Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: RONNI SWINTEK

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: RONNI SWINTEK

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

 

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

 

First and foremost, it’s a real honour to be asked to come back and write for this incredibly empowering blog. I also want to thank the founder Carmela (CC) for giving me the power and encouragement to continue writing and for starting my own blog: Confessions Of A Married Woman.

From the bottom of my heart Carmela, I thank you for inspiring me and giving me the confidence and strength to keep doing this. You are a true friend and a real game changer!

The last time I wrote for #STFTL I was talking about how difficult marriage is, and has my mind changed? No. Not at all.

I still acknowledge its difficulty. Living with someone that can drive you insane on a fairly regular basis will drive you insane, literally. But I must also acknowledge the fact that it works both ways. My attention to detail, my pedantic way of placing glasses in the cupboard, how the t-shirts should be folded and how the towels should be hung up after use could drive somebody crazy too (and in reality, that somebody is my husband).

Do we argue about my anal retentiveness? Totally. Why am I like that? Because I just am. I can’t help it, but then again, I can. The question is: do I want to stop being like that? Sometimes I do, but then I wonder if I stop being so anal about one thing, then I will become lax about other things and then all the balls in the air that I juggle will come crashing down on me.

There seems to be a lot of balls and anal discussion, doesn’t there? 😉

Here is what I know a year on about marriage. Find your best friend to marry. Don’t marry a guy because he is rich, has a cool car, is good looking, is good in bed, looks good in a suit, seems like he comes from a nice family (but doesn’t). I know 95% of you wouldn’t be so superficial, but some people are.

If you do choose to marry somebody and it comes to your actual wedding day or the night before, week before, month before and you find yourself having second thoughts, don’t hesitate to call it off. I’ve had too many friends tell me that they had second thoughts before getting married but kept up the pretense because of silly reasons like, all the money spent on the wedding, not wanting to disappoint parents or family who have traveled such a long way. I’m calling bullshit. You were just too afraid to just come out and say it.

Of all the friends who have admitted to me that they wished they had called it off, 99% are now divorced. Yes that’s 99%! Not only did they enter into a marriage, they entered another family’s life (the bride or grooms). They created attachments and friendships with family members. They created children only to leave them all later and leave others picking up the pieces and everybody wondering ‘Why!?’ Just don’t do it in the first place.

Of course, you wouldn’t regret having the children, but you will always regret putting your children through that split-family situation. And perhaps a partner who you really don’t want your child exposed to.

Another thing that has happened in the past 12 months to my family unit is that my husband was summarily dismissed from his job. This was a job he dedicated more than 12 hours a day to. He was in management and loved by his team. When he came home before Christmas and told me what happened it was a shock to all: him, his staff and of course, us as a family.

I work from home mostly, so hubby now being home 24/7 has been a real learning curve for the both of us. It started out fun but then you realise you have no personal space and after about the 3rd month you want to kill each other. Figuratively, not literally. 😉

It’s nearly been a year. He too is working from home now and we have set out terms and conditions. Because I married my bestie, we are able to negotiate things reasonably well. We still have the occasional malfunction but mostly we respect each other’s ability to occasionally act like an asshole. No harm done, just stand back and wait for it to blow over.

Seriously, the better you know each other, the more you understand that you have to deal with someone you don’t like sometimes. That’s marriage. That why it’s called a partnership.

As I mentioned before, in my blog there’s a piece called Is it better to love? Or to like? where I write that I think it’s better to ‘like’ than it is to ‘love’. Love is temporary, it comes, it goes. But if you like somebody, you generally always will; even if they annoy you sometimes, because that is what a friendship is about. I’ve always thought the wedding vows should be ‘to LIKE in sickness and in health’, ‘not to LOVE in sickness and in health’ etc.

Obviously, I love my husband but over the years that love has changed and evolved. Sure, sometimes it de-evolves but more importantly, it also evolves. You can’t expect to feel the same way you did when you first got together.

Life changes, you both change, you grow as individuals, so your love changes too. I have his back and he has mine. Every marriage is different and different circumstances call for some creative thinking in what will make you both happy. Whatever works for you as a couple is what suits you as a couple. Don’t be caught up in the conventionality of marriage or partnerships. If it works, do it. Enough said.

When you are working, you tend to live to work and not work to live. You think you are building real bonds and friendships but most of the time you are being used to help others in your workplace. I know it’s hard to get your head around it, but trust me and my 45+ years of living; no one gives a shit about you once you leave your job. Maybe if you are lucky 1% will. Maybe.

The people who give a shit are the relationships you cultivate outside of work: your lovers, partners, husbands, girlfriends, family. They always will care about you, call you and love you. Most importantly they will ‘like’ you. Even if they call you an asshole, remember they’ve always got your back.

Ronni Swintek is a Mother, Wife, Woman of the World and Professional Media person.

@RonniFox

I have a confession.

I have a confession.

Around this time last year, I posted a picture on the ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied’ Instagram account that expressed my mourning for an opportunity lost, or missed. I felt like I had once again let myself down by not rising to the occasion. I wondered if when it came to interviewing for jobs in London, would this always be a pattern of mine: I got the things I didn’t care about and fucked up the things I really did.

