Sawdust Bureau – Documentary By Michael Firus from Michael Firus on Vimeo.
Woodworking has always been an area that intrigued me. During my high school years, when editing suites and cameras strained the eyes, I often turned to it as an alternative creative pursuit. It’s tactility and messiness created a refreshing contrast to my world of focus rings, LCD screens and render queues.
So when the opportunity arose to practice my filmmaking in the context of woodworking, I jumped at the chance. The workshop constituting the focus of the film belonged to the artisanal furniture maker Bryan Cush. From there, Bryan runs his business: Sawdust Bureau.
Sawdust Bureau was founded in 2012 by Bryan, a Belfast-born Graduate Architect. In 2014, upon being awarded a City of Melbourne Start-up Business Grant, his dream of being a full-time furniture maker became fell into place. In 2015 he was shortlisted by the Australian Furniture Association for Emerging Furniture Designer of the year for his work on the Østberg Bench.
So in short, spending a number of hours filming him and absorbing the art of his work was an amazingly enriching experience’.
At the commencement of filming, I began to be aware of an issue, that in all honesty, should have been anticipated. Any type of airborne dust is the detachable-lens-cinematographers worst nightmare.
A workshop called Sawdust Bureau is indeed not a friendly place for clean optics and exposed sensor chips. Indeed, after the sanding shots that appear midway through the film, my entire set up was covered in a thin layer of wood dust. The small sensor cleaner I had brought along seemed to do its job, but the lack of a camera rain-coat meant that the cleaning process for the rest of the gear did extend well past the conclusion of filming. This is a prime example of what it sometimes takes to achieve a desired shot, and another example of how careful planning is needed to avoid problems such as this on set.