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boldly crossing artistic boundaries

sandy cameron: the hive lab


 I want to Dance Better at Parties, 2004, Chunky Move I want to Dance Better at Parties, 2004, Chunky Move
courtesy Chunky Move
AT A TIME WHEN ARTS FUNDING ACROSS THE COUNTRY IS UNDER DURESS, IT IS REFRESHING TO SEE A NEW POT OF MONEY EARMARKED SPECIFICALLY FOR CREATING AMBITIOUS ARTS-BASED FILMS. THE HIVE PRODUCTION FUND REFLECTS THE OVERLAPPING REMITS OF ITS FUNDERS: ABC ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT, THE AUSTRALIA COUNCIL AND THE ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL, FOLLOWING ON FROM AN EXTENDED WORKSHOP COMPONENT IN EARLY 2011 WITH THOSE PARTNERS PLUS SCREEN AUSTRALIA AND THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN FILM CORPORATION.

Encouraging multidisciplinary teams to collaborate on longer form projects that work on both a festival and prime time broadcast platform, The order of the day at HIVE is audacity of subject and bold production approach.

The slate of projects has a freshness in its blends of genre, format and team compilation, indicating that the investors have trusted proven talent at an early stage of a project’s life rather than weighing down the process by waiting for fully-formed material. Or, as producer Kath Shelper explains, “The great thing about the HIVE is that they have allowed us to be fairly loose in how we approach things…usually with film funding submissions you are required to be so explicit about what you’re making and why and how—’What are we going to see on screen?’”

A total of $670,000 has been secured by the following projects from the fund and they now have the momentum to meet their schedule to premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October 2013.

gideon obarzanek, i want to dance better at parties

I Want to Dance Better at Parties is a 30-minute hybrid film co-directed by Chunky Move founder Gideon Orbarzanek and Matt Bate (Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, 2011, producer Bec Summerton; RT107 ). Stemming from an existing dance work from 2004 where Orbarzanek interviewed men about their relationship with dance then created eight pieces from the interviews, the film seeks to extend the story of one of these men. “[Orbarzanek] told me about one of the characters, a guy called Phillip Rose, and how he always wanted to expand [his story] into a bigger project,” says Bate. “We put this thing together not really knowing what it was… the dance piece had the outline of the story, but there was more going on, and that’s what we wanted to explore in our version.”

The story has a solid transformative arc. “[Phillip Rose] is a guy whose wife passed away, he’s got a daughter and an intellectually disabled son, he’s grieving, his life has been turned upside down. A few years later he goes to a party, and as he’s dancing he loses himself on this dance floor in the kitchen. He has fun but one of the women there says, ‘You’ve got to loosen up’…So the next day he joins this dance class, and the story’s about how he overcomes his grief, regains his confidence and gets his life back on track using dance.” At this stage the team is consolidating the best formal approach to bring the story to a half hour docudrama format.

lynette wallworth, tender

Esteemed media artist Lynette Wallworth also turns to documentary with Tender, a partnership with producer Kath Shelper (Samson and Delilah, 2009). The piece will follow Wallworth’s friend Jen (“our lives are bound together like seam in a rock”) who is starting a not for profit funeral company called Community Undertakings in Port Kembla. “In order to understand how she comes to be doing that I need to show you what has shaped her into the person she is now,” explains Wallworth. “The fearlessness of Jen is at the heart of the work.”

Wallworth and Shelper came together thanks to a combination of serendipity and networking at the lab component of the HIVE. Shelper explains, “I loved Lynette’s story…but I didn’t think about it much after [the lab]. Scroll forward a year and I was sitting at my desk putting the finishing touches to my first ever will, and Lynette walked into my office and asked me if I wanted to produce her film. I am terrified of death and I think I was doing my will as an insurance policy against dying too soon. I think now that it’s done hopefully it won’t need to be used for a while yet.”

Wallworth’s artistic practice will strongly inform her approach to the film. Following on directly from her interactive installation Evolution of Fearlessness (2008), she wants to create an immersive experience and give the viewer space to engage with the visually led narrative:

“I will work with disparate images and narration so that what we see on the screen is not a direct reflection of what we are hearing about but rather, in a more tangential way, resonant with the story, or else creates a disjuncture with the tone of that moment. In this way the emotional intimacy of the work can be maintained in a non-invasive way. We can hear Jen speak without having to see her. We have the space to imagine because the imagery will not be brutally accurate but spacious.”

michael kantor, the boy castaways

The Boy Castaways is an altogether different beast, a feature-length rock musical. Directed by former Malthouse artistic director Michael Kantor and produced by Jo Dyer (Lucky Miles, 2005) and Stephen Armstrong, it plays with themes of eternal life. “Four men are gathered in a theatre where they enact a twisted version of Peter Pan,” explains Kantor. “It becomes apparent that the men are engaged in a dangerous game with their own mortality…three of the men must experience what it is like to die, and for the other, the opposite.”

Kantor initiated the film after attending the HIVE Lab where he had the opportunity to explore the idea with others from the performing arts and other fields. “This was perfect timing for me, as I have long held a passion and deep desire to create filmed work, although I have never actually made any – not even a short film...The genesis for The Boy Castaways was an idea I had for a stage show that, after workshopping, I felt could not be told on a stage, as it was so much about the stage…The idea has grown into a script that I hope blends the innate, dangerous possibilities of the stage and the penetrating insight into the human, in this case male, character that is offered by the lens.”

The project draws together longtime Kantor collaborators with experienced film practitioners such as executive producer Rob Connolly (most recently director of Balibo, 2010), but “the script has been developed along a theatre-making model, with frequent readings and workshops allowing for a developing storyline and musical incorporation from the outset.”


RealTime will track these eclectic projects in 2013 as they mature.

2012 HIVE Lab, Melbourne International Arts Festival; www.thehivelabs.com.au

The second HIVE Lab is being held in October during the 2012 Melbourne International Arts Festival. The participants are arts and performance practitioners Bill Henson, Dr Brenda Croft, Eddie Perfect, Sam Haren, Daniel Koerner, Rachael Swain, Cat Jones, Lally Katz and Sean Riley; filmmakers Samantha Lang, Sophie Raymond, Sascha Ettinger Epstein, Paola Morabito, Nassiem Valamanesh, Eddie White, Natasha Pincus and Lucinda Clutterbuck; and visual artist and filmmaker John Gillies.

The mentors will be Lynette Wallworth, film producer Bridget Ikin, General Manager of Digital Business Development at ABC Commercial Robert Hutchinson, and playwright and screenwriter Andrew Bovell, along with composer Iain Grandage and theatre director Michael Kantor. The 2012 HIVE Lab is led by Wendy Levy, Executive Director of the US-based New Arts Axis, an organisation dedicated to facilitating creative innovation in art and culture.

RealTime issue #111 Oct-Nov 2012 pg. 25

© Sandy Cameron; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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