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Forum » Simon / Fun / Videos » Simon News & Chat » Simon News, Articles, Info (Part 3: from 1 May 2017)
Simon News, Articles, Info
DS_Pallas Date: Friday, 01-Sep-17, 12:07 PM | Message # 76
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First-time director and Australian star of The Mentalist Simon Baker will discuss his feature Breath on September 10 (10.45am-12.15pm) in a conversation that explores how directors and cinematographers work together. Baker will be joined by DP Marden Dean and water cinematographer specialist Rick Rifici.


If only we coul have an insider… Don't know if any of those conferences are filmed and uploaded somewhere?
DS_Pallas Date: Saturday, 02-Sep-17, 1:57 PM | Message # 77
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Simon Baker on E Street: ‘It was embarrassing’


IF SIMON Baker decided to undergo a radical career change, he might do well as a cult leader. A large throng of rubberneckers has gathered outside the Longines boutique on London’s busy Oxford Street, having seen him duck in; one gets the feeling that, like a modern-day Pied Piper, they’d follow him anywhere.

Inside, Baker seems blithely unaware of the effect he has — or, if he is aware, he is very good at using his self-deprecating Australian charm as a shield.

Wearing a slim-fitting grey suit, tortoiseshell glasses and a chunky silver Longines watch (for the past five years, he has been a brand ambassador), he flashes that notorious smile, the one that causes his blue eyes to both sparkle and crinkle. Along with his signature curly blond hair and a light dusting of stubble, the elements combine to convey the look (and attitude) of a dapper businessman who surfs in his spare time.

Baker does not argue with the assessment.

“I like wearing a suit,” he tells Stellar. “I also just like wearing a wetsuit and board shorts. So, I’m OK with that. I’m comfortable with that.”

Officially, the 48-year-old is here today as a so-called Ambassador of Elegance, a title that sounds lofty but, to him, merely conveys an attitude he has embraced during his more than 25 years in the spotlight.

“It’s an approach to things,” Baker explains. “To try to do things respectfully... to strive to do the best that you can do.”

That philosophy has served Baker well since he broke out as Constable Sam Farrell on the short-lived (but still much-loved) soap E Street, a role that would earn him the 1993 Logie for Best New Talent. (Today, he half-jokingly disputes the “talent” aspect of the award.)

A small role in 1997’s critically acclaimed film noir L.A. Confidential kicked off his career in Hollywood.

He would go on to front TV legal drama The Guardian for three years before appearing as playboy Christian Thompson in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, and eventually breaking out with The Mentalist, a global TV hit that saw him playing Patrick Jane — a crime consultant with a penchant for vests — for seven years.

The Real Housewives Of Sydney’s Melissa Tkautz, who starred alongside Baker on E Street, has fond memories of their start in the industry, which also saw Baker appearing in the film clip for her hit 1991 song “Read My Lips”.

“I wasn’t surprised in any way at his success,” Tkautz tells Stellar. “He would have succeeded at anything he put his mind to. Simon is the kind of guy who was destined to greatness. He has a smile that can light up a room, he is a beautiful human being — he was back then, and I’m sure he is now. His talent, for me, is secondary to who he is as a person. That makes him so special.”

Baker’s family has also been key to his rise, providing support and motivation since he arrived in LA with wife Rebecca Rigg (a fellow actor he met on the set of E Street) and their daughter Stella, now aged 24.

He has previously said one of the main reasons he chose television over film is to stay close to his kin — he and Rigg also have sons Claude, 18, and Harry, 15 — as opposed to flying to film sets around the world.

He is a devoted dad, but Baker does not pretend that fatherhood is a breeze.
“It’s not easy being a parent,” he tells Stellar. “There are times when you do it, when you’re successful, and there are times when you’re not. That’s the challenge... you just have to be consistently there. And when I say ‘there’, I mean in a way where you allow them to be themselves, and you let them know, and you make them aware that you love them, right?”

When it comes to setting a good example, Baker says he tries to maintain an awareness of his limitations: “In a lot of ways, it’s not like, ‘Hey, watch what I do, and do what I do, the way I do it!’ Because I’m imperfect, you know?

When we were young: Baker and Tkautz in their E Street days. (Pic: Supplied)

“I’d rather have my kids have a belief in themselves, more than I have a belief in myself. I’d rather that they feel safe, and they feel comfortable, and they feel grateful for the opportunities and possibilities in their life.
“But also, they [should] have empathy and understanding and compassion. I think only they can find that in themselves. So, as a parent, I guess you want them to grow up feeling comfortable in who they are — and curious.”

