced at every possible level of the human being,'' Miller says. ''You have to experience a story emotionally, intellectually, viscerally. It affects the groin, the heart, the brain, the spirit. It affects an audience anthropologically …

''Some people look at the film and just might enjoy the dancing or some of the songs. It's very spectacular in 3D, so you might just enjoy being in Antarctica and seeing the spectacle … The thing I most want is that people get an immersive and hopefully meaningful experience from being in the cinema.

''The other thing is: the better the film, the longer it will follow you out of the cinema. You might remember it 10 years later or you might forget it before you get to the car park.''

Happy Feet Two opens in cinemas, in Australia, on December 26.

The storyteller

As writer, director and producer, George Miller has been a leading figure in Australian film for more than three decades.

His first success was with 1979's high-octane Mad Max, followed by the sequels Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He plans to shoot a long-delayed fourth Mad Max,Fury Road, in Namibia next year.

He also directed the landmark mini-series The Dismissal (1983) and followed up by producing Bodyline, Vietnam and Bangkok Hilton.

Back in film, he produced The Year My Voice Broke (1987) and Flirting (1991), which both won best film at the AFI Awards, as well as Dead Calm (1989).

In Hollywood, Miller unleashed Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick (1987).

In 1993, he had his first Oscar nomination with Nick Enright for the screenplay for Lorenzo's Oil, which he also directed. He was nominated again as producer and writer with director Chris Noonan of the global hit Babe (1995).

Four years ago, Miller won the best animated feature Oscar for Happy Feet.

The star power

It says a lot about George Miller's standing that when he created two new creatures - tiny krill - for Happy Feet Two, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, two of Hollywood's biggest stars, took the roles.

''Matt Damon was between two Clint Eastwood movies and literally had a three-day break,'' the director says. ''He said his kids insisted he do it.

''And Brad, we'd talked in the past about doing a couple of films together. I said, 'Hey, do you want to do this one?'''

There was just one problem. The script had Pitt's character, Will, saying the line ''Will you please shut up.''

Miller says: ''He said, 'Can I please not say that line? I'm constantly telling my kids, ''Do not say shut up.'' If I say it in the movie, it's going to give them a licence to say it.'''

Miller agreed. The character now says: ''Will you please be quiet.''

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 20.11.2011

George Miller and the value of patience

Garry Maddox

Sydney Morning Herald

November 17, 2011

Photograph: George Miller and Lovelace from Happy Feet
.

He has been shooting films since Mad Max burst onto the screen more than 30 years ago but George Miller says he is still learning.

"The big thing about animation is you learn much more forensically so much about filmmaking and storytelling and, indeed, life," he says. "I know more about eyes than I ever did as a doctor. And I know more about snow for someone who's never really been in the snow. Most of all I know more about camera."

Miller, the Oscar-winning director of Happy Feet and now Happy Feet Two, cites fellow director Roman Polanski's dictum that there is only one perfect place for the camera at any given moment.

"It's not until you do an animation that you realise how absolutely true that is," he says.

"When you're shooting a [live action] film, you're basically winging it. You go on instinct as to where the camera should go. Compositionally there are intuitive rules about how you might do things.

"But what's striking about animation is you can take absolutely the same performance, the same sound, and vary the camera and the cutting pattern and substantially influence or change a scene depending on what you choose.

"It's a bit scary because you realise it's incredibly subtle. It's a big commitment but the level of learning is very, very intense."

Miller has also learnt the value of patience.

"I'll never forget that quote from Billy Wilder," he says. "He said the life of a director is waiting. In all the years – and he had a prolific career – he said I was waiting for actors, I was waiting the light, I was waiting for camera, I was waiting for studios or decisions.

"In all the years I shot, the time the film was actually running through camera totalled two weeks. All the rest of it was waiting."

The Sydney filmmaker has certainly needed that patience when it comes to shooting another Mad Max movie. He now plans to shoot the long-delayed fourth instalment, Fury Road, next year, with Tom Hardy (Inception, Warrior) starring.

The movie was due to shoot around Broken Hill until heavy rain turned the desert into a garden, making it decidedly unsuitable for a post-apocalyptic landscape. After an international search for a new location, the movie will be shot in Namibia.

Miller has also been seeking studio backing for another animated film he has written and expects to take "a godfather role" in its production while directing Fury Road.

