Let’s Make a Video, About Walls

concrete rendering MelbourneI don’t get commissioned for projects all that often, so it’s kind of a big deal when it happens. Supposedly. I should be grateful, because this one was passed on from a friend and it’s really exciting or whatever. The opportunity is exciting, that is; I’m actually being employed by the Melbourne Concrete Rendering and Wall Appreciation Society (MCRWAS). Yeah, that’s a real thing. I looked them up, and it’s a surprisingly large group of people in their sixties roaming around the city and finding the best examples of house rendering and then admiring them. So it’s a bit like plane or birdwatching, but with 100% less birds and planes and 100% MORE staring at walls. Literally, that’s what they do. They try to make it sound exciting in the bio, but it was written by someone who…well, someone who sounds like they’re fascinated by walls.

See, the thing about concrete rendering is that it’s supposed to sort of be in the background. It enhances the look of your whole house, but it’s not for people to gawk at like an art exhibition. That’s not really how the phenomenon works. Of course, with this video I have the opportunity to stop and interview people, see how they walk from place to place and…that’s about it. There’s only so much footage you can get of people stopping and looking at a wall. Maybe I can capture the moment of admiration on their faces, or ask them how they got into this hobby, but I feel like I’ll get a lot of similar answers. They got into it because they love walls.

Or what do I know? Maybe I’ll bring my camera, complete the project and be converted to their way of thinking. I’ll see the brave individuals who do concrete rendering and house rendering within Melbourne and be enraptured, joining the conclave of believers. I’d be the first under sixty. But we’ll have to see…


Surprising Mum

Melbourne dog walking serviceI have decided to do something nice for my Mum. I finally have enough money to warrant splashing out on something nice for her. From birthing me to housing me to feeding me, she has really done her bit at looking after me so I figure it is time to return the favour. I have booked her a luxurious spa weekend at a country retreat spa out in Victoria. I am not going to tell her until I pick her up to go and get some breakfast, or so she thinks, but I will actually be taking her out to the spa! I am going to pack up a case for her, I think I can manage to gather everything she needs for a relaxing weekend, and then all I need to do is make sure she has nothing else planned for the weekend. She does have two big dogs that she takes out everyday so I am going to arrange someone to walk my dog in Melbourne for that to be taken care of. My mum is extremely precious about her dogs and they have to be taken the beach and the park before they are (she is) satisfied. The dog sitting service in Melbourne was incredibly understanding of the dog’s needs and said she would arrange for both of them to have an hour outside at both the beach and the park! With the dog arrangements sorted I just have to make sure she doesn’t make anymore weekend arrangements with friends. Normally she goes out for lunch with some old acquaintance or something but I didn’t want her to make plans she would have to cancel as my Mum hates a last minute cancelled.  To avoid this ugly situation I told her I needed her help with a film I am making this weekend. I figured by saying that she would keep her entire weekend available, even if it is just to hold a light rig for me or walk by as an extra in one shot. I can’t wait to reveal what she will actually be doing!

My new job: Dishwasher repair arranger

commercial dishwasher repairsSince I got fired from my job my family have all taken it in turns to slyly offer me work at their respective establishments. I finally accepted my aunt’s less than subtle hint to help her out at her catering business for a big event she has coming up. She keeps going on about how I am doing her a massive favour and she can’t thank me enough. I am not sure why they all think that I am too proud to just accept help in its purest form. My aunt is catering for a large fiftieth birthday party on Sydney harbour this weekend and needs my help with some of the logistics. First things first she needs help fixing her dishwashers. She recently bought two large commercial dishwashers as her business is growing but she doesn’t quite know how to use them so they keep breaking. My aunt is of an age whereby when I pull my phone out and two minutes later am calling a commercial dishwasher repairs company based in Sydney, she is amazed. She can’t get over it, technology hey! She is so impressed by my ability to arrange her dishwasher repairs that I immediately get a promotion. I am now head of logistics and pretty much anything that’s not to do with cooking falls under my department. I am not entirely sure how she ran this business before I joined. I arranged transport to and from the venue, liaised with the client about timings and payment, and paid all the outstanding bills my aunt had been ignoring from her wholesale food suppliers. From dishwasher repairs in Sydney, to negotiating the price of coconut flour from Indonesia my new job is diverse and keeps me on my toes. My aunt says if I continue the way I’m going I could be the CEO in no time. I’m not sure she quite understands the business side of things.

Documenting the rich and famous in their limos

limousine hireI’m working on a new documentary project profiling the lives of Melbourne’s rich and famous. This includes your run of the mill rich people like celebrities and moguls, but also the shady characters of Melbourne’s underbelly: the cashed up gangsters and crooks.

