1. Tell me about your latest project?
I have been working on a feature film project with writer Thomas Sainsbury
over the last couple of years. It’s not horror, more a continuing
interest/exploration of characters on the fringes of society.
2. Who is your greatest inspiration in film and why?
Luis Bunuel, a Surrealist film maker. Because his films reveal that the
unconscious plays a huge role in our conscious lives and his stories move
seamlessly between dream, fantasy and reality. Bunuel’s first film with
Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou, was an inspiration for my own first short
film Circadian Rhythms and the follow up feature film Angel Mine.
3. Is horror your preferred genre, as a filmmaker?
Horror is a genre that encompasses a wide range of approaches to telling
stories. I am interested in the psychological and supernatural/magical
elements of our consciousness and the horror genre best describes the
exploration of these areas.
4. What do you love about directing?
I love the process of working creatively with others to organically
manifest emotional atmospheres which audiences can engage and resonate
with. Creativity requires participation without fear, and directors role is
to enrol cast and crew into a shared vision that ultimately takes on its
5. What lessons have you learnt as a prolific filmmaker?
Communication skills are very important at all stages of the film making
process. You have to give yourself permission to make films, if you wait
for “others” to bestow permission, you may be waiting a long time. Most
importantly don’t project your vision on the universe, rather see your
vision in what the universe is showing you.
6. Tell me about your most successful film?
Death Warmed Up, 1984, is likely the film that has travelled the world most
successfully and continues to be requested Internationally for relicensing.
Unfortunately this film has a backstory that is tragic. The original film
negative was burnt mistakenly by the Lab in Wellington. The 35mm Inter-
negative is lost in America. No complete 35mm prints exist, and over 32
cuts were made to one of the few one inch tape copies of Death Warmed Up to
survive. So Death Warmed Up has a very bitter sweet place in my life.
7. What is the most memorable film you have seen and why?
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner would have to be the ground breaking film along
with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead that fuelled certain elements of the vision
presented in Death Warmed Up.
8. Do you think the dvd is now redundant?
DVD’S will have an on-going role in private collections and specialised
lending institutions. Mass consumption is moving with the digital times
towards watching online and downloading. I am sorry to see the DVD lose its
position and predict there will be no DVD stores left within two years.
9. What makes a good story?
Anything that engages one emotionally that allows universal
truth/understanding to emerge, exploration of the microcosm allows
reflection on the macrocosm.
10. Lastly, any advice for emerging filmmakers?
Stick with your vision of the project. It’s a marathon not a sprint. You
need to pace yourself through the inevitable highs and lows. Time is the
micro budget film makers biggest supporter. Flexibility around cast and
crews life commitments, allow a window of opportunity, that ensure you get
the best from everybody whether they are being paid or not.
A lot of people ask Melissa why she named her project ‘Whore’.
The reason being is that sex workers’ claim that name. Melissa wrote six monologues about street sex workers in late 2013. Three actors each performed two monologues, to sell-out audiences in Auckland & Wellington in 2014.
“Whore consists of six beautifully structured monologues performed serially by three actors. The text was constructed by Fergusson from extensive interviews with sex workers and it’s exceptional. She has consulted with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and the entire show has a sense of authenticity that is at the heart of its success because successful it truly is.” – Lexie Matheson, ONZM
Now adapted to screen, six short films: Illegal Migrant, Married Woman, Underage Sex Worker, Rent Boy, Transgender & Refugee each runs for 12 minutes; based on true stories of street sex workers living in Auckland.
“An emotionally effecting and unflinching series of short films that sets out to reveal the real and human side to people who work under the label of “sex worker” and achieves this objective with aplomb.” – Kathryn Burnett, Award-Winning Screenwriter
Melissa is the Creative Director of charlatan clinic; she has directed over twenty theatre productions, six short films and is writing her first feature film presently.
Whore Films @ Capitol Cinema, 610 Dominion Road, Balmoral, Auckland on July 20 & 21 at 8pm, 2016. Tickets available from http://www.iticket.co.nz
Director: Melissa Fergusson
DOP: Tim Butler-Jones
1st AD/Sound Tech: Rob Ipsen
Art Department: Lina Cruz
Makeup & Hair Stylist: Angela Crumpe
Rent boy: Lee ah yen Faatoia
Stripper: Christine Becker
Probation officer: Baz Te Hira
Homeless man: Gabriel Henry
John: Michael Hallows
Special thanks: Paper Bag Princess, Christine Becker, Four Eyes Media, Rebecca Parr, Cafe Al-Madina, Topic Rentals, Splice & LYC.
