Talking to pictures
There probably aren’t many who could see a resemblance to the Parthenon in the light-industrial urban fringes of the North Shore.
But for avant-garde Auckland film-maker Gabriel White that is what appeared when he began shooting his latest creative offering the ‘‘surreal documentary’’ Oracle Drive.
‘‘My style has also been described as pedestrian filmmaking, which I quite like, or as essays on film,’’ the Mt Eden man says. ‘‘It’s looking at the world from a terrestrial point of view.’’
Mr White’s style often sees him take to the streets of a particular area armed with his camera to record a kind of travelogue.
A previous work, Aucklantis, focused on central Auckland. Mr White says he sets off and records himself as he notices the often small things around the city that go uncharted but form the urban landscape.
This time he has turned his gaze on the developing areas of the North Shore, particularly around Albany.
‘‘I have a radio light so I can walk through the landscape filming and talking to the camera,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s an improvised monologue, a very spontaneous conversation with the landscape recording my instant reaction to what I’m seeing.
‘‘Then I edit those down and cut bits out until they are a compact morsel.’’
The North Shore presented new and mysterious territory for the roaming cameraman.
‘‘I was looking for somewhere to film and was driving up the motorway quite a bit at the time. I saw this self-storage warehouse on top of the hill and it reminded me of the Parthenon or the Acropolis.
‘‘I thought there was something in this. Then I discovered there were all these references to the Hellenic world in the street names over there, like Triton Rd or Athena Rd, and the landscape was pointing to all that.
‘‘There’s a big literary tradition behind that, like James Joyce, so I’m cashing in on a popular avant-garde idea.’’ Oracle Drive steps away slightly from the oneman documentary style of his previous efforts, incorporating actors and a soundtrack, but retains its improvised feel.
‘‘I think about Mike Leigh, he gets actors to improvise the scenes and you get a freshness from the performance. It’s in the same spirit.’’
The film will screen in the Auckland edition of the New Zealand International Film Festival later this month. Presenting his work in such a large context is both gratifying and nervous-making for the low budget operator, who shot Oracle Drive for $10,000 raised from his own income and crowd sourcing.
‘‘We’ll have a bit of a premiere at the Academy Cinema. I think it will be a really interesting film for Aucklanders to react to – it’s funny and quite comic and satirical so hopefully people chuckle away and laugh.
‘‘It’s also been a long road for me so it’s quite a big deal and affirming to be in the festival.’’
Spontaneous conversation: Film-maker Gabriel White has tackled the mysterious North Shore for his ‘‘surreal documentary’’ Oracle Drive.
Go to centralleader.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see clips from Gabriel White’s earlier film Aucklantis.