If his interest was once in how best to tell stories for the screen, Miller says his focus has shifted in recent years to why we tell them. It's a subject he has discussed at length with his friend and "storytelling brother" Nico Lathouris, who would ask questions like what are the ethics of what you're doing, what's the purpose of what you're doing, and what are the ethical requirements of storytelling?

Says Miller: "I think [writer and director] David Hare pointed this out: the extraordinary thing is we have more stories available to us than any other time in history so we have a deep need for them.

"Napoleon read every single book in French because there weren't so many books written in French during his time. Now you go into an airport book store, and on one shelf – let alone what you can find on Amazon and Kindle and everything else – there are massive amounts of stories ... We have this intense need for stories."

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian World Heritage Fund on 21.05.2011

Mark Drolc, graphic designer, with George, his passion

a book written about her father, by Ruby Brown Feros.

Mark is the preferred graphic designer and book compositor for the Kytherian World Heritage Fund.

He always strives for excellence, and makes an effort above an beyond the "call of duty".

In the case of George, his passion, Mark, at his own initiative, drove down to the Brown family property near Gunning, in south western New South Wales, to collate the photographs for the book, and get a "good" feel for the content.

He has designed a number of books for the KWHF in the past, and is currently working on three more.

On the Mark Design

Level 1, 135-137 Harris Street
Pyrmont 2009
NSW

p: +61 2 9566 1577
m: 0420 520 684
f: +61 2 9566 4495

Email On the Mark Design

http://onthemarkdesign.com.au/

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian World Heritage Fund on 21.05.2011

Mark Drolc, graphic designer, working on the book Life in Australia

Mark is the preferred graphic designer and book compositor for the Kytherian World Heritage Fund.

He always strives for excellence, and makes an effort above an beyond the "call of duty".

He has designed a number of books for the KWHF in the past, and is currently working on three more.

On the Mark Design

Level 1, 135-137 Harris Street
Pyrmont 2009
NSW

p: +61 2 9566 1577
m: 0420 520 684
f: +61 2 9566 4495

Email On the Mark Design

http://onthemarkdesign.com.au/

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Newsflash on 02.02.2011

Professor John Prineas. Medical pioneer awarded.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Reporter: Branwen Morgan
ABC

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professor John Prineas has spent almost fifty years conducting research into MS (Source: MS Research Australia/YouTube)

Australia Day honours Doctors from various fields of medicine have been recognised in today's Australia Day Honours list.

Professor John Prineas, who specialises in neurology, has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his multiple sclerosis (MS) research.

Prineas has spent almost fifty years trying to understand the basis of the disease, in which nerve cells are gradually destroyed by a process called demyelination. MS affects an estimated 2 million people around the world and causes gradual disability.

Prineas, now an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney, where he was also a young medical student, says he is absolutely delighted to receive this honour.
"It is not just for me; it's a recognition of the all people and the groups I've worked with. And it's a terrific thing for the neurologists in Sydney," says Prineas.

The first of Prineas's seminal discoveries was published in 1979 in the journal Science. He produced evidence that the myelin sheath that coats and protects a nerve cell - like insulation tape - can regenerate.

In 1993, he demonstrated that the cells which make myelin, called oligodendrocytes, are recruited to sites of damage. These observations around the capacity of the nervous system to repair itself underpin today's 'remyelination' therapies for MS.
But it's his love of microscopes and desire to observe everything under a lens that has changed the course of MS research.

"We used to think that MS was an autoimmune condition, where the body's own immune system turns on itself and destroys the myelin," says Prineas. "But by examining tissue from people who have died when the disease is in its very early stages, we've shown that the myelin is not targeted in this way; rather the oligodendrocytes are committing suicide by apoptosis [programmed cell death]. And we don't know the trigger for this. So, now we have a whole new set of questions."

In 2009, Prineas was the first Australian to receive the biennial MS International Federation Charcot Award for lifetime achievement in research into the understanding or treatment of multiple sclerosis. He has treated a multitude of patients during his clinical career and authored more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cuisine on 11.11.2010

Feast Your Eyes. The eye health cookbook

Author: compiled by Minas and Hellene Coroneo

When Published: 2010

Publisher: Genetic Eye Foundation Limited

Available:

Genetic Eye Foundation Limited
2 St Pauls Street,
Randwick NSW 2031

Phone: +61 2 9382 2493

Fax: +61 2 9382 2488

Email: Orders, Feast Your Eyes

Web: www.gef.org.au

Description: Paperback. Superbly designed.

