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.

Mick and mum

conveyancing expertsEver since I was little, I’ve always been able to tell when uncle Mick is in town by the way mum’s eyes pinch up at the corners. Her usually bright, carefree smile gets an odd strained look, as though she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders but doesn’t you to know it. Mick is family, and mum would never do a thing to hurt family, even if they hurt her, and Mick has always known his presence hurts her. Not hurt, exactly, but strains her. Brings her back to a different time when she was a very different person.

From what I understand of Mick, he didn’t really do very much for a very long time. He used to be around town a lot more those days, leeching off mum’s hospitality even though there was never really enough to spare when we were two. He was a bit of a drifter, I’ve gathered. He fell in and out of a range of different things, but never stuck at one long enough to build up any real skill in it. These days, instead of ripped jeans that hung over his muddied runners, Mick is usually in semi-formal attire. He works in an office now, one of the up-and-comers of the south east suburb conveyancing scene. He’s got his life together, mum says. He’s finally living up to what her parents saw as his potential and making something real and concrete out of himself. Of course, he’s still something of a junior where he works. With all the right degrees and qualifications under his belt, he’s relegated to the property transfers side of operations, or so mum tells me in our preparatory dinner before the showdown of Mick’s next visit. Not to worry though, she says. A bright young man like Mick is sure to rise high.

But I know Mick and I’ve had this conversation before. I just wish mum could see the world as I do.

Filming Melbourne: Local to Tourist

Melbourne tours

Every once in awhile I get an idea for a small project that I could complete in a couple of days. I’d rather spend the weekend filming than doing anything else so I’ve decided to make a small film about tourists in Melbourne. I’ve been in touch with a company that run tours in Melbourne, the city and the suburbs, and they’ve agreed to let me interview some guests about their sightseeing experience. I want to know what draws people here, what they expect and how the reality matches up to their expectations. I am going to devise a list of questions, some fairly normal, some a bit more outlandish, and then ask tourists throughout their tour experience to answer the varied question set. Tourism is a big part of the Australian economy, no trip to Australia is complete without a visit to Melbourne. I was also prepared to learn something new myself. I liked the idea that a born and bred Melburnian could see his home in a completely different light when surrounded by foreign visitors. I had never really been sightseeing in Melbourne before, I mean, I’ve seen all the sights, I know my Fed Square from my Brighton beach boxes but I’ve never purposefully set out to capture the city in one day. I was hoping to produce a five minute clip with different shots of Melbourne tours, tourists and sights. I suppose it could be used for promotional purposes but I was hoping to use it more artistically, a slice of Melbourne that could be showcased to other locals to show off the benefit of seeing the city from the outside in.I am currently playing around with a couple of titles, one of which is ‘Melbourne: Inside Out’ and another one is ‘Why Melbourne, Why Me?’.   

My First Truly Fancy Event

Melbourne venue hireI’m usually pretty okay with crowded rooms. I know a lot of sensitive artist types try to avoid them, or only go to the weird types of gatherings where nobody really talks and they mostly just sit around taking whatever narcotic is popular and legal. I went to one of those once. Didn’t really like it…I got the feeling that people were judging me, plus I’m not really into beanbags.

But anyway, I was at a gathering of sorts last night. Basically it was a load of aspiring filmmakers who had been specially invited because of the stuff they’ve either posted online or had shown in local theatres. Only fifty people were there, and it was a chance to solicit some funding, make some network connections, all of that. I didn’t even know that Melbourne has venues for hire; with that skyline you’d think we were looking out at New York or something. I could see as soon as I stepped in why they asked us to scrub up. So we were in this big room with plenty of drinks and really posh finger food. I did my best to mingle, and it helped that plenty of people looked as awkward as me. I know I’m not completely petrified in those circumstances, but it’s still nice when you glance around and you see loads of people in the same boat as you. We had about 45 minutes or so before we all sat down for the main presentation. Then we each got 30 seconds to talk about our project, which I’d stayed up the night before to make sure I was nailing dead on- I saw a few nodding heads, so good signs! And then the formalities were over and we were able to mingle for the rest of the night in this very swanky private venue. Had a couple of very interesting conversations, quite a few to do with my project, and then I finally noticed that people were starting to leave. I didn’t want to be the last one out, after all.

So I’m really hoping it was worth it. Though even if no one’s interested, I guess I now know that Melbourne has some incredible function rooms for hire. It’ll be handy when I’m famous.


