I’m part of a team of improv friends who regularly take part in an annual New Zealand 48hr film competition. This year’s event was cancelled, but then the organisers did a big “wait, hey” and decided to run a version where everyone is confined to filming in their own houses. Starting point is a random genre (we got SciFi) and some elements that need to be included, the result has to be between 1 minute and 3 minutes long. It was, as always, silly stressful mostly fun. After some distributed filming, shonkily edited together with some bad sci-fi effects, we ended up with a 2 1/2 minutes of weird fly-point of view story. The “flycam” view totally justifies the shaky camera work. The actual film can’t be shared anywhere until after the judging in a couple of weeks (there are over 2,000 entries to be officially watched!), but here’s the poster, reusing an old macro photo of mine.
My big improv project this year, the most “me” show I’ve done in a while, have been devising and directing a Edgar Allan Poe-themed narrative improv show in the 2020 Fringe Festival. I was finally brave enough to put my own actual hand-drawn art on a poster, and even made some show merch using the image.
Poe’d has now been performed in a proper theatre with fancy lights and everything over four nights – mostly we’re a group that performs in casual bar spaces. The show was a single story told from the perspective of a narrator and unrolled over an hour. It starts with poetry from each of the performers, all inspired by words from the audience. This in turn was the inspiration for the night’s story, which twisted into all the darkest and silliest of drama. After training together for a week of Sundays, we finally got to dress up and take it to the stage. So much fun, and terrifying at the same time.
I was helped by a whole crew of my favourite improvisors from The Wellington Improvisation Troupe, who cheerfully mucked in with everything from making costumes through lights and music and of course so so much Dramatic Acting. To a non-improvisor it might look as if the narrator-character was in charge and directing the story, while in reality this sort of show is a delightful back and forth between all the performers, building something from nothing.
My husband and I (I say that in a queenly voice, ‘natch) did a short two-person version of the show as a warmup (at monthly improv show Late Night Knife Fight), billing ourselves as The Ravening. Poe’d feels like something that might work well as an improv festival show (training it and casting it from the workshop), if we decide to do another grande tour some day.
For January/February I signed up to a most excellent six week course in MC skills, run by the most excellent George Fowler (aka Hugo Grrrl). It ended with a graduation show in front of friends and family which was basically an hour and a half of introductions to mostly imaginary shows, and no actual content. A perfectly wonderfully silly night helped by an audience prepared to be warmed up over and over again.
Some photos from the side, because that’s where I was standing while waiting for my turn on stage.
Grave of Bridget (d 1891) and Cornelius (d 1904) Counahan, Mount Street Cemetery in Wellington. I’m fascinated that for even obscure graves you can find information online that hints at long ago lives. Cornelius was a baker, who in 1887 was in court, disputing with a former employer who’d failed to pay wages or repay a loan, charged with larceny because he’d seized some kitchen equipment. The case was dismissed! Bridget and Cornelius had a daughter Catherine in 1888, so that little girl would have been just a toddler when her mother died, and 16 when she became an orphan. And then looking for more information . . . another hour vanishes.
Mount Street was the first Catholic cemetery in Wellington, it runs down a steep hillside by the main Victoria University campus in a very scenic cascade of old tombstones.
Photographed with an infrared modifed camera and IRchrome filter, lens was a lensbaby trio28 set to twist.
One of my favourite events as an improvisor and as a photographer is the annual NZ Improv Festival. This October I played onstage as the computer in an improvised radio play, and also as and with a huge bunch other characters over the week and a bit of delightful workshops and delightful shows. There was everything from clowning to musicals to Shakespeare and back again. I even tried Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in one of the (many, many) evening social events. This year a youth festival was held as part of the main one, which was especially delightful. There were workshops and shows for the under 10s, and workshops leading to shows by the older kids.
There were three photographers sharing the documenting task, as part of this I shot eight of the shows and gave some new camera gear a darn good workout. Happy to report that the Sony A7iii, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and Sony 35mm f1.8 all worked well in some interestingly tricky lighting conditions.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: not only are improvisors wonderful people, they often have the best most bendy faces you could hope to see. These are some randomly chosen favourites, there’s a larger selection on Google photos:
The IR chrome filter seeks to recreate the effect of the olden-times kodachrome film, spares the blue and turns foliage rich reds and oranges. Intended for blue skies and such, but also a nice colour effect on blue-feathered birds, and the images don’t need the ‘colour-swap’ processing that most infrared camera images require.
Shot on a full-spectrum modified A6000
I foolishly/recklessly signed up to a ‘one week challenge’ for digital portrait painting, via @paintable.cc . I call this finished for now, if not really finished-finished (luckily, digital paint never dries). Following someone else’s process made me explore some bits of my drawing programmes that I’ve never used before, and it was all very frustrating at times, but good to do.
Tools: Autodesk Sketchbook on a Surface Pro for the sketching and most of the painting parts, and Photoshop with an elderly Wacom tablet on my desktop for the Photoshop finishing and detail parts.
#digitalart #portrait #portraitpainting #oneweekchallenge
I’m not much for conferring, but practical workshops . . . yes please. This year the Photographic Society of New Zealand conference was held in Lower Hutt, a mere 40 minutes drive from where I live. Along with favourite genres like macro and nature, I took workshops in genres that are definitely off-brand for me. Specifically, fashion photography, complete with giant soft boxes and carefully posed trained models. I’m happy with what I managed to snap, and maybe I’ll try that sort of style for real. Although with faces that have a little more weathering and a lot less makeup. But having the fancy lighting, that is nice.
We are enjoying a ridiculous one month whirlwind tour of Italy, savoring the mid-winter no-tourist vibe. Weather-wise it mostly like pleasant spring weather at home. Genoa was a one-day stop on the way to Nice, but turned out to be packed with surprises, and it’s been marked as “next time and stay longer” on the imaginary travel planner.
After a busy day wandering through the quite fab aquarium and history of the sea museum my husband, ex-navy and with a marine biology degree was in high degrees of happy place (and okay, I was pretty happy too). On the way back to our accommodation we happened to pass a former palace now a museum (as you do in Italy), an hour or so before closing. The art was excellent, the galleries pleasingly empty, but just as we were about to head down stairs a guard suggested there was just time to take the lift to the roof. So, amazing unexpected views across the roofs of Genoa, at about 4.45pm.
Lesson for next time: must remember to put the pocket tripod in ones pocket, just in case.