Download Order Form for book:

Feast_Your_Eyes_A.pdf

Feast Your Eyes
, produced in conjunction with, and featuring the recipes of eminent Australian Chefs (and 3 non-Aussies as well), is not an ordinary cookbook.

The contributing chefs are:

Alfonso Ales, Peter Howard, Neil Perry, Sergi Arola, Matt Jefferson, Mark Pilgrim, Maggie Beer, Mark Jensen, Mark Poulter, Maria Bernadis, Selvam Kandasamy, Dominique Rizzo, Shaun Bowles, Matthew Kemp, Luciana Sampogna, Stephane Bremont, Owen Lacey, Gert Schwarz, Logan Campbell, Anthony Sui Pui Liu, James Stapely, Javier Codina, Megan McCulloch, Mirco Speri, Dallas Cuddy, Jim Mailes, Garry Sullivan, Ragini Dey, Tess Mallos, Hadleigh Troy, Timothy Down, Luke Mangan, David Tsirekas, Ian Hemphill, Justin Miles, Daniel Watson, Kate Hemphill, Joe Pavlovich, Bryant Wells, Iain Hewitson, Carole Peck

As distinct from most other publications in this genre, Feast Your Eyes offers sound advice on eating for health as well as pleasure. The recipes featured in this book stimulate interest in the benefit of eating fresh, wholesome food at all times.

Included are informative chapters on eye health, written in language anyone can understand, by Professor Minas T. Coroneo, Head of Department of Ophthalmology, University of NSW at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

As many people know, Professor Coroneo’s primary concern is ophthalmologic advancement in the provision of eye care for his patients, public and private. Couple that with his natural curiosity in all things medical, a long held interest in the importance of nutrition and the compilation of this book became a, pardon the pun, consuming passion.

Feast Your Eyes is guaranteed to interest a wide variety of people for many reasons. Part cookbook, part instruction manual, this book makes a valuable contribution to the knowledge of how best to achieve maximum nutrition from the foods we eat. It is also
the heart-warming story of the boy growing up with his family in Scone NSW.

The reader will, we hope, following the considered advice offered, learn how to improve the quality of their general health, at the same time ensuring optimum nourishment for the eyes.

We live at a frenetic pace in an age when everyone is time poor and fast food franchises abound. Takeaway is the norm in some households and meals lacking nutritious value are often eaten on the run. If the media is to be believed, family gatherings around the table at mealtimes are a thing of the past, so it is timely to be reminded of the advantages of making the effort to change our diet for a favourable outcome.

After many years of deliberation, months of research, lots of reading and phone calls, it is with considerable excitement that we announce this project has come to fruition. The beneficiary of all moneys raised by the sale of this book will be the Genetic Eye Foundation, researching the newest developments in maintenance of care, solutions to currently untreatable eye problems, and helping to fund research for the bionic eye.

Please support us in this venture.

Feast Your Eyes would make an excellent Christmas present; a valuable addition to the cookbook collection in any household.

How many copies would you like to buy?

About the eye health cookbook, Feast Your Eyes
compiled by Minas and Hellene Coroneo


Mostly we take our eyes for granted. But their function is crucial to our lives. So how do we protect them? Diet modification protects not just our general health but also our eye health. Here is a delicious way to do it.

Legendary chefs have been asked to contribute a recipe using ingredients selected by the Genetic Eye Foundation as beneficial for eye health. Internationally renowned, up and coming chefs and cooking teachers have also contributed recipes. The recipes are intrinsic to the well-known Mediterranean diet.

The Genetic Eye Foundation (GEF) is a non-profit, charitable organisation which assists and educates the visually impaired, especially those with hereditary eye diseases, helps to maintain vision by public and professional teaching and continues with research related to the eye, particularly bionic eye research.

Proceeds from copies of this book will assist the Genetic Eye Foundation’s important research into eye diseases and the bionic eye.

Professor Minas Coroneo traces the history and evidence for the benefits of traditional diets such as the Mediterranean diet in relation to a number of common eye conditions including macular degeneration, dry eye, cataract and glaucoma.

Joint compiler of the recipes, Hellene Coroneo has been the practice manager of her husband’s busy ophthalmic practice in Randwick, NSW since 1991.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Jim Saltis on 29.10.2010

ΤΑ ΤΕΣΣΕΡΑ ΣΠΙΤΙΑ. ΜΥ FOUR HOMES.

