Tag Archives: video

My very first video

28 May

Video-making has never been on my radar. I’m a writer, not a filmmaker, after all. I’m lucky to have a son who’s a filmmaker, and he’s made me some great book trailers over the years. There really hasn’t been any need for me to learn to do it myself.

But then, this social distancing thing came along and all of a sudden, I couldn’t do bookshop visits, or talks to schools and other groups. I noticed other writers doing amazing videos, and I wanted to do one too, but… I had no idea where to begin.

So, when The Lismore Regional Gallery and The Quad offered an at-home artistic residency called Together//Alone, I thought this might be just the spur a movie-making novice needed to have a go. I applied to make a video called ‘Writing the Girl with the Gold Bikini’. A short time later, I found out my application was successful. After I finished celebrating, I realised I had only seven days to make my video and freaked out.

I’m not exactly a technophobe, but I’m coming from a fairly low base. Step one was to figure out how to use iMovie. I discovered some great templates and spent way too much time checking them out. I also spent a lot of time pondering different approaches to capturing vision and sound with the equipment I’ve got available. I didn’t want to lash out on new gear. In the end, I filmed with a phone and tripod and used the microphone from a pair of headphones tucked into my shirt. It worked okay, but I think next time I’ll invest in a microphone and upload a teleprompter app. Live and learn.

I was super-proud of my first attempt. I sent it to my son, and he said, ‘It’s um… good’, but the way he said ‘good’ made it sound like ‘bad’. Apparently, all my transitions between film clips were terrible. Secretly, I already knew they were terrible, but I was hoping no-one would notice. I went back to work.

The final result is here – a six-minute video where I talk about the inspiration, setting, character and development of ‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’. I feel like a kid bringing their artwork home from school. It might not be amazing, in fact I am well aware that it has some technical issues, but I did it all by myself! My next video can only be an improvement.

If you’d like to read ‘The Girl with the Gold Bikini’ , it is available at your favourite bookshop, or in print here and ebook here.

Pool to Pond – how I learnt to stop fighting nature

10 Nov

About ten months ago I read an article about turning pools into ponds. It had a picture of someone plunging into lily-bedecked water. ‘We should do that!’ I said.

We weren’t good at pool maintenance — ours was never a sparkling blue expanse. Each summer it was a battle to keep the pool looking reasonable — running the pump, hauling chlorine up our 100 steps, scooping the leaves that fell from the overhanging branches. And it didn’t even get all that much use. The beach is only five minutes’ walk away.

I’m not the domestic type – I’ve never had much interest in house or garden, but the ‘pool to pond’ became my pet project. It made perfect sense. The amount of effort, chemicals and power required to keep our pool functioning showed that nature had other plans.

I am obviously a pagan at heart.

So we stopped running the pump and putting chlorine in. It turned green and smelly. At this stage we had doubts. But one month later I spotted a swimming insect in the pool. This was, I had heard, a signal that the pond was safe for life.

My son and I went out and bought a goldfish and released it into the murky water. Anti-climactically, it vanished instantly and remained out of sight for many days. We named it Scott, after Scott of the Antarctic, because it bravely went where no fish had been before.

Next, we bought some water plants – reeds which rested on the top step and lilies for the lower step. The water was still murky, but with the addition of plants at least it looked like it was intended that way.

A week or so later, we discovered Scott, lurking in the pool filter area. He was still alive, so we bought ten more fish. As we put them in Scott came out of hiding and joined the gang as they patrolled their new home. He’d just been waiting for some company.

Ten months down the track, the water is so clear we can see to the bottom and the fish have doubled in size. They must be happy in their home as tiny baby goldfish now swim with the pack. They are all practically oblivious when we put on goggles and swim gently through the lilies, lingering close enough to touch.

Several times a day I wander out and gaze at the calming sight of fish darting through the lilies. And I don’t know why we didn’t do this years ago.

For the full pond immersion experience click below or here.