As most of you probably know, back in May I decided that FishHead — Wellington’s best lifestyle magazine — and I had gone as far together as we were probably going to and I quit. There were no plans or other offers on the table but I had confidence that somehow the universe was going to provide. In my experience it usually does.
I was conscious that, despite the many pleasures of working on diverse stories about a city that I love, every minute I spent working on a fashion or recipe feature was time I couldn’t spend talking about movies and TV. I was feeling increasingly disconnected from the screen media and, even though Rancho Notorious was (and is) a whole bunch of fun to do, it was increasingly relegated to a spare time hobby rather than the mission that I imagined it could be.
Reviewing for Nine to Noon every fortnight is fun — and challenging broadcasting — but reviewing three films in 12 minutes can sometimes feel unsatisfying. I also really missed writing. I would read some of the stuff being produced by my contemporaries and feel left behind. There was an itch and no time for me to scratch it.
Sure enough, the universe came through.
In the same week that I announced I was leaving FishHead I got a call from Christian Penny, director of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, asking if I’d be keen on a short contract looking after their marketing and communications. That three months has been tremendously stimulating and I am learning heaps, so much so that when the offer came to stick around on a permanent basis I jumped at the chance. At some point I will write up my thoughts about what how my Toi Whakaari experience is growing me as a professional, and as a person, but it deserves a post of its own and will have to wait.
At the same time as Toi came calling, I was approached by Radio New Zealand to discuss ways we could work together to improve their online coverage of film and television. Those discussions were, shall we say, productive and today I signed my letter of offer to join the staff of RNZ on 14 September as Features Producer — Audio/Visual.
A complicated, exciting, busy future awaits. Half my time I’ll be managing communications for Toi Whakaari. The other half of my time I’ll be producing content for RNZ’s digital platform on the topics of film (theatrical, direct-to-video, new, old, whatever takes my fancy) and television (narrative TV rather than reality TV; boxed set reviews rather than media commentary). That content is going to take the form of audio, video, written features and a podcast which I hope is as close to your heart as it is to mine.
Yes, Rancho Notorious (or something very similar) is coming to RNZ — the naughty stepchild of Radio New Zealand screen coverage. With Kailey.
We’re not sure exactly how much of what we are going to try is actually going to work. I’ve been asked to innovate and the only way we can really do that is by trying stuff and seeing how audiences react.
There’s so much that I am looking forward to, not least working with At the Movies’ Simon Morris to grow the reach of RNZ’s film programming and try things online that there’s no room for in a broadcast schedule.
And after years of pushing Funerals & Snakes and Rancho Notorious (almost) singlehanded at the same time as working competing day jobs, I am really looking forward to working with the RNZ digital and community engagement teams to generate some attention for the material we will be producing. Oh, and using the power of RNZ to get some cool guests for Rancho and other features.
I have always wanted to work for Radio New Zealand. The week I arrived in Wellington in 1986 I cold-called someone at Broadcasting House asking about internships! Arriving at the organisation now, while there is so much change and so much potential, is a massive thrill and a huge opportunity.
Now I have to earn it.