At the beginning of April, I packed my Wellington life into my new Toyoata Hiace, affectionately named Hazard or Haz for short. Pretty reliable van maaate! I headed for Tauranga via my sister’s beautiful wedding in the Wairarapa. Still a little tired from the celebration, I rocked up to the Arty House Creative Community on Wairoa Rd to kick off the project in collaboration with a master of technological creativity – Dane Scott. Check him out at http://www.danescott.com
The residents on the land were all epic humans working on awesome and inspiring projects for the world, and they warmly welcomed me into their family. There was a constant stream of abundantly delicious food, great people, red wine, deep conversations, and parties with sweet sweet sounds. I did my best to repay their generosity by facilitating community meetings, hosting the local men’s circle, and guiding people to holistically manage their lives and projects.
And the learning began! From the get go Dane guided me on how to capture mindfulness in film. As we shot the first Focused Awareness video at McClaren Falls, starring that epic Piwakawaka, Dane taught me that if I practised mindfulness as we filmed then he could capture what I was trying to teach - mindfulness in action. This might seem obvious, but it takes determination to be mindful while filming. We discovered that if I spent time listening to the bush sounds as we recorded them, it helped me get into the zone. Dane also demonstrated that we could visually depict focused awareness through vision by adjusting the camera focus to different perspectives of the scenes as we filmed, a style of shot that we’re going to try to replicate throughout the series. I think the most powerful thing I learnt from Dane was that a beautiful way to film is to capture the authentic narrative as it is organically unfolding in the moment, rather than trying to construct a narrative beforehand. It seems that the art of filming mindfulness is to simply be in the moment and have some cameras around wielded by people who know how to use them.
We then began shooting interviews with Adam Sharplin (which we released!), Ian Mason, and Leo Murray. Again Dane was full of creative wisdom – he taught me how important it is to spend time connecting with people over a cup of tea or some kai. It was always helpful to talk about the subject matter, which created a space to allow people’s personal insights and vulnerable stories to emerge safely and with confidence.
As we were filming interviews Elle Hocking and Phillipe Menoita, the videographers who I'm working with on the road, arrived to the community in Tauranga. I first met Elle and Phillipe by chance at my flat in Wellington while they were there to check out a van that a visiting friend was selling. I answered the door and talked to them for a while before returning to my room, but then I had a strong intuitive feeling that I should go and ask them if they were into videography. Elle revealed that she was in fact a videographer who was keen for a collaborative project and Phillipe said that he was an experienced photographer who was interested in developing video skills. Check them out at http://www.ellusive.co.nz
After Elle pointed out that she was into wilderness and hunting, my mind was officially blown. Fast forward to Tauranga again – Elle and Phillipe joined the family with ease and everyone was excited by the drone they had brought with them. They soon revealed their generous and passionate spirits to everyone by supporting local projects - taking aerial shots of the Arty House Creative Community and the Rock Community Garden in Papamoa.
Now we were all together, it was time to shoot the introduction and crowd funding videos at Wairere Falls, a 153m waterfall in the Kaimai range (to be released soon!). Our vision was to capture me standing on the top of the waterfall with the drone hovering out just in front, and then for it to fly quickly upwards and pan over the waterfall. We set off to make our way up to the top, accompanied by the beautiful Tayla Joy, to capture our most epic video yet. Despite the wind and many tourists, we absolutely nailed the shot and celebrated together by dancing on the waterfall as the drone flew overhead. We recorded the rest of the video in the bush above the falls, on the path back down, and sitting in my van as the sun set. What a day!
April was ending and a party was looming in Auckland, so I sadly bid Dane and the local community farewell. I have the deepest gratitude for Dane – we met very briefly for the first time right after new year, and when I told him what I was planning he said that he was totally into it and would give me a month of filming. Well he was completely true to his word - what an absolute champion! I hope that one day I can repay his generosity. I would highly recommend him to anyone as a professional – he was easy going, on point, gave excellent guidance, and pulled of all the shoots beautifully.
After the party in Auckland, I met up with Elle and Phillipe again and we caught the ferry over to Waiheke Island to capture the wise words of Cameron Ryan and film another episode of Focused Awareness. We also had the privilege of supporting the restoration project in Mawhitipana valley where Cam was living. I learnt so much from him about regenerating native bush and I started learning the names of the different native trees as we placed them around the valley ready for planting. We ate super well the entire time, perhaps with the exception of Cam’s bbq charcoal chicken... We went fishing off the rocks and I caught a snapper which myself and my friend Phoenix turned into a delicious seafood chowder to share with everyone. Elle and Phillipe captured the valley from the air with their drone to help the restoration project track their progress and to be used in permaculture design.
We returned back to Auckland where we met with Matt and Wendy Rayner, my uncle and auntie, to capture their insights from working through Matt’s breakdown as a couple. It was an absolute honour witnessing their story, which I can’t wait to share as it was packed full of insights. This was our first shoot indoors at night, and we didn’t have Dane’s expertise, so now we’re hoping the magic of production will help us reduce the graininess in the shots. We’re learning so much with each video that we capture and edit!
I’m sitting and writing this at my family home in Auckland. I’m very privileged to have such a supportive family! My sister has been emailing me feedback and marketing advice, my brother helped me install a vent and roof insulations to get me through the winter, dad has been offering words of wisdom, and my mum sewed me thermal curtains and is knitting me a jersey. I’m feeling very grateful and there’s something deeply important in feeling supported by people you love as you do something off the beaten track that you’re passionate about. Nice one family!
I’m preparing to head down to the Mindfulness for Change hui, a community organisation that I co-founded that’s all about creating social and environmental change through embodied practises like mindfulness. I’m excited to be facilitating Open Space with Elli Yates, which is a process that organises people’s ideas for workshops into a schedule at the event, rather than pre-organising the content. It’s an amazing piece of social technology!
And finally, but most importantly, Elle and Phillipe are finalising the edit of the introduction video for the campaign as I write this. They’ve been working hard and it constantly amazes me how giving and passionate they are about this project. I had a sneak peek the other night and a tear came to my eye as I watched it. It really shows how skilled and talented they are. I can’t wait to share it next week! Stay tuned and much peace.