So, what have I learnt after attending these eight different events over the past few months?
Probably the biggest thing i learnt about is risk taking. Not a single person in the world has ever created something without worrying, or having some sort of fear about it failing. Risk taking is something that all people must overcome, whether its Rose Matafeo, standing up in front of an audience, hoping that they’ll laugh. Or the Monty Python group, making their first ever movie- not knowing how well it will go down with its viewers. Taking a risk is inevitable. Whether it means trying something that hasn’t been done before, or just trying something full stop. Taking the risk is more often than not, well worth it.
I’ve learnt about collaboration and working with many people with many different skills. The way that 6 different minds can create a single and cohesive masterpiece that one mind alone could never have created. The way that many people can come together to create a movie that one man couldn’t have done alone.The way a production wouldn’t be successful without its skilled cast even if the script was brilliant. Collaboration means opening your mind to new ideas and visions, giving everyone else’s ideas a fair go, and coming up with ideas you probably wouldn’t have thought of alone. Creating something that you couldn’t have without other minds.
Persistance. Your ideas and goals may be threatened, you may come across many hurdles and obstacles, but the only person with the ability to make it happen in the end is you. Confidence in yourself, persisting when things get tough- I’ve learnt that these skills are vital to being in a creative occupations. Nothing is ever handed to you on a silver platter- hard work and determination is the key to success.
I’ve also learnt that in the creative industries- you’re not always creating for you. You’re creating for an audience. Rose writes for an audience who likes good laughs, Skins is written for teens who love good drama, creativity is hardly ever completely personal. But despite this, every time someone creates something it is still from them- from their ideas, their tastes, their mind.
In all I’ve learn a lot about creativity, and leading a creative career entails. I’ve enjoyed the last few months- I’m almost sad that I’ve finished all my events. Almost.
Yeah, you might’ve seen the billboards around advertising the return of the raunchy english coming-of-age drama to our TV screens. I actually watched the whole season all in one night. It sounds pretty sad, and I wonder was it really worth it? What makes Skins so damn addictive?
The drama follows the lives of a group of teens in Bristol as they finish their last two years of school, it shows the reality of the lives of many British teens as the teens face issues such as sexuality, drugs, violence and absent parents. And yes, as all dramas should be the story lines are dramatic- but Shortland Street’s story lines are also dramatic, why aren’t I up all night watching that?
The characters, unlike many TV shows these days, are actually played by teenagers, who themselves are experiencing the ups and downs of teenagehood. They aren’t fake tanned, bleached blonde, and anorexic as trends tend to go these days. They are believable, relatable. Yet at the same time, the characters lead lives that are probably a lot more unsettling, but also much more exciting. Its kind of like looking at them thinking to yourself, ‘Hey, they’re just like me!’ but at the same time going ‘Wow so thats how the other half lives.’
The creators also obviously know teen culture enough to realise fashion and music are both two important aspects. Both the soundtrack and the costume is used to really describe the characters. Obviously the clothes and music wont be everyones taste (luckily its usually mine) but what they do well is make each character their own individual. Which I guess as teenagers is an important thing.
I think the thing that really made Skins so addictive is that it is clearly made for teenagers- it is clear that the creators have sat down and said, ‘ok so what do teens want to see.’ They have really channelled their creativity towards a certain audience, really stood back and made sure it was about the audience, what they wanted to see. And yeah, I want to see it. But maybe just for while I’m still a teen.
Auckland Art Gallery
After discovering (yes finally) that the Auckland Art Gallery is free on mondays (and I’ve heard possibly also free for AUT students?) me, Christine and Theresa went along hoping to find ourselves some inspiration for our ‘Serious Fun’ studio project. And inspiration there was.
There were two pieces at the gallery that really stood out to me- Room with a Bird by Bundith Phunsombatlert and Singing Cloud by Shilpa Gupta.
