Saturday, 29 September 2012

Cinematography Foundations workshop

Went to day one of this workshop, was awesome. Thought of all the useless and odious training I've had at Wellington City Libraries, and how the best thing about them was ... the muffins. Before the recession.

We got to see up close a bunch of different video cameras including high-end, and a basic lighting set-up. Great being in a real studio. I felt really happy I had already done some filming. The tutor was a functioning DOP, not just some tired person who a university hired with a little bit of past experience.

It was great being surrounded by all that gear. I have one more day tomorrow, but I think I will sign up for more.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

I just remembered..

.. A few years back when I was hanging out with the lesbians, I tried some dope and I had this compulsive idea that what I should do is quit my job and take photographs.

It scared me because it was such a strong idea and kept looping back and growing (a characteristic of dope?) that it put me off trying it again. I didn't want to ruin my future.

(I did try dope once again but I was off my anti-depressants and I got incredibly paranoid. I was with my punk lesbian friend who had just broken up with her girlfriend and was getting mean and messing with my head. It totally put me off. Put me off her too. Such is my drug-taking history).

But anyway, though I'm not taking photographs, it's close, and I have quit my job to just do that. Dope - dangerous and prophetic! I'm still going to steer clear of it. There's some young French guys here that basically do it nightly, as well as drink.

It's a bit like living or reliving a young adulthood here at times. I like that.

Morning after

Ok, well after that rant, I have a couple of positives. I often think its like squeezing a pimple - gotta get it out before you can move on - actually that doesnt work, but the image I like.

This morning I phoned up an interviewee who I had been trying to chase up for weeks, but guessed he had gone away. Found out he had scratched his cornea in the middle of PhD exams and had needed to go offline for a bit. He is still keen to do the interview.

And to take Anna's suggestion on board, I am going to try enrolling in a 2-day film workshop here in Toronto (this place is dripping film from every pore). There's also another short one for super 8 film I am thinking about. I wish I felt more confident about doing them, but that's the way it is for me!

(Haha, I think I can use the term "white-knuckling" it, like they do in AA).

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A big rant

I have been chilling here at the hostel and also half waiting for a job at the cafe the hostel owners are opening next door, but time has been stretching on. So to keep myself occupied I asked if I could paint a sign for the outside of the cafe. I've done bits of signwriting before, and it's something creative, so all good.

I bought some drawing materials yesterday and spent a few hours drawing and went to work on it again today when the owner's partner came by and said he was already designing signs, so didn't need more. He seemed a little pissed, not especially at me, and it's not my fault. It's disappointing though and I am taking it as a sign (oh, yes, a pun!) that maybe I should go. If the owners can't be clear with me about that, then there will be other things, even though they are really nice people. There's been a theme of vagueness and not being on top of things ever since I've been here, which I kind of liked, but this sucked.

I have emailed the two Iraqi NGOs that the lady in Iraq suggested to ask about work, but judging by what it says on their websites I think it will be like any other workplace - jobs come up only every now and then, so if you really want to work there you have to build up experience, maybe work as volunteer, keep applying, etc, etc.

Which begs the question of how much you really want to do something. Its much more likely that any other person who wants to do this as life vocation will get the job over you.

I've been trying to become honest with myself: I felt so inspired when the filmmaker, Anna, was here like I haven't for ages. It woke up the more creative side of me, that although I am working on the doco, it hasnt been accessing alot. It's been about getting it technically and formally correct, not about creative freedom. I want to try it at least with this documentary.

If I try some other direction like getting a job in Iraq I think it's actually going to be a sidetrack. It's safer and I know I wont be committed. Like being at the library, even though I worked there for 15 years, I never wanted to be considered a librarian.

I saw the latest Batman film here in Toronto, where Christian Bale plays this man who is trapped in this place where the only way to get out is to scale the wall. Lots of people had tried, using a rope to save them if they fell but they always failed and usually died. Only one had ever succeeded. Christian Bale tries a couple of times but also fails. Then he learns that the reason the one person succeeded is because this man didn't use a rope. Meaning = if you have a safety net, you won't give something your all so you will never succeed.

Anna said something like, filmmaking must be life or death. Maybe that's what she was talking about. It requires that kind of commitment behind your decisions, otherwise it won't be any good. And "good" isn't defined by what the market or whatever wants or says is good. But by what you believe is good and what is true to yourself.

I think that is what I want to say.

But the thing is ..... I find it difficult to be committed, to myself, to my ideas. It's often like pulling teeth. It's fear I think. But then I've discovered since being on this trip, that I am afraid alot - not of the usual like new situations, or spiders, or death. I'm afraid of asking for things, of putting myself forward, of being turned down. It makes me surprised. I've discovered a whole side of me that I didn't know. It makes me wonder how far this extends, how many choices I make, or don't, based on this. And never realise.

All I have ever wanted to do for soooo many years is make something well creatively, and now I have the opportunity to finally do this and I am wanting to sidetrack.

I think I should just go back to NZ and focus on the film. And that's it. That's the recipe. And just try not to die creatively, but it's that the part I'm afraid of. It's so easy for me to get wound up in a pit of despair.

Anna suggested going to film workshops and building a network of creative friends. But she said the best way to do that is probably by going to a film school of some sort. I don't know if that is an option for me, having already done 7 1/2 years at university, and if I am afraid of my ideas when I am by myself, it's tripled in the presence of others.

I am so tired of being unhappy and I don't feel happy in NZ, and honestly going back, I know it will be the same. Arghh!