Whether they intended to or not, Baker and Rigg have obviously rubbed off on their daughter Stella, who studies drama at prestigious Yale University. Of her decision to follow their career path, Baker is pragmatic.

“I think any parent feels an incredible sense of relief and excitement about their child finding something they feel passionate about,” says Baker.
“If she was that passionate about building houses, then I’d champion that as well. You go through that thing of, like, ‘Oh, you’re going into my profession.’ I know some of the pitfalls, but I also know some of the positive aspects of the business. And I’m always going to be there if she wants to ask me.
“She’s going to want to find her own way, and she should. She’s just a super, fantastic, bright girl, and she’s talented and passionate. As a parent, you’ve got to encourage that.”

Simon Baker features in Stellar magazine. (Photography: Contour by Getty Images)

Now Baker’s children are older, he has more freedom to embrace the next phase of his career.

This month, his film adaptation of Tim Winton’s 2008 coming-of-age surfing novel Breath, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, which starts Thursday. The film, set in coastal Western Australia in the 1970s, is due for local release next May, and also stars Richard Roxburgh, Elizabeth Debicki and Rachael Blake.

As director, star and co-producer, Baker has a lot riding on its success. The subject matter is personal, too, as it mirrors his own teenage years spent surfing on New South Wales’s north coast. Baker admits the prospect of sending his baby out into the world is a combination of being exciting and scary.

“I’m all of those things,” he sighs. “Yes, I’m excited about it. You work so hard and so long to make a film. This particular film, story-wise, is very close to me. I think the book was very close, personally, for a lot of people.

“That’s why it was so successful. One of the gifts Tim Winton has is that he gets under your skin — we feel and smell and taste all those familiar aspects of his prose. It speaks to something in us, and we can’t always articulate what that is. So, there is a big responsibility.
“I’m really proud of the movie. It’s been — in some way, shape, or form — gestating in me since I was maybe 12 years old.”

Baker, who fell into acting when he accompanied a friend to an audition and landed a role in the commercial himself, has long had aspirations to direct. He helmed a few episodes of The Mentalist, but says, “It takes time to build confidence, to get into a position where you have the opportunity. I’ve been biding my time. I was fortunate enough to stumble across material that came into alignment with how I felt.”

Despite the talent, the happy family unit and the enviable good looks, Baker gives off an underdog’s aura.
He maintains a lower profile than contemporaries such as Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts, and this approachability nicely offsets his role as the face of luxury brands Givenchy (for their Gentleman Only fragrance) and Longines.

Discussing his relationship with the watch brand — and that title he holds on its behalf — he lets out a laugh.
“We’re all Ambassadors of Elegance! That’s the term. I know. Don’t worry.”

Even now, five years into the title, he says he remains surprised by Longines’ initial approach.

“I still have a lot of doubt,” Baker says. “I think doubt’s healthy. When I have moments of doubt, what I have is a little bit of distance behind me: ‘You’ll be fine. You can actually get through this, and it’s going to be OK, so just push on.’ At the same time, there’s another whole thing: ‘What are you worrying about? Take the ego out of it.

“You’re insignificant. You just live on a planet and the sun goes down and the sun comes up, and you’re just a part of it. So stop being so narcissistic and get on with it!’”

There is a moment in Breath when Samson Coulter’s character Pikelet, enamoured by surfing, is struck by the strangeness of seeing “men do something beautiful. Something pointless and elegant, as though nobody saw or cared”.

Asked if passages like this line up with his take on blokeyness, Baker responds, “Sometimes it’s just... blokeyness. Blokey guys, some of them are sensitive as well. For way too long, too many men were afraid of that sensitive side, so they shielded it with even more masculinity.”
But, he reckons, “masculine can be defined in so many different ways. Defensive sometimes comes off as aggressive. So, I like the idea of getting between those cracks”.

Now that he has returned to Australia — Baker has lived in Sydney for the past few years — he is likely to have more time to do just that.

Today in London, however, he is focused on his attendance at the Queen’s Baton Relay; Longines is an official partner of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which take place in April next year. He’s excited about the chance to visit that event, too.

“I’ve never been to a Commonwealth Games. I’ve never been to any Olympic events [either]. I grew up watching Commonwealth Games, I grew up watching the Olympics. What I remember distinctly about it, as a kid, was how inspiring it was, and how exciting it was, and how it brought people together in a positive way.”

Speaking of which, E Street remains — whether Baker likes it or not — widely beloved among those who watched it. With minutes to spare before racing off to complete his baton duties, Baker seems dubious when the subject comes up.