Director: Melissa Fergusson
DOP: Tim Butler-Jones
1st AD/Sound Tech: Rob Ipsen
Location Manager: John Blackman
MUA: Angela Crumpe
Hair Designer: Jordan Camilleri
Stylist: Melissa Fergusson
Refugee: Rebecca Parr
Psych patient: Gaby Turner
Counsellor: Rob Ipsen
Foreigner: John Blackman
Dealer: Baz Te Hira
John: Rhys Collier
Featured extras: Laura Ehlen-Wilson, Olliver Fergusson, Hudson Turner, Cooper Turner
Special thanks to Katherine Hair, The Rose Centre, John Blackman, Paper Bag Princess, Love Your Condom, Splice, Four Eyes Media & Donna Banichevic-Gera x
Director: Melissa Fergusson 1st AD: Rob Ipsen DOP: Tim Butler-Jones MUA: Angela Crumpe Hair Designer: Jordan Camilleri Refugee (Lead): Rebecca Parr Counsellor: Rob Ipsen Psych patient: Gaby Turner Dealer: Baz Te Hira Foreigner: John Blackman John: Rhys Collier
As luck is on my side – I was recently invited to attend the first series of ‘Artisan’ talks hosted by Yelp Auckland at Lot 23. First up (of these talks) was Otis & Sarah Frizzell who founded, own & presently operate “The Lucky Taco”, since May 2013. I was intrigued to hear all about their entrepreneurial journey and their ‘go to’ product; so far they have collaborated with the likes of Nice Blocks, The Collective NZ (no bull yoghurt), BMW and endless others. Like all start-ups – Otis & Sarah – have had an action-packed ride on the path to success. I was delighted to try some of the ‘hot’ sauces on offer including Halanero, Jalapeño & Chipotle. Now stocked in 60 ‘New World’ supermarkets across New Zealand, so you can now have this on tap in your pantry! I purchased some (not on the market yet) ‘Chilli Salt’ which I can’t wait to try on poached eggs! ‘Auckland in a box’ were showcasing too – with a giveaway of local artisan products. Lot 23 is an exceptional space for events, executed to a high standard. The crowd finished off all the sample tacos in record time. Impressed. Nice one Yelp: Gold. That’s all.
What a great venue for a ‘Yelp Elite’ event! I always wondered what would become of the rundown commercial laundry in Mackelvie Street – newly transformed ‘The Shelter’ is resident to Blend cafe & fashion brands: Children of Vision, Taylor, Mobi, Otsu & Tokyo Bikes to name a few temptations. Drew & Sarah Duff-Dobson told us their story behind Blend Cafe: lovers of great coffee selling Smith blend which is Fair-Trade or Rainforest Alliance sold in compostable cups! On our arrival, all Yelpers were offered cocktails either Smith coffee, bourbon & orange and/or Smith coffee, Cointreau, orange & egg white. Whoa! The gorgeous fare was supplied by ‘Bird on a Wire’: selection of Asian salad with a peanut sauce, raw vegetables with Dahl and I missed out on the chicken, unfortunately! Incredible ambiance in the courtyard which was chic, urban & wholesome. Inspirational event – which is the first Yelp event showcasing local startup (entrepreneurial) business’s in the Auckland Central community. Yelp!
‘Junk & Disorderly’ is a second-hand shoppers’ haven: inundated with everything vintage including timeless books, kitsch ornaments, old-school pails, rocking horses, dainty tables, mannequins, crockery, 1970’s sofas and the kitchen sink. Serious. I absolutely adore this oversized jumble-sale – that favours the consumer. I have purchased, borrowed and browsed this awe-inspiring warehouse for days without boredom. Parking is a dream; located in the heart of Northcote – go and find some treasure now or miss out.
What a find! Bunker cafe is hidden away – just off Great North Road – not the easiest place to find, however when you do: bliss. I personally love ‘hard to find’ quirky, urban cafes that don’t do conventional. ‘Bunker Cafe’ is just that; a converted container surrounded by designer bean bags, wooden benches, pews and a concrete garden. Atomic coffee is on offer, along with oversized sweet & savoury brioche, gourmet pies, sweet fare and gastronomic European sandwiches filled with a multitude of choices. I decided on the bacon & egg ciabatta that was winking at me. Everything is takeaway: served on disposable plates. Service is fabulous and personable. Parking is scarce. Ambience is a writer’s dream. You better go now before everyone knows about it!