I am a Writer and Director. I also work as a Lighting Designer and run a lighting and gripping business for film, television and commercials.
How did you get into being a lighting designer?
I volunteered on McLeod’s Daughters when I was in film school and they threw me into the lighting department because they were short handed and I guess because I had muscles.
I actually didn’t know what a best boy was at the time and since I was studying to be a film director I wanted to know what all the jobs were. The best boy is always the one that you go “What the hell is that?!”
I was just after some work in the industry.
I was in 2nd year uni. All the other film friends I knew were waiters or bar tenders, but I was a mature aged student so I also wanted to make sure I could make money in the industry as soon as possible.
I saw that you didn’t make money off a wage, but you can make money off hiring equipment. So I quickly became the gaffer at film school and hired the gear off the gaffers I was working for. Then every time I’d get a job, I’d sacrifice a part of my wage and buy a light… until today, where I own 2 vans, a truck and a lighting generator truck.
What did you study at Uni?
I studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in film psychoanalysis and philosophy and I did an honours year. 5 years in total. I did my honours part-time because I was working full-time. I was told that it takes 10 years to be a gaffer and after 2 years I was gaffing TV. So there!
What made you decide to go to Uni?
I was a part-time actor, full time working in sales and had a handy man business and I was always writing. People were telling me from when I was very young that I should be a writer as I have an exaggerated imagination. I have always loved movies. So I always thought I would be a director or write. I was writing plays in high-school and always acting. I had a stutter and the only time I didn’t stutter was when I was acting. It’s the same as when I lied as a kid, when I lied I didn’t stutter – you think my Mum would have worked that out, but she never did.
When I enrolled in my course I was already working at the university. I was working at the international students office and because I had an investigators license, my job was to research and verify the authenticity of international students grades, because a lot of them were false grades. It was amazing how many people made up their qualifications.
It was the whole Saturn returns thing at 28, I was exposed to University and I realised I should have been doing what I always wanted to do. And I decided to go to Uni and follow my dreams. My wife didn’t like that much I guess, for a whole heap of reasons, but I then experienced a whole heap of guilt. Which has played a big role in the themes of my films.
But it was about following my dreams that I had always had since I was 12.
What would you like to do if money were no object?
I would like to fly an aeroplane, play a saxophone, learn Akido and become better at handling akitana – which is a sword. I have this romantic image of standing in a grove of trees dancing with my sword.
What Props did you have for your portrait?
I brought a few props…
A Katana – it’s a real sword, made by a Japanese master. The sword is something that’s internal for me. Sort of like a Zen warrior. I’m far from a zen warrior… but I wish I was so that signifies something important to my growth.
I took my eldest sons birth feather – they are eagle feathers that a close friend of mine had put together when my son was born. That’s important to me, because it was the first day I became a father. It’s a native Amercian concept, a cultural idea. My friend was native American and we think that I may be native American on my mothers side – my grandfather, whom I was named after.
I took a red fountain pen – which is precious to me. That represents me as a writer.
Large Hunting Knife – I have killed many animals with that knife, all for a purpose to eat or to put out of their misery because they have been hurt or injured. I identify with the Australian landscape and bush very closely as I grew up in the bush. That represents a sort of primal part of my personality. To hunt.
My Hat – I like wearing a hate, particular when I’m directing. The hat is a practical side of me. I like also giving practical gifts.
Jacket – That was a prop in a film that I wrote and directed. The jacket represents the director and the director is someone who does things – you can be anyone, but it is someone who really takes an idea and turns it into reality that I admire…Which is a weird idea actually because it’s not real at all- film that is. But takes ideas and turns it into something tangible.
Paper – I wrote on the piece of paper “I don’t actually know who Storm Ashwood is, but I know that I am Storm.” – I don’t think you should ever really know who you are, because you should always be changing. So you can know who you are by name, but that name represents something that’s always changing. And hence I had lots of props to represent all these very growing facets…or maybe just because I’m confused.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a low budget feature film that I wrote and will direct. It’s a Fantasy thriller with some scary elements. Every day I have little insights into scenes that I want to make. Which makes me want to actually add to it every day.
I’m writing another script with my partner. A Sci-Fi script which is really, really exciting. It was inspired by a dream I had when I was 16yr old and also by a short film we have just made called MOTH.
The dream that I had was that I was dying but that I was fine because once I died my soul, which I called something else – “syre’ – was going to help people in the real world, the real world being dark-matter. The world that I was dying in (earth) was called The Growing Place, which was were all souls grew and then they’d go into dark matter and live the rest of their existence in The Universe. But in dark matter world you have similar problems to the real world.
I had died of a brain tumour and was discovering that I had all these special powers and could change things in both the growing place and the universe. Kind of as a ghost story really…
Moth and Syre have been morphed into Dark Matter and now have all these new elements that I’m creating with my partner.
All my scripts play with the idea of man being a warrior or monster – man or monster. Protector or monster. And monster isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just choices.
I think the later one will be quite different in general, a very original idea.
They are actually both really original ideas and I guess that’s actually why I’ve struggled getting them up and made. *laughs*
Unless you’ve seen it before it’s difficult to understand. So when you offer up a purely original idea to someone, you need to show them things they’ve seen before, to explain your original idea. It’s a weird paradox.
Create or Die – I think it’s a pretty special saying but also very simple and true. Most truths are simple. Relating to the human condition. There are pretty much two choices. But it’s also duality. Dying isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a kind of metamorphosis.
~ Interview by Deb Morgan ~
Check out Storm’s work and upcoming projects: http://stormashwood.com.au/