“People don’t bring it up much,” he insists. “I mean, it was nearly, what are we? It was nearly 30 years ago.”
He leans over to a companion, who appears slightly confused and obviously unfamiliar with his breakout role back in his homeland, and whispers: “It was terrible. I was terrible. It was embarrassing.”

Reminded that, at least then, few were all that keen on debating the finer merits of his acting skills, Baker shakes his head and laughs.
“I was! I was embarrassed. Anyway, thanks. Good old Australia, always bring up the past...”

Link to the article:
bee Date: Saturday, 02-Sep-17, 9:26 PM | Message # 78
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A really nice article. Simon is such a sweet, down to earth, humble guy. Thanks DSP.
Deedee Date: Saturday, 02-Sep-17, 10:50 PM | Message # 79
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Great interview thanks DSP. Simon is such a lovely person.
Tina Date: Monday, 04-Sep-17, 8:32 AM | Message # 80
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Thanks a lot for the interview Marie. Articles like that remind me why I love this man.
DS_Pallas Date: Tuesday, 05-Sep-17, 10:35 PM | Message # 81
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FACE HALO Launch in Australia
September 4, 2017

Founders, Bec Williamson and Lizzy Pike along with face of the brand and beauty entrepreneur, Chloe Morello hosted A-listers including: Simon Baker, Pia Muehlenbeck, Genevieve Smart, Melissa Hoyer, Amy Finlayson, Rachael Brook, and Karima Mckimmie.
DS_Pallas Date: Sunday, 10-Sep-17, 11:38 AM | Message # 82
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Hopefully some videos from ?
Peithon Date: Sunday, 10-Sep-17, 5:53 PM | Message # 83
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Pic of Simon and Becca at TIFF party
DS_Pallas Date: Thursday, 14-Sep-17, 12:16 PM | Message # 84
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Simon Baker will present BREATH at the Zurich Film Festival 5th - 6th October 2017

The movie will be screen as a Gala Premiere. The "Gala Premieres" section presents this year’s most highly anticipated films.

DS_Pallas Date: Thursday, 14-Sep-17, 12:43 PM | Message # 85
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The Sydney Morning Herald - September 14 2017:

Simon Baker's Breath catches the Toronto wave
Stephanie Bunbury

A lifetime's love of surfing has taken the Australian actor and now director Simon Baker to Toronto, where his adaptation of Tim Winton's novel Breath is having its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It is safe to say that he and his two young actors, Samson Coulter and Ben Spence, have the best suntans at the festival. As they approach me across a hotel lobby, I expect to see them leave a trail of sand.

Breath is the story of two boys in Western Australia in their early teens who are surfing when they are befriended by an enigmatic neighbour with a ute, several boards and boxes of old surfing magazines in his garage.
Sando is a former champion who nudges them to take on increasingly difficult breaks. Pikelet (Coulter) is squeezed out of this trio, however, as fear gets the better of him; his tellingly named friend Looney (Spence) becomes Sando's disciple, going to Bali with him for increasingly long surfing trips, leaving Pikelet to take refuge with Sando's resentful girlfriend Eva (Elizabeth Debicki).

Baker has previously directed episodes of the television shows that have made him a household name in the United States – The Mentalist and The Guardian – and some short films. He wanted to film Breath as his first feature "because I got it; I felt I knew it", he says.

Baker was born in Launceston, but grew up surfing around Byron Bay. "For me as a young person it [surfing] was a respite, a place to go and do things with my friends," he says. "It becomes addictive, a wash-off kind of thing. I get a craving just to jump in the water."
That's not so easy to do in Toronto. "You can't always satisfy every craving, can you?" he says.

He looks across at Coulter, who is snickering at his seriousness. "Look at you," he grins. "Laughing at me, you donkey."

Even in a city devoted to baseball and ice hockey, however, Breath clearly delighted the enthusiastic audience. The festival's industry program featured a session on the working relationship between director and cinematographer, featuring Baker and Breath's water cinematographer Rick Rifici​ and cinematographer Marden Dean.

"What you see in the movie is the sort of stuff we see every time we go into the water, those sights and sounds we experience," says Baker. "The way the spray off the back of a wave hits the water or the noise that a wave breaking past you makes … It was actually easier to approach it that way than to make the kind of great spectacle of it that you often see in movies with surfing in them."

Baker worked with Top of the Lake co-writer Gerard Lee to bring the story to the screen, in consultation with Winton.
"He [Winton] was great," says Baker. "Just like these guys, he's grown up in the water." He points to Coulter, a Manly Beach surfer, and Spence, who surfs south of Margaret River. Opposite sides of the country but, says Baker, they met in Los Angeles and bonded as soon as they went out on their boards.