I was trying to figure out how I could get close to these people and get to know them, how I could get the chance to videotape them when they’re in their element. Then I had a brilliant idea which I took from limo hire around Melbourne. I thought, what if I pose as a limousine driver? I’m not sure if this is going to work, but I’ll give it a crack.

I’m probably going to relearn how to drive because those limos don’t look easy. If I can’t get a job as a limo driver with any of the Melbourne limousine companies, then maybe I can just call them up and ask them for leads. This is a far less ideal option though because I bet they keep all their clients confidential. If I was actually the driver though, that would be a different story. The clients will probably point out that they haven’t seen a female limousine driver before and I can use that as my “in” to have a bit of a chat with them. You’ll be surprised how much people will open up to a stranger if you use the right methods to gain their trust. You learn some good techniques while working in the journalism/documentary making industry. I’ve decided to contact some companies that do stretch limousine hire. Melbourne has a bunch of good limo driving companies but that just makes me feel more hopeless because they probably only hire the best. And I’m a filmmaker not a limo drivers for Christ’s sake!

A film on the history of tulips

tulipsMost people give each other flowers in significant occasions. It may be an anniversary or a death, flowers can serve so many symbolic purposes. What most people don’t realise is that each of the most popularly cultivated flowers has a deep history from which its contemporary meaning derives. I want this to be the focus of my next documentary.

For this one, I’m thinking of tracing the history of of the tulip, from tulip bulbs to mature plant. I’m going to use the growth of the flower from its budding stages to its flowering and maturity as a metaphor for its history.

I was mistaken by thinking that the tulip was a western European plant. I guess they seemed hardy to me and they seem popular in England and Australia so I thought they derived from the anglophone speaking world. However, they actually originated in the levant, particularly Turkey where they were harvested many thousands of years ago. You can see tulips in ancient Turkish art and motifs, it’s really fascinated. I’m already getting ideas for my next short docco on the hyacinth. Bulbs to Flowers, I think I’ll call the series.

Today, tulips still represent perfect love. One interesting thing I learnt during my research on the tulip is that there are some discrepancies between the symbolism of the colours now compared to back them. For instance, yellow today is for friendship and cheerfulness, and all-purpose amiable colour. But back then it represented love, the kind of love that makes you feel helpless, wild and jealous. However, some people send yellow tulips to someone they love when they know that the other person doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. So that’s something to keep in mind if you ever experience unrequited love.

Flowers brighten up my studies

bright tulipsThey say that your twenties are the best time of your life. But that’s not true when you’re stuck at uni. Okay there are tonnes of fun things about university, like the friendships you make and the parties. The studying however is very rough. They teach you coping methods like taking breaks and doing exercise, but I’ve found the best method for me, and it’s not what you think…

I’ve found than putting some fresh flowers in my room is the best way to get through hours and hours of studying. Particularly on the night before an exam, buying bunches of tulips and putting them in vases all around your room will seriously boost your end result. Seriously, before the flowers I was averaging about 70% for all my test, and after the flowers I’m getting upwards of 85%. That’s a low B to a high A. Even my tutors and lecturers notices the difference and asked me what my secret was. I told them it was good planning and flowers.

Makes sense why they boost your study power so much. Flowers have an amazing effect on your psychology. Their bright colours and attractive scents will trigger the release of endorphins in your brain and help you to focus. They even have air freshening qualities, peace lilies have been tested to this effect. My brother has always had dismal study scores. I smuggled some flowers under his bed (he’s such an ignoramus he couldn’t even smell them) and he surprised everyone by actually passing his maths exam!

I’m going to start experimenting with using different types of flowers. Like what would be the difference between potting tulips and having hyacinth cuttings in your room? Which is the best colour for studying? I’m thinking that after some months of experimentation, I’m going to be getting even more out of my flower studies.

A gift from fate

makeup courseSometimes I’ve found life has a way of just falling into place. It’s amazing how it can happen, almost as if you asked the universe to provide and it responded by sending it your way. I’m no expert, but imagine that line of thought is similar to the way karma works. Good things come the way of good people.

I know this is no great example of a life changing event happening purely by fate, but lately I’ve been thinking more and more that it would be really good to have a makeup artist with me. Not as an employee or anything like that, but a friend or colleague I can collaborate with occasionally to bring my photography to the next level. I’ve had a quick look online but it’s not really about their portfolio but the person.

