Smoko Time

The Kitten at rest.
The Kitten at rest between… whatever she does between naps.

It’s that time of year when there’s little point in shilling my work around — the Silly Season is almost upon us all and surviving the season intact is a reasonable priority.

I’ve some “2016 by [Screen/Print/Mileage]” posts to begin drafting, there are some loose networking ends to tie up, and sundry writing housekeeping duties to expedite.

The blog may be a bit light on writing-related posts for the duration but don’t worry: there are plenty of animal pictures to go around.

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One More Schmooze

Playmarket Auckland: F5, 99 Queen Street, CBD.

The other week, I went to the changing of the guard at the Auckland Playmarket office: Stuart Hoar is moving on to less reading (of other people’s writing) and more writing (of his own) (which is as it should be), and will be replaced by Allison Horsley, formerly Court Theatre Literary Manager.

There was food and drink on hand, and there were a few more familiar faces than I expected — should be no surprise after being in this writing gig for so long, but still —and the hour I had set aside to pay my respects very quickly became almost two hours of catching up and talking with:

  • Jo Smith, recent Kingswood dramaturg, whose upcoming writing projects I look forward to;
  • Philippa Campbell, Auckland Theatre Company literary manager (and film and television producer);
  • Roy Ward, current freelance theatre director and, although I should let it go, will forever be the person who rejected my application to write for Shortland Street;
  • Murray Lynch, Playmarket big cheese;
  • Sam Brooks, dramatist, critic and man-about-town (I didn’t actually talk to him — but I waved as he flew by);
  • and the very lovely Roger and Dianne Hall — yes, that Mr Hall — and he was refreshingly to-the-point with our brief discussion on writing for theatre and developing audiences in competition with the small, small screen.

This has been quite a year for shoulder-rubbing and such: there was the 2016 Arts Market in Wellington*, and the SWANZ Awards and Big Screen Symposium in Auckland, not to mention a workshop here and there. It might explain why I’m a little frazzled.

There’s going to be more of it in 2017 and, somehow, I’m rather looking forward to it.

 

* I don’t know why I didn’t blog about this. But it was nice to be in my hometoon.

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STILL LIFE WITH CHICKENS: a clinic

The script, post-workshop.
The script, post-workshop.

Last weekend, thanks to the administrations of the indefatigable Salesi Le’ota at PlaymarketStill Life With Chickens enjoyed a workshop directed by Andrew Foster, dramaturged by the redoubtable Stuart Hoar, and with the collective acting prowess of Iaheto Ah Hi, Jess Robinson and Louise Tu’u.

Where the last Kingswood workshop generated the words offensiveadolescentpuerile and crass to describe the play, this latest workshop elicited symbolismsurrealist and existentialist.

Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.

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Permissions

OS X disk permissions (a considerable stretch, I know).
OS X disk permissions (a pathetic stretch, but hey).

Sometimes I’ll get to an early stage of developing a project and I’ll stop.

It’s not writer’s block, or a gap in character, story and/or background knowledge. You likely already know that at Fortress Mamea, writer’s block is never an issue, the characters write themselves, story is always a cakewalk, and I never let ignorance and incuriosity get in the way of a first draft.

I used to think it was a crisis of confidence — What the hell am I doing, thinking I can write? — but what it really is is a crisis of permission: Who the hell gave me the permission to write about [SOMETHING POTENTIALLY FAINTLY/REMOTELY CONTROVERSIAL]?

With Kingswood, a love play to my friends and our misspent youth, the question of permissions were sidestepped by accident: the acts of writing and development (and rushing to meet deadlines) meant that actual-event-inspired truths quickly gave way to more dramatically efficient emotional truths. At this point in time, I would have no hesitation in comping my friends to a production.

As for Still Life With Chickens, basing it on my mother’s adventures with poultry gave rise to concerns about my excavation of Mamea family history. I don’t actually recall a crisis of permission. And when I wrote the first dozen or so pages in a blur of creativity and read them back, I found I’d repeated what I’d done with Kingswood at some subconscious level: dramatic emotional truth trumped the source material.

Those are terrible examples, aren’t they? I was rescued by circumstance and dumb (creative) luck, respectively.

So. There’s another project I’ve added to my development slate: it’s an all-female four-hander period piece.

Who the hell do I think I am to write four female characters?

I don’t know but I’m not going to let that stop me.

 

Postscript: In looking up earlier thoughts on writing female characters, I found something I posted a few years back. Sometimes, I just surprise myself.

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BSS

Late last month I attended the 2016 Big Screen Symposium in Auckland. It was the second network-y thing I’ve done this year (ah yes, I neglected to mention I attended the 2016 PANNZ Arts Market in Wellington in March).

Cue shameless name-dropping as I saw:

As for the speakers, highlights were:

  • creative couple Cate Shortland (SomersaultThe Slap) and Tony Krawitz (Devil’s PlaygroundThe Kettering Incident) on writing and directing Australian television drama;
  • Jonathon Raymond on screenwriting for Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff) and Todd Haynes (Far From HeavenMildred Pierce); and
  • producer and BSS keynote speaker Heather Rae (Frozen River) on decolonising the screen.

Nice work, all around.

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Lop

I was working in the keep the other morning when I turned in my chair and saw a large grey shape in the doorway and thought, [EXPLETIVES], that is one big [EXPLETIVES] rat!

Then it lopped away at my big girly gasp which roused The Dog and The Puppy, and after some running and hopping and hiding, the interloper was captured alive.

Nice one, Stu.
The interloper, dubbed Stu, in captivity.

We’re not sure how the rabbit got into the fortress. Presuming it gained entry through the cat flap by the dining hall, it made it past our presumably sleeping guard hounds (their performance against their KPIs will be noted accordingly) to reach the keep which is at the opposite end of the building. I suspect The Kitten brought it in for some playtime but the rabbit is unmarked.

Anyhoo, we have a rabbit in Fortress Mamea. And it’s a cutie.

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FIREBUG: another pilot script

Earlier this year, the New Zealand Writers Guild added a new category to the SWANZ Awards for 2016: unproduced scripts for film and television.

I had a pilot script called Firebug that’d been kicking around the cave for a few years so when I heard about the new category I thought, What the hell.

It went on to win best unproduced television script.

I am rather chuffed.

Suppose I should shop it around now.

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