Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transmedia, & women's feature films in Ireland & in New Zealand

Something I enjoy about working on the Development project is that it is transmedial, part of a new storytelling world where fiction mixes with non-fiction and where
For the first time since ancient cultures, where stories were passed down from generation to generation through verbal communication…the world has now found a new, communal space to share and grow its stories that represent humanity. … In other words, stories are no longer simply stories, they are world views that will evolve with discussion, creation, and review
In that communal space, here on the internet, Development is linked with an informal, global, transmedial project to increase the numbers of feature films that women write and direct, and that tell stories about women's lives. (I hope that New Zealand will be the first country in the world where women write and direct half of all features. But I’m not holding my breath.)

This blog, and Kyna Morgan’s sister blog over at HerFilm, are as essential to the Development project as writing another treatment for Development-the-movie, and finding partners to work with on its production. So, looking at footage with editor Lala Rolls, going to meetings with Erica, and re-working the website with Meredith Crowe mix with tweeting about the women’s film preservation fund in New York and about global opportunities for women storytellers, contributing on FB and blogs, staying in touch with others who care about women’s movie-making, and feeling appreciative of their responses and support.

I find other filmmakers fascinating of course and they teach me heaps, the women especially.

Campbell X has just finished shooting Stud Life (check out the link for some great pix) and I’ve learned from her marvellous tagline: Who did you wake up with today? Your lover or your best friend? And its expansion:
Stud Life is a light take on the darker side of queer street life in London…a post-modern LGBT She´s Gotta Have It for the YouTube generation.
She also recently posted a wonderful alternative to the Guardian’s 100 Power People in Film on her blog—where the banner reads when the lioness can tell her story, the hunter no longer controls the tale.

And I’ve admired Afia Nathaniel’s beautiful funding campaign for her thriller Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls:
From a village in Pakistan, a young mother sets out on an extraordinary and dangerous journey to save her eight year old daughter from the fate of an arranged marriage to a powerful warlord.

And I’ve wondered why, although Afia has some impressive investors, she still needs funding. As does Campbell X. What needs to happen for films like these to find funding more easily?

And there’s lots of reading and thinking involved. Who would have thought that women actors would transform independent filmmaking, so that many strong female stories are making it onto film just because these actors have the clout to get their pet film projects made? What actors might attract funding to projects like Stud Life and Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls, as producers or as actors?

Among stories from and about women filmmakers, a complex mix because each of us has her own realities and her own way of expressing them, my favorite non-fiction of recent weeks—alongside Peter Strickland’s response to the latest Development treatment, and the help two generous and talented mates have given me with my next version of the treatment—is Nicola Depuis’ MA thesis, from University College, Cork, Ireland, entitled: Celluloid Suppression: A Study of Irish Female Screenwriters and their Position in the Irish Film Industry. (I include emails and their attachments in Development's transmedia, especially emails I'd never have got without the connections to women's filmmaking transmedial events.) I was fascinated to read Nicola's thesis because, as Nicola points out, New Zealand is the closest English-speaking country to Ireland on the population index and is an island-country like Ireland, with a secondary indigenous language that is rarely utilized on film. What is different? What is the same? And I was pleased that—thanks to WIFTNZ—I’d also been able to share my PhD Report to the Industrywith her when she was collecting information.

Monday, November 1, 2010

the bone people

1. Sometimes, it’s hard to resist. I’ve got lots to do, but something else clamours for attention. Today, it’s the bone people (always lower case), the only New Zealand novel to win the Booker Prize.

First, I had a big cleanup and found a newspaper clipping from 1 November 1985. Here it is—the late Irihapeti Ramsden, me, and Miriama Evans, shortly after we received the Booker Prize on Keri’s behalf. Irihapeti and Miriama wearing korowai lent by George (Geordie) Fergusson. Me in my Moss Bros tuxedo (and white leather sneakers with pink satin laces, best pair of sneakers I ever had). And a tiki that Irihapeti asked me to wear. If you slide the clipping onto your desktop and zoom in, you can read the text. My main memory of the photograph is that the photographer suggested that we stick our tongues out. I think he wanted us to pukana.

l.-r.Irihapeti Ramsden, Marian Evans, Miriama Evans, after the Booker Prize ceremony 1985
It was a strange night. No-one knew what to make of Miriama's and Irihapeti's karanga (we were described as 'keening harpies' later, in one newspaper). We wanted to talk about the generosity and love that had brought the bone people and us to the Booker ceremony, but we were not permitted to speak (probably a time thing: it was televised and Keri was on the line to speak, from the States). And it was surprising and weird to hold the leather-bound copy of the bone people they gave us, but wonderful later to pack it into a kete for Keri. I think we were also handed a cheque. Did we tuck it inside the book, along with the piece of heather a gypsy gave me, when Miriama and I were coming back from Moss Bros?

Then, the other day, I posted about Keri Kaa and remembered her work for the bone people launch. Then, I had a request from American student Jessica Brandi through LinkedIn: would I answer some questions about the bone people, from a publishing viewpoint?

And then, last week, Keri Hulme and I fell over each other at the Public Address Hobbit party. Inevitable that there were a few accidents there, with that slap slap slap of comments down the page (where I lurked now and then to read what other writers and filmmakers were saying). And inevitable because New Zealand is soooo small.

I didn’t recognize Keri at first, because she wasn’t there as Keri Hulme. She thought I might be me; I wasn’t there as Wellywoodwoman. And the way we confirmed who we were was with dates. A quarter century since the bone people won the Booker Prize (me); more than a quarter century since Spiral published it, on 18 February 1984 (Keri). And Keri told me that although her American publisher had put out a celebratory edition last year, there’d been no celebration in New Zealand.

So, by way of celebration, here’s a story, addressing Jessica’s questions. From my perspective only of course. Keri’s story is different. Irihapeti told her story in Chapter 3 of her PhD thesis. Miriama has her story. There are many related documents in the Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand’s national research library; collectively they tell another story, too.

Jessica, there are a LOT of names in this post. You, and others, may feel that they’re unnecessary. But, because I don’t want to write about the bone people again, I want to be sure to acknowledge everyone I can remember. (Any other readers: please feel free to ask questions too, and to add information in the comments.)