National Young Writers’ Festival 2015

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This year I was lucky enough to be a festival artist at the National Young Writers’ Festival 2015. When I found out that I had been offered a spot as a festival artist I literally screamed and ran around my house, much to confusion of my housemates. National Young Writers’ Festival is a hoot! I had attended in 2014 and had absolutely fallen in love with the festival.

If you need any proof of how magical National Young Writers’ Festival was, you can just have a watch:

OH MY THE FEELINGS! It was a truly beautiful experience and I cannot recommend going to NYWF more. So many lovely exciting people just having a go. As one person said to me, what makes NYWF so special is that everyone is just trying their best. For many people it’s the first time they have chaired a panel or read to such a large audience. It’s a space where people are allowed to fail and experiment.

I attended a lot of things, but my favourite events were the Late Night Readings: Flirting with the Law, Screenwriting Workshop with Magda Wozniak, Late Night Readings: Breakups and Breakdowns and the Under The Sea Enchantment Ball (of course).

The Screenwriting Workshop was my favourite. I’ve always been curious about how writing rooms work and this session gave me a lot of insight. In the session we were treated as Home and Away writers and worked through the process of how to script a weeks worth of content. People were pitching ideas left right and centre and  bouncing ideas off each other. It made me realise that writing for tv is a lot about writing to constraint and working as a team.


I was on two panels:

The Plays The Thing –
Host: Kate McDowell. Participants: Felicity PickeringPhillip KavanaghLiv Satchel

Blurb:
When it comes to the writing community, playwrights and playwriting can often get swept under the rug. With playwriting one of the oldest forms of literature, it’s high time we put the spotlight back on the stage. These bards spill the beans on the playwriting industry, and the issues they face as playwrights today.

A Newcastle Story –
Participants: Felicity PickeringFinbah NeillThandi Chindove, Ewa Ramsey.

Blurb: In partnership with the Newcastle Museum, NYWF takes you on a trip into Newcastle’s history. From lightbulbs to biscuits, earthquakes to coal heaps, join these brilliant young storytellers as they delve into the museum’s collections and dig up some fascinating tales of Newcastle past, present and future.

The Plays The Thing was a great relaxed session. It was my first time being on a panel.

A Newcastle Story was more nerve wracking. A few weeks before the reading I had caught the train to Newcastle for the day to get a private tour of the Newcastle Museum. I had to find something in there that inspired me and write something in response.

Newcastle Museum had a series of portraits of hotels and pubs from Newcastle with stories about the pubs displayed on the side. I ended up writing a piece about an 18 year old girl who starts working at a hotel in Newcastle that is filled with backpackers and the hotel comes to represent that period of her life.

I have a few snaps from the A Newcastle Story reading:

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All in all NYWF was such a great experience and I hope to attend again next year!

 

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Fully Furnished SBS Comedy Runway Pilot

Last year I was lucky enough to be a Production Assistant on the set of Fully Furnished, an SBS Comedy Runway Pilot. You can check out the final video and more info in this link. Share away! Make it go viral.

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What I made in a semester during my Masters of Media Arts and Production

So before I went all deep in that last post I was going to show you what I made this semester during my Masters of Media Arts and Production. The point of this blog post is two-fold. Firstly, it’s for me to show off, and also put the spotlight on projects that may other wise never see the light of day again. Secondly, showing the creative products of one semester studying at UTS might help people who are wondering about the course or trying to figure out which courses to take.

Directing

I made two videos during my directing class. In this first video I had to shoot a scene from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ within an hour in class, using only other classmates as crew and actors.

How we wanted the scene to be played was up to our discretion and it’s pretty weird, but I like it. I had to drag one of my classmates, Francisco, on a skate board to get the shot in the corridor, which was cool.  

For my final directing exercise we had to choose one script, from a collection of four, to direct for our final project. I’m happy with how it turned out.  

Sound and Interaction

So if you thought those projects were weird you’re in for a surprise with these two, because they are much weirder.

During this course I had to make one audio piece and one interactive work. Working with John Scarpias and Barbara Ings, I made this experimental sound piece for the audio component.

Sound

‘Cults’ is an experimental sound piece that focuses on the Australian cult, ‘The Family’. It explores notions of passive control and psychological manipulation. Using a sixty minutes interview with the leader of the cult: Anne Hamilton-Byrne, as the sound mark, we created a rich and diverse soundscape that highlighted the surreal elements of this horrible section of Australian history. We utilised sounds that are usually classified as acoustic rubbish (dial up tones, static) to rework into a rich tapestry that evokes a sense of the dystopia.