Real Grandmas of Melbourne: Anti Wrinkles

anti aging treatments

I have always had an interest in creating a documentary about people who undergo cosmetic procedures into to rejuvenate themselves. It’s been done before numerous times and there is a classic angle to take when filming it but I really want to get to know the people who opt for these procedures and understand their perceived benefits. Is it really about looking younger or is it just about feeling younger. My mum actually has a few friends who have had anti wrinkle injections in Melbourne and as research I decided to crash one of her ladies lunches and try and get on to the topic. To be fair they did all look pretty good for women who were approaching sixty, I could barely see one wrinkle around the table and my gut was certainly the flabbiest there. I didn’t even have to try very hard to get onto the topic of cosmetic procedures before Judith mentioned her latest penchant for chemical peels. Apparently it is a strong variety of chemical peel and leaves your face feeling brand new! I’m not sure I’d like a brand new face but Judith did look resplendent. When the conversation naturally turned to anti ageing treatments, my ears perked up, they were discussing how it has become so popular they can actually notice when people haven’t had it done now rather than when they have. It seems for this group of ladies, who are 60 going on 25, the change in their physical appearance has led to some kind of mental reset. They are all thriving, engaged women, many of whom say they are finally getting the most out of life.

Flying in for a funeral

My parents always expected me to share the wealth. After raising me, they believed that I owed them. However, as I see it, they owe me. I never asked to be born and have become a seriously misanthropic because of it. When I eventually got a good job and left them steeped in their lower socioeconomic hell, I never looked back.

That was until Dad died. Unfortunately, to was my responsibility to organise the whole funeral, since Mum didn’t have any money. I have to admit that I didn’t appreciate all of the expenses. Not only was there the cremation and burial costs but there was the funeral limousines. Melbourne companies offered us various types of hearses to choose one so I got a classy one so I could show off how much money I have in front of the rest of the family.

At the funeral, everyone was intimidated by me. They hadn’t seen me in ten odd years and now I was dressed in a sleek black suit probably worth hundreds of dollars more than their weekly income. Suckers. This is the price that people pay for breeding. I don’t intend on giving birth because I wouldn’t want to inflict the human condition onto any innocent creature, but these people are so ignorant they don’t even consider the risks of what they are doing, not to mention the lack of consent.

At least now I get to rub it in their faces. I mean, who of my family members could afford airport transfers from Melbourne? I had to fly back to my hometown after moving to the big smoke, Sydney. Melburnians like to get really superior about their city but let’s face it, Sydney is better. Melbourne is just pretentious. Sydney costs more, that’s how you know it’s a true world-class city.

Funeral Film

funeral directorsIt is a notoriously difficult topic for filmmakers to deal with and so I have decided to launch a new project all about it. Death. I figured it would be a great learning experience for me and maybe I would touch on something original and enlightening for someone out there. I had arranged a few interviews with funeral directors in Perth. I thought it would be a good place to start, no one had experienced death as much as these guys, it was their daily routine. The interviews were extremely enlightening and after the first couple any discomfort around the topic of death had dissipated for me. I had decided to approach the project with a fairly blank slate and wait to see if an angle or particular aspect of death became evident. I met with one particular funeral director that really shaped the entire film. He talked to me at length about his experiences of funerals over the years, he had countless stories and a lot of wisdom to share. He really became my leading man in the entire project. I hadn’t divulged the details of my latest project to my Mum so she was a little shocked when she figured out I had been spending the last few weekends with a funeral director in Perth. I talked to her about the film and she actually thought it was an excellent idea. A lot of filmmakers don’t go near the topic of death because it is too controversial. I wasn’t taking a particularly controversial angle to be honest, I just wanted to highlight some experiences of people who deal with death on a daily basis. I was surprised throughout at how willing the funeral directors were to chat to me. It was as if they had all been sitting on a fountain of anecdotes for years with no one to listen.

Houses…Houses Confuse Me


I’m never going to be rich, unless I completely fluke it. But it’s not the main goal, you know? If you aim to be loaded, then you’ll never truly learn what life is all about, not to mention you’ll probably fail. So I’m good the way I am.

That said, I could use a bit of financial know-how when it comes to mortgages and all that, because an arts degree isn’t going to help you get on the property ladder. Mum is trying to move into a new place, a bit smaller because it’s now just her but I think it’s actually nicer than her old one. But man, all the financial stuff that goes with it! She’s had to find some conveyancers, Melbourne specifically has all the fine print. I can see why you’d need a conveyancer in the first place, because going through all the paperwork and fine print is a mind screw.

Like, what exactly is a ‘guarantor’? Yeah, I know what the word actually means, but what does it mean? I haven’t had any experience, really…when I moved into my share house, I basically just had to sign a few papers that said I wasn’t going to steal the light bulbs and that was that, over and done with. I was only in the office for a few minutes. I guess with Mum, this is a much bigger deal, because she’s actually buying a whole house and once you buy it, you’re stuck with it forever. It’s a big decision, but…weekly meetings with the conveyancer, really? It’s so labour intensive. In fact, I’m even thinking of a documentary on the process of conveyancing, start to finish. It’d make a great story, especially if I wove the human interest into it. And then there’s the story of the title transfers and how they work. And how being part of the whole magical process makes conveyancers feel.

Or that could all be really boring. Hey, I won’t know until I storyboard!

-Jesse M.