Newcastle III

Ok, more news from Newie.

The first panel I went to yesterday was on television writing. The speakers were the president of the Australian Writer’s Guild, a guy who is a writer on “The Secret Life of Us” and this crazy lady who came in late (she’d missed the train) and took over the room with her stories of how writing for television all but ruined her life.

Here are some things I learned from the panel:

  • When generating drama, it’s not what makes characters like each other (that’s easy), but what makes characters hate each other.
  • The Australian television production industry is a false industry held up by quotas.
  • Drama series that work have some sort of element of life jeopardy – death, jail, illness, etc. This translates to shows about police, lawyers, doctors, etc.
  • British comedy originates from panto-style theory (crikey, vicar!), American comedy originates from radio comedy (lots of talking). Trying to use either of these formats in a country that doesn’t have a tradition of having them (i.e. Australia, or New Zealand) isn’t going to work. What is the great Australian comedy type? Possibly yarning, story telling. How does this translate into television comedy? Um… we’re working on it. If you want to write for television, you must watch television. Watch all the popular shows and figure out why they are so popular. Yes, what is the appeal of watching middle class people freaking out when they discover their lounge has been painted orange?
  • If you dedicate your life to TV writing, make sure that you still go out so you don’t go crazy.
  • Whether you are male or female, have a wife. She will make things much easier for you.
  • Never underestimate the power of having a well known actor attached to your project.

Then I went to the zine fair. I acquired a huge pile o’ zines and a few comics. I was walking past one stand and was excited to see a copy of Annettle’s Mango zine. A guy with a mohawk was reading it. It’s going to be really cool coming back to Auckland just in time for Small Print. Every time I go to This Is Not Art, I always get a little sad (boohoo!) that there’s nothing like it in New Zealand, so it’s really exciting that Small Print is happening. A small step in the right direction.

Ok, after the zine fair I went to a panel on sex and censorship. It turns out that fetish porn is illegal in Australia. Like, a woman in a porno can say “Whip me, baby!”, but can’t actually be shown being whipped, because that’s considered sexual violence. One of the panellists is doing a three year study gauging Australia’s porn habits. Because no one really wants to proclaim “I wank and I vote!”, the strongest voices during porn debates is usually anti-porn campaigners, so the survey is aiming to get an idea of the kind of porn that the average porn-consuming Australian likes. Also, another panellist who works in a sex shop revealed the sexual fetishes of a couple of Australian politicians. I can’t remember their names, so I have no gossip to share.

Oh, and I was interviewed by a guy who is making a radio documentary for Triple J about artists on the dole. I ended up having a long talk with him (off the mic) about Australia and New Zealand. At one point I was talking about kohanga reo and I felt all patriotic. It was a weird moment.

Then finally I ended up seeing some really good spoken word and hip-hop. I’d write more about it, but, oh, I have to go off to a workshop about stencilling. (Shut up, Robyn).

It’s raining today.

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