Baker, too, shared something with Winton. "We have an unspoken relationship, a connection through something," he says. "With his books, he does take these familiar things we take for granted and re-examines them under a microscope and we say 'oh yes, I know that feeling'."
It was part of what made the book so beloved and the film's world immediately recognisable, says Baker. "Because a large proportion of Australians have a relationship with the ocean. It gets into you."
Smileygirl Date: Thursday, 14-Sep-17, 11:10 PM | Message # 86
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Preparing my trip to Zurich already biggrin So excited
emmyderidder Date: Friday, 15-Sep-17, 10:43 AM | Message # 87
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Smileygirl, I can understand that dear.Have a good time.Give him my love .My brothther was a
good filmmaker too.He died 7 years ago,much to young.But he left us beautiful movies and docu's.Greatings,Emmy from Holland
DS_Pallas Date: Friday, 15-Sep-17, 2:02 PM | Message # 88
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Review from VARIETY US - September 15, 2017

Toronto Film Review: ‘Breath’

Dennis Harvey Film Critic

Novelist Tim Winton's tale of two teens' mentorship by a former pro surfer
is the basis of a nicely turned feature debut for Aussie actor Simon Baker.

Having directed several episodes of his own long-running TV vehicle “The Mentalist,” Aussie actor
Simon Baker makes a confident transition behind the camera to feature filmmaking with “Breath,”
the tale of two teens’ introduction to surfing under an older man’s tutelage.
Baker also plays the adult lead, and co-wrote the screenplay adapted from celebrated Oz scribe Tim Winton’s
2008 novel (his 20th). Though not without its flaws, the movie has authenticity and resonance; there have
been plenty of good surfing documentaries, but very few good dramas about the sport — a short list on
which “Breath” instantly earns a prominent spot.

Winton himself provides lyrical voiceover narration in this flashback account of our main protagonist’s
early teens in a small town near the western Australian coast (its time period rendered somewhat vaguer
than the mid-’70s of the book). Bruce, aka “Pikelet” (Samson Coulter), is a 13-year-old from a stable home
who dutifully attends school. That’s not the case for 14-year-old bestie Ivan, aka “Loonie” (Ben Spence),
a wild child who appears to run loose, save when he’s being beaten by his awful father.
(Pikelet’s more tolerant pa is played with gentle strength by Richard Roxburgh.)

The two boys are agog at their first glimpse of surfing: “Never had I seen something so beautiful,
so pointless and elegant, as if dancing on water was the best thing a man could do,” the adult Bruce recalls.
They start their first copycat attempts with cheap styrofoam “boards,” then save enough money to get
amply banged-up, second-hand fiberglass ones. Their dedication gets noticed by Sando (Baker),
an initially mysterious presence who one day gives them a ride in his truck and offers to let them stash
their boards at his place just down the road — a huge logistical improvement since they’ve been laboriously
hauling their gear to the beach every day on bicycles. They take Sando for just another hippie “surfie.”
A first glimpse of his ramshackle home and willowy, not particularly friendly girlfriend Eva (Elizabeth Debicki)
does little to alter that judgment.

But as Sando takes the boys under his wing, teaching them about the sea, about surfing technique and
philosophy, they begin to realize they’ve lucked onto an extraordinary teacher
(At least Pikelet does — Loonie can scarcely feel or express gratitude for anything.) That’s even before they
discover that their mentor is in fact a famous former pro surfer. What’s more, expat Yank Eva was a
hotdogging ski champ, until she was sidelined by the serious knee injury that explains her usually foul mood.

Though he continues to attend school, even acquiring an ersatz girlfriend (Miranda Frangou), Pikelet
grows ever more obsessed by this “hobby.” But, unlike Loonie, who seems fearless almost to the
point of self-destructiveness, he’s wary of the increasingly dangerous, secret coves Santo introduces
them to. It’s that perceived failure of nerve that temporarily gains Looney preferred treatment, leaving
Pikelet behind — but not alone, as he soon forms a “Summer of ’42”-type bond with Eva, who’s also
been left behind.

These later developments are well-handled, but don’t play as organically as the first hour of “Breath,”
which is straightforward and simple in the best, purest sense. Part of the problem is that newcomer
Coulter isn’t quite actor enough yet to convey the more complex emotions the script demands of him
(Spence, also presumably chosen as a natural surfer — both young thesps conspicuously toe their
own boards — has an easier time playing a character who’s all externalized id.) Plus, the sexual initiation
feels a tad formulaic in narrative terms, even if Winton labors a bit too hard to avoid cliche, introducing
a kinky aspect to Eva’s neediness that perhaps introduces more grown-up mess than this story really needs.

