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Filmmaker spotlight: ‘In My Bones’

Still from 'In My Bones'

Introducing Harrison Warne, one half of the duo behind the captivating documentary – ‘In My Bones’ which emerged as a finalist at the 2023 Very Short Film Festival.

‘In my bones’ is a short featurette on Palaeontologist, Adele Pentland. Adele lives a dual existence: she’s both a grazier on a vast remote cattle station in Western Queensland, and a part-time researcher at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum.

What was the inspiration behind your film’s concept? 

The creative team, comprised of myself and Jack Breedon, strives to bring the remarkable work of extraordinary scientists to a broader audience who might not otherwise be familiar with their contributions. I have a keen interest in Australian natural history and have been engaging with Adele Pentland on social media, often asking her questions about fossils I’ve discovered. Upon learning about the dual aspects of her life, we felt it presented an intriguing narrative. We wanted to capture the contrast between her life on a cattle station and her involvement with the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum.

Which filmmakers or films have influenced your style the most? 

Like every nature lover, all of David Attenborough’s work is very inspiring. For this film we studied how other documentarists shoot museums and we took inspiration from various ABC interviews and interviewer driven stories such as Australian Story. 

What kind of impact or conversation do you hope your film initiates? 

I hope my films inspire people to explore subjects previously unknown to them and that by showcasing scientists’ work, we can highlight fascinating discoveries and ongoing research. Specifically, with this film, I aim to reveal to the broader community the significant number of people engaged in studying Australian dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. I want to convey that the study of dinosaurs is not merely a subject for children but a profoundly interesting field of science with continuous groundbreaking discoveries.

What aspect did you love most about being a finalist in the VSFF event?

For people like me from rural areas that don’t normally get to mix with other filmmakers it’s a really great way to talk about ideas, styles and make friends in the industry. 

What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers looking to get involved? 

Be ambitious and reach out to the people you dream of including in your films, the worst thing they can say is no. 

Harrison Warne filming In My Bones

What was the most challenging scene to shoot, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle we faced was the limited time available for filming with Adele, as we had to capture everything in just one day. This required us to be well-organised, follow a strict schedule, and compartmentalise jobs as well as shoot all additional B-roll opportunistically. We knew it would be essential to film as many outdoor scenes as possible during the golden hour for the best light. Our plan to arrive at the station in the afternoon paid off as we were treated to stunning light, that emphasised the beauty of the location. It was the quintessential Western Queensland. 

When we arrived at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, we entered a completely different world. A dark room full of loud drills, VERY expensive equipment and Australia’s largest dinosaur fossil collection. A very overwhelming and exciting environment for two long time Dino nerds! To combat the dark room with flickering fluorescent lights, we shot with a wide-angle lens to allow more light and balanced the frame rate, shutter speed and ISO. We knew we would have to fix what we could in post production. Due to the fragile nature of the fossils we had to limit our kit so almost everything was shot handheld, which meant lots of the footage was unusably bumpy. 

As a result, the stark contrast in lighting between the museum and the cattle station helped us tell the story of Adele and the incredible duality of her life. 

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects or dreams? 

We just wrapped up filming our 2024 VSFF entry, so lots of editing! 

A big thank you to Harrison and Jack for bringing this story to light! You can watch ‘In My Bones’ below and find out more about the making of it here.