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The truths at the heart of collaboration

In a short chat at the book signing tent Julian Shaw, film-maker and author of the photo novel Modern Odysseus that stars Colin Friels, said the response to his work had been “overwhelming and hopefully augurs well for the future.” The 23-year-old appeared on a panel with David and Kristian Williamson and said the experience was a professional highlight.
Both Shaw’s Modern Odysseus and Kristin Williamson’s memoir/biography of her playwright husband offered insights into the collaborative process.
Shaw said that meeting people who put so much of their own life and truths into their work gave him a lot of heart. Shaw is working on documentary about the All Blacks and on various fiction projects. He directed the Inside Film Award winner documentary Darling! The Peter-Dirk Uys story. He is also an AFI-winning film journalist. I bought his photo novel for my teen son who loves making films.
At a casual interview in the festival green room, Kristin William said it’s exciting to meet Julian, and to see someone who’s had someone so young have some success and who is really motivated and excited about his art.
It’s an exciting new concept, the photo novel, although not one I’d stray into, said David Williamson.
The couple don’t enjoy collaboration and usually work at opposite ends of the house on their own projects, except when “she’s chasing me around for two years to get her answer her questions.” That was for the biography/memoir Kristin wrote about David.
“You want to get away on your own to do it yourself,” says Kristin. “Collaboration is something you either love or you don’t. David is not a natural collaboration” and film is difficult unless you get on well with director, she said. The couple have worked together on Gallopoli, Princess Kate, Dogshead Bay, The Last Bastion and other projects.
In writing the memoir it became apparent they remembered some things differently. “Some things have blissfully faded from my memory but not from Kristin’s,” said David.
But writing the book has been positive, said Kristin. “It’s all a wonderful relief that it’s all out in the open.”
It seems to have helped other people to, she says. “So many people have told us we’ve read your book and feel able to talk in a way we haven’t talked before.”

By Marian Edmunds

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