Q&A: Anisha and Jeanne from For The Love Of Good

Ahead of the launch of For the Love of Good‘s latest project, Art In Colour, on November 1st, Hot Chicks with Big Brains chatted to co-directors Anisha Senaratne and Jeanne Khin. Below they discuss building their careers, the challenges faced along the way, and all things related to the upcoming web-series intent on “celebrating and promoting People of Colour in Australian popular culture and the arts”.

Please can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

Anisha Senaratne: My name is Anisha. I’m a performer and arts administrator based in Melbourne. I’ve been working with Australia’s live performance industry peak body for the past two years, but I’ll be starting a new Racial Justice and Refugee Rights role at GetUp! at the end of the month.

Jeanne Khin: My name is Jeanne. I recently graduated from a screen and media course at RMIT, and am aiming to work as a cinematographer and director, especially in the field of documentary.

Anisha Senaratne

Can you tell us about For the Love of Good and the ideas behind it?

AS: For the Love of Good meets at the intersection of social justice and creativity.

I’ve always considered myself to be someone who aims to be progressive and open minded in my approach to the world however, a lot of the times my engagement didn’t go beyond tacit agreement.

The arts have consistently pushed me to feel and dig deeper into the human element of issues that can’t quite be captured through academia. Productions I’ve seen, books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to; they have all played some part in nudging me towards being more actively engaged and outspoken in relation to the issues I care about.

That’s exactly what we aim to do at For the Love of Good; create arts projects that harness the power of creativity to not only shift perspectives and challenge archaic ideologies, but also build a more engaged supporter base around an issue.

What are your respective roles and responsibilities in the creation of the Art In Colour series, and what is the project all about?

AS: Art in Colour is a web-documentary series showcasing POCs working in the Australian arts industry. Our first season features Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa (Performance Artist), Rajith Savanadasa (Writer), Sasha Chong (Performer/Founder of DisColourNation), Sonya Suares (Actor/Theatre Maker) and Kat Clarke (Multidisciplinary Artist).

The series aims to confront the barriers we face in Australia’s arts industry, and to show how widespread the issue is. It also aims to empower young, ethnically diverse creatives to pursue their creative endeavours by showcasing role models that they can identify with and look up to.

As the producer of the series, I sourced our incredible artists, coordinated all shoots, conducted the interviews, and developed and executed our marketing and publicity strategy. A shoutout to our volunteer, Sarah Hartree, who assisted me with our Social Media strategy for Art in Colour.

As the Co-Director, I directed the narratives of each episode and worked closely with Jeanne (part-time film maker, full-time legend!) during the editing process.

As is the sad case with the arts, we have been running this project on a shoestring and so we have worn many, many hats throughout the process; it’s been quite the learning experience!

JK: Anisha’s pretty much summed it up! She brought me on to be the cinematographer for the show, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to be part of something that really hits close to home for me.

So yeah, as the camera person for Art in Colour, I followed around and shot our artists, as well as the interviews. I pretty much had free-reign in terms of visuals, and it was fun to experiment with my usual (fiction) cinematography style using the documentary aesthetic.

I’m also the series editor—and I’ve been working together with Anisha in creating episodes out of all the footage we’ve gathered.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been involved on a production of this scale. It was a bit of a learning curve, but also incredible to be a part of.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced throughout your careers so far?

AS: I feel like my career is just beginning, so that’s a tough one to answer! I suppose getting to a point where I have an idea as to what I want to achieve through my working life has been a challenge.

When I went to highschool and uni, there was still a ‘pick your path’ narrative prevalent which I think is really quite damaging.

Graduating university at 22, and feeling like I needed to have chosen my life’s career, was understandably, terrifying. It was quite the challenge to unpick that mindset and start to understand that I’m a multifaceted human, and therefore didn’t need to restrict myself to one pursuit in terms of my career(s).

I know now that I want to work in the field of tackling racial justice issues in Australia, but that I am also inherently a creative person that wants to maintain that interface with Melbourne’s arts scene.

