Features

24 Hours With…. TV producer Renee Kennedy

24 Hours With… spotlights the working day of some of the most interesting people in Mumbrella’s world. Today we speak with Renee Kennedy, TV producer for SBS series Family Rules.

Mumbrella Official 24 Hours With Logo

renee-kennedy

4:45AM The sun is up! Yes, without daylight savings in Western Australia it is full-blown daylight at this time. Roll over to check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I am a social media slave at the moment.

Our new series, Family Rules, demands that I tweet, Facebook and Instagram all day and night – this is where young people live. I was a young person once, but I didn’t have kids then. Now I am tired and grumpy. Might also have something to do with the time of day.

metamorflix-image-taken-from-twitter

5:00AM Squeeze a chubby leg. My two-year-old son is sleeping next me (again) and I can’t resist his chubby thighs. Of course I am an expert at doing this and not waking him.

5:05AM Dylan is awake! Damn.

5:10AM Emotional breakdown. Not mine, but my kids’. Oscar, my five-year-old, is up too. Early mornings are not their thing – so why do they keep waking up so goddamn early?!

6:00AM Sit down to drink a cup of tea having made a three-course meal hoping the kids might eat something.

6:01AM Try to read the paper online, but start to panic at the thought of the emails flooding my inbox. Being 9:00am in Sydney, it’s the start of the working day there. Must relax. Take a breath. No! I have to check.

6:05AM Finish deleting spam emails.

6:30AM – 8:00AM A blur of showers, nappies, poo, washing up, cleaning food off the floor, applying sunscreen, getting dressed, and on it goes.

Dylan eating a chocolate croissant

Dylan eating a chocolate croissant

8:30AM Arrive at work. Make a tea and listen to the draft music for a half hour episode called The Third Space in the third series of From The Western Frontier.

This is a series I produce for NITV and Screenwest. It started in 2013 as an initiative for emerging Indigenous writers and directors – and this year I have been able to squeeze some money from the budget to afford original music. We are working with composer Ash Gibson Greig. When he gets it right he brings tears to my eyes.

This episode is written and directed by an emerging talent, Casey Kickett. And kick-it she can. I read through her notes and although she hasn’t worked with a composer before she is clear and articulate in communicating what the film needs, musically.

casey-kickett-dop-jim-frater-acs-sound-recordist-ash-charlton

Casey Kickett, writer / director of The Third Space in the third series of From The Western Frontier talking to DOP Jim Frater ACS on set. In the foreground is sound recordist Ash Charlton.

This particular film deals with identity and skin-colour and asks the question: should your skin colour determine how you relate to your heritage?

We have gone through four drafts of the music and are almost finished, only a few remaining cues need some further attention.

Ash is very quick at understanding our feedback and reinterpreting the music cues. We will be done by Christmas, in time for the final sound mix.

10:00AM I have a phone interview with Georgina Dent, contributing editor of ‘Women’s Agenda’ to talk about Family Rules, my production company Metamorflix’s upcoming six episode series of ‘real life TV’ (i.e. documentary) screening on NITV in January.

She is both interested and incisive, but asks me that question ‘in two sentences tell me what this series is about’. I’m glad to have the one-line synopsis to keep me on point.

11:00AM Provide comments and changes (tracked, of course) on a few development agreements and have a quick phone call with my lawyer, Joan Peters to talk about one particularly complex point that is better discussed over the telephone than in an email.

Every independent producer will tell you the trick is keeping your slate fresh and development moving forward. This is really difficult when you have a big program like Family Rules in production as these original series inevitably soak up a lot of your time.

MIDDAY Eat some leftover salad and potatoes. I eat salad and potatoes a lot. I also make salad and cook potatoes a lot for dinner. Throw in some sausages and, tah-dah, you have perfect 20 minute kids’ meal. Hmm, is there a TV series in this?

1:00PM Time to get social and publicise our work. My publicist, Kym Druitt, had to explain to me how to use Twitter. She also reminded me that Metamorflix had a Twitter account.family-rules-twitter-tweetThe conversation went something like this:
Kym: “Your Twitter account has a picture of someone I’ve never seen on it.”
Renee: “What! We have a Twitter account?”
Kym: “Yes and there is a picture of woman I’ve never seen on it.”
Renee: “Hold on. Cody! (production manager, Cody Greenwood, works for Metamorflix) Do we have a Twitter account?”
Cody: “Yes. I’ll send you the details.”
(A moment later) Renee: “OMG. We have a Twitter account and there is a picture of someone from a previous project on it.”

Clearly it was relevant at the time, but not now.

2:00PM Time for my rough-cut screening for the half-hour episode ‘Owning Your History’ in the third series of ‘From The Western Frontier’ with emerging writer/director Kimberley Benjamin and editor Lawrie Silvestren ASE.

