Tripod, Suzie, David and me: Video Postcard making

Writing and photography are the two things I am most comfortable with when it comes to art and creative expression. But recently I realised it’s really time to continue to hone my video making skills and move out of the comfort zone.

To help me on my quest I called Suzie Cray, the new Cairns based ABC Open producer, who eagerly agreed to come and assist.

In preparation I wrote three short scripts, charged up my camera batteries, and packed it along with my tripod and some water.

Although I’ve made videos before, I am keen to learn from people further along in the process and Suzie has tonnes of experience she loves to share with others.

When I met with her, up at our local store (featured in the video) we selected the best shoot in a day script and listed some shots we could take to help tell the story and off we went.

I had hoped to have the whole family involved but as is usual with family, the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition and it was David, my hubby, who was inspired to tag along and play a cameo role in the resulting video although our children had fun watching me grapple with editing later.

One of the things I learnt from Suzie was to be flexible with the script and go with the flow of events when collecting my shots.

We found a bee on a flower, and later I spotted a butterfly, a tourist taking photographs of the falls, and some lovely ripples in the water.

These found their way into the video postcard.

Suzie did some camera coaching, encouraging me to play with the focus and do some hand held work changing my depth of field. The tripod proved to be a challenge throughout the day and I realised it was just too stiff for some kinds of shots. I worked on some fruitful hand-held panning.

By the end of the day me and my tripod were better buddies and now we can attempt more together!

Suzie, David and I had a lunch break and then we edited my script and Suzie coached me on editing my video. I recorded the narration of the script onto our tablet. Suzie, who had been such a big inspiration throughout the day, had to return to Cairns, and I continued editing, with a short break for dinner.

I didn’t finish the video that day, but went out to collect more interesting shots over the next few days, and worked on polishing the edit of the postcard. I created a subtle soundscape, and had to combine two of the video programs I have access to at home to do what I wanted to, but I was so happy when it was finished. I re-recorded my script.

The first person to see this postcard was Suzie, who spotted a couple of things I missed in my edits, which I’ve hopefully fixed!

What now?

Me and my tripod although friends, might need another buddy, and future video projects beckon. I’m about to assist a dancer create some short videos for her new website, and am looking forward to putting my old skills and new skills from the day with Suzie to work.

First published ABC Open, August 2013. Many of the links to ABC Open within these posts may well be lost over time, and any referring to ABC Open additional links will not work after June 30th.  I have saved my favourite contributions to ABC Open now and you should find most on this blog. However some vimeo links to ABC Open may also soon be lost as well, unless they are my personal vimeo. Those ones are still around for now.

Advertisements

The Farmer’s Wife

She teaches me how to drive a car as if I was an extra sister or a daughter, so I can be free to leave my country home. She says St Christopher will keep me safe when travelling and on the day of my driving test.

Many country places, especially this one, are shocking for public transport and not being able to drive is like being in your own personal prison. Especially when the big wet and sweltering heat come, and make you fade away with each step.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife. Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She dedicates herself to family as if it’s her truest vocation and not once ever is there a sense of regret.

She’s at every recital, concert, sporting carnival, P and C event and her loyalty never wavers. She’s selling raffle tickets in the street. She’s organising reunions, and trips overseas. She’s not scared of seeing more of this world.

She’s found her fulfillment in others finding their dreams, like the best coaches who pull world records from people. Every milestone for her children is their own world record.

She appreciates good teachers, who see more than cane farms and banana picking as outcomes for rural students.

She appreciates the behind scenes people to good teachers, and takes them under her wing, so they can find their dreams – adding them to her task list.

She doesn’t expect her sons will come back and take over the family farm; they will build new lives, wherever they choose. But she’ll take every opportunity to build family connection spaces for them all to come together in the country way. She’ll build these wherever she has to, even if it’s away from the country.

I can never be her, but I can see all the backbone she gives her family, this community.

There are many like her, the deeper one looks beneath the surface of country towns.

Whether her spirit of service, sacrifice and love will live on in her children is something neither of us will ever really see.

She’s the soul and spirit of all that’s best in small country towns.

One day she and hubby will retire from the land, and the family oasis she built will be their new home.

She’ll ease his pain as he misses his tractor and the cane burns. Like a wife of a solider returning from war, she will see his heart break as the farm goes to someone else’s son whose dreams lie in the land.

She’ll shake the soil off his clothes one more time. Counsel and laugh for them both.

She’ll remind him their daughter might be their country doctor one day.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife. Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She’s shaped the way I see the country now. She’s given me strength and extra skills to be much more independent in my life.

First Published ABC Open, 23 Nov 2012.  Also published in Anthology

Perkins, J (2013)‘The Farmer’s Wife’ Voices of the North, Writers in Townsville, Kirwan, Townsville, (pp. 11-12)

Perfect Day for a Cake Stall

Election days are not everybody’s cup of tea; cynicism can set in when people wonder if the best side will be elected, but the one thing that many can look forward to are the cake sales by enterprising P and Cs. Kids and community love them.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baking Mum.

Bake me a cake as fast as you can;

Pat it and price it and mark it with profit,

Put it on the market for new chairs and books

Wow P and C Mums are fabulous cooks

The Murray Upper River State School cake bake was presented as well as any professional bakery, with cupcakes, mini date puddings, marble cake, chocolate cakes, coconut ices, marshmallow bunnies, biscuits, and toffees – all neatly organised, ingredient labelled, and priced. It looked pretty, creative and delectable as any high tea for a local gumboots Princess would.

This year’s innovation was iced coffee from one of the Mum’s new to the school, also a fabulous potter, who has seen this be successful elsewhere; it was perfect for a tropical humid day as she had hoped it would be (although the day was a bit cooler than the ultra humid one the day before.) Some still opted for the hot drinks. I like seeing innovation at any level of community activity.

Mum’s thinking outside of the envelope and not scared to put forward an idea in country settings are brilliant. First the P and C bake sale, then the world! Seriously the thought that goes into cake bakes could easily be put into enterprises to give women successful businesses in any arena; so you go for it Mums! Okay maybe a few Dad’s baked, so I better say thank you to any Dads who took the time to cook or mind children whilst mums went to sell cakes.

Also on offer were raffle tickets for the upcoming Easter eggs bonanza, and for a scratchy money tree – a plant covered with scratch to win tickets. Now I’ve never seen that before but what an interesting idea. I wonder how much that tree will net the winner. There were some plants with pretty pink flowers on sale as well.

The table was well placed, right outside the polling booth for the state election. I’m sure today these cake stalls are taking place all over the state, and the Cassowary Coast.

The cake stall is a happening place with parents and community stopping to chat, and feeling with that country warmth that you see in shows like A Country Practice and wonder ‘is that for real’ or just a myth.

It’s a time to talk gardening, and to my surprise the reinvention of Mum’s the world over returning to work after years of devotion to cake bakes, sports days tuckshop, sausage sizzles, and the basics of event management that could see many of them turn professional.

Maybe some will even compete on reality television cooking shows and become stars in the food industry.

First published ABC Open, March 2012.

Video Postcard From Murray Upper

Murray Upper, the home of Murray Falls. Not many buildings but a place to enjoy ….

This postcard is partly a reply to Lynette Oxley who sent me a video postcard about historical buildings in Bathurst.

It’s also to all our friends and others who wonder what life is like here.

Thanks to: David Perkins (cameo), The Tourist (extra) and Suzie Cray (video mentoring)
Jason Shaw – Serenity (Music)

 

First Published by ABC Open 17 Jul 2013

 

 

  • June Perkins

    How lovely to hear from you Lyn. Thanks for visiting Magic Fish Dreaming . Yes working hard on several writing projects and looking forward to the Mentorship.

  • Lyn Oxley

    Hi again June, I recently discovered you won a mentorship for children’s writing with the ASA and CAL. Congratulations and good luck with your writing in 2016!