Author: Protopsaltis Dimitris ( Jim Saltis)

When Published: September 2004

Publisher: STAFILIDIS PUBLICATIONS Athens GREECE.

Available: Jim Saltis Ph. 93999767, and

Email Jim Saltis

and Kytherian Association

Email KAA

A book by Dimitris Protopsaltis ( Blaveri), known in Australia as Jim Saltis

PRICE: $25.00

The book is about growing up in the dynamic Greek community of Alexandria, Egypt during the Depression and right through the affluence that the WW2 brought to the city. It is narrative about the second Hellenistic époque in the History of this glorious city. Although it appears to be autobiographical it is in reality a mosaic of people that the author encountered during his growing up in Egypt. Their own and the author’s “ yom assal yom basal” as the Egyptians say, days of honey and days of onion. It is written in the distinctive Greek Alexandrine dialect, daringly sincere to the point of embarrassment.

The following independent anonymous critique describes the mood of this compacted literary attempt.


THE FOUR HOMES
Alexandria as I lived it (1926 till 1949)



Australia became his second country but Alexandria took roots to his heart and his memories of the twenty-three years that he lived there, are deeply etched in his memory and his heart and signposted his subsequent journey.

Dimitris Protopsaltis, a Greek from Egypt, remembers and reminisces the good and bad moments when he lived in a country so much different from Greece, a country filled with mystery and wisdom, where a mixture of civilisations is trying to coexist, struggling for a better tomorrow.

In a period of upheaval and a period of critical historic developments, a Greek from Egypt is confronted with the common destiny of all the foreigners in Egypt, the expulsion and uprooting. In his troubled childhood when the affluence and the poverty alternate following the historical developments, the romanticism, the eros, the friendship, refuses to submit to the harsh reality. They remain lively sentiments creating the heroes (real people) that are approachable and ordinary with human dimensions.

The conditions that the author lived are familiar to the Greeks from Egypt. But the manner that he is presenting them is simple yet at the same time gently he renders them a possession for everyone. The reader together with the author lives as an adolescent, an adult and attains manhood in Alexandria of yesterday that never returns.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 20.10.2010

Build it and they will gasp: engineer honoured

Sydney Morning Herald

October 18, 2010

Photograph: No fault ... helipad-cum-tennis court atop Burj Al Arab in Dubai.


Harry Poulos' creations set jaws agape the world over, writes Heath Gilmore.

The world was agog when images first surfaced of tennis greats Andre Agassi and Roger Federer playing on the world's highest tennis court - the helipad of Burj Al Arab, a ''seven star'' hotel in Dubai.

Photos of the 2005 game from the then-tallest building in the world were relayed internationally and many wondered whether they had been doctored.

In Australia, civil engineer Harry Poulos didn't have to wonder. His work on the Burj Al Arab and other super buildings has allowed man to push the boundaries of human experience and technology.

His ground-breaking research and practice in foundation engineering, especially pile foundation analysis and design, are part of the reason super structures such as Burj Al Arab stand tall and straight.

Now, the American Society of Civil Engineers has recognised Poulos and he will be the first Australian to be named a distinguished member. On Thursday, he will be inducted by the society in Las Vegas. ''It is one of the highlights of my career,'' he says. ''It is one of the most influential bodies of engineers on the planet.''

Poulos, born in Katoomba in 1940, was the second son of George Poulos (Tzortzopoulos) and Elene (nee Zantiotis), originally of Karavas, Kythira. His father George arrived in Australia from Kythira in the early 1930s and Elene and elder son Theodore arrived in Australia years later, in 1939.

Harry went to school in Katoomba and went on to be dux of the high school in 1956. He entered the University of Sydney in 1957 to do a civil engineering degree and graduated in 1961 with first-class honours. He began research for a PhD at the university in 1961 and was awarded the degree in 1965.

Now Poulos is the person the world's big project managers call to provide the final advice or to make a project happen.

He says one of his most memorable jobs was the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. His team was the peer reviewer for the design of the foundations supporting this 828-metre building. Several site visits and independent checking and approval followed before the 196 foundation piles (1.5 metres in diameter and 45 metres long) that support the huge structure were finally in place.

Despite its huge size and weight, the building has settled into the ground only about 4.5 centimetres, about half the width of a normal coffee cup and well within the estimate made by the design teams.

