Home' Waiheke Weekender : July 26th 2012 Contents Waiheke Weekender 5
26 July 2012
“My relief was enormous. After that the final pickups and
voiceover recording progressed much more smoothly. Perhaps I
should have showed it to them earlier.
“Everything was done on such a shoestring that looking back I
was always finding myself in unusual situations. When I was film-
ing in China I couldn’t afford to have a translator around all the time
and I don’t understand Mandarin. So I would write what I imagined
the script to be in English, shoot my characters saying their lines in
Chinese and then pass it my translator afterwards to confirm that the
story or scene was as I’d intended. It meant when we were editing
we would have to do a ‘translation signoff’, sending all the parts in
Mandarin to my translator and asking “have they said that line?” or
“was it believable?”
“For me, a film is like painting with your senses, light, sound and
emotion – together with my collaborators and audience.
“The beauty of film is that you have to be present in the moment
and recognise that something special is happening, and at the same
time you have to capture it and find out how it fits into the bigger
picture of life. Film allows me to be really curious, about people and
the world. When I have a camera, I’m able ask things that I couldn’t
in other circumstances.
“I want to make films that bring back the beauty of thinking and
make people slow down, daydream for a moment and let themselves
re-discover their emotions and feelings in this turbulent world. I’d
love this work to reach a wide audience and touch people in a way
that leaves them pondering it for days after the screening.”
Which means, she says, there is still a lot of work to do to give
The Red House the best chance of a longer life or greater exposure
in other parts of the world.
“I’m about to go to the MIFF 37oSouth Market in Melbourne
where the film has been selected for an industry screening. Then
straight after the film festival’s Wellington screening I’m heading
back to China to shoot the next part of a documentary called Return
to the Planet Mongo which follows some of the world’s top anima-
tors and graphic artists during an animation festival in Guiyang,
“It poses the questions, “Is life an illusion or a concrete real-
ity? Are animation and new technology a replacement for ‘real’
life? Shooting the first part was a surreal mix of new fast develop-
ment with construction sites, ‘new’ indigenous villages, waterfalls,
and hills on which one has to be careful not to be pounced on by
monkeys, she says.
“While I was there I also got to meet and interview local people
(including a billionaire property developer, a highland horseman, a
Chairman Mao impersonator, a female construction worker), asking
them similar questions to the animators. So I’m looking forward to
going back to do the next part of the shoot. Apart from this I have
two feature script ideas in early development and a music video and
dance film in production once I’m back from China.”
Whether she can continue as a filmmaker based here is another
There are certainly some
very talented and committed
people around making interest-
ing work for minimal budgets,
she says. “Just last night at the
reception for a friend’s feature
film I looked around the Civic
Wintergarden and thought how
precious it is to be in a room full
of invested like-minded people.
“If you want to make films
about your own culture then you
have to live in it. Yet it’s incred-
ibly difficult to make a living
here and make films at the same
time. You have to teach, make
commercials, or work in an entire-
ly unrelated field in order to fund
those films. Ultimately you make
compromises whichever path you
“Making my first feature has been an enormous stepping-stone.
This film has been made in a fairly painstaking, slow, modest manner
and it would be wonderful to keep making films in the future but
also with more resources at my disposal. Ideally I’d love to work
in a collective or company of like-minded people, building a strong
team made up of people with different expertise (producer, writer,
etc) so together we can gather momentum and tell stories that need
to be told.
“I have a handful of projects in various stages of development at
the moment, including two feature film ideas. I would love to look
back in ten years and have made both those films.”
That nostalgia strand may play a part in her decision. Growing
up on Waiheke in the 1980s, she had friends whose families were
from Canada, Japan, Germany, Wales. “All of my contemporaries
are now sprinkled back out across the world again, seeking our
fortunes in various places, but the older generation are still there.
“So perhaps the island lifestyle had a very beneficial impact in
shaping us in this way.
“I’m noticing now that quite a few of my childhood friends are
beginning to move back to live on Waiheke as they start families
of their own. I think almost all of us still consider the island home.
There’s something about the landscape and the place where you are
from that draws you back. And family of course.
“I live in Auckland now, and visiting the headland where I grew
up is like coming home. There’s something about the beauty of the
place that is always going to have that fairytale quality.”
The Red House screens at SkyCity Theatre on Sunday 29
July at 1pm, and at the Rialto in Newmarket on Thursday
2 August at 1.30pm. The film screens at the Paramount in
Wellington on 8 and 9 August and has also been selected for
the Christchurch and Dunedin festival programmes.
Stills from The Red House. The film delicately links different cultures,
personal emotions and the universal experience of aging to construct a
poetic space for viewers to explore their own affections.
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