You see, since being here, I’ve done a handful of various roles but my background is in media, predominantly radio and TV. In the past, I’ve been a breakfast co-host, a presenter, an executive producer, an associate producer, a casting researcher, a talent coordinator, a coffee/lunch-get-er, full-time file-er/staple-er; you name it, I’ve done it all!

And when I first arrived in London, I did a few of these things but since I’ve been back for the second time (particularly over the last year and a half), I’ve dabbled in the corporate game as a personal assistant and project manager.

Actually, over the last four years, I’ve done a whole bunch of weird stuff, things I never thought I’d do. I’ve been a waitress, a bartender, a shop assistant, a receptionist at a hair salon… I’ve stretched myself and pushed myself into things for the sake of money and the fear of being unemployed. I’ve had work contracts that have lasted 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months… I’ve worked with many different groups of people, many very different to who I am. I’ve had to put on numerous new hats, gather a range of new skill-sets and find/adjust to my new personality (this is mostly me refraining from singing in the office and mastering my inside voice).

When people asked what I was doing for a job, I would always tell them exactly what I was doing because I wasn’t ashamed of it but I also wasn’t overly proud.

Money aside: it was time for a change too. I needed a break after some pretty awful working experiences/relationships in the media world. Having gone through that, it was necessary for me to take a step back and evaluate my own worth away from working in media. And don’t even get me started on massively needing to improve ones work/life balance. Full disclosure: some job applications weren’t even cutting through to the job interview stage, so I really didn’t have a choice to do anything but something else.

Again, when asked ‘what I was doing in London’, I would follow it with all these long winded reasons for why I was doing what I was doing. I even got really good at convincing people job-interview-wise that I didn’t want to go back to media; insisting that I was done. Basically, I was putting a lot more shine on it then I needed to, I was making my new career path sound much better than it was but here’s the kicker, it wasn’t for them or you, it was for me.

For a while now, I’ve known what I was doing with my time wasn’t right, it was a pass at best. It did what it was supposed to do. I could pay my rent, I could buy my groceries, I could survive in London for another month, and that was really my end game, to stay in London for as long as I possibly could.

I do not want to move back to Australia. Such is my desire to remain in London that when anyone ever asks how long I plan on being here, I always respond with “Forever, as long as there is work”.

The truth: as much as I want to stay in London, deep down I am a creative; it’s a big part of the reason why ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied’ was birthed, I could get my creative fix running this and then go back to my 9-to-5 clinical day job. So the real end game is to create a life here, like the one I had in Sydney. The opportunity to have and be blessed with both, to do what I love, in a place that I love.

So, I’m sorry but I have been lying to you but more importantly, I have been lying to myself. I am a radio person. Radio to me is all the cringy things that people say when they’re ‘into’ something. It’s my passion, my drive, my first love, my first love/hate relationship and at moments, it’s been my everything.

But like all ‘firsts’, radio has also hurt me, it’s disappointed me, it’s broken my heart, yeah you get it… it’s defiantly scarred me. And just like anything toxic in your life, you do need to cleanse and then slowly dip your toe back into that dangerous water when you’re stronger, wiser and just plain, better.

At times I did genuinely think I was doing fine, I was drinking my own kool-aid. I was content with most parts of my life but it’s very clear to me now that every time I would get another office gig over the radio/TV one, I was settling and fiercely protecting myself. I was protecting myself, when I would go on my rants about not missing radio, not needing radio, not wanting radio, that this was now the new life for me. Because deep down, it wasn’t.

And hell, don’t get me wrong, there are some definite media-evils that I will never return to. I will no longer work with someone who speaks to me or treats me like a piece of shit; I now know my worth and I know that I can survive without it (the surprising bonus of taking a break, right?). I will no longer be overworked and underpaid. I will no longer not be valued or appreciated in my role or in my life.

I was lying to protect myself because I knew that I wasn’t happy. Yes, my time, my day-to-day life wasn’t matching what I thought I’d be doing at this age. My heart was in pieces but I was too scared to say anything to anyone, especially myself. Because then it would be real.

I can not express in words really the feeling of thinking that your best self may be behind you. That maybe you’ve already peaked and maybe, just maybe it was all down hill from here.

Now, if you have ever felt this way, a little lost, a little off-centre, not focused, not where you thought you would be in life, that you’re going through the motions. I just want to help remind you that ‘the best is yet to come’ but please don’t wait for things to get better, life will always be complicated. Make the most of what you have right now, and keep putting yourself out there, otherwise you’ll run out of time. The cliché ‘everything happens for a reason’ couldn’t honestly ring more true. I know, lame. But, seriously.

When you’re in a dark place, you sometimes think you’ve been buried. Perhaps you’ve been planted. Bloom!

Recently, I received a phone call that offered me a dream role, it was something I wanted so badly that I had to prepare myself mainly for the fall out (in fear of how I would react if I didn’t get it, again). I still can’t believe it’s mine!! I’m back doing what I do best, doing what excites me, doing what I love, and I’m just so fucking emotional about it.

It’s still terrifying to write this. Nothing in life is certain and there may be a time when things change for me again.