The emeritus professor from the University of Sydney and senior principal and technical master with consultants Coffey Geotechnics says only one inhibitor will stop ever-increasing building heights - the human condition.

''People may well increasingly resist the psychological and physical challenges that accompany living so far above the Earth's surface and having to cope with such fragile systems of access and escape,'' he says.

Poulos is now part of an expert panel looking at the impact of urban tunnelling on buildings for Singapore's Housing Development Board. He is also reviewing tunnelling impacts on buildings in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Mass Transit Rail and is leading a geotechnical engineering and foundation design team for a 151-floor tower in South Korea.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 09.10.2010

Gift to NSW ... standing Lakshmi ... an 1894 lithograph of the goddess, donated by Kytherian Jim Masselos

Sydney Morning Herald

August 18, 2010

Joyce Morgan

[[picture:"Jim Masselos with donation.jpg" ID:18053]]

Gift to NSW ... standing Lakshmi ... an 1894 lithograph of the goddess, donated by Kytherian Jim Masselos

Dr Jim Masselos has sat in the dust with Indian peasants and supped with a Maharani.

Along the way the Sydney historian has amassed one of the biggest but least known collections of Indian art in Australia.

Bright embroidered textiles, posters of Hindu gods and photographs of moustached soldiers from the Raj are among the thousands of items Masselos is donating to the Art Gallery of NSW.

Masselos did not set out to be a collector. Even now he scratches his head at how the collection has grown to fill almost every cranny of his home.

He began acquiring old photographs to help his research into 19th- and 20th-century Indian history. ''It was hard at the beginning to visualise the places,'' he says. ''I got interested initially in digging out old photos and prints purely to help this. When I began, much of this stuff wasn't easily accessible.''

He bought photograph albums whose images evoke a vanished world of Old Delhi, liveried retainers and the ''Fishing Fleet'' - young British ladies who sailed to India in the cool season in the hopes of landing husbands.

Masselos, an honorary reader in history at Sydney University, made his first trip to India in 1961 and spent much of his early visits researching in Bombay (Mumbai).

''But I got sick of spending my life in India working in an archive where I'd stare at the walls when there was all this world outside,'' he says. So he began exploring one of the country's more remote regions, one famed for its rich textiles.

His travels in the Kutch area of Gujarat led him to peasant embroiderers who told him about their designs as they worked in the dust. And they led to the region's former Maharani, with whom Masselos became friends.

She shared her knowledge of the region's arts and her courtly life before independence, when her youthful modesty was guarded by an Ethiopian eunuch slave. ''Some of the metallic embroideries she once wore were so heavy she would need help to walk,'' Masselos says.

Ornate embroidered blouses that belonged to the late Maharani's family are among the works that will be on show in The Indian Empire, the gallery's first display of items from Masselos's artworks, known as the Portvale Collection.

The focus of his wide-ranging collection is folk art but not all of the items have come from India.

Some were bought in Australia where a number of Raj-era figures retired or served and brought their mementos with them.

The collection, worth several hundred thousand dollars, is a vital addition to the gallery's Indian holdings, says its curator of Asian art, Jackie Menzies.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cinema Review on 12.04.2010

George Miller awarded France’s most prestigious artistic award, the Order of Arts and Letters.

Sydney, 10.03.2010

Honoured: Oscar-winning director George Miller. (Getty Images: Lucas Dawson )

Director George Miller was awarded France’s most prestigious artistic award, the Order of Arts and Letters. Miller received the award, known in France as Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, by French ambassador to Australia Michel Filhol at the opening of the French Film Festival in Sydney on Tuesday night.

The director of iconic films such as Mad Max, Babe and Happy Feet joined an elite group of artists outside France to receive the award, including Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.

The Order of France was established over 50 years ago to recognise people who have made significant contributions to the arts.

George Miller

More detailed Biography

Miller was born in Brisbane, Queensland, to Greek immigrant parents: Dimitri (Jim) Castrisios Miliotis and Angela Balson. Dimitri Miliotis was from the Greek island of Kythera and he anglicised his "nickname" to Miller, and adopted it as his surname when he emigrated to Australia; the Balson family were Greek refugees from Anatolia. The couple married and settled in Chinchilla and had four sons. The first two were the non-identical twins George and John, and later, Chris and Bill Miller arrived.