  • Lyn Oxley

    June, I’m making 2 videos for a uni assignment at the moment, but not video postcards. My topic is ‘The History of Animation’.

  • June Perkins

    Yes, I love Jason’s work, I must send him a fan tip sometime. My son is a great guitarist too, once he has some of his own work composed might start featuring that.

  • Luke Wong

    Aw love it June. So lucky to have such wonderful scenery to enjoy…and warm weather! Gotta love the musician Jason Shaw too, so many Video Postcards feature his music. He is an absolute Creative Commons legend.

  • June Perkins

    It sure is Lyn, are you making any more video postcards, or doing another video project.

  • Lyn Oxley

    Nice video, June. The waterfall looks like a great place to visit.

  • Michael Bromage

    A concrete crocodile! Murray Upper looks so peaceful, June.

 

Song Trails revisits the Cassowary Coast

At Song Trails, a three day workshop created for the Queensland Music Festival, attendees were asked to move out of their comfort zones by working with people they didn’t know as well as with new combinations of instruments and voice to create new songs.

Young worked with old, punk poppers, with folk and country stylers, and rock with country and as for instruments we had saxophones, harp, guitars, flutes, trumpet, bass and voices – high and low – all came together to do what we all loved- make music. Tully Song Trails resulted in a rhythm and blues song -Throw me in the Water, laid back pop song – Solo, a grunge rock song with parts sung in German – Gone So Long, folksy – Coming in From the Clouds (or Mother Nature) and a poetry rap with folky chorus.

The musical experience of nineteen people from the ages of fifteen to seventy eight years old filled the room and spilled over into songs written with the aid of Peter Farnan’s automatic writing and the word palettes and textural hip hop ideas of Morganics. Morganics encouraged us to look for unusual rhymes if we could and inspired us with his wordsmithing on the spot talents.

Friday evening was a time to meet and play our songs and music. Saturday, we had a morning coaching session on music followed by an afternoon of song-writing. Sunday we recorded songs followed by evening concert for the community. It was a tightly packed schedule, but there was still a time for jamming and bonding with other participants in the breaks and in the workshop time itself.

On song-writing Saturday Morganics called on us to understand the history of our genres, and move into song-writing with that knowledge. He gave us a rundown of the history of hip hop, and participants who had previously dismissed it from their thinking and style shared that they now thought there might be something worthy in a genre where music can be a weapon and peacekeeping tool to remove the need for violence in communities. The interesting artistry of hip-hop is the sampling from known pieces to create new pieces; it’s a musical collage that might be an intellectual property minefield, yet those who practice it do with confidence that their sampling will gain the respect of those they sample or be unrecognised as the original piece.

Morganics spoke about music using metaphors of art from texture to colour and through this synaesthesia blurred the lines beyond music, into paint, texture, and impressively demonstrated building a narrative from the feeling a piece of music gave us. He encouraged participants to look for unusual rhymes and reflexive rhyme.

Peter Farnan shared with us his automatic writing mode, which he knew some of us were familiar with from last year’s Songtrails, but it’s such a brilliant and trusted method to use when you have little time to work on something, to find words from the subconscious and then build them into a pattern with simple chord progressions it was employed again. He encouraged us to avoid clichés through creating distinctive pictures and using our senses.

Our group, Shirley, Rivah, Charlee and I began with Peter’s automatic method to generate ideas. Most of our group wanted to write about the cyclone. At first I quietly thought  – “Oh no, I really don’t want to write about cyclones again,” but as we settled on the trigger word storm I felt that I could live with that and we had to work fast with only an hour and a half to complete our song so making decisions quickly was important so I just went the flow.

Our subconscious revealed plenty of sound words, and Charlee’s full sentences had amazing phrases that formed the beginning of the song. Then, as we took key phrases from Rivah, Shirley and I, we found our song’s structure. Shirley guided our group, and brought us together as a team, keeping us focused and yet allowing all to input into the song. She played the guitar and found a simple chord progression and as we sang the song and bit by bit the song came together. Verses, chorus and bridge were built. We remembered what Peter said about contrasting differences between chorus and verses and applied different tempos and altered our key. Peter worked on tuning Charlee’s flute so it could blend with the other instruments.