Kimberley Benjamin and Lawrence (Lawrie) Silvestrin ASE in the edit suite at Metamorflix. Kimba is the Writer / Director and Lawrie is the editor of Owning Your History in the 3rd series of From The Western Frontier

Kimberley Benjamin and Lawrence (Lawrie) Silvestrin ASE in the edit suite at Metamorflix. Kimba is the Writer / Director and Lawrie is the editor of Owning Your History in the 3rd series of From The Western Frontier

This is my second screening in two days. The team want to show me their changes before we send it off to Commissioning Editor, Jade Christian at NITV and Screenwest Indigenous Manager, Kodie Bedford, for their comments.

2:30PM I have dust in my eye. This film is beautiful (Of course. It is shot by Torstein Dryting ACS) and very, very moving. This third series of From The Western Frontier focuses on the stories of people from The Stolen Generations. The more that I work with Indigenous Australian filmmakers and on their stories, the more angry I become at the way Australian history whitewashes and ignores the atrocities of the past 200 years.

3:30PM Time to check in on our talented assistant editor who is helping to cut looping videos and GIFS for Family Rules, to promote the series.

Renee and the Rules: Renee Kennedy (third from right) and members of the Rule family as well as series producer Gillian Moody (first left) and co-executive producer and field director Karla Hart (second from right)

Renee and the Rules: Renee Kennedy (third from right) and members of the Rule family as well as series producer Gillian Moody (first left) and co-executive producer and field director Karla Hart (second from right)

We shot for 85 days on Family Rules and Vincent (Vinnie) Lange, as the sole assistant editor, transcoded every frame of that material, converting the footage into the right codes so it could be imported into AVID ready for the offline edit. He did this mostly at nighttime and all alone.

He also helped me set up the four offline editing suites needed for the series. I have a deep love for Vinnie. Without him I shudder to think where Metamorflix might be.

4:00PM Cost report time! We have two series running simultaneously so Cody has her work cut out for her. Cody and I have a deep love of Excel spreadsheets. If you want to survive as a business owner in this industry (or any other for that matter), you’d better love Excel spreadsheets – big, complicated ones – not just cost reports.

4:30PM Cost reports emailed away to the investors for Family Rules – Screen Australia, Screenwest and NITV – and for From the Western Frontier, Screenwest and NITV. Everything is on target and budgets have been adhered to.

5:00PM Time to touch base with Karla Hart, Co-Executive Producer and one of the Field Directors on Family Rules. Karla both directed and operated a camera on-set. The other Field Director was the wonderful Claire Leeman.

Family Rules: DOP, Eric Murray Lui, Co-Ep / Field Director Karla Hart and Series Producer Gillian Moody.

Family Rules: DOP, Eric Murray Lui, Co-Ep / Field Director Karla Hart and Series Producer Gillian Moody.

Both women worked with Director of Photography Murray Lui to achieve the look of the series and filmed almost everything you see. Today I am calling Karla to let her know that the trailer, which we cut with the help of The Solid State (a Sydney-based company specialising in editing trailers for film and television), is on YouTube and getting a lot of views.

We’re working hard to ensure that this series, which was conceived in May 2015, will be successful. It’s been the biggest production thus far for Metamorflix, which I founded in Perth in 2013.

5:30PM Home time. I have missed my kids this year. It has been hard to have time off with the two series running simultaneously.

6:45PM Get home. A bomb has gone off. A Lego bomb! I ignore the chaos and help my husband finish making dinner while trying to keep the kids out of the cupboard and to stop snacking on crackers. All they want to eat is crackers!

6:15PM Bath time. Goes something like this:
Renee: “Tilt your head back so I don’t get shampoo in your eyes.”
Kids: “Arhghgh!! Yahah. Bla Bla Bla.”
Renee: “Oscar, tilt your head back so I don’t get shampoo in your eyes, please.”
Kids: “Arhghgh!! Yahah. Bla Bla Bla.”
Renee: “Oscar! Please tilt your head back so I don’t get shampoo in your eyes!”
Kids: “Arhghgh!! Yahah. Bla Bla Bla.”
Oscar: “My eyes. My eyes!”
Renee: “Well, I told you so.”

westworld-anthony-hopkins-still-promo

Sir Anthony Hopkins in Jonathan Nolan’s remake of Westworld

6:30PM Octonauts. This is a children’s animated television series on ABC2 about a bunch of cats (at least I think they are cats) that operate submarines and help underwater creatures. According to my kids this is my favourite TV show – to which I nod and ask: ‘Yes, how did you know!’ It isn’t my favourite show, right now it is the new HBO sci-fi/western ‘Westworld’.

6:50PM Shaun the Sheep.

7:00PM Reading time. The kids are only satisfied if we read at least five books, so I have become very good at speed-reading aloud.

7:30PM Cup of tea.

8:00PM Bed. I am not joking. It is the closest thing to holiday that I am going to get for a while. Life in the fast lane!

Renee Kennedy is the founder of Perth-based production company Metamorflix and the executive producer of Family Rules, which repeats on NITV from February 18. It is also available on SBS On Demand

ADVERTISEMENT

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing