Lee Rogers first feature film (or should that be feature
length video) Dust Off the Wings, an ultra low-budget, personal
cinematic journey into the Bondi Beach surf sub-culture, is
garnering a positive response from critics. This former corporate
film maker-cum-hubby of singer Kate Ceberano, can relax. Rogers
has reason to be optimistic about the filmís success. His
energetic look at the problems facing a single surfie on the eve
of his wedding, is highly personal and cathartic.
"Iím now happily
married and much calmer."
"I grew up in that whole scene confronting some of the
same problems, and I found that mocking the whole thing in a
cinematic form has allowed me to exorcise a lot of those
things." Lee Rogers plays Lee, spending some final moments
with his less responsible and drugged out surfie mates, on the
eve of his wedding. Rogers says heís happy and relieved that
he got to make the film "and got to look at that part of my
life which has lost a lot of its power since then. Iím now
happily married and much calmer."
His wife, Kate Ceberano, plays a key role in the film. As the
film touches on a fairly anarchic, hedonistic lifestyle, one
wonders what the then recently married Mrs Rogers thought of her
husbandís semi-autobiographical work. "Iím sure
she had some horrific flashes through her mind when she was first
reading the script, asking herself: what have I married
into." But the film was partly made, Rogers adds, as a
direct result of his decision to commit to Ceberano after a heady
relationship, and a five year engagement. "Once I made that
commitment and decided that this was the right person for me, I
knew that Iím going to make this work no matter what, and
then that desire to commit became so much easier. Once you make
that commitment and lock the door, that energy and the doubts
seem to transfer into something a lot more productive.
Thatís whatís happened, and the filmís a direct
result of me doing that."
"Under pressure I just
seemed to know what to do."
Rogers has spent the past 12 years in the realm of corporate
and music videos, all of which have paved the way for making his
first feature, ironically shot on video. It was all a unique,
rollercoaster experience for the young director. "On the one
hand, it was a battle full of non-stop problem-solving which was
so stressful, yet on the other, it was technically easier than I
thought it would be. I discovered that we instinctively know a
lot more about film and television than we give ourselves credit
for, just because weíre so visually in-tune these days. So
much so, that under pressure I just seemed to know what to
Despite working with a minuscule budget and tight shoot (17
days), there was never a desire on Rogersí part to shoot
Dust off the Wings on film. He says that tape lent itself to the
style he was after. "Itís a better film for being shot
on tape and I would never have acted in it or used a lot of the
non-actors if weíd done it on film." And yes, Rogers is
not only the filmís director and co-writer, but makes his
acting debut as the central character of Lee, a decision which
wasnít hard for him to make. "Firstly, we wrote it
towards the end of Summer and it was either: shoot it now or wait
till next year, so we decided to launch right into it with next
to no preparation.
"I didnít want
Kate to play her own name, because sheís got something
"Clearly, it would have been tough to find someone who
was readily available and willing to do it for free, not to
mention be prepared. By playing that character, apart from using
my own knowledge of this entire culture, I could use my own name,
and I was able to just plonk myself in amongst all these
non-actor blokes that I know, and theyíd all just treat me
as one of the boys." Yet he chose to cast Ceberano as a
fictitious character - but shot a scene with a Kate Ceberano
album poster on the wall. "I didnít want Kate to play
her own name, because sheís got something to lose.
Sheís somebody and so I wanted the professional actors to
play characters with other names and be professionals doing that.
Itís not fair on them. Whereas guys like me are nobodies and
therefore had nothing to lose, so we just went for it. As for
having Kateís poster in there, we were just trying to have
"I wanted it to be a
fun movie-going experience, but at the same time there are
still issues that I DO take seriously"
Rogersí hard-hitting yet boisterously funny tone, was
also incorporated into the diverse soundtrack, featuring
Screamfeeder, Even, The Superjesus, Tumbleweed and of course both
Kate and Phil Ceberano. "That was all a direct result of
those guys liking me, and my mates at the beach listening to all
these different types of music. Itís very eclectic and I
wanted that to reflect not only these characters, but my own
musical tastes. Also, because there was so little money on the
line, there was a rare opportunity to do what you think is funny
and works." Rogers hopes that audiences react similarly to
his intentions, which was not to do a darkly serious piece in
all, "but to have fun with it, and mock that lifestyle. I
wanted it to be a fun movie-going experience, but at the same
time there are still issues that I DO take seriously that I was
interested in exploring."
Dust off the Wings has been, in a way, Rogersí entrťe
card into the feature film business. While itís all been
frenetic, it hasnít turned him off it. On the contrary.
"I want to continue doing it. Iíve got a few scripts in
development which Iím confident weíll start shooting
soon." Including something built around his talented wife.
"Yeah, weíre developing something that utilises all of
her talents, akin to Bette Midler and The Rose."