The best part: over the last 16 months, I’ve learnt that I’m actually good at other things. I’ve learnt to be thankful for an eight-hour workday and to enjoy my one-hour lunch break. I’ve had my weekends back to myself and I’ve had the pleasure of working for some totally impressive yet kind professionals (restoring my faith in humanity). I’ve thrown myself into the unknown deep-end multiple times and managed to swim to the top every single time too. And I’m here to tell you, so can you.

I do believe though, that going corporate has really been what’s prepared me for this moment. That actually, everything I’ve done or been through has lead me to this point. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that when it wasn’t all going my way, I felt like an absolute failure. Or worse, a liar. You too? Seriously, hang in there!

I don’t want to lie anymore. And I don’t want to worry that I shouldn’t shout this from the rooftops because it may all go away again. I’m so fucking thrilled, I could burst into tears at just the thought of it. I know, that sounds dramatic but I think it’s my body finally relaxing, breathing for the first time (in a while) with the hope that everything really is going to be ok.

Kweens, believe me, there is no such thing as missed opportunities, except the ones you never put your hand up for in the first place. YOU are so full of potential. Timing is just a bitch. Keep trying. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Never give up. (Boy, how many clichés can one person use in one blog? Spoiler alert: A LOT)

No, I don’t want to be someone whose job ‘defines’ them or ‘completes’ them and trust me, I’ve been working on that waaaay before the recent events in my career. But I also pride myself in what I do. Shouldn’t we all?

I want to be more than the girl who works in radio but that doesn’t mean this girl can’t work in radio at the same time too, right? Ha!

Shout out to my main Kween Jane for writing this to me a couple of months ago:

‘I want you to know that I know who you are. I see you. And I know what you’re meant to be doing. Darling you are meant for a BIG life. 

You are not meant for a 9-to-5 job. You are not meant for behind-the-scenes. And while it might seem like the easier, safer option: it’s not really working out is it? Because that life is too small for you my love.’ 

It still chokes me up today. If you’re in a rut, I hope you have a Jane. Reach out to your Jane. ‘Janes’ are just like the sun. Utter golden treasure. Hold on to your Jane.

Also, big ups to my mate Mikey, who has been my own personal cheerleader and put my CV in front of many people he’s worked with over the past few years. What a legend! He has met up with me after interviews, taken my super annoying stress calls and answered back every one of my long neurotic texts. Poor bastard. He’s yet to realise he’ll soon be working in the same building as that psycho. Lol! I promise, after-work beers are on me, always!

The best part of trying to be more than what you do is… you actually become that. And you work out the people that adore you regardless. Those people know who they are (Kelly and Paul to name a few) and I am forever indebted to them.

At last, today, I can exhale and be proud of who I am, what I’ve been through and what’s going to happen next. Watch this space Kweens.

Big love,

Cliché Carmela

Introducing Carmela Contarino, the #PowerKween behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’ 👸🏻♥️✨

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

Guest Kween: TONI LODGE “My Membership To The Dead Mums Club.”

Guest Kween: TONI LODGE “My Membership To The Dead Mums Club.”

“Hey Mumma, sorry I missed your calls, I just finished work, do you need me to grab something for dinner?”

“Toni, it’s Dad, I’m at the hospital with Mum – she’s not feeling well, they’re saying she’s had a stroke. I need you to go home and feed the dog and your sister is going to meet you there and you can drive here together.”

“Toni are you there???”

I went to the hospital with my twin sister (who, coincidentally, is actually 12 years my senior) and we arrived with a stuffed bear and all of my family in one little hospital room. There is no way I could forget the smell of that room, or the sticky feeling on my cheeks from crying in the car with Libby.

“What’s going on, what’s happening?” we rushed in and asked, grabbing Mum, all six of us, looking at each other.

“Um.. Mum didn’t have a stroke” my Dad said. “Fuck me, that’s amazing! Awesome! Well come on mum, let’s go home, why are we still here?!”, I said (tenderly). She looked at me, and my big brother gave me this shoulder squeeze that silenced me.

“I didn’t have a stroke”, she said, starting to shake and fight back tears, “I have a brain tumour.”

My whole world crashed. This perfect world I was living in where the only reason I could have a few missed calls from my Mum would be because ‘she needed something extra from Coles’ was gone.

I was in my first year of uni and feeling pretty damn invincible. After going to every WAAPA open day since I could understand what university was, I was there. I’d been accepted and I was on my way. I also had a job at Coles at nights and on the weekends, which gave me enough money to buy clothes, fuel, booze, and cigarettes to socially smoke (because that’s what you did at uni).

As soon as Mum got sick, that money changed to having just enough to buy fuel for my red Hyundai Getz to take me from the hills of Perth, to Mount Lawley, to Nedlands (where my Mum was in hospital), to Maddington (where I worked), and back to the hills. Paying for hospital parking and trying to look after myself as best I could to take any burden off my parents. (Definitely get private health insurance if you are reading this, it saved us.)

Eleven months later, she died. I had a Mum – this amazing Mum. Like, ah-maz-ing. And then I didn’t. Huh?

We got called into the hospital at around 3am on the 9th of September 2013 and she’d died. My Dad drove him and I, and we met my brother and his wife, my twin sister and her husband, and my other sister in the wee hours of the morning in the hospital car park to clean out her hospital room.

