Mental Places: a conversation with Gerald Murnane

I shot and edited this little doco on Gerald Murnane in the second half of 2014. Gerald Murnane is a writer who has a particularly idiosyncratic take on what fiction is and how to go about writing it. In this doco Murnane talks to publisher Ivor Indyk, who knows Murnane’s work as well as anyone.

Gerald Murnane was heavily involved in the production of an earlier documentary on his work called Words and Silk directed by Philip Tyndall. I reckon it was partly this experience that meant that Gerald Murnane had a very clear sense of the things he wanted to show us and where we might film.

This little doco is nowhere near as elaborate as Tyndall and Murnane’s film and may even go against Tyndall’s philosophy of documentary film making. I’ve taken far greater liberties in cutting up the interview material that forms the spine of this work than Tyndall would ever allow, (this sort of editing is a practice that he frowned on), but I hope the viewer gets a sense of my great respect for Gerald Murnane as an artist.

I was reading Murnane’s A Million Windows as I was editing this film- a fact that led to a strange blurring between the voice that I was hearing as I cut and the voice that I was reading in fictional form.

As Ivor Indyk and I were driving to Goroke for the first day of shooting with Murnane Ivor said to me ‘Here we are driving across Gerald Murnane’s brain’. I laughed without knowing the seriousness of Ivor’s jest. As I edited the film and read A Million Windows I came to feel that on some level I was moving through the part of Murnane’s brain that is the windswept Wimmera of Western Victoria. I hope you appreciate getting to know this little piece of Gerald Murnane.