Peter came and visited our group a couple of times, and gave encouragement and gentle suggestions. We took words out to make our song have a little more mystery and put more music into the song; we closed musical phrases needing resolution with instrumental riffs not words.

We thought of distinct pictures like: ‘Tin on the beach’ and people battening down houses. We had a storm expressed by trumpet and flute.

No wonder composers like working with the palette of a full orchestra, it’s like having a rainbow of sound at your disposal.

Then our song was born, but the journey was not over. We sang it back to the group and Peter began to shape our song here and there. He made more musical arrangement suggestions and adjusted our song here and there to give it more shape.

Still the journey was not over as Shirley encouraged our group in practice to find harmonies, and work over the piece again – and Rivah thought about how many notes on his trumpet, what key and where should they come from. Charlee found her flute contribution was changing – should she worry about that? Would she keep the same pattern? She worked in and around the trumpet.

Song Trails showed me what a band is like or could be like with a supportive environment and kind and knowledgeable managers. Our group didn’t get to record our song as there was only time to record two of the five songs written, but we did watch the recording process and on Sunday performed our song to an audience of around a hundred people from the Tully community who turned up for an open night concert. This was a magical night, with special moments like Bob Elliston and Michelle Walker singing a song dedicated to the diggers which was then punctuated by Rivah playing the Last Post on trumpet.

Song Trails was brought to the Cassowary Coast and sponsored by Queensland Music Festival, Queensland Government, APRA, Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Kareeya Hydro. It was free for all participants.

The video with this post features photographic highlights of the Song Trails weekend and is accompanied by one of the five songs composed in Tully: Solo, by Michelle Walker, Laurie Trott, Matthew Klotz and Sue Cole with mentoring and mixing by Peter Farnan of Boom Crash Opera.

It was a brilliant experience watching the mixing of this song coming together and I enjoyed mixing the photographic montages to go with it. My photographs were featured in the Sunday concert, and projected onto the wall so concert goers could follow our amazing Song Trails journey of the weekend.

First Published by ABC Open,  23 Jul 2012. 

 

Comments from ABC Open

 

  • Laurie Trott

    Well done June, you describe the process so artfully and in depth – and with the same eye for detail and flair that you bring to your photos and video. I am grateful to the Qld Music Festival, APRA, Kareeya Hydro, Cassowary Coast Council and the Qld Government for making the Song Trails possible. It certainly brought together a lot of age groups and people with different interests who might not normally get to mix much. It was fun and a privilege working with talented musicians like Michelle, Matt and Sue on our song, Solo, and such a buzz to listen to it here despite the delays (bring on fast speed broadband….!) And a big thank you to Peter Farnan and Morganics (yep, hip hop/has pulled out the stop/ on my appreciation/ of this music manifestation…) for their generosity and mentoring. Song Trails 2011 was good, Song Trails 2012 was great – what can 2013 bring?? See you next year! Thanks June, Laurie.

  • Shirley Lynn

    Song Trails 2012 was fantastic. The format for Song Trails 2012 was longer than 2013 and as a result the learning from the experience was more enriched. June did a fantastic job gathering photos over the course of the weekend and collating them with music created and recorded at the workshops. Great job June. For me it was a great learning experience and I hope to take part in Song Trails 2013 if it comes round again.

  • Pam Galeano

    Thank you, June I was in the Sunday night audience and was very impressed with the quality of work produced over such a small timeframe and I did wonder about the process. You have explained it well. What a wonderful, valuable experience you all had. Shame there weren’t more of us to appreciate the results. Congratulations – I especially enjoyed the cyclone song. Pam

Look – Don’t Touch

Mum has always loved gardens.  She used to stop and knock on our neighbours’ doors when their gardens had plants with brilliant potential cuttings.   Then she would ask ‘Do you mind if I take a cutting?’