And then I just needed to prepare for my first funeral – my Mum’s.

I went with my sisters to buy a dress for this thing that we could barely believe had even happened yet. The shop assistant did the age old “Oh that’s pretty, what’s the occasion?!” and when I told her it was for my Mum’s funeral and she clocked all of our dreary faces she almost shat herself.

I wrote a eulogy and tried to fit my Mum’s amazing life into a couple of pages.

After that, so many people changed the way they spoke to me. Things like “I’m having the worst day, I missed the bus” or “I was late because I forgot to get fuel” or “My life is over this guy will NOT message me back” was always quickly followed by “Ohhhh Toni, I’m so sorry, you’ve just lost your Mum, this is nothing in comparison.” As much as this chubby girl with a brand new membership to the Dead Mums Club is horribly appreciative of the fact that my life seemed SO horrendous that it was the benchmark of shitness, everyone also has their shit too. Just because my shit is my mum being dead and your shit is that you were late for work, or a waiter said “Enjoy your food” and you said “Thanks, you too”, that’s okay! Your bad thing is your worst thing. We shouldn’t be on this planet to fight about who has it worse.

When I started at WAAPA I remember telling Mum that all I wanted to do was leave Perth and make something of myself. Then in 2016, I got my first job away from home (she’d been gone for a couple of years) and by this point, I was with my incredible boyfriend Alex, and we’d had been living away from home for a few months anyway. I moved a couple of hours south of Perth to pursue my career. I was finally doing it– making my Mum proud! Even though everything I’d done so far was coupled with her telling me she was so proud, it was the first big thing I had to do without her.

September rolled around and I spent the anniversary of her death away from my family. I dealt with problems at work, triumphs both professional and personal without her, and desperately wanted more than anything for her to be able to give me advice. Something I took comfort in was being able to imagine what she would say to me, or hoping one of my older siblings had gotten into the same mischief at some point and asking them what Mum said.

I made so many promises to my Mum as I grew up. I was the youngest child by a number of years which meant we spent a lot of time alone together. I told her all about my hopes and dreams, how I was going to have an amazing job that was going to move me around the world so she could come and visit whenever she wanted, how I would be famous (that one’s coming along really fucking well), and how I would be happy (workin’ on it. getting there).

But one thing is for certain: I took everything that happened to me on board and am now stronger and better for it. I am, of course, so heartbroken that my Mum is gone. In my moments of weakness where I miss her so much, I feel like I don’t know where my next breath of air is going to come from but somehow I always manage to inhale and exhale once more.

These days everything I engage in has a part of me that does it for her. Nothing changes your perspective and state of mind like recovering from loss, whatever the case may be.

Right before I jumped on the plane to my new Sydney life, I dropped in to visit my Mum. I cried. I wished she was here with me, then I realised she was, because there’s no way in hell I could have even thought about getting on that plane without her. Yep, for the second time, I was moving (across the country) to pursue my career. I am here for me, I’m here for my future, but she’s here too. And now here I am writing this for me and my fabulous Mum in my new fancy Sydney office instead of doing the job they hired me for (wait, is this being published somewhere?).

So my promise is to see the world with Mum in my handbag. To achieve everything I promised her I would because I’m fucking tough and I’m fucking strong. I am who I am because I knew my Mum, and also because I lost her.

Toni is a young 20-something year old trying to have it all. After the comedown of a brief brush with internet fame for having a Harry Potter event shut down due to it’s unfair under 15 age limit, she now spends her workday producing many National night radio shows for KIIS and iHeartRadio in Sydney.

@tonilodge

Kween Krush: YOLANDA RAMKE “Being A Female Filmmaker In A Post-Weinstein World.”

Kween Krush: YOLANDA RAMKE “Being A Female Filmmaker In A Post-Weinstein World.”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Yolanda, we have a crush on you because you’re living out your dreams and passions daily, all while doing it in a pretty tough, male-dominated industry. Despite all of that, you’re seriously crushing it and leaving your mark the film world.

How does it feel to call yourself a female filmmaker?

To be honest, I never really thought to consciously define myself that way in the beginning. I think that probably stems from being a bit of a tomboy growing up and not being especially interested in things that were typically associated with the feminine. I always resisted and resented it when I was pressured into emulating those qualities, because they didn’t really come naturally to me. By the time film school came around, I just wanted to be a filmmaker full-stop, I didn’t really think about the fact that I was a woman while doing it. But in the past few years that has shifted for me; the more engaged I’ve become in the conversation surrounding the representation of women both behind and in front of the camera, the more I’ve realised that I’ve had my blinkers on and that being a female filmmaker actually is an important point of difference because we’re one of many minorities in this industry.

We have had to fight harder to have our stories told and our voices heard and our proficiencies go unquestioned. So, as a female writer and director, if the work I do can in some way contribute positively to the dialogue around this, I would be very proud of that – particularly in terms of the perception of women in genre filmmaking. I think we are often seen through a fairly narrow prism in terms of what projects might appeal to us (both as practitioners, and as audience members), and it’s a narrative that doesn’t sync up at all with what often excites me – or any of the female filmmakers I know – as a storyteller and viewer. I’d love to see that misconception blown out of the water.