George attended Ipswich Grammar School and later Sydney Boys High School, then studied medicine at the University of New South Wales with his twin brother John. While in his final year at medical school (1971), George and his younger brother Chris made a one minute short film that won them first prize in a student competition.

In 1971, George attended a Film Workshop at Melbourne University where he met fellow student, Byron Kennedy, with whom he formed a lasting friendship. In 1972, Miller completed his residency at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, spending his time-off crewing on short experimental films. The pair collaborated on numerous works after that.

Miller wrote and directed the Mad Max movies starring Mel Gibson (Mad Max, Mad Max 2 (known in the United States as The Road Warrior), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome); co-wrote Babe and wrote and directed its sequel; and co-wrote (with Nick Enright) and directed Lorenzo’s Oil. He also directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Miller co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).

Miller’s role as producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV mini-series Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam, all starring Nicole Kidman, was instrumental in the early development of her career.

Miller was also the creator of Happy Feet, a musical epic about the life of penguins in Antarctica.The Warner Bros. produced film was released in November 2006. As well as being a runaway box office success, Happy Feet has also brought Miller his fourth Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature.

Miller is the Patron of the Australian Film Institute and the BIFF (the Brisbane International Film Festival) and a co-patron of the Sydney Film Festival.

He is currently working as director for the upcoming film Happy Feet 2. On October 24th, 2009, Miller also confirmed that his next project will be the highly-anticipated third Mad Max sequel, currently titled Mad Max: Fury Road.

Sources: kythera-family.net, Wikipedia, Big Pond News

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Publishing & Media on 19.03.2010

Diggers and Greeks. Maria Hill. Book Launches & How to Buy

Diggers and Greeks is a culmination of eight years of research and writing.

The Kytherian World Heritage Fund (KWHF), cultural affiliate of the Kytherian Association of Australia, decided very early, to financially support Dr Hill’s book. We made this decision on the basis that KWHF delights in supporting good authors, particularly those writing on a Kytherian, Ionian, Minoan, Greek, and/or Greek-Australian themes. KWHF also supported Australians and Greeks, Vol I, II, & III and The Greeks in Queensland. Diggers & Greeks was therefore a natural extension of the theme, Greeks & …...... (Australians, or a sub-group thereof.)

At an event at Customs House, Sydney, held on 26 April during the 2009 Greek Festival, KWHF presented Dr Hill with a grant of $5000, to assist with the printing and publication costs of forthcoming book.

This grant enabled the book
1. to be produced in hardback
2. to have a larger format similar in size to the other publications we have supported.
3. to increase the amount of archival photographs contained in the book from 20 to 90.
4. to increase the word length from 110 to 145,000 words.
5. to re-draw the maps and include 20 instead of 5 maps as most books do.
6. to have colour maps on the endpapers both front and back.

Diggers and Greeks features heavily at this year’s Greek Festival of Sydney. Two events fall under the auspices of the Greek Festival – the Launch of the book at the Anzac War Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney, on Tuesday 6th April 2010, and Maria in conversation with David Hill, Sunday 16 May 2010, Museum of Sydney.

Other launch events which have been organised by other groups are listed below.

We have heard so much up about Gallipoli and Kokoda, surely its time we ensured that the campaigns that link us so closely with the Australian community are commemorated so from a Kytherian point of view do try and attend the State Parliamentary Luncheon on the 21st April, 6pm to 10pm.

If you haven’t experienced the ambience of dining at State Parliament House, it is one well worth embracing. The State Attorney General, the Honourable John Hatzistergos will be the keynote speaker for the evening. It would be great to have a substantial Kytherian presence in attendance.

Do make a decision to buy the book. It is a very superior book. Certainly one of the best Australian military history books ever written, but arguably, as well, the best Greek-Australian history book per se, ever written. If you buy it from KWHF, some of the profits will be re-invested in future book publications, and other cultural activities.

*Note that the KWHF is self-funding; it does not rely on any direct funding from the consolidated revenue of its close affiliate, the Kytherian Association of Australia.

