Making Films in the Water

I remember when I had just moved back to Wellington, New Zealand, in 2004 after living for seven years in the small south island vineyard town of Blenheim.

Wellington was  where I grew up, the capital, and a culture hub, but I had left there at 17 in 1997 after going through some hard family changes.

I decided to move back to Wellington for a new job and a new start.

It was where my roots were but it felt like a whole new city.

The first house I rented was in Mt Cook right on the Basin Reserve ring road, in an old wooden 1900 circa villa …with a lot of character. Wide panelled wooden floors, high stud ceilings and the longest hallway I’d ever seen.

Around the time of moving into the house, I met a guy from Thailand, Finn, who was studying Film and Media at Massey University.

Finn quickly became one of my good friends in that first year of moving back.

He was a chilled and creative guy who introduced me to Thai food and green tea and it seemed every time spent with him, I walked away feeling that I had just spent time with someone I had always known.

Finn was actually in his final year at uni and had a few projects on the go he needed to finish, and so I, became one of his actors for a couple of his projects.

To make this clear, on my end, we are talking about: armature acting and not in the single least trained or experienced acting. But this guy was an indie and art house kid and considering that was always the first section I went to in any video store. We were a perfect match.

Acting went like this:

Having a big heavy rope tired to my feet and being dragged across Massey’s wooden floors, and the grass under the old Pohuticawa trees at 1.30am, on a Tuesday night.

Being dragged into the cold ocean at Oriental Parade, again with a big thick rope at 11pm on a Wednesday night.

Floating under water in a bath full of water, with just jeans on, bursting forth at a given time as if coming out of a deep sleep. 

Sitting on a bench along the waterfront, looking forward and thinking.

Each night after work it was a different location and a different scene to film. He would text me the details during the day and we would meet up and shoot. It was a week where I felt so alive and was one of my most memorable times of that year.

One Sunday I went round to his place and as I entered he gave me a pair of headphones and told me to “Listen to the music, close your eyes, and tell me what you see and feel, the colours and the ideas,  tell a narrative on where this takes you. And I will record what happens.”

It was like an unwritten script that I could speak and experiment with any thought, rhyme or movement.

Sometimes I think you have to step outside of what you’ve known as regular or routine and be in that space of – we are writing something here, and even if its only important to us, that’s all that matters. This is not meant for a grand audience and maybe just we will see and hear this…and that is perfect.

I think that is partly why the poet Alan Ginsberg’s, Howl, is so good. Because he forgot about the thought of his overbearing father ever reading it and he created what he saw in his mind. It was originality.

There’s a line in a song by Jose Gonzalez – Do what ever, just stay alive. This line gets me every time because it reminds me each time that living is more than what you do for a living, if that was the only thing, then life really would have lost all meaning.

Outside of the I need to do this, this and this. All of that, is part of life but what about the spontaneity and flexibility to discover?

I have a hundred words I could write on this.

These are just some of my thoughts and experiences out loud.

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