So it means even more to you considering the current climate?

The most recent study by Screen Australia determined that from 1970 – 2014 only 16% of feature film directors, 21% of feature film writers, and 30% of feature film producers were women. The figures for women of colour, LGBTQI and women with disabilities was, of course, even lower. That is objectively an insane imbalance. Four years later and we’ve still got a long way to go. Especially when you consider the fact that men and women are graduating from film schools around the country in equal numbers. So the maths is against us. But, what’s changing is the conversation – and it’s no longer just talking, it’s active, it’s becoming incentivised, women and men in all tiers of the system are starting to make tangible efforts to correct this. It’s an ongoing global discussion point, and the fear that it would just be the flavour of the month is thankfully proving to be quite the opposite. It’s a genuine movement. So I feel quite optimistic about where we’re headed, even if we’ve still got quite a bit of work to do to get there.

As you just stated, in Australia only 16% of films are directed by women. What can be done to change it?

I think things are gradually changing to try and shift that statistic. Visibility is of course a huge part of this, and just consciously ensuring that – especially for young girls who have an interest in this field – we are sharing images of women on sets directing or working as cinematographers so that it doesn’t even become a question of whether that’s possible, because the evidence is there everywhere they turn. I think  #FemaleFilmmakerFriday has been an awesome grassroots approach to supporting that concept. And the more we all see women like Patty Jenkins directing the shit out of a big-budget comic book film like Wonder Woman or Rachel Morrison shooting the hell out of Black Panther, I mean, these women are blazing trails and it’s incredibly inspiring – for female filmmakers, of course, but I would hope also for aspiring male filmmakers too.

When did you first realise that you loved film and wanted to direct?

I caught the bug early. I was five-years-old when my Dad brought home our first camcorder, and I felt an instant, obsessive need to understand how it worked and to be trusted to wield its power. I grew up in rural mining towns, so the cinema was a very rare treat. Instead I used to raid the local video store, compulsively tape off free-to-air and orchestrate neighbourhood ‘reboots’ with my friends. If I had to pick a single, formative movie experience that probably cemented my path, it would have to be Jurassic Park. That film is essentially my generation’s Star Wars, the seminal blockbuster of my childhood. It had a physiological effect on me, and everyone in that theatre. It was electric. Jaw-dropping. I think that’s when it dawned on me that somebody was behind that screen pulling the strings, and I wanted in.

What did you do to advance this passion? Was it encouraged by your family and friends?

I did the film school thing and that was a helpful introduction. And then I basically spent about seven years working behind the scenes in the industry on other people’s projects (films and local TV dramas, reality TV, you know name it) just to learn how all the pieces fit together. Throughout that period I was developing my own material on the side and voraciously devouring films and TV shows, reading books about filmmaking and screenwriting and basically just educating myself as much as possible. My family were supportive pretty much from the get-go. Like most parents they had reservations, they were anxious for me because nobody in my extended family had ever really embarked upon a creative career before, so it was essentially fear of the unknown. I think there’s definitely also that perception of the industry being cutthroat and fickle, so that probably played into their thinking as well. But overall, I’ve felt extremely supported, and that feeling is only growing.

One of your partners-in-film-crime is a man (Ben Howling). What type of a working dynamic do you both have and would it surprise the normal stereotype of how a woman and man work together?

It’s interesting, because I’ve directed solo as well, and I’ve also directed with a female co-director (Danielle Baynes, who was also my co-writer and co-star on the 2016 short film Cold Hearts), so for me it’s kind of a fluid thing. I understand that that’s a little unconventional, directors usually work exclusively as an individual or in a set partnership, but I haven’t ever really felt the need for professional monogamy so to speak. That said, I love collaborating with Ben, he’s a very good friend of mine, so our working relationship is founded on that, and also the fact that when it comes to genre projects we share a very similar taste and sensibility. Our working dynamic probably isn’t that surprising, no. Given that I wrote the screenplay for Cargo and have studied acting, I’m typically a bit more across matters of story and performance, whereas Ben comes from a shooting/editing background, so he’s a bit more savvy with the some of the more technical aspects of the job, but we don’t formally delineate between those things, there’s a huge amount of crossover.

Were you at all shocked by the Weinstein bombshell that hit late last year? Did this reflect any of your own experiences?

I wasn’t shocked at all, which is probably very disturbing in itself. As the #MeToo movement took off, yes, it absolutely caused me to reflect on my experiences as a woman in general, not just as a woman working in the entertainment industry. It was horrifying to see how prevalent that hashtag was in the social sphere, hearing people you care about confiding about how they had been hurt (often in ways which mirrored encounters I’d had myself), but at the same time the feeling of unity and community and the global galvanisation that resulted was remarkable. These conversations had come and gone before, but there was something different about it this time. You could feel the collective rage that has been building up for women their whole lives, their mothers’ lives, their grandmothers’ lives, and it finally felt like there was a healthy place to put that anger and defiance – it was justified, and shared, and essential. May it only gather steam, and push society forward.