On a completely unrelated note, a close friend from highschool was moving back to Melbourne from Sydney, where she’d been for the past few years or so, and we met up to grab a coffee and it turns out she’s just about about to start her cuf50407. From the little bit of research I’ve done on the subject, the cuf50407 is a short makeup course that builds a pretty well-rounded skill set that would be perfect for doing different kinds of shoots. So, since we go back so far and have been such good friends for so long, I brought it up working me as an option. She explained that if I wanted her to help, there are short makeup courses offered in Melbourne to fast-track her qualification a little bit.

We left the cafe feeling excited about the future of working together, and to be honest, I still can’t quite believe what an extraordinary gift fate has delivered me.

A documentary on complementary medicine

dry needling techniquesMy shoulder has never been quite the same since I pulled it playing basketball. It’s not always in pain but every now and then it bugs me. After seeing osteopaths and chiropractors I decided to get some trigger point dry needling and see if that would be any better. Amazingly it really worked for me. What they do is they stick some fine needles into your muscles to release the tension. This lightens the load on your tendons too which helps with joint mobility. After receiving this miraculous manual therapy, I’ve decided to follow some students in dry needling courses around New Zealand for a new documentary I’m making.

It’s still in its formative stages but I’m thinking the focus will be on complementary medicine and the recent popularity of Eastern systems within the health industry here in New Zealand. The problem is that eastern traditional medicine and the newer things like dry needling and osteopathy are still considered ‘complementary medicine’ even though most of the time they’re as effective as the recognised and government subsidised treatments. For example, the government sanctions prescriptions for dangerous sedatives and reduces their cost for the public, when there are safer natural alternatives that actually cost twice as much or more.

I’m documenting many of the opinions of the students in the dry needling courses. In Adelaide Australia there are more dry needling colleges and alternative medicine institutions so I plan on getting in touch with some of the directors and professors. It’s already started but hopefully in the future we’re going to see an even greater shift away from chemicals and towards more holistic health options. The West is only now discovering what the eastern philosophers knew all along – that you need to treat the whole person in order to improve a discrete ailment.

Tyler’s ute

aluminium ute canopy and trayIn yet another essentially flawed attempt to “turn me into a man”, my cousin Tyler is trying to get me to come with him to look at aluminium trays all over Melbourne. Tyler is a believer in the misguided belief that in order to be a man one must play sport in the mud and arm wrestle at midnight and all the rest of that other bull to which the male stereotype is supposed to conform. While I have no problem playing soccer, football, whatever else is thrown at me, I don’t feel the pressure my cousin does to conform to gender norms. I’d rather just be who I am and let the rest fall into place as it will.

For whatever reason, Tyler is convinced this is a flaw in my character. Even though even he can admit the merit of my photography, I can always tell he’s trying to pique my interest in whatever fad he has subscribed to this month. I guess that’s the curse of having family that’s so different to you, you’re always trying to interest each other in your own interests, no matter how different they may be.

For his 21st, Tyler got a ute. I think the fact that it was played so far into that classic, Australian cliche is what bothered me so much, and mine weren’t the only eyebrows that were raised, but in the end I decided it was better to just not question. In any case, what difference would it have made if I had? Since then, he’s spent time (and I would assume a rather substantial amount of money) upgrading and improving it. Just last month he bought a pair of ute toolboxes in Melbourne, from same place he wants to go to this time around, in fact. I just can’t understand why he cares so much, but I can see it makes him happy, and in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Capturing the magic of a place

ocean road accommodationI’ve never been one for crowds. Not that I have anything against them. There’s no deep rooted trauma this time. It wasn’t as if I was almost crushed by one or been injured by one, I’m simply one to take the path less travelled by, as old Frost would have it. I prefer to wander on my own through locations void of people, to allow my senses to expand beyond myself and explore without the noise and confusion of another’s voice. While at home, I can accept the necessity of others, but whilst I travel I’d always prefer to do it solo. The problem there lies in finding times and destinations for where I feel I won’t be disturbed by other tourists. In all my time travelling and taking photography, the best way I’ve found to avoid tourists is to go off season, and as I don’t work regular hours as it is, this is never too difficult.

So, even though its heading into winter at the moment, I’ve decided to take this opportunity and head down to the surf coast for a week or two. I haven’t really booked too much along the way, I generally prefer to go where the wind takes me on these type of adventures, but there is one place I’ve made sure to book on the Great Ocean Road. I’ve heard accommodation in Lorne can get really competitive, so I’ve decided I’m just better off if I don’t take any chances. My mum used to holiday down there all the time when she was my age, but I’ve never quite made it to Lorne before. I’ve even decided to stay in the Lorne beach apartments where she and her friends used to stay, to try and capture a bit of the magic in her voice when she speaks about it.

That’s all I want to do, really. Capture the magic of a place.