We had an incredible team of people from pre-production to post-production. Majority of them gave their time and skills to this passion project. I thank every single one of them for being part of this project, and making a difference to many people’s lives across the world.
Dr Mel Baker
Producer & Co-writer
In 2020, Mel had a dream to one day produce a short film to inspire change into people’s lives who may have gone through trauma as a child. It is her hope that feature films will be created from her book series of Mel’s life story of overcoming horrendous abuse, homelessness, violence, suicide, and harrowing circumstances. It is a story that can speak into many lives.
Director & Co-writer
“Telling the untold in word and film”
Rhoyce is an empathic provocateur, bringing an ardent and edgy queer perspective to storytelling. She draws on the intense themes and raw emotions of Mel’s story to captivate and challenge audiences.
As filmmakers and writers, Rhoyce and Mel love to create authentic thought-provoking deeply moving scenes. We want the viewer to think further about the topics we are raising in our film. We want to push boundaries to inspire change. This is the very reason why Mel chooses to be vulnerable and to share her story in the hope it inspires others.
The beginnings: pre-production
On 29 July 2022, I met Quinn in a radio studio. I place my book Sleeping Under the Bridge on the table in front of me, and Quinn fell speechless. Earlier, Quinn’s intuition spoke into her very being about ‘sleeping under the bridge’ and how important this will be in her future attached to the US in someway. Quinn was set to go overseas to the UK, and I thought I would never see her again. You can listen to our quirky deep transformational conversation here.
On 7 August 2022, the launch of my book took place in the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge above the very place I used to sleep as a 16 year old. Miraculously, Quinn turned up and I said to her I want to do a short film on my book, and I would like you to play me in the lead role. She knew this was the very reason why she was still in Sydney.
Three weeks later, Quinn and I went away for the weekend to discuss the possibilities. I laid out the scenes from my earlier life that I really wanted in the film, and Quinn had written scores to certain chapters in my book that resonated with her. Given I wanted a film that spoke into people’s lives, I felt the visual with music without much dialogue will capture people’s attention and move them into feeling those raw emotions and events unfolding before them. Quinn’s music blew me away, I had no idea of her hidden talent. She captured my story in a way that you could feel those raw emotions and events that unfolded.
During the next two weeks, I contacted cinematographer, Zachary Peel-McGregor, whom I had met on set in The Healing documentary, and asked if he would be my Director of Photography. He said to me “I’ll do anything for you Mel.” Zachary was our only person on set with film experience. I knew without Zachary, I wouldn’t have been able to go ahead and complete this film on a shoestring budget as I was paying for the whole film out of my personal savings. Quinn had heard of Rhoyce, who was in film school, and I asked her to come on as my co-writer and Director. The four of us met for the first time on 14 September 2022 in the city to speak about the possibilities and to do a location scout. Production started 16 days later in that time we needed to find the support actors, the film crew, get permission to shoot the film on the streets, and get all the props!
Production: a whirlwind
We shot the film from Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October. Everyday drizzled with rain, which was so perfect for the mood we wanted to convey. Everyday was extremely long, and I soon learned that going from an associate producer to producer, the role never ends. After a 15-hr shoot, I had to go home get everything prepared for the next day, and barely got 3 hours sleep each night. Majority of producers are working behind the scenes and not on set, for me this was important to be on set each day to ensure the authenticity of my story was conveyed and the film in the end was exactly what I wanted it to be.
Everything came together on set just as it needed it to be. You can read more about some of the last minute challenges that occurred in this interview.
Post-production: a slow triumph
Two days after we had finished filming, my “adopted” dad suddenly died of a rare cancer. Pete and Barbie had known me for 22 years, and gave me a fresh perspective of having a good family unlike the family I grew up in. I couldn’t grieve this loss in my life until July 2023. Many things in my life was happening from Oct-Dec 2022, including a huge court case as a key witness; to put time and emotional energy into getting the editing of the film complete to a final cut was thwart with difficulty. Also, I couldn’t find an editor available in Sydney! I knew again that the right person will turn up at the right time, I just needed to wait.
Before Zachary had to disappear off to a job overseas in the US, his wife Agnes who was living in Poland at the time, helped us put a film cut together. Rhoyce, Zachary and myself went through all the raw footage in November, chose our favourite cuts and we started the editing process. This was quite difficult to do remotely, and in the end I had to pay for two editors. In January 2023, I contacted Mark Parry who brought an incredible amount of skills to our short film. He took our film to another level, especially in sound design. Since we had little dialogue, we didn’t record much on set. Every single sound you hear in this film was added by Mark from the trains to the birds chirping to the wind blowing to the footsteps to the toilet paper roll – every single sound. This man deserves an award!
As filmmakers, Rhoyce and I continued to work closely with all our post-production crew to make the film to what is it today. Also every single person who was part of our short film, whether lead role to runner, they were imperative and together we made magic.
Half of the support cast came from Newcastle Film school through True Screen Acting – Jarrah, John, Kate and Tarni. James contacted me from an ad I put up on a Facebook acting page, and turned out to be related to the horseman from The Healing documentary who changed my life after my time in the navy! Quinn bumped into Nuno in Sydney raising money for breast cancer, and said to him “we need a ‘thug’ in our short film and you would be perfect”. Nuno who had done a little acting and wanted more, jumped at the opportunity! Casting young Mel was important as we didn’t want to expose any child to the trauma I had to live through. Quinn knew the mother of Winnie, I explained the full story to her mum, and she was thrilled to have Winnie play young Mel. The last male to play the awful backstory was one of my best friend’s Darrell. Every supporting actor gave their time to this passion project believing in the cause and wanting to be part of it. I am so proud of each one of them, and that they took out BEST CAST award from International Network Film Festival (Australian Focus) in 2024. So well deserved.
Lead Actress as Mel
In Quinn’s debut film, she brought an awe-inspiring performance embracing every part of the character through method acting. The viewer is left feeling the raw emotions as Quinn drew on Mel’s story to define her very being in every scene.
In the two weeks leading up to production, Zachary got a great team of young people together who were still learning about the film industry. Each one of them did an awesome job. Like the supporting actors, the crew gave much time and energy to this passion project that they too believed in – the reward was in the making of this film together.
Director of Photography
Zachary directed his crew and cinematography with passion and vigour. His eye for detail, pushing boundaries to create something unique was valuable to Say My Name. Zachary has been in the film industry for over 15 years. We all learned from Zachary on set.
First Assistant Director
B Camera Steadicam
First Assistant Camera
Second Assistance Camera
Props and Graphic Design