The Room with a Bird was really quite an interesting piece for me because it was physically and visually was really quite simple- but at the same time was conceptually deep and really engaging. Phunsombatlert placed bird perches in a hallway, as viewers walk past each one a PIR sensor sets them off as they shake and a squawking bird noise is heard. He manages to put a bird in the room, despite the fact that there is in fact no bird in the room at all. He is questioning what is real, and what is not, based on our perceptions. Using just movement and sound Phunsombatlert has created a bird within the room. Instead of just relying on a flat image to create questions he has placed his viewers into the work, and instead of just looking at a flat image, viewers are able to effect the work themselves, perceive the bird themselves, and ask ‘what does this mean?’.
Like Phunsombatlert, Gupta is also not reliant on traditional art mediums in her work. In fact she has purposefully used new technologies in her work, to say something, and to ask questions about mass production and the media. Like Phunsombatlert she incorporates sound in her work, with sounds climbing up and around and through the cloud. I truthfully didn’t really understand the artist’s full intention, but i still found myself engaged with the work visually as I questioned the large cloud of microphones. While visually the microphone cloud was rather pleasant, it would not have been anywhere near as engaging without the sounds, circling the cloud and moving around it. While I didn’t come to any conclusions, I did ask myself a lot of questions as I stood watching and listening to the industrial cloud. What is art? Can art be just a sound? If this sound wasn’t coming out of a huge microphone cloud would it still be considered a piece of artwork? Would it still be an exhibition in a gallery? Of course, it wasn’t the artists intention for me to ask these questions- but I’ve always been quite interested in sound and specifically its emotional impact on its listeners. Which, in the end, is probably what drew me to these two particular pieces.
Monty Python - The Holy Grail
After recently watching one of the Monty Python documentaries ‘Monty Python: Almost the truth (Lawyer’s Cut) about the making of their first movie, The Holy Grail I found myself very tempted to watch it again, after having not seen it for years. And yes it was as funny as I remember it.
Two of my other events so far have also been in the comedy genre, not only because I love laughing and such, but also because of all the creative types, comedians are probably ones I admire most. Well, the good ones anyway. It is a huge risk to try make people laugh, firstly it IS a skill to be able to tell good jokes, and secondly, it is a huge kick to the ego if nobody laughs. This was probably the most interesting thing for me that was discussed with the group on the documentary- this fear of not being able to be successful, not being laughed at. And while yes, this is a huge part of being a comedian, it is also a big part of being other creative types; artists, songwriters, singers and anybody who’s occupation requires creating. There is always this this underlying, subconscious thought that maybe nobody will appreciate the work. Yes, even highly skilled comedians like the Monty Python group grapple with the fear of failure. Maybe I’m going off on a tangent here, but as they spoke about the late Graham Chapman’s alcohol abuse issues, I did wonder if this was how he coped with this underlying fear, and stress of being a comedian. I don’t think they needed to worry though, I laughed. A lot.
The movie, and their comedy, is really quite amazing because it is the synthesis of 6 different brains at work. The movie, and its humour, is so cohesive despite being the outcome of many, many different ideas. Often I find even working with just one person hard as ideas clash- the fact that this group of comedians could all sit down together and make a whole feature length film is really impressive to me. Somehow they still also manage to have a very specific sense of humour. They also each not only had roles as script writers and comedians, but also as actors and even two of them as director. In the documentary there were a lot of complaints about the struggle of power between the two directors and the effect of that on the cast and on the film. The different visions from the directors created contrasting shots. Even still, with this in mind while watching the film, I can’t say it weakened the movie- the contrast may have even strengthened it.
Holy Grail isn’t just a funny movie, but a wonderfully clever movie, created by wonderfully clever, creative, funny people, who yes, do sometimes question their abilities. Don’t we all?
Avenue Q concieved by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
There are a few perks being a student - one is cheap tickets to shows. And I would call cheap tickets to Avenue Q a pretty major perk.
Avenue Q has been getting amazing reviews worldwide with Australian comedian Rove McManus comparing it to Sesame St crossed with South Park. Being both able to remember Sesame Street well and a big fan of South Park, Avenue Q was a performance I was really looking forward to.
