For over 21 years the Split Screen crew has been telling stories and creating memories. During that time, they have produced and assisted in the production of countless TVCs, corporate videos, feature films and documentaries for both local and international clients. And they’ve always striven to make each and every one of them a fun experience.
“Over the years, we’ve not just generated a tonne of content, we’ve also created a vault of fantastic memories,” said Lee Guy-Wallis, Split Screen’s producer and co-founder. “Sure, while there is a basic formula in pulling together a shoot, it’s the peripherals outside that formula that creates the challenges.”
“I remember during my days at RT Films pulling together a shoot on a remote area of Sumatra. One of the set-ups involved having talent riding elephants along a beach. We trucked the elephants in from mainland Java and lo-and-behold, they had never seen water before!”
“The mahouts began trying to coerce the great creatures into the water using their training picks, which looked like ice picks. The elephants stood their ground and refused to budge, and after a while, the picks began to draw blood. I had had enough and tried a gentler approach, bribing them with bananas. It worked a treat and into the water they went. As we wrapped that set up, the mahout offered me a ride on the baby elephant, which I gladly accepted. As soon as I go on he raced off into the water and started spraying me with his trunk. It was pay-back for making him go into the water, but what great payback and what a lifetime memory.”
Guy-Wallis says it’s these challenges that create unique memories – some of them quite unintended.
“Recently, director Scott Wright and I were on-set interviewing a prominent mining magnate. As I was struggling to attach the sound transmitter to the back of her leggings, she politely turned and informed me that I was actually pulling on her underwear. I can officially say I have given Australia’s richest person a ‘wedgie’!”
Guy-Wallis said they are also happy to have created some great memories with their agency clients.
“Last year we were on an eight-day shoot around the state for Synergy, where one of the locations was the iconic Ora Banda pub, 85 kilometres from Kalgoorlie. Fast forward a year, and we were catching up with the Synergy and Meerkats teams to discuss another project. It was just after Ora Banda had burnt to the ground. We all reminisced how lucky we were to have experienced the pub together before it met its fiery end.”
“There was also the time when we were with the Cooch boys at El Questro. With some time to kill before our plane trip, I got the rangers to shut down the Zebidee Hot Springs so the crew could have exclusive use for an hour. A couple of hard-earned beers and a much-needed soak later, and we all shared in another great memory.”
With Wright being a director who can also shoot and edit, and Guy-Wallis a producer who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, Split Screen is able to be highly competitive in the online market, where budgets are often tight.
Split Screen’s unparallelled knowledge of regional and remote locations also gives them an advantage. For example, a recent shoot for Steel Blue boots demanded a diverse range of epic locations. The challenge was to find these close to home and within budget.
“Due to years spent scouting locations and building relationships, we managed to get the crew onto places that most would be unable to access. As a result, even though we never left Perth, we produced a finished product that could have been shot in the North West, or anywhere.”
Their experience also came to the fore when they were given less than a week to pull together a shoot in Flagstone, Queensland.
“We got off the plane and started scouring the street for locations and talent. In three days we had pulled together and shot a range of TVCs and celebrated at the local rum distillery and with Australia’s famous Yaltara Pies. We still speak about that rum and pies!”
“So, whether it’s just a crew of two – Scott and myself – a crew of ten to travel the state, or a crew of 230 on the beach at Redgate, we can meet your budget and exceed your clients’ expectations.”
This article originally appeared in Campaign Brief WA July 2019 edition.