You’ve done some amazing work so far; in 2017 you completed your debut feature film Cargo which has made the list of “10 Australian Films To Watch In 2018“. Though it may feel like a lifetime ago now, could you give us some insight as to how this got started and how it went from a short film to this Australian movie juggernaut?

We shot the short back in December 2012, and it was Tropfest finalist come February. It was then posted online, and we were fortunate enough that it was curated on a handful of influential pop culture sites (BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Short Of The Week, Vimeo, i09). Within about a month it had landed about 1.5 million views on YouTube (it’s now almost 14 million). At that point, it was being passed around agencies in LA, which is how my co-director Ben and I wound up signing with CAA. By April we were in LA armed with a treatment for the Cargo feature, and were meeting with potential producers. Two weeks later, we came back to Australia with US producers attached to developing the project with us. I spent the rest of that year writing the first draft of the script, and from there our Australian producers came on board, and then we were off and running. From the time we shopped that first treatment through to multiple drafts of the script, financing, casting, shooting, post-production etc. to the time we release in mid-May this year, it’ll have been 5 years. So it’s been this very strange combination of a whirlwind ride and a slow climb, just constantly oscillating between the two.

What types of film would you like to make in the future?

I’ve always just been such a fan of so many different genres of stories, so I’d really like to try my hand at all sorts of things. I’ve been lucky so far that each project I have worked on has felt like a departure from the one that came before. As a writer, I’ve recently been commissioned to adapt a WWII book into a feature, followed by a crime/thriller novel into a TV pilot, and that variety of genres and formats has just been so much fun to play with. I do love genre films, though, so that’s certainly territory I’m sure I’ll drift back toward – projects that have some kind of subtle supernatural thread.

As a white female filmmaker, I’m conscious of the fact that I have privilege of my own to keep in check, and that’s something I need to continually interrogate within myself. Whatever challenges I have encountered go twofold for minority female filmmakers. Other than the roles written for and stories told about women and films in general being made by women, I really look forward to a time when the very language and vocabulary we use to describe female characters evolves too. As Shonda Rhimes said recently, we need to stop using phrases like “Smart, Strong Women” and “Strong Female Leads” because there are no “Dumb Weak Women”, there are just women. She also points out that ‘women’ aren’t simply the latest trend, and actually we make up half of the planet, so yeah… what Shonda said.

Carmela has only met Yolanda once, but of course it was in the most unforgettable way: a friend’s Birthday party, followed by a late-night karaoke session. Little did Yolanda know that Carmela had actually been dying to meet her for months and she was definitely not disappointed. Carmela can now revel in the fact that sometimes it’s ok to meet your heroes.

Guest Kween: BELINDA COTTON “I Failed At My Chosen Career But I Survived!”

Guest Kween: BELINDA COTTON “I Failed At My Chosen Career But I Survived!”

I was always going to be famous. It was like, in my DNA. I got a taste of fame early on when I was the star of a local Telethon: the focus of a 24 hour live TV event to raise money for a children’s hospital. It was awesome! So I thought I’d better set about becoming famous for reals.

I studied journalism, television presenting and radio announcing. I decided I wanted to read the 6 o’clock news on the telly and I also wanted to read those bits on the TV after the ads but before the show: “This program, brought to you by Toyota!” You know the ones.

At uni I discovered radio was way better than television; less call for hair and makeup, more opportunity for ridiculousness, and I did it!! I achieved a small amount of fame for a little while. Not earth-shattering-Cate-Blanchett-style-fame, but people recognised me on the street, pubs let me jump the queue and shops gave me discounts. It was a super fun time!

Now, it was somewhere around this point that I started to royally fuck things up.

I jumped ship from my radio station, leaving my mediocre fame; seduced by the lights and the promise of more money on the other side of the country. Not long after that another company came along and promised me more money and more fame (which of course I was totally expecting), so I ran to them with open arms, just as the media company I was leaving was really transforming.

I never really hit my stride and I never really found my niche with the other company. I missed my opportunity. Slowly my star faded and I just became a worker bee, consigned to an irrelevant on-air shift that no one seemed to listen to. I took on more off-air roles that just consumed both me and my passion for radio. Where was my promised fame? Where was my name in lights? How did I mess this up so much? Was I really destined for the banal, the humdrum? Why wasn’t I reading the 6 o’clock news? How come bouncers weren’t letting me skip the line at the pub anymore?

I found myself angry and sad, overworked and underappreciated. I realised this wasn’t super fun anymore, but I had a mortgage now. Disillusionment set in with a thwack! Here I was, on the wrong side of the country, not rich and famous, doing a job that I now hated. How the hell did I get here? I’ll tell you: by my own bad decisions. I didn’t know they were bad decisions at the time but there’s not a single other person on this planet that I can blame for where I ended up. And trust me, I tried.

Then, I got made redundant; worst fear realised. “They hate me, I was crap at my job and they wanted me out” were the constant thoughts running through my head. I had never felt so low, so much like a disappointment. It was like all this hard work I had done was for nothing. And I still had that damn mortgage to pay.

But, sometimes you fear the worst, only to find out the worst isn’t really that bad. Actually, it’s nowhere close to what you were worried about.