Interaction

For the interactive component of the course I made an interactive game on Hype. My interactive project was called ‘Miss Matilda’s Shop of Pretty Little Things for Pretty Little Girls’. The project is a comment on femininity and how video games are so highly gendered. I wanted to present the facade of a traditional ‘girly game’, the type of game that was offered to me as a child by Barbie and Polly Pocket, and subtly interweave violence and masochism which is usually associated with male gaming culture.

If you click the picture below it will load.

Miss Matilda's Shop of Pretty Little Things for Pretty Little Girls

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/spa/x6gpip9j3v0nblb/Exports/MissMatildasShop/MissMatildasShop.html

Digital and Multiplatform Storytelling

Multiplatform Storytelling was a course created to follow Sound and Interaction for those who wanted to expand further into Digital Media. I took it as an elective because I’m really interested in different ways to use the internet and apps in fiction. However, UTS doesn’t specify that it’s a course that is meant to proceed the other. So I ended up doing both in the same semester which was annoying.

Stephanie Phillips, Sally Massos, Clare O’Halloran and I created Personality Punch Up for our project. It was made in Hype.

If you click the picture below it will load.

Personality Punch Up

file:///Volumes/FELICITY/Master_PersonalityPunchUp/Master_PersonalityPunchUp.html

The target audience of Personal Punch Up is school aged children. In the game you are asked to choose between two groups of historical figures. You are then given facts about the historical figures and are asked to choose which historical figure will win in battles against each other.

By asking children to battle historical figures we hoped that, under the guise of a game, the children might learn about the figures and their lives.

My favourite thing about this project however is that I finally got to apply my experience as a spoken word poet in a more commercial type setting. We also went super well, which is always nice.

Conclusion
So there you have it. This is what I made in one semester at UTS doing the Media Arts and Production course. One thing I love about UTS is that they do really encourage you to do very experimental projects and urge you to think outside commercial media products and mediums. The only downside of this is that sometimes you can end up with a lot of strange little projects that don’t add up to a portfolio as such. If you’re a UTS student trying to choose which subjects to do next semester, I hope this helps.

Luke Lloyd Alienoid @ ATYP

Luke Llyod Alienoid

Luke Llyod isn’t like other boys at school but luckily he knows exactly why he doesn’t fit in: he’s half alien. Being half alien comes with many benefits: he can talk to animals and can become invisible. But when the school ‘fathers vs students game’ comes up, the school bully insists on meeting Llyod’s father. However, contacting aliens is never easy.

Luke Llyod is a great twist on classic story of a boy who is struggling to fit in. While the story is definitely geared to younger audiences, it’s a production that anyone can take something away from. The acting is great, especially from such a young cast and stand out performances are made by the Bully and Luke Llyod. The production uses three projectors that are seamlessly integrated, for a production that feels entirely modern in both themes and technology. I recommend it.

Tickets
Full: $20
Earlybird tickets: $15

Times
Wed-Sat 7:00pm
Sun: 5:00pm
Matinee: Wed and Fri 11:30am

Bookings
atyp.com.au or 02 9270 2400

Venue
ATYP Studio 1 – The Whair
Pier 4/5 Hickson Road

‘Tiny Furniture’ By Lena Dunham

After I reviewed Lena Dunham’s first film ‘Creative Nonfiction‘ (2009), I knew I wanted to review Lena Dunham’s break out film ‘Tiny Furniture’ (2010). It has been said that the high praise received for ‘Tiny Furniture’, led the Creative Writing graduate to receive the notoriety needed to grab the attention of HBO (producer of GIRLS). The film premiered at South by Southwest, which led to it being awarded Best Narrative Feature.

The bildungsroman follows twenty-two-year-old Aura during her ‘post graduate delirium’. Aura returns after studying film studies at a Midwest liberal arts college to her New York family home.

The film shows considerable growth from ‘Creative Nonfiction’, released only one year earlier. Many similarities, as with lots of Dunham’s work, arise. Again Dunham includes a great deal of nudity, a central character who is (we can only assume) similar to Dunham, a focus on sexual relationships and ‘coming of age’ themes. Many of these factors are present in  ‘GIRLS’, ‘Tiny Furniture’ and ‘Creative Nonfiction’.

‘Tiny Furniture’ illustrates considerable finesse in the cinematography. No longer are we subjected to bad lighting and the wavy hand held camera of ‘Creative Nonfiction’. The shots are often wide and there is impressive framing of interior space. Scenes within Aura’s slick TriBeCa apartment are powerful. The costuming emphasizes Auras black sheep status within her household. The mis-en-scene places Aura, often shown without pants and with unkempt hair, against a slick, white, modernist apartment. This juxtaposition of clean and derelict, demonstrates how Aura is seen in the household; as disruption of order and bringer of chaos to an otherwise idyllic household.