Upcoming Events

Greek Festival of Sydney

PRESENTS THE

BOOK LAUNCH

OF

Diggers and Greeks: The Australian Campaigns in Greece and Crete

AT

Anzac War Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney

Launched by The Honourable Bob Carr

Tuesday 6th April 2010
6.30 pm – 9.30 pm


‘Reading Diggers and Greeks, I am reminded of the remarkable rapport between the Australian army and Greek citizens in World War II: Young Australian soldiers battling to protect Greek independence against the odds, ultimately failing but achieving an unprecedented friendship between a native people and an overseas army. Maria Hill tells a compelling story of the relationship that emerged between Australians and Greeks, for the first time in the detail it deserves and with a scholar’s command of the material, while not neglecting the Greek perspective but with a great feel for the emotions involved in these complex campaigns, inhabited by people both sympathetic and hostile to the Allied cause.’

Bob Carr, Premier of New South Wales, 1995-2005.

Followed by a performance by ‘The Singing Belles’
of wartime favourites including an Andrews Sisters medley
http://www.thebelles.com.au/

AND

Cretan Lyra and Lute playing by Andrew Parliaros and Angelo Goutzios and a performance by the Dance Group of the Cretan Association of Sydney and NSW.

*Light refreshment will be served at the conclusion of the launch.

*Books will also be available for sale on the night signed by the author

RSVP: Monday 29th March 2010 (before Easter long weekend)
Dimi Lafazanos | Festival Manager
Greek Festival of Sydney / Greek Film Festival
phone +61 2 9750 0440

Email, Greek Festival of Sydney

EVENT TWO

Wednesday, April 14


Maria Hill In conversation with Helen Vatsokopoulos
Diggers & Greeks: The Australian Campaigns in Greece & Crete
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 / 6.30 for 7pm
Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: $10/$7 conc. gleeclub welcome
Book: gleebooks - 9660 2333

Events@49 webpage

EVENT THREE

21st April, 2010


Anzac Day Dinner
Parliament of New South Wales Restaurant
6 to 10pm
21st April
Guest speaker: Attorney General of NSW John Hatzistergos
RSVP: 16 April 2010
Cost $69.95

Musical Performance provided by Andrew Parliaros and Angelo Goutzios of the Cretan Association of Sydney and NSW.

George Poulos | Cultural Trustee
Kytherian World Heritage Fund / phone +61 2 9388 8320
Email George

EVENT FOUR

Sunday 16 May


A Greek Festival event
Sunday 16 May 2010

‘Maria Hill in conversation David Hill former Chairman of the ABC about the Greek and Crete campaigns’

DAVID HILL former Chairman and Managing Director of the ABC and current President of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is joining MARIA HILL to discuss her new book Diggers and Greeks on the Australian Campaigns in Greece and Crete.

Dr MARIA HILL is a military historian and an expert on the Greek and Crete campaigns. She has an Honours, Masters and PhD in History from the University of New South Wales. Maria is the first Australian historian of Greek descent to write about these campaigns, which has ensured that a Greek perspective has been included in a narrative, that often ignores Australia’s Greek allies. Currently, she is Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

The discussion will be illustrated with rare archival photographs from the Greek and Australian archives and original film footage of the Australian campaigns in Greece.

Audience comments and questions will be welcomed
Refreshments will be served at the commencement of the event

Signed copies of the Diggers and Greeks will be available for purchase from the Museum Shop.

Musical interlude: Cretan Lyra and Lute playing by Andrew Parliaros and Angelo Goutzios and a performance of the Dance Group of the Cretan Association of Sydney and NSW.

Museum of Sydney, Circular Quay 4.30 - 7 pm

RSVP: Dimi Lafazanos, Festival Manager
Greek Festival of Sydney / Greek Film Festival
phone +61 2 9750 0440

Email, Greek Festival of Sydney


EVENT FIVE

Friday 21st May


The Shrine of Remembrance,
Kings Domain,
St Kilda Rd,
Melbourne

Friday 21st May 2010, 2- 4pm

Launched by The Honourable Lindsay Tanner,
Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Followed by a performance of Cretan Lyra

Afternoon Tea will be served.

Books will be available for sale signed by the author

RSVP: 18 May 2010
Major Terry Kanellos
Secretary, Hellenic RSL of Victoria
Tel: (03) 933 715 91 (W)

Email Terry

EVENT SIX

Thursday 27th May


The Gallery Courtyard,
Australian War Memorial,
Canberra

Thursday 27 May 2010
10.30am to 12pm

Morning Tea will be served.

Books will also be available for sale signed by the author,

Followed by performances of Cretan Lyra and Cretan Dance Group

RSVP: Monday 24 May 2010
Shirley Ramsay
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
UNSW@ADFA
Telephone: +61 2 6268 8845

Email Shirley