Nevertheless, “Breath” ultimately comes snugly into port as a multi-planed rite-of-passage tale that
reaches a satisfyingly poignant and quiet conclusion. Unlike many surfing movies, this one isn’t big on
spectacular wave-ridingor underwatershots (though Rick Rifici’s handling of both is expert).
The emphasis, instead, is on physical and psychological credibility in line with the juvenile protagonists’
Baker does a lot as an actor to put the whole enterprise across, creating a mentor whose
wisdom and faintly paternal instincts are palpable, yet who’s also peevish enough to slough off any
St. Surfer Dude halo thrust upon him.

Assembly is unshowy but surefooted, with Harry Gregson-Williams contributing an attractive original score.
Tina Date: Saturday, 16-Sep-17, 8:55 AM | Message # 89
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I'm so happy for Simon. Seems his movie really gets the success he deserves. I can't wait to see it and I have the feeling that this will be a new favorite movie of mine. But I knew that Simon would do a fantastic job as director (and actor) at this movie. So excited biggrin .
DS_Pallas Date: Tuesday, 19-Sep-17, 9:52 PM | Message # 90
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Simon Baker on His Coming-of-Age Directorial Debut ‘Breath’
by Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub September 19, 2017

If you had told me prior to the start of the Toronto International Film Festival that Simon Baker would direct one of the best films that I’d see at this year’s Festival, I would have never believed you. After all, he’s never directed a feature, and only been behind the camera on a few episodes of his hit TV series The Mentalist and an episode of The Guardian back in 2003. But with his debut feature, Breath, Baker shows real talent helming the coming-of-age drama, and it’s the type of confident feature that makes me hope this is the beginning of a new career for the busy actor.

If you haven’t yet heard of the film, Breath is set in Australia in the 1970s and is based on the acclaimed novel by Australian author Tim Winton. Without giving too much away, it’s about two teenage best friends (Samson​ ​Coulter ​and​ ​Ben Spence) that form​ ​an​ ​unlikely​ ​friendship​ ​with​ ​an​ ​enigmatic​ ​older​ ​surfer​ ​and adventurer​ (played by​ ​Baker), ​who​ ​pushes​ ​them​ ​to​ ​take​ ​risks​ ​that​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​profound​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​both​ ​their​ ​lives. Elizabeth​ ​Debicki plays Baker’s wife in a pivotal role.

Unlike some movies that explain everything, or feel like a Hollywood version of growing up, Baker uses minimal dialogue and exposition in telling the story, and relies on the audience’s intelligence to follow along. In addition, Breath has some breathtaking cinematography that showcases fantastic surf scenes and quiet moments between friends. It’s an all-around great movie that, like I said, showcases a new talent behind the camera. I’m very sincere when I say Baker knocks this out of the park, and I hope this is the beginning of him making more movies.

Shortly after seeing the film I sat down with Simon Baker for an extended video interview. During the wide-ranging conversation he talked about how he’s always wanted to make a movie, that if he didn’t make it as an actor he thought he would go to film school and study cinematography, how the source material for the film hit close to home, if he was nervous to cast two non-professional actors as the leads in the film, how that casting process worked, how his first cut was compared to the finished film, if it was tough getting financing, what cameras he used and why, and so much more.

Check out what he had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.

Simon Baker:

• How long has he known he wanted to direct?
• Talks about the themes he wanted to talk about in the film and how he grew up with the ocean playing a big part of his development.
• How hard was it to get financing?
• Talks about how there are 2 drone shots in the film, the great cinematography, and how he’s always been involved with cameras and lenses.
• How whenever he’s been on a set he’s always watched the camera crew and how they work.
• How if he didn’t make it as an actor he thought he would go to film school and study cinematography.
• How he had a water cinematographer with a dramatic background.
• How he didn’t have unnecessary exposition and scenes were sometimes very minimalist. Was that through editing or was it always intended to be this way?
• How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
• Did he have to be in the film to get financing?
• Talks about how his two leads had never been in a movie before so being in the film could also help them.
• Are the rights for sale at the Festival?
• Is the release date in Australia going to affect other territories?
• Talks about his learning curve as being a producer on sales and marketing.
• How did he know he could pull this off with two non-professional actors?
• Reveals it took a year to cast the leads. Had cut it down to six people and had a weekend retreat where he decided on who would get cast.
• When did he finish the film and has he started thinking about his next project?
• What camera did they use and why?
Forum » Simon / Fun / Videos » Simon News & Chat » Simon News, Articles, Info (Part 3: from 1 May 2017)

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