Taking the concept of a children’s show and turning it into something that an older audience can not only appreciate but also laugh at is a huge skill. The contrast to the children’s show is also what makes the show so successful. Instead of the characters dealing with childhood issues, they are dealing with adult issues such as sexuality,racism, and unemployment. Although, like Sesame Street, the show is still filled with lessons (more adult than the children’s show of course!) for their viewers, as the central character searches for his ‘purpose’ in life. It is the music of course that communicates these lessons to the audience with song titles such as - “If You Were Gay”,”The Internet Is for Porn”, and ”There Is Life Outside Your Apartment”.
While credit is of course given to the writers, there has to be a lot of credit given to the cast to bring the production to life. While the characters were mainly puppets, each puppet was controlled by an onstage actor. Despite the actors being obviously onstage, they disappeared as the puppets came to life. It was really amazing- to be able to take an inanimate object and to create it into a living, ‘breathing’, character. The ability of the cast to do this really made the production engaging.
The beauty of Avenue Q is that while the show was hilarious and made me laugh, I also came out with a few lessons learnt. Avenue Q not only entertains, but like Sesame St. it teaches.
From Avenue Q’s closing song “for Now”:
Let life roll off your backs
Except for death and paying taxes,
Everything in life is only for now!
The Insatiable Moon by Mike Riddell
The insatiable moon, starring Sarah Wiseman, Ian Mune, and Rawiri Paratene, is in fact an ongoing event and has been going for the last seven years. Mike Riddell, a family friend and minister took a risk and wrote the somewhat controversial novel “insatiable moon” about a psychiatric character Arthur, who believes that he is the second son of God. Mike had, from the start always known that the book would be made into film eventually and after the film “the cake tin” directed and produced by him and his wife rosemary won the Sandcastle Best Short Film award at the Moondance festival in 2007 he turned his vision closer to the Insatiable Moon.
Mike has been through a lot to see his dream of this movie coming to life be fulfilled. In 2009 the New Zealand Film commission refused to fund the movie, despite the fact that Mike had brought Scottish Director Gillies Mackinnon on board and had crew from england lined up for the film. With a tiny budget to make a full length feature film and without the money to pay for Gillies Mackinnon and other members of the crew, Mike didn’t hesitate to keep going and continued the film, making wife Rosemary, who had directed “the cake tin”, the movie’s new director.
In the later part of 2009 the Movie was filmed in just 5 weeks, with the help of many generous donations and the willingness and motivation of the crew to see the movie through (on such a low budget). I was an extra in the film in December 2009 and witnessed the dedication and collaboration of the cast and crew that makes movie making so incredible. There are so many roles and considerations in film making and is far from a simple process. While it was Mikes dedication to his dream that saw the movie through there were so many other people who he couldn’t have done it without.
The Insatiable Moon is now in Final Post-Production and should be finished by Sept. 2010. Mike’s motivation and his ability to keep pushing despite obstacles is a real eye opener- confidence in your own work and dreams is really important. Taking that risk, and putting your ideas on the line may not always be easy- but in the end its worth it.
Follow the movies progress and check it out at : www.theinsatiablemoon.com
Rose Matafeo-Things I’ve Learnt from the 60’s (based on what I’ve seen on television.)
Rose is a well-deserved rising star in the NZ Comedy scene, well worth a look now and certainly one kiwi girl you’ll be hearing about in years to come.
How many people can proudly say that they paid almost $20 dollars to sit and listen to their friend tell jokes for an hour? I’d say not many can, but I am lucky enough to know one of New Zealand comedy’s “wunderkids”, Rose Matafeo.
Performing isn’t something that is new for Rose- as well as being a star performer in school productions through her high school years she has been on stage in front of crowds doing comedy since she was as young as 16, as a graduate of the ‘class comedians’ (an initiative of the NZ Comedian Trust
-http://www.classcomedians.co.nz). Now at 18, this was Rose’s first hour long solo show for the New Zealand Comedy Month, after last year doing a show with her friend and co-comedian Heidi O’ Loughlin.
