• Ngaio Simmons

Energy, drive, and a steady pace

It’s refreshing to be back in person and around the excited, productive, and creative energy that HWF programs always bring. While it would be great to not have to do this with a pandemic in full swing, we are here with masks, sanitizer, and preparedness like no other. Once one enters the room, it really does feel like stepping into an engine, in a way. Taking the literal heat, water, steam, and fumes out of the equation, everything those elements produce to enable the engine to do its job are there: energy, drive, and a steady pace. Stepping into the second MMTM session at Ka Waiwai had me feeling like the whole building could take off at any moment and ride off into the sunset— I am also a Libra and prone to dramatic phrasing. The point being that’s just how much creative energy and bounce there is for these participants and their mentors. It’s palpable.

I would say the word I think matches the energy of this past week is ‘rigor.’ I think that word can have a negative connotation associated with it, given we usually hear it used to define carrying out work so intensely that one is inevitably going to experience burn-out. I heard it often during my time in academia to describe a person’s dedication to research, teaching, and pushing their brain to the limits of a topic’s understanding. The academic usage appears admirable and I certainly respect those who have spent considerable time learning and understanding a subject that means a lot to them; however, I also know the physical and mental costs that come with becoming the face of exemplary academic rigor.


I would have us take the word and give it a new feeling. One of the words used to define ‘rigor’ is ‘thorough.’ When I use ‘rigor’ in the context of MMTM, this is what I mean. Looking around the room during the welcoming circle and seeing everyone’s eyes perched above their masks, one sees people ready for the entire experience that lies before them. From the welcoming circle to the computer tutorial to the first practice shot and audio recording to the first glimpse into editing, every step in the process is important. No steps are skipped. Everything is taken into account and treated with respect and the understanding that everything that transpires in the space is needed to make a film: community, relationships, learning, respect, and action.

Before we end for the day, participants had a chance to share the stories they are working on. From murder mysteries and horror films centered on witchcraft and betrayal to battling demons and a story about making a cake, each movie is clearly standing out in its own way. Listening to each brief synopsis and reflecting back on just moments before when each team was busy writing, framing, and editing practice shots, I think of the attention to detail this takes. The investment in one’s vision and the willingness to see it come to life by going through every step needed. Taking a comb and brushing through till everything has been collected, sifted through, and understood. Thoroughness through love of craft and exploration. Rigor without fear. We love to see it.