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
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
‘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.
I am an arthouse (film) girl; so naturally when the opportunity arose to attend ‘Show Me Shorts’ Film Festival at Capitol Cinema (previously Charlie Greys), I went. I enjoyed the short films very much. This Neo-Greek building is slightly dated; however still beautiful. The wine list is better than I expected, not bad for $9. The foyer was filling up with people by the minute; the atmosphere was friendly and eclectic, all demographics in the audience. Doors open, everyone scurried for their seats: grand and deliciously comfortable with ample leg room.
The screening ‘Listen Up’ has a run time of 79 minutes and we’re told in the programme “These short films have tales to tell from the margins of society.” Can’t wait; I love great storytelling. The music video “Cry If You Want To” by Mulholland (NZ) was definitely an ‘intergalactic’ experience with visual intoxication. “The Last 40 Miles” by Alex Hannaford was an animated American film, featuring ‘Ronald’ who was on death row, who travelled with two prison guards to the execution chamber. He reminisced about the ‘what ifs’ while in transit. Extremely gut-wrenching and captivating, based on a true story. “The Phone Call” by Mat Kirkby was a conversation between a helpline call centre woman called Heather, and the man on the other end of the phone, gave a fake name: Stanley (Jim Broadbent). I felt what ‘Heather’ felt: desperate to know what was wrong and why he was unhappy. This UK film was dramatically complex when their truth fuelled friendship; for the duration of the phone call. Isn’t it amazing how strangers can turn your life upside down? I hung on every word and hoped for a good outcome – brilliant film. “In The Rubbish Bin” by Riwia Brown was another animated NZ film, about a child called Pippa who spent her birthday with her teddy bear, Chubby. Pippa ended up in a rubbish bin to shelter from the rain. This NZ film is an intense roller coaster of emotions in 4 minutes. “Box Of Sound” is an American music documentary by Chuck Przybyl who creates music from his environment and circuit benders reinvent cigar boxes into synthesisers. Incredibly fascinating, with a touch of pizzaz. “Toilets” by Gabriel Bisset-Smith is a UK film about three characters who continually meet up in loo’s over a period of time. Two women, and one male who party, experiment with drugs, sex, friendship and support each other through life lessons: Comical, light-hearted and human. “Sounds Perfect” by Allan George is a NZ mockumentary about the adult film industry. Dave is the audio enhancement engineer who is extremely creative when recording ‘sex’ sounds. Highly entertaining, with much hilarity from the audience. Last up “Condom” by Sheldon Lieberman is an Australian film about a 6yr old boy who finds a used condom and wants answers from his Dad. Absolutely laugh-out-loud. I think all parents will embrace this footage and smile. What a successful screening: insightful, dramatic, hilarious and brave.
1. When/Why did you establish NZPC?
We established NZPC in 1987 to support each other and to address the illegality of our work in the face of police arrests and the potential of HIV to affect our work. We were determined to make conditions related to our work safer and had to to build awareness that legislative change was needed for this to happen.
2. Do you directly work with sex workers’ Catherine?
Most of my work involves direct work with sex workers on a daily basis.
3. What is your stance on underage sex work?
NZ shifted its focus to one of protecting sex workers who are under the age of 18, as opposed to one of prosecuting these young people. This used to be the case before the law changed in 2003.
4. Do you know the current statistics of sex workers in NZ?
I’m aware there are thousands of people who are either sex workers, or who have been sex workers, and who live and work quietly in New Zealand. There are many more people who pay sex workers.
5. What services do NZPC offer?
We focus on working safely, and supporting sex workers to access relevant information which can assist them to do this. People who are considering sex work approach NZPC as do those who want to move away from sex work. We support all.
6. How could other people in society support NZPC?
We are aware there are many individuals and organisations who support NZPC by referring those sex workers who may not know about us, to us. This is important support.
7. What other organisations do NZPC work with besides Women’s Refuge?
We work with a tremendous variety of organisations from Family Planning Association to Sexual Health Services to the NZ AIDS Foundation as well as government organisations.
8. Tell me about your involvement in decriminalizing prostitution in NZ? This bill was passed in 2003?
NZPC was instrumental in pushing for the decriminalisation of sex work. I first presented to a select committee as a representative of NZPC calling for this change in 1989. Decriminalisation of sex work has improved the occupational safety and health of sex workers throughout NZ. Street based sex workers were most frequently arrested and convicted of soliciting and it was a demeaning experience.
9. Why do you think ‘sex work’ is still so stigmatized in modern society?
Sex work is stigmatised because non sex workers are not really listening to the diverse voices of sex workers, and are only happy when sex work is depicted as a horrible “empty” experience. Sex workers would say it’s a lot of different kinds of experiences and want to be treated normally, and not as some problem to be fixed.
10. What do you think of the word ‘WHORE’?
WHORE is understood by sex workers to mean, “We Honour Ourselves with Respect and Empowerment.” It is a word which has been reclaimed by sex workers everywhere.
Lot 23 is a place that you may read about in ‘Viva’; then make the (conscious) decision to visit, before it’s everyone’s hang-out.
Located in Minnie Street, Eden Terrace which happens to be where TVNZ ‘Step Dave’s’ (blue) house is situated!
As you enter the space: walls are filled with the latest art curated by Natalie Tozer, concrete floor, wooden old-school chairs, complimented with a super-slick white interior that acts as a great canvas for everything art!
The menu is delectable: ‘Ugly bagels’ topped with lashings of cream cheese, capers and fresh salmon, daily soup choice/s, croissant filled with Camembert, tomato and ham off the bone, ‘Baghdad eggs’ and coconut ice!
Every mouthful is ‘gastronomy’ and flavoursome. I particularly love the ‘Brazilian coffee’ that stimulates the senses – like coffee should.
“Creative Mornings” is a monthly forum (and a must) for anyone who wants to collaborate, listen, observe, assimilate, network or grow from the content of the speakers, and the people that attend.
Hosted at Q Theatre in the ‘Lounge’ with complimentary water from “Antipodes” and the coffee was “Supreme” – don’t mind if I do.
Michael Hurst spoke enthusiastically about directing ‘sex’ on stage and film, with the key subject matter being “Chicago” produced by Auckland Theatre Company and of course “Hercules” and “Spartacus”.
“When do we cross the line?” Michael spoke about what you can and can’t do on set and stage, for example an actor can suck a nipple however there can be no contact with teeth. Fair enough? Why is that? Too erotic, health and safety issue, or maybe it’s a legal matter. Interesting one.
He spoke about the difficulties with contractual obligations with actors and full nudity being a stumbling block. Also, directing scenes in “Spartacus” with male actors and using prosthetics when necessary.
Never mind the relationship issues it can cause the actor when they go home to their partner? How do they deal with this? In my experience there are rules between couples and obviously insurmountable trust. Break it and you lose the love of your life.
Great subject matter at any time of the day!