She came equipped with her own garden gloves, shears and buckets.  I wonder what the neighbours thought of her as she harvested their gardens.  I remember being embarrassed, but she did do it with everyone’s blessing.  I don’t remember anyone ever saying no to her.

Mum loved to try and grow tropical plants in Tasmania to remind her of her original home in Papua New Guinea.  She had immense pride when she had success with her hibiscus. She has always been a determined lady in both her garden and other parts of her life.

When we were little Mum clearly told us to stay away from her garden flowers – ’Look, don’t touch.’

We had to water and weed the vegetable patch. Our vegetable garden was vital to our family’s survival as we didn’t have a large income. Our Dad was often away working as a labourer so the garden gave my Mum many hours of happiness.

She tried to make us follow the rules of her garden – things like ‘you are not allowed to pick the flowers or pick the fruit and vegetables before they are ripe.’ But the problem was I loved the delicious scent of Mum’s garden flowers and was keen to make perfumes just like the ones on her dressing table.

There was one plant in particular with a yellow mushy part that you could crush easily into a yellow powder and it made a vibrant paste for not only perfume but for making your own paint.

One day I found myself with this glorious plant busy making my perfume – how I loved  the feel of the soft yellow part of the plant – when my Mum stepped out of the back door and began to yell out and run for me – ‘No, how could you….’  I was sure I turned the bright pink of my Mum’s hibiscus.

I looked up from my perfume making efforts at my Mum’s anguished face, and glanced briefly at the very empty flower bed.  Had I really used that many flowers?

Holding my bowl of flowers forward as if it was now the best treasure of all I managed to squeeze out the words, ‘I made it just for you.’

For more of June’s stories visit her blog  Pearlz Dreaming

 

First published ABC Open,  500 Words, September 2012.

 

Comments from ABC Open Blog

 

7 Comments

  • Diane Finlay

    Such happy memories of making perfume from rose petals. I spent soooo many happy hours with my best friend raiding the neighbours gardens. The petals would fall to the ground and we’d collect them.

  • June Perkins

    Thanks Gail, Vi and Vera, for your feedback about your own experiences with gardens,and to Mum for remembering my cheeky creativity in such a kind way

  • Vera Rayson

    Love your story. Reminded me on my childhood, wenn I was stealing peas from our neighbors garden. I didn’t know you lived in Tassie once.

  • Emma

    Ha ha ha I love this, it reminded me of just being drawn to roses when I was younger and I’d sniff them and then want to take their petals to capture the heady scent… but Mum was never happy with my efforts. The petals are always so soft aren’t they!

  • Vi Jones

    Reminds me of the English gardens of my childhood. Memories are all I have, living in the desert as I do now. Lovely picture. Vi

  • Gail

    A lovely story – I love your mum, and your photography gets ever more eye watering. The juxtaposition of the fabric and flower is perfect.

  • Anna Gerard

    Tears of happiness in your brilliant story of our garden my dear. I walked down the memory lane of our garden in Devonport and West Tamar Rd and yest I remember your attempt in picking the flowers to make perfume for mum for Mum’s day.

     

    Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Food, Friendship, Fundraising

I, like many Australians, have lost someone to cancer; I especially remember a radio journalist in Hong Kong who for many years encouraged me with my writing. So it was for her and other courageous people I went to morning tea.

Australia’s Biggest Morning tea saw the library open thirty minutes early and some of it converted into a mini cafe.

Most of Tully library’s opening hours are when many people are at school or work. At these hours the library is a place for retirees, parents who stay at or run businesses from home, job seekers, tourists or banana workers on their day off and the library staff. Being a freelance writer and presently having control of my own hours I love to pop into the library for inspiration and a break from my home office.

This week the library hosted not only the Biggest Morning Tea event, but also National Simultaneous Story Time. Staff told me that earlier in the week there were over ninety kids and carers in the library taking part in story time. I think the library may well soon need an extension.

Story time happens on a monthly basis and has become a major event for the local kids and parents. They meet up with other parents, introduce their children to the wonders and mysteries of a library and take part in an interactive story event.  Yesterday they all went hunting for teddy bears. Some of whom could still be seen hiding around the library. If only they could scare away cancer!