Apologies for the lack of positivity. This is also what I struggle with - why couldn't I be born with a positive brain!!!!

But that's the thing - after seeing Anna, I felt the most positive I have for so long, that makes me think that's the key: creativity - towards being something like happy.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Balloons from above

Last night the owners of Clarence Castle had a birthday party for one of their cleaners. They took huge bags of blown up balloons to the top floor of the hostel and pushed them through the window onto us below, wishing her happy birthday.

The pastry chef for the new cafe had made a big glazed tart with different kinds of fruit. There is a French guy about my age, he likes to play (hitting me with balloons) and we were joking and I laughed so hard, I hope I laughed some of my sadness away.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Anna Marziano

I had a conversation with Anna, the filmmaker, about the movie we saw, the documentary about Afghanistan, and it made me start thinking about (altering) the direction of mine. About what I really want to do, in making a film.

Today I was lucky enough to be able to question her about her filmmaking. So good. Then I asked if could take some photos for my blog and she said she needed some to send to film festivals.

We had fun, she looks so like she's just stepped out of a French movie.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


There's this lady in my room, other people told me she was a filmmaker and had a short film competing in the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which is on now.

I swore I wouldn't talk to her because I thought she would be really up herself (who wouldn't?) but then I decided to and she gave me a copy of her film to watch. It was great, really, and reminded me of all my favourite filmmakers, it was artistic and contemplative and abstract. I talked to her and turns out she likes those filmmakers too and references them a lot. What's the chance ay?

She is Italian and looks like someone out of a European film herself - like Amelie or Juliette Binoche but better, with a little gap in her teeth and effortless elegance. But shes also incredibly nice and seems to lack ego completely. She has got me some free tickets to go with her to some of the films at the festival.

I am finding it difficult to keep it together and I am completely star struck.

Tonight we are going to a film about Afghanistan.

Her film is called The Mutability of Everything and the Possibility of Changing Some.

(see below):

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Renaming the blog

Will probably have to rename the blog. Spending possibly not one day in Iraq, and maybe definitely not a whole year. My money is down to such an amount that I can't stay there without income. Que sera. I have really lost momentum, and am settling into this hostel like a bed bug. I really like it here. Am tired of the relentless chasing up people for interviews, finding venues, angsting, etc etc.

All I like to do us go out during the day with my camera and film.

This place feels like a spiritual retreat, except the guru is a Jack Russell terrier and me, sitting watching the squirrels.

Not sure what to do. The Oriental Institute in Chicago where I was going to film two interviews and also take photos of their Assyrian reliefs is still having construction work done. The Deputy Secretary of State in Washington who was going to give me an interview isn't saying yes or no to doing it yet.

I have contacted a lady in Iraq who might be able to find me a job either in Iraq or the US working on something to do with Iraq's environment. So I have to wait about that too.

And I've asked about working here as the owners of the hostel are opening a cafe next door and they've said I could probably work there in return for staying here. It would be ok for a few weeks I think. And it would mean I could stay here and wait out the other stuff. It's either that or continue on back to NZ. Which appears ok but I know as soon as I hit the ground I will start to feel depressed.

But I will have to wait for that too, the cafe, as there's some delay in getting the water and electricity on. Maybe one or two weeks, or more. So it's a bit of a gamble.

I'll probably do the latter, money be damned. It's the only thing I want to do right now. Just chill here with interesting people in a nice place. It's a suspension of reality I know. But it does my heart good.

Laundromat, Queen St West

Had to use the laundromat today because although the owners of Clarence Castle are wonderful, they are just a bit slack getting things fixed.

Way more interesting than washing at the hostel.

A girl turned up with two guys, who were both drunk (time = midday). They left and she started telling me how she was Inuit and had moved from up north to be with these guys and didn't know they were homeless until she got there. Now she has to get enough money to get back home. She was so tired from not enough sleep.

Then another guy came in, kind of groovy looking but was ranting about how he hated going to the laundromat and it took up his whole day and was worse than going to the dentist. He was very funny, I was laughing, but he must have been on something.

Another guy had come in before with a partially shaved head and tattoos on his face, underneath his eyes. He was asking me how the dryers worked.

So it was an intense 45 minutes.

It was on Queen St which used to be the hippest area in Toronto. Now its moved outwards cos of, I don't know what, real estate I guess. Funny how a city can change.

(Below is the guy ranting about his laundry):

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

94% humidity

Apparently it's 94% humidity in Toronto today. I remember this when I used to live here - its hard to believe it can get up that high. I keep wiping my face with my t-shirt.

Monday, 3 September 2012

I so like this hostel

A really nice day today, no stress, no filming (Canada Labour Day so nothing happening).

Got bitten during the night so had to change all my sheets and tell the owner so he could check for bed bugs. No signs (maybe it was mosquitoes) but I was in a room that had had a few. Owner was totally cool about it, apparently it happens a lot.

Took a look at the balcony of the hotel where I thought I might have left the tripod but saw nothing. Went to Tim Horton's for a maple donut and iced coffee, then bought some groceries. So nice walking around the downtown streets of Toronto, especially as there weren't many people, except for a crowd all happy coming out of a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game.

Came back to the hostel and the washing machine was broken so I did my washing by hand in the bathroom sink and rinsed it in the shower (no plug for the sink so I used a plastic bag).

Put them in the dryer and have been waiting for them, while the owners' dog Lili keeps me warm. So nice to have the fur factor.

Will microwave my dinner then either go to bed or they might have a movie night tonight. Last week I had just arrived and was too tired. I hope they have it this week.