EWAH and the Vision of Paradise (EVoP) released a magnificent album ‘The Warning Birds’ last year (see my 9.2/10 review here) – an album that I described as being a palimpsest for beauty and decay, wild and turbulent landscapes with the intrusion of modernity and the threats and ugliness this can entail. It is an album that is ethereal and bold, the lyrics eviscerating and personal, creating something that can be heartbreakingly beautiful while tearing holes in your heart with a sense of loss.
EVoP have not rested on their laurels, though – they have announced special showings of a movie, ‘Finding Paradise’, which used the album as both a source of inspiration and as a partial soundtrack. This was meant to happen last year but was delayed due to COVID.
The feature film was conceived in 2020, in the height of global COVID lockdown, as a vehicle to tour the album ‘The Warning Birds’ at a time when no touring was possible. Emma Waters (EWAH) was at home on Job Keeper (a government income support for the unemployed), unable to perform live due to social restrictions while also being pregnant. She reached out to longtime collaborator Joseph Shrimpton (Flare Productions) with a vague idea that turned into an epic project – a film about an alien in an apocalyptic landscape on a mission to find a safe haven for new life.
Shot during winter in remote locations of lutruwita/Tasmania, Australia, the feature was made in the spirit of steampunk on a micro-budget with a micro-crew of four, including lead actor Emma Waters (EWAH), who co-directed, scripted and produced the film. Showing her vast range of skills, Waters also cooked for the crew each day. Co-directors and writers Joseph Shrimpton and Tess Campbell also took this all-hands-on-deck approach. Musician/artist Peter McGeachy (Fake Sound) joined the trio to record sounds on location.
The film is set to the music of ‘The Warning Birds’, but takes a deeper dive; some songs remain true to the album, while others are completely reinvented. ‘Finding Paradise’ takes the opportunity to rearrange many tracks, weaving in narrative and textural sounds recorded on location. An otherwise buried saxophone duo arrangement on track ‘Play Hard’ shines with a hint of synthesiser and nothing more, solo guitar takes on a western frontier grit for ‘Vultures’.
This is truly something to look forward to: seemingly capturing the wild untrammeled landscapes of Tasmania that are deeply infused in the sounds of the album itself, creating an alien world in the starkly beautiful remote and wild landscapes of Tasmania.
Waters will be presenting two very special screenings in lutruwita/Tasmania of the film. Both venues – The Paragon Theatre, Queenstown and Moonah Arts Centre, nipaluna/Hobart – hold particular significance as key filming locations in the production. Waters says:
I’d been hoping we could return to these places to screen the completed work. It feels right to do so and really special. It’s exciting to see what we can do here in our state on a big screen.
The feature was filmed entirely on location in remote areas of lutruwita/Tasmania during COVID when travel interstate and internationally was prohibited. EWAH was pregnant during the making of the film and completed post-production with her newborn.
Each session will be followed by a Q&A with EWAH, who co-directed and co-wrote the film alongside artists/filmmakers Joseph Shrimpton and Tess Campbell.
Saturday 8 October, 7.30pm, The Paragon Theatre, Queenstown, hosted by filmmaker Nick Maher (Reunion Media)
Saturday 5 November, 4pm, Moonah Arts Centre, nipaluna/Hobart, hosted by presenter and producer Lucie Cutting (ABC Radio)