Tiny Furniture is filmed in a mumble core style. Dunham often chooses to cast from her inner circle and use non-actors. Within this film it definitely works. There are strong performances made by both Aura’s sister and mother, played by Dunham’s real life sister (Grace Dunham) and mother (Laurie Simmons). The scenes between the family are natural and organic. Their lack of acting training is unnoticeable, which is either a testament to their innate acting abilities or Dunham’s directing prowess. The ability to get great, natural performances out of non-actors is no feat to be laughed at. Additionally, the physical resemblance of both Grace Dunham and Laurie Dunham (they are both tall, thin and clean) in comparison to Aura further reifies Aura’s otherness in the family context.

Alex Karpovsky and Jemima Kirke from GIRLS are featured in the film. Karpovsky (Ray Ploshansky in GIRLS) plays Jed, a YouTube celebrity called the ‘Nietzchian Cowboy’ who stays with Aura. Jemima Kirke (Jessa from GIRLS) plays Charlotte, plays Aura’s friend since birth. Charlotte is a very similar character and displays very similar mannerisms to Jessa. Interestingly however Charlotte is portrayed as an annoying overbearingly friend, while Jessa is more of an aloof flaneur.

In terms of storytelling, I feel what really ties the movie together thematically is Dunham’s discovery and reading of her mothers diaries, written at the same age. It is through these diaries that we see that no matter what generation, the twenties are somewhat lost, meaningless and yet meaningful discovery years.

The films ending is poignant and solidifies an otherwise character driven narrative. Aura and her mother lie in her mother’s bed, a contested space that symbolizes her mothers approval.

Aura recants the tale of how she has earlier had unprotected sex with a man in a pipe on the street. Aura’s mother shows concern about her lifestyle choices. Aura questions her mother about the people who she wrote about in her diaries. The mother, who has often been shown as harsh and unsympathetic to Auras choices, hardly remembers them but when provoked begins to tell of strange encounters with sometimes toxic friends.

What I suppose I’m most attracted to in Dunham’s work is her complete lack of vanity in her storytelling. Every character is both glamourized and reduced to there most annoying trivial form. Although her characters are clearly self-obsessed, there self-obsession isn’t exaggerated and they make no apologies for it. What comes through in all Dunham’s films is a lively mind and a great creative capacity.

Tiny Furniture is a film that is well worth a watch.

Have you seen Tiny Furniture? What did you think? How do you see it in the larger context of her other work?

Australian Directors Guild Awards

On Friday the 2nd of May the Australian Directors Guild Awards were celebrated at the Powerhouse Museum. The black tie event is held annually to honour the exceptional work of Australian directors. The awards were hosted by writer and comedian Claire Hooper.

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Australian Directors Guild Awards

Best Direction in a Music Video went to David Barker for Nightingale Floor. The music video, featuring Kate Miller-Heidke, was created to bring attention to the destruction of orangutan habitats due to Palm Oil.

Best Direction in a Student Film went to Melissa Anastasi’s By This River.

Best Direction in a TV Comedy went to Mathew Saville for his episode ‘Portuguese Custard Tarts’ in series 1 of Please Like Me.

Best Direction in a TV Mini Series went to Khoa Do for Episode 4 of Better Man. 

Best Direction in a TV Drama Series was won by Rachel Perkins for her work in Series 2, Episode 2, ‘Starting Over’ in Redfern Now.

Daniel Nettheim took home the Esben Storm Award for Best Direction in a Children’s TV Program for his direction in Dance Academy, Series 3, Episode 12, ‘A Perfect Storm’.

Best Direction in a Documentary (Stand Alone) went to Corrie Chen for her direction in Suicide and Me. 

Best Direction in a Telemovie went to Rowan Woods for his work in The Broken Shore. 

Nick Robinson won the Best Direction in a Documentary Series for his work on Kakadu, Episode 4.

Best Direction in a Documentary Feature went to Sophia Turkiewicz for Once My Mother. 

Best Direction in a Feature Film went to Kim Mordaunt for his work in The Rocket. 

 

March Opportunities

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There are lots of opportunities for emerging writers and theatre makers at the moment. Playwriting Australia has made a callout for Dramaturgy Interns. These interns will recieve ‘access to training and mentoring by industry professionals, and get to develop their practical skills in script assessment and explore the process of giving dramaturgical feedback.’

The internship is available to Sydney and Melbourne based playwrights, directors or dramaturgs. Applications close Monday the 24th of March, 5pm.

Additionally, there has been a call out for applications for the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing. The award is open to emerging writers enrolled in either an undergraduate or honours degree. For the first year ever, the award is open to both students from Australia and New Zealand.

First prize is $4000. The highest placed student from Monash University will receive $1000. Both winners will be published in Verge, Monash University’s student publication. Entries have to be 1500–3000 words. Applications close Thursday the 17th of April.