I think there are two very different types of comedians, firstly the comedians who rely on being crude and offensive and who use the “shock” tactic, the other comedians are those who rely on pure talent and cleverness. Not to say that the crude joke tellers aren’t talented performers. Rose is the latter, her wit is clever, thoughtful, relatable, and rarely offensive. She relies on her ability as an actress, singer, and ukelele player to capture her audience, and capture she did. Despite the show being an hour long, I felt it barely lasted 20 minutes.
A lot of Rose is put into her performance, well it is a known fact that about 90% of anecdotes told by comedians are usually fictional, Rose still manages to inject a lot of who she is in her stand up. And despite part of being her is still being just eighteen, Rose still manages to get a room full of full grown adults in giggles for what was pretty much the full hour.
Of all of the creative practices, comedy is one of the most risk taking. To stand up in front of a room of people and not know if they will laugh is a huge thing to do. Rose deserves a lot of applause for it. She is definitely going to be on the New Zealand comedy scene for a while yet, so keep your eye out!
Follow Rose and Heidi at:
Boy- A movie by Taika Waititi
I’m almost always hesitant about spending money to see movies in the theatre. Especially now that i’ve entered the world of the poor student. But after coming out of Taika Waititi’s Boy, I was definately not unimpressed.
The movie was quite simply, beautiful. And if i were to point out one highlight of the movie I would point out the brilliant acting from the two main characters, Boy and Rocky.
James Rolleston and Te Aho Eketone-Whitu played the parts of two young motherless brothers abandoned by their childish father with such conviction. Though the boys are amateur actors, it is clear that they are naturals, and have enough life experience to convincingly portray such characters.
The movie isn’t in any way ‘arty’ or ‘deep’, there are no twists or turns, the movie is an honest and heart touching (and often poignant) story. Taika Waititi’s humour and ability to write light scripts surrounding troubled family relationships was originally seen in his movie “Eagle vs Shark” and was again used to his advantage in “Boy”. It makes me wonder whether thses movies are a reflection/ exploration of his own family’s dynamics.
one of the most important aspects of the script was the irony surrounding the title, and the struggle of the young boys to discover what exactly it was to be a man or a boy, and who was indeed a man at all.
Taika Waititi injected a lot of himself and his culture into the movie. There was obviously a lot of Maori influence throughout, especially in the soundtrack (which i was also pleased to note that kiwis, the phoenix foundation did most of) and the movie’s sense of humour was very kiwi.
This is definitely a movie I would recommend and watch again in a heartbeat.
Paula Hayes- Artist and Gardener
I’m not lucky enough to have visited a gallery viewing of Paula Hayes’ work, but luckily technology has allowed me to appreciate her work for months and months on her website http://paulahayes.com.
Paula Hayes is not just a sculptor, she is a gardner, a glass blower, landscaper, jewellery maker, and designer. Paula deals with nature and plants in her work making beautiful creations, from beautiful gardens and birdhouses, terrariums and aquariums, to quirky and thought provoking pieces of “living” jewellery.
The work I appreciate the most from Paula is her terrariums. Her work explores the intersection of art and nature, bringing beauty from the outside and placing it inside. Her terrariums look both purposeful, with an obvious hint of human intervention, but at the same time the terrariums can look natural and untouched. There is both a sense of control and a sense of uncertainty in the works. The thing about her art that is simply so beautiful is that it has a life of its own. It grows, and changes with time and in a way develops its own ‘personality.’ By juxtaposing stationary and structured objects, with living and moving organisms she is exploring and creating questions.
Putting things behind glass has always granted objects with some kind of importance, giving viewers the warning that ‘you can view but you can’t touch’. Paula has done this with great purpose, indicating the beauty and the significance of nature to our lives, and bringing up questions surrounding nature vs. human intervention.
Terrariums have been around since as early as the eighteen hundreds, and today the word terrarium isn’t one that people are really familiar with, or the word is thought on with the association of being more practical opposed to aesthetically pleasing. Paula Hayes took an ‘old fashion’ idea and she turned it into something new, something modern, and something practical, she is really the only artist that I know of that has really embraced the terrarium.
If only i had the money to buy one!