No, these turns of events didn’t leave me living in the gutter, never getting out my pajamas or currently typing this on a shared computer at the library. I reincarnated myself. I’m currently living my life post radio, and guess what I do for a job? I read those bits on the TV after the ads but before the show: “This program, brought to you by Toyota!”. You know the ones.

These days I work from home. I run my own successful voice-over business. I get paid stupid amounts of money to read scripts that are only 30 seconds long. I’m the girl you hear during most of the ad breaks; sometimes selling you a car, sometimes convincing you to take a holiday. It doesn’t suck.

Life didn’t turn out the way I expected, and I have decided I’ll have to turn to reality TV to achieve my much needed fame, but it’s not all bad news.

I failed at my chosen career but I survived. Then again, did I fail? Or did I just get lucky?

Belinda Cotton is a professional voice-over artist who likes to drink beer, hang out with friends, listen to live music and travel. Preferably all four at the same time. She’d also like to have a dog and two cats, but so far no luck.

@Belyando

Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS “You’re Under No Obligation To Live Your Life A Certain Way!”

Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS “You’re Under No Obligation To Live Your Life A Certain Way!”

Let’s be real Kweens- adulting is HARD!

I could not wait to grow up and make all my own decisions and create my dream life!

I thought it was going to look a certain way. You expect to get married, have babies, have a great career, buy a house all by the age of about 25. The earlier the better!

SPOILER: it didn’t happen for me this way at all. Well to be honest not even one part of that has happened.

I am about to turn 40, very single, with no kids, no house, (and I don’t mean I rent, I mean I have a storage locker with my stuff in it and no fixed address) and I chucked in my career to work for myself. Absolutely not the life mini-Jane planned out but what did mini-Jane know anyway?!

I spent almost ten years working in media in Sydney and I LOVED IT. It was my dream gig. My workplace was listed as one of those ‘top places to work’ in Australia. I interviewed there 3 times before I got a job. I had great friends, a great boss and great perks (think lots of parties, tickets to the best concerts and a beer fridge that was permanently open). But I left it all on a whim (and with a lot of tears) for nothing. For wide open space. To chase dreams that I hadn’t even figured out yet what they even were.

I flailed around for a good six months afterwards. It was terrifying. I regretted it. A lot. I went back casually. I felt so vulnerable. I wasn’t achieving anything. Basically I got scared that I’d made a HUGE mistake.

Thankfully, just before I reached the point of begging my boss to take me back I scored a contract to produce a two month tour for someone I hugely admired. Literally my dream gig! And I learned that your dream gig can change. You can change. What lit you up yesterday doesn’t have to be it for you. Sometimes you need to wait for the right timing. And waiting can be scary.

Flash forward and today I contract regularly creating events for people I admire. I work for myself. I can roll out of bed anytime I want. I can work in my pjs. I’m on the road so much that I currently do not have an actual home. I see my friends so much less than I did before.

I don’t always have a steady income. Some months are better than others but I always get by. I cannot imagine going back to setting an alarm every day AND doing my hair. No thank you.

I do miss working in an office. I miss the camaraderie, having like-minded people around, the office parties, the office crushes (ammmiirighhtt??), the birthdays with office cake or when something big & exciting happens and you can just turn to the person next to you and share it. It can definitely be lonely and there’s no Christmas party (alright there’s a Christmas party but it’s just me singing Taylor Swift songs).

This year I spent two months living in New York, two months in New Zealand and two months on the Gold Coast. Some for work and some because I can literally do my job anywhere so I picked New York. I’m not an idiot.

This sounds pretty glamorous but let’s be honest, in New York I was sleeping on an air mattress next to my niece’s cot (actually that bit was pretty fabulous!), I wasn’t going out to the coolest New York bars, I was negotiating time differences and working ’til midnight cause that was when the Australia market was online. Most days it was exactly the same as being in Australia, but better. Ok, it was definitely better!

Sometimes I feel like I’m always making life harder for myself. Leaving good jobs. Moving cities. Being away from my friends and my support systems for long periods of time. Finding my comfort zone and leaving it again.

I swing wildly between loving being a gypsy living out of a suitcase and seriously craving bed linen and throw cushions and wanting to buy groceries. I really, really miss owning food. You can’t cook shit if you have to buy all the ingredients from scratch. This is a fact. But I wouldn’t trade any of it. Even if I don’t always know what I’m doing or where I’m living.

You’re under no obligation to live your life a certain way. Not the way your mum says you should or the way your friends do or even the way mini-you thought you would. Live life your way. Do what lights you up. Set your life on fire! I mean not like real fire. I mean like the Rumi quote says. But also sometimes burning stuff can be cathartic, so if that’s what you need I am not here to judge. You do you.

Pave your own way Kweens! And then find other Kweens that have done the same thing and have a long lunch on a Tuesday because you can do whatever the hell you want!

Jane Connors is a Freelance Tour Manager specialising in not being in one place for a long period of time. She loves Taylor Swift, TV Crime shows and is a very fast walker. 

@Jinny_Jane

Guest King: MATT BASELEY “My New Life As A Stay-At-Home-Dad.”

Guest King: MATT BASELEY “My New Life As A Stay-At-Home-Dad.”

