How would you describe your practice?
I’m narrowing down to be a writer and most of my practice stems from that, I would really like to get into directing, but I see that writing is a way into that. Here in Australia it’s a little harder just to find directing work. Creating and then directing my own projects seems to be my current path.
How did you get into film?
I guess I’m a film nerd though, a filmmaker not just a writer. I have an appreciation of visual aesthetic and an acting / performance background.
I am very comfortable with actors as I have a theatre background. I was in acting camp from the age of 6. When I was 17 I thought I’d be more like a playwright, not a filmmaker. I never imagined that.
I was the person in my family who strangers would say “you’d be a great actor” – but my parents told me I didn’t have the singular focus and dedication to acting to make it.
I think a lot of modern filmmakers come from the Cinematography and technical background. So the films look amazing but are hollow as fuck – based on the visuals and don’t come from a literary or storytelling background.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, actors can make great Directors.
My folks worked a lot, so my sister and I always went to the video store every week. My sister would always get the same video every time, which annoyed me. We made a rulethat we’d never get the same movie twice. This happened for about 15 years. And we never got the same movie twice. This was around the time of Indiana jones, Star Wars etc. By the time I was in Uni, I was a Film Buff by accident. So I ended up with film friends. I watched everything they had to offer me. At 25 I realized I was a film nerd.
What did you study at Uni?
At Uni I did a double major in English Literature and went on to do a PHD. I just kind of kept studying because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But then I realized – I didn’t want to be an academic in a tiny little office for the rest of my life.
So… what did you do then?
So I went travelling. Lived in Japan for a year teaching English. Japan is a really complex place, the more you know, the more you hate it, but also fall more in love with it. I was kind of lied to with the company I worked for as they placed me in a small town after I had asked to be placed in a big city – Tokyo and they promised me that I would. I flew into the small town and then they said that’s where I was working. I complained about it and they told me to come back in 6 weeks. I did, but it was clear they hadn’t done anything. What was I going to do, I was in a foreign country, either go home or stay.
I ended up making some really interesting friends. By the time I had finished my placement I had a real branching, “what am I going to do?!”… I had a friend who owned a restaurant and he wanted me to open one with him, as I’d cooked for him a couple of times and we found a shared passion. I didn’t know if that was what I wanted, to stay in Japan and open a restaurant. It was around then that I realized that I wanted to make movies.
I came back to Australia and enrolled at Sydney Film School. It was a weird place. If you’re a self-starter it’s great. You can just make things. Not the best for people straight out of school if you have no drive. But for me it was great. I met a bunch of really interesting people and did some cool projects. But it was weird, the contacts I made with all these talented cool people, were all international students, so when we graduated they all left and went to their corners of the globe.
After a few years of doing creative projects and not being paid, I racked up a heap of debt, so I think I got to a point where I had no money and no job. I had a friend who was working at the classification board and she said they needed bright people and said to come in, so I did and got a job. I worked in the National Censorship board for the next few years.
Out of it has come a comedy TV series that I’ve written. That was a truly weird place. It was a real intersection. This public service institution, like Yes Minister. There are the rules that everyone just follows, even if they are stupid and inefficient, and you get ripped off by everyone – all the tradesman’s etc. Then on top of that you’re in this position where you get called by the Porn Companies, having to look at these videos to see if you can see an exposed labia or not and then calls from the head of the sex party saying that the labia isn’t offensive. It was such a weird and interesting place.
What do the objects mean that you brought along?
They were all about travel, love and childhood… in all the most messed up ways.
What are you working on at the moment? – I’ve been quite busy in the last year. I had already written one feature film, now have written a second – which made it to the Sundance film writers lab finals. I’ve written a few episodes and outlines for TV series that I’ve envisioned.
I’m also collaborating with Chrissie Hall on a few projects including what I hope will be my debut directing role for a feature film, and I’m working with Storm Ashwood as well on a war based film script, that could be shot as a play or a film and is super topical. It’s more about ideas and what’s important than pure entertainment, although it is also that
What things do you like working on the most. I just want to make things that people really love. There are a bunch of different ways that could happen. My goal in all of this would be to be able to keep making films and projects that role into the next one.
What does Create or Die mean to you?
A lot of people say “Alex, when are you going to be sensible and get a job”. I feel like I’m at this stage in my life where I’ve done A LOT of that. I’ve had the sensible jobs and now, I’m driving this car towards the edge of a cliff and maybe it will grow wings and fly… or maybe it will plummet to my death. Either way, I’m not going to stop…creating.
— I will be exhibiting as part of “Show me someone who says it’s easy” – Which opens at Create or Die Gallery on Friday 30th October. ——