Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: January 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Harry Potter Lego Animation

On the last leg of the school hol's and out of ideas? Here's a 30-second Harry Potter Lego animation that I shot in two hours with my 8-year-old boy. It's called Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. He directed and I was on camera. It's our second attempt at Lego animation. (Our first attempt is below.) We used a Canon EOS 50D camera then imported the stills into iPhoto. We accessed the photos via iMovie and edited it, adding free sounds from iMovie and

You can also use your web-cam and a free program called Frame Thief if you don't have access to a camera. Hope you create something fun. Good luck and let me know when you've uploaded your movie.
Our first attempt at Lego Stop-motion animation using a laptop web-cam and Frame Thief.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mark Twain Quote - Inspiring

I like this. It was emailed to me. Not sure of the origin (so apologies to the copyright owner but I hope we can still be friends... in the name of inspiration.)

Must think of something scary to do today. And every day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Children's & Young Adult Author Anthony Eaton : The Writer's Studio

Anthony Eaton is a multi-multi-award-winning children's and YA author as well as being an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing and Literary Studies at the University of Canberra. He has written in backpacker hostels and on Antarctic icebreakers and is just getting the hang of an office. Here, we go inside his writing space, his schedule and the tools he uses to get the stories out of his head and onto the page.

Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?

My last couple of books – Daywards (the final book in my Darklands trilogy) and The Hunter (my most recent book, not yet published) were written here in my office at the University of Canberra. I'm not really overly worried about where I write, as long as it's a space where I have privacy, order, and near-to-total silence. I find that once I get into the flow of the story, I stop noticing the world around me anyway, and so my surroundings become a bit irrelevant. The downside of writing in my office at work is that people know where I am, so nowadays when I'm writing I tend to put up a polite sign on the door asking people not to knock, and I have to turn off my phone, iPad, landline, and e-mail. So that's probably the most important thing for me about my writing space – isolation! (I've also been known to wear my noise cancelling earphones when writing at work, to cancel out any random noise or conversations happening in the hallway outside).
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you 'get into character' at all?
Because my writing space is also my 'regular' work space (I'm a full-time teacher at the University, which means I'm often in meetings with students and colleagues) I need to keep it pretty tidy and efficient. This means I probably don't spread out as much as I used to – in order to get things done I try to maintain a pretty strict organisational regime; little things like completely clearing my desk at the end of each day are how I manage to keep my life organised enough that I can fit in bits of writing time amidst everything else that I have on my plate. That said, when I'm working on a specific project, I usually keep the pin board above my desk free for any quick-reference visual materials that I might need. At the moment, for example, it's covered in maps of New York City and photos of Coney Island which is where the opening chapters of my next book take place.

How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
I've written my novels in all kinds of weird and bizarre places; I wrote the first draft of my first novel in a backpacker's hostel in Albany in WA and have worked in various places ever since. These have included an icebreaker halfway between Australia and Antarctica (Skyfall), a succession of Perth cafes (Nightpeople), the reading room of the National Library of Australia (Into White Silence), a guesthouse in the Glasshouse Mountains north of Brisbane (Nathan Nuttboard Hits The Beach) and, of course, in a succession of spare rooms in the various houses my wife and I have lived in. For some books I've had the whole thing mapped out on huge sheets of paper pinned around the walls of my room, with different coloured bits of string mapping the various plotlines, but nowadays I use a writing program called Scrivener which includes some pretty powerful planning and tracking tools, and so I can be a lot more portable. My office at UC is probably the most ‘stable’ writing space I've ever had access to, and so I guess I'm still in the process of evolving it to suit my writing needs.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
I do try to put aside 2 hours every morning (not including weekends) to do my writing. During this time I really shut myself off from the rest of the world, and get very tetchy if I get interrupted. Unfortunately, though, even though I always start the year fully intending to do the '2 hours per day' routine, the reality is that I generally only maintain this for a few weeks before life gets in the way and I end up putting writing on the back burner while I get other things out of the way (this happens especially during the university semesters when I'm teaching. It's one of the difficult things about juggling two jobs at the same time. Luckily, though, I love both of them!) As a result I generally end up ‘blocking out’ 3 or 4 weeks during my university breaks as writing time, and during these periods I get into a really intense writing mode where I might sit and work for anything up to 6 or 7 hours per day. The stuff I write in these periods is always really rough, and really fast, but at least it gets the story onto paper so that I can then start cleaning it up and turning it into something publishable. I do my best writing first thing in the morning, usually between about 0830 and 1130.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
That's easy – coffee! The first thing I do in the morning is turn on our coffee machine, and make myself a double-shot flat white. The other thing I've started doing of late is that when I get into my office I fire up my computer and voice recognition software (for the last few months I've been doing my writing using a cool program that allows me to simply walk up and down and talk into a headset, rather than being stuck behind a keyboard) and write what I think of as ‘random paragraphs’. Sometimes these are out-of-sequence fragments of whatever it is that I'm working on at the time (might be a book, might be an academic paper or essay, might be a blog post) and sometimes they are just completely random 200 or 300 word snippets of writing. What I like about them is that there is a sort of freedom that comes with them – random paragraphs don't need to have any context, or even make any sense, and getting my head into that space is really useful when I then start working on whatever I'm focusing my attention on that morning.

