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Showing posts from November, 2013

Jane Campion's Workshops # 4 – Participants Speak

Jane Campion, Circa Theatre 4 November 2013 My capacity to report my perceptions of Jane Campion's workshops was limited. So I asked some mates about their responses (plus Steve Barr because I enjoyed his tweet, below). I sent three questions– Why did you go to the Jane Campion masterclass (this was before I understood why Jane Campion called these work shops) ? Which session(s) did you choose? What did you get from it (them)? And yes, the last one is a typical eight year old's birthday question: 'Whaddya get?' Embarrassing. I was interested that those who responded to my call for help are those I think of primarily as writers and/or theatre workers, not those I think of primarily as filmmakers. Many thanks to these kind people, here in alphabetical order, linked to their Twitter accounts if they have them. And thanks to the person who missed the No Cameras message and took the photo of Jane Campion onstage at Circa. I was at first ambivalent about includi

Jane Campion's Workshops #3 – My Notes

WARNING. As you know if you read Jane Campion's Workshops #1 , I went to her workshop day at Wellington's Circa Theatre as an eager, attentive eight year old, as a terrible note-taker with an unreliable memory and as a writer who sometimes directs and produces films. I was there to learn and I learned heaps. But this is NOT an authoritative account of the day. Nor of Jane Campion's views on anything. It's a chat over a cuppa, with you other practitioners who visit here regularly, in case there's something useful for you. An extended tweet feed that partially covers three sessions of about ninety minutes each: Starting Out; Writing & Directing Film; Performance. If you perceive a gap in what follows, just insert (Laughter) or (Thought).  Because there was lots of laughter, lots of thoughtful moments. And when I laugh or think or feel I don't take notes. Tomorrow, with much gratitude, I'll post comments from others who were there, whose perceptions we

New Zealand Film Awards (The Moas)

The New Zealand Film Awards, the Moas, have announced this year's nominations . To some extent, the list's a celebration of New Zealand women's writing and directing talent and of stories about women. Four of the five nominees for Best Documentary Director are women and two of their stories are about women, Gardening With Soul and Finding Mercy. Three of the five nominees for Best Short Film Screenplay are women and two of the nominees for Best Short Film. And two of the nominees for Best (Feature) Screenplay are women. But there's no woman-directed film in the Best (Feature) Film category. No woman director nominated as Best Director. The New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) gender policy failure means that Dana Rotberg’s White Lies is – I think – the only 2013-released New Zealand feature film about women which has a woman writer and director. And now, although it has eleven nominations in other categories – more nominations than two of the Best Picture/Be

The A-rating for Activists: Interview with Ellen Tejle

Ellen Tejle & an A-certificate Last week in Sweden, four independent cinemas launched an A-rating system . It's for films that pass the Bechdel Test: they include at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. The ‘A’ stands for ‘Approved’ as well as for ‘Alison’ [Bechdel], who created the test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure, in her Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip, in 1985. (See below for Anita Sarkeesian’s classic discussion of the Bechdel Test and a collection of responses to the announcement. Please feel free to add yours in the comments.) I’m not surprised that this is a Swedish initiative. Sweden probably leads the world in its film gender equity programmes. Sweden’s National Film Agreement contains an equality directive for the Swedish Film Institute, which funds four-fifths of Swedish films: its funding “shall be divided equally between women and men" in the key positions of director, screenwriter and

Jane Campion's Workshops #2 - Negative Capability

The idea of  negative capability ran through the Jane Campion workshops and  I've thought a lot about it   since,   linked to her suggestion that we learn a poem a week. I had an almost-memory of  negative capability in relation to Bright Star and later found this interview , where Jane Campion refers to it. I imagine that there are more Jane Campion statements about  negative capability  out there and I believe that a better understanding of it will enhance my appreciation of her work  and  help my own work. (The interview also states that– On the set of  Bright Star , she told Whishaw that for her poetry means 'openness to the divine'; her films open us all to that possibility that such a realm might exist. Before the workshops, I might have skipped reading what Jane said about poetry. But I won't do that again.) This post is for those like me who lack basic info about  negative capability . And it started on Facebook. Now that the world's celeb

Jane Campion's Workshops #1 – Starting Out

Jane Campion Last Monday was a special day in Wellington, celebrating Richard Campion (1923-2013) . As distinguished actor and co-founder of Wellington’s Circa Theatre Ray Henwood wrote– Richard was the leading figure of New Zealand theatre during the latter part of the 20th Century and we are privileged to remember him as an important part of our history and the first man of New Zealand professional theatre as we know it today. At the Paramount Theatre at 4pm there was ‘a celebration of Richard Campion’s work and the life force of theatre’ and before then one of Richard Campion’s daughters, Jane Campion, ‘shared the love’ at Circa, where he had often been in the audience. This is how she announced the workshop programme– My father, Richard Campion, was passionate about theatre, about performance, about creativity, about people having a go. He was a wondrously generous man who breathed warmth and belief into my fledgling hopes of making film and television. In his memo

Kathryn Bigelow, by Jennifer Ehle

Jennifer Ehle, Ralph Fiennes, Kathryn Bigelow Jennifer Ehle gave this illuminating speech last night, when Kathryn Bigelow received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing, at the Britannia Awards in Los Angeles. It's a beautiful tribute from an actor to her director and she's kindly allowed me to share it here. I so admire Kathryn. Kathryn is a dear friend of mine. But I know almost nothing about her. I know that she brings her umbrella to share with you in the rain – as she did the first time we met; my taxi pulling into her driveway.

Ava DuVernay's Masterclass

Ava DuVernay and her Independent Spirit Award I'm a huge Ava DuVernay fan. A feature film and television director, writer, producer and distributor, founder of the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), she also makes branded entertainment. She won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere , and was honoured with the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Film Institute 2013 Affinity Award. I think of Ava DuVernay as a visionary, from whom all filmmakers can learn. Take AFFRM for example, a distribution collective of black arts organizations dedicated to quality black independent films. Is this a model that could work for women's independent films, too? And what about her smart approach to branded entertainment? If we're concerned with the way women are represented, and the compromises of 'commercial' work, what can we learn from her work for Miu Miu a