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Tully event had a delicious self-serve buffet of cakes (chocolate, apple and sponges with sprinkles on top), sandwiches, tea, coffee and herbal tea.

Old friends gathered at the tables but many new friends were made as people freely mixed with others. I met and chatted with one of the library staff’s Mum who told me the story of her name, a lady who I had been running into all morning on the way to the library and who had just smiled for no reason but to brighten the day, and a lady from Feluga. We discovered we were former neighbours. I had never met her before, and we theorised this was probably because she wasn’t involved with the local school out there anymore, I am not someone who popped into the local pub at all, and Feluga doesn’t have a shop.

Meeting my former neighbour made me think about community and how it is built; through shared spaces, like libraries, shops, churches, pubs, sporting clubs and parks; and shared experiences including traumatic ones like cyclones and cancer.

The other day I ran into a friend who was in remission from cancer. She told me what a great help the local cancer support group is to her. She doesn’t have to explain or talk about cancer if she doesn’t want to but everyone at the group just knows how she feels sometimes in her recovery journey; this gives her strength. She did not initially know about this group until a local health professional who takes tai chi classes gave her details for it.

To celebrate Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in Tully I’ve made a short music video tribute to friendship, food and fundraising. People kindly let me take photographs of them and we all shared tables together regardless of whether we had met before. Even in a small town you don’t always know everyone.

I was delighted to learn more about the people in my town. The morning tea gave me an even greater appreciation of the value of shared spaces and special events, even if it might have had a touch of sadness as we remembered friends, family and colleagues who have lost their battles with cancer.

I encourage readers to follow Petrus’s journey with cancer, a moving and honest account of what it’s like to be going through it. We may spend one day remembering cancer, but for many it’s a daily challenge.

First published on ABC Open

 

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Anti-cloud dancing for our Cardwell eclipse

‘Let me sleep.’ Waking up early was always going to be a big ask for the teenager and almost teenager of our family. But we do wake them all up and actually go somewhere to witness the eclipse.

This special event is best if you are an astronomer, free agent, tourist, media paid photographer, or shadow chaser.

Where to go, though, is a bit of a toss-up, and we pick the direction with the least clouds that we can reach the fastest – just what you need; clouds and rain before an eclipse!

We don’t have enough time to drive to Mareeba or Flying Fish Point, which we know might have some spectacular views of the eclipse, but there’s school and work today, and therefore no eclipse public holiday to let us roam.

We go for Cardwell.

The kids are still not impressed with our early wake up, at this point, despite the spectacular dawn. There is nobody else around. Obviously they’ve found much better spots elsewhere, but a lone lady walks by with her dog, and two carloads of people later pull up and then take off in frustration due to the clouds.

My youngest, who was diligently awake and ready to go, does a dance with a stick, an anti-cloud eclipse dance perhaps.  We make sure our cameras are ready and I discover I’ve left the tripod behind, we thought it was in the car, argh!

I have a make shift one on my camera bag and will just wing it with hand held.

The teenager and almost teenager are keen to go back to sleep. Then it begins.

We see the beginning of the darkness. But the clouds are in the way.

Not to worry, anti-cloud dancer, my youngest son, optimistic, totally awake, and bouncy, spots it through the clouds, of course taking care with his eyes.

And there it is, our family’s glimpse of the eclipse, via the camera with flip out screen.

Just a partial, with cloud surround, but nevertheless our personal family memory.

At this point the kids are impressed.

We take a few more photographs and then it’s back to the car, and onto an eclipse breakfast of pies and spinach triangles from one of the bakeries in Cardwell.

I buy a special lunch for eagle eyed youngest to take to school. Who knows, maybe his funny chase the clouds away dance, which severely annoyed his half awake brother and sister, has been a success.

We drive home triumphant, with our special memory of history. We have witnessed an eclipse over the gentle rippling ocean of Cardwell.

First Published by ABC Open, 14 Nov 2012.

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019