Thanks Anthony, first author in The Writer's Studio for 2012!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Soar, Award-Winning Short Film on SMH TV

Soar, a short film that I directed has hit the web for the first time on Flickerfest at SMH TV, The Sydney Morning Herald's new TV channel. Soar has won a bunch of awards at international film fests (list below) and has screened widely on TV, including Qantas Inflight and the US Sundance Channel.

The film was written by Damon Herriman and stars Herriman (J. Edgar, Love My Way, Breaking Bad) and Rupert Reid (Matrix 2 and 3).

I hope you get a chance to watch and rate it. NB: unlike my books, Soar was not specifically made for children. It has some strong language but, other than that, is fine for all ages.

More info on the film below. All pics by Kuji Jenkins
Rupert Reid, Tristan Bancks and Damon Herriman on the set of Soar.
Soar is a short film about everybody’s worst travel nightmare - getting stuck next to an obnoxious dork on a plane where there are no spare seats.

Soar was shot on Fox Studios Australia’s 747 plane set, which was built for Mission Impossible 2. Fox were highly supportive of the production. Soar was originally a hit play at Sydney’s Old Fitzroy Hotel and at the Adelaide Festival and was subsequently turned into an ABC radio-play.

Director's Approach
‘The best production is the least production. “Production value” is code for forsaking the story’ – David Mamet

One set. Two actors. Two digital cameras. Few lighting setups. Minimal crew. Maximum spontaneity. This was the brief for the production of Soar, an example of how digital technology can be used to capture immediacy in a screen comedy in a way that a single-camera film shoot never could.

Our approach was entirely actor-oriented. So many times on a shoot, performances are relegated to low-priority because technical elements are impacting on the creation of the scene. Here we had a very clever comedy script, proven in a live medium and we needed to create a shooting style and mood on set that would allow the actors to feel as impulsive and free as they would be on a stage.

Two digital cameras running simultaneously allowed us to cut between the characters’ reactions on the same take without the actors being concerned with overlaps which can be the death of good comedic dialogue. We ran the script from start to finish four times on the day of the shoot, only stopping to repeat a scene if there was a major problem with what we’d shot. This way the actors built a sense of where their character was at in terms of the overall story as opposed to getting bogged down in any particular scene.

I was looking for spontaneity in approach both in front of and behind the camera and the hand-held Canon XL-1s allowed us to do that. There is only very minimal camera movement but the hand-held does give an observational feel, which furthers the sense that we are watching a ‘real’ conversation as opposed to a comedy where the jokes are ‘flagged’ and forewarned by the shotflow and shooting style.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Children's Writing Workshops

In January I'm running a series of writing workshops for kids in Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay. They will energise, inspire and possibly make your head explode with wild new ideas.
Spread the word and I hope that you or someone you know can make it along. Some of the workshops may be fully booked so call to book!

Wed 11 January 2012, Fairfield Library, Brisbane. 2pm.
Your Life and Other Stuff You Made Up
How can you use all the odd, boring, funny stuff that happens to you and turn it into excellent stories? Author Tristan Bancks used bits from his life to inspire his new short story collection, My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up. Like the time his sister made him eat Vegemite off her toe and the time he had his appendix removed just to get out of school detention. Learn how to mine your own life for cool, weird, funny stories that your friends and teachers will love. Ages 7-13. 07 3403 8615.

Tues 17 January The Children's Bookshop, Beecroft, Sydney. 9am-12:30pm.
Learn new ways to fire up your imagination, discover ideas, create characters and build confidence in your writing. Create a short story on the day. Hear how writers find inspiration and keep the stories coming. Go behind the writing scenes and learn the tools that Tristan and other authors use to create their books. Packed with information and activities, this will be a fun, high-energy morning of imagination and ideas that will inspire young writers to take their writing to the next level.
For Children Aged 8-12 Cost? $50 per student. All materials are provided. 02 94818811.

19-20 January Writing Safari, Northern Rivers Writers Centre Byron Bay
A fun and active two-day writing adventure where young participants (aged between 9 and 13 years) will be encouraged to use nature, their own lives, and the world around them for inspiration.
Day one will involve fully supervised walks along the beach and through local parks, using the world around to inspire their stories.
Day two, kids taking the characters and ideas they discovered on safari and spin them into stories. Participants will also be encouraged to use a range of tools to structure their story, including Tristan’s new Story Scrapbook app.
Phone 02 6685 5115


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

I'm kicking off 2012 with one of my favourite quotes. It was this idea and many like it from Joseph Campbell that encouraged me to do a degree and move away from the city and head out on my own creative path a few years ago. I hope that you are on your own journey.
Photo by Amber Melody
It takes courage
to do what you want.

Other people
have a lot of plans for you.

Nobody wants you to do 
what you want to do

They want you to go on their trip,
but you can do what you want.

I did. I went into the woods
and read for five years.

– Joseph Campbell
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