Well, firstly it’s a massive honour to be a Guest King, although I’d prefer to be a ‘Prince’ as ‘King’ makes me feel old, but that’s just the truth isn’t it? I’ve now got grey hair on my head and my chest but nowhere else yet, thank god!

I’m married, I have a mortgage and I have two kids. Billie, aged 2 and Ziggy, who’s 9-months-old. Man, when did that happen? Yep, I’m not that 22-year-old on the dance floor at Cargo Bar, wearing my best Tarocash shirt, drinking Woodstock and coke, trying to make eye contact with the ladies (very unsuccessfully) anymore. A lot has happened. The nights where I would pick-up a kebab and go home in a cab by myself are a far and distant memory.

Since then, I married the woman of my dreams, I lived out a childhood dream of hosting my own capital city radio show, I’ve interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment, and got to travel the world. But nothing compares to what happened at 12:50 am on February the 7th 2015: I became a Dad.

Now marrying Bella was and will be the happiest day of my life, but the birth of my children sits equally in some sort of parallel universe (kinda like the Upside Down in Stranger Things but happier, although the actual birth had its Demogorgon moments).

It was amazing, 16 hours of labour (maybe not so amazing for my Bella) but the end result was just incredible. It was a natural birth, so there were no curtains or screens, everything was happening right there in front of me. When it came to crunch-time, the mid-wife asked me to hold one of Bella’s legs up and push it back. “Holy shit”, I thought, it’s happening! I didn’t know if I was going to watch the birth in the lead up to it – blood and I aren’t the best of friends – but the moment I heard the mid-wife say “I can see the head” I thought “Why am I missing out on this?” So, I watched this miracle take place, first the head, a nose, shoulders and then this mini-human just came out.

It was my job to tell Bella if it was a boy or a girl as we didn’t find out during the pregnancy, but I was a wreck. I think I was covered in more liquid than the bub, I was a sobbing mess, like snot and all, but eventually I managed to get out “It’s a girl!”

Boom, we were parents, just like that. 3 days later we were leaving the hospital with this little person who is totally dependent on us. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that the same person who was once on a podium, drinking bad bourbon in bad shirts, now had the responsibility of raising a child.

I remember struggling to work out how to clip up the baby seat. I remember driving home from the hospital at an average of 5km/h. I remember walking through the door and then, it was 3 months later. I honestly think there is something that happens to your brain in the first few months that makes you forget how hard it is.  Maybe this is so you’ll have another child, which we did, 2 years later. A little boy.

When Billie was born my contract at the radio station wasn’t renewed and I was out of a job. I had offers but nothing that justified me going to work and Bella staying at home. So, we made the call that Bella would return to work and I would become a SAHD; a Stay-At-Home-Dad. Controversial? Is it? Yes, I’ll admit, it took me a while to confidently say that’s what I was, because even people I was close to would say “Yeah, but when are you going to get a real job?” Or in the supermarket when Billie would be crying in the pram (like babies do) there would be constant comments from strangers like “Maybe it just needs its Mum”.

Yes, that’s really what stunted my confidence in the beginning. People’s reactions didn’t surprise me though. I think that comes from years of gender stereotyping and that unfortunate macho, misogynistic mentality of ‘looking after the children’ is a woman’s job. I still (on the brink of 2018) know men who have never changed a nappy or even worse, never spent any one-on-one time with their kids. It makes me sick, and a little sad.

I worked in radio for almost 13 years and I think that prepared me for raising children. Toddlers are just like ‘talent’ or programming executives; they think that the world revolves around them, that they are always right and are prone to a tantrum every now and then but if you give them food and tell them how much you love them, then they’re fine.

I feel so lucky to know that from the moment both of my kids were born that I have spent every day with them. I was there when Billie and Ziggy first sat up, when they first crawled, and when they first pulled themselves up. Billie’s first steps were to me.

Now the downside to this is Billie says “Gday mate” to people when we’re walking down the streets of Newtown. She enjoys watching the golf and she asks if we can go to the pub for a beer. So maybe she’s spent a little too much time with me, but as I sit here and write this I’m also enrolling her into pre-school for the first time next year.

Don’t get me wrong, parenting is hard AF, and there are moments when you think, how can I run away and not come back without anyone thinking I’m a bad person? So pre-school (a few days a week) will be good for all of us, but it does break my heart to be sending my little mate off. The truth is, as much as she needed me since she was born, I’ve needed her. She is my best mate and I’m going to miss her like hell. Poor Ziggy, he isn’t going to be allowed to leave the house until he’s 6. I feel so blessed to have this life and I thank you for letting me share it with you. I’ve just realised I’ve got shit on my shirt, so I’m off to Napisan, bye.

Matt Baseley is a 34-year-old former pastry chef, who dreamt of captaining the Australian cricket team or playing the Phantom on Broadway but he wasn’t good enough at either, so he ended up working in commercial radio for almost 13 years. Matt is now a stay-at-home-dad, who also features as ‘that guy’ in a few TV commercials and a reporter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender.

@MattBaseley

Matt and Billie also have a ton of fun in the kitchen making healthy(ish) food in a simple, realistic way. You can follow their cooking adventures here. #CookingWithBillieCoco

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