For my final film I had the pleasure to interview screen-write Riwia McKenzie Brown, focusing in on on one of the key concerns of the studio – the struggles of an Indigenous woman in the film industry. It’s already a struggle for women to break through the film industry, as we know, but as a Maori woman? Even harder. This was probably one of my biggest highlights across the entirety of my Media studies at RMIT, given I’m a Maori woman trying to make it in the industry, myself. For this reason, I hope that my final film engaged the audience in her story and helped them understand both hers, and ours as an entire race’s, struggles along the way – this being the sheer racism that was presented towards the Maori culture and it’s people in the time she was cutting through in the film industry. Brown made her way in the 70’s and 80’s and came from a mother who spoke Maori as her first language, and a father who was of European descent, with two very creative brothers – Apirana Taylor (Poet/Novelist/Performer/Storyteller/Musician/Painter) & Rangimoana Taylor (Actor/Theatre Director/Storyteller). Her mother was strapped in school for speaking her native tongue, and was insistent her children were to grow up in a Pakeha (Caucasian) world. Her father, however, was on the reverse side of the coin and wished for their children to take back all of the things that were stripped from his wife during the time of colonisation – inclusive of her native tongue & performance. Brown and her brothers worked for 50 years, starting groups such as Toi Whakaari: Young Maori’s in Performance, and making successful careers out of their creativity, in attempts to do so – and now, Brown hopes through this short film, she can inspire the next generation of Maori creatives to continue the hard work.

The entire time I was creating my film, I imagined what it could be, should there be no time constraints. With 40 whole minutes worth of zoom interview content to work with, there were so many amazing things that Brown had to say, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wished to include more – as she had me hanging on the edge of my own seat, even. I also discussed with Brown, the use of archival footage, however, due to the fact that she made her career in the film industry so long ago, none of it was digitalised, and was all kept in correct storage in Wellington (Brown currently resides in the Bay of Plenty); meaning that we weren’t able to use any archival footage for the final film. Although I love the workaround I found, being the animation, if I could rework the piece with no constraints here, the final piece would include archival footage to create a more dynamic film.

The first video I chose to reflect on from my studio is McKenzie Curtis’ poetic film, The Art of Loving. Curtis chose to interview Naarm (Melbourne) based writer and director, Jessica Barclay Lawton. Lawton describes her directorial style on her LinkedIn page as “raw and intimate, capturing nuanced and genuine moments of characters and subjects as they unpack the complex relationship between self and society”. I’m presuming that for this reason, Curtis has chosen an editing style that compliments her style, in order to create a flow in aesthetics across the entirety of the film. Lawton discusses thing need to connect with and love yourself, as well as connect with and love the things around you, and how to learn to do this through media making. This was laid over shots of Lawton, herself’s, work. All of these ideas being something we touched on at some point in the studio. This, for me, gave off such a strong emotional feeling, that I felt a sense of calm while also being moved. Not only do I love her choice in the poetic style of editing, but I love all the things her interviewee had to say.

The second film I chose to reflect on from my studio was Jasmine Nguyen’s short film on Naarm (Melbourne) based producer and filmmaker, Diana Fisk, Diana Fisk: Making an Impact. I love Nguyen’s stylistic choices here. I think the way she chose to include animation, texts and backgrounds to make a zoom chat feel like a dynamic film, was incredible. What’s most impressive, however, are the things that Fisk had to say. She highlighted the need to create an impact with your creative works, which is something we discussed in the studio a lot… How to create meaning, and how to ensure you get this meaning across to the audience.

The studio given to me to reflect on was Unravelling the Real. From what I can see, I understand that the studio encourages its students to explore non-fiction events and stories through a range of creative techniques, personal expression, as well as questioning what documentary can be, and discussing manifestos. The students final film I chose to explore Nadia Harari’s Rebel. Rebel explores the what it is like to be a climate activist, through exploring various interviews with youth who are involved in Extinction Rebellion Youth (XRY), and highlighting the mental toll that activism can take, as well exploring the organising of demonstrations and what the motivation behind these individuals are. Harari uses experimental documentary techniques, through the use of diegetic sounds, voice over from the interviews paired with text to screen of what they are saying matched with 16mm shots of the youth & nature. Not only does this film meet the criteria of the studio that is outlined above, it is also just a rather beautiful final film. The aesthetics of this experimental film are marvellous, and left me feeling both inspired & moved. 

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