Right now, what that looks like is working full-time with GetUp! but pursuing my creative passions when time affords it. It took me a while to understand that, in some shape or form, I can do both.

JK: I agree, I feel like my career hasn’t really begun yet either!

After graduating high school, I went to The University of Melbourne to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and History. In my first year, I took a cinema studies subject. I think that’s when I first realised this was my passion, and that it’s worth following that rather than choosing what’s considered the more ‘practical’ path.

Anyways, it was only after graduating from that, and working in a full-time job, that I decided that perhaps I might pursue filmmaking as a career—rather than just writing about movies.

Social justice and activism is something else that’s close to my heart, and this year I decided that that’s the kind of content I want to create.

I think film and television can have a powerful influence on the way people are perceived, and are important vehicles in the telling of stories that need to be heard.

Jeanne Khin

What has given you the greatest sense of achievement to date?

AS: I think seeing the final videos come together.

When you’re running a project from conception to completion, it’s surreal to see a final product. I feel like I have ideas that just float around in my head to no end, so that sense of having an idea and actually doing something with it feels pretty wonderful.

Also, Jeanne and I have been juggling full-time work and a number of other projects, so the fact that we managed to pull this off whilst being particularly time poor feels like quite the achievement.

JK: Art in Colour! The fact that we’ve managed to produce five short episodes, in the time we’ve had with all our commitments, taking on multiple crew roles ourselves has been a tremendous achievement. I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet; that we’ve done it.

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Who are some of the women that most inspire you?

AS: The first woman that springs to mind is author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. Chimamanda has always seemed so proud of her Nigerian heritage, and works it so beautifully into her work; especially through the weaving of Igbo through her books.

I think many POC growing up away from the countries we are ethnically from spend a lot of time pushing down our cultural heritage to fit in.

The sights and smells and sounds of our countries, from our physical features to our food to our accents, are often looked down on; so we do everything in our power to distance ourselves from those parts of our identity. It’s awful and difficult to admit, and it takes a lot of time and effort to undo that way of thinking.

Seeing women like Chimamanda, who are so unapologetic of their culture, is an inspiration to shed the shame we are often made to feel regarding our cultural identities.

JK: Ava DuVernay! I feel like most critically acclaimed and talked about female directors are usually white women, and it’s been so inspiring to see her talked about on the level of directors like Jane Campion.

Also to see a woman of colour succeeding in an industry that’s predominantly white, predominantly male, is so exciting for me.

Seeing Selma, then later the documentary 13th, inspired that moment of realisation for me I think; that it’s possible as a filmmaker to make commercial cinema about issues of historical justice—about structural oppression.

Another woman who inspires me is documentary camera person Kirsten Johnson—watching her work in her autobiographical documentary, Cameraperson, was another revelation to me. I think part of me before, considered the relationship between camera and subject in doco as exploitative in a sense, but she approaches people with so much empathy—it feels collaborative. It’s something I aspire to, I think.

Anisha Senaratne

What’s next for you both, and for For The Love of Good?

AS: After the launch of Art in Colour, I think For the Love of Good will take a break for the rest of the year. It’s been absolute madness getting this project off the ground, and I think a period of R&R is in order. We’ve chatted about looking into funding for a second season next year though, so stay tuned!

As for me, I’m currently taking part in the Young Social Pioneers entrepreneurship incubator program run by the Foundation for Young Australians. Myself and my business partner, Hella Ibrahim, (founder of Djed Press), are establishing an advocacy body championing POCs in the arts through a research tool we are developing. Aside from that, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into my new role at GetUp!. It’s exciting times ahead for sure!

JK: I’m not sure yet! I directed my first short film this year, and I’m in the process of writing a script for another one that I’d like to produce next year.

I think filmmaking can sometimes be a bit unexpected—in terms of the opportunities you get—but in the meantime, I can’t wait to start planning out Season 2.

Follow For the Love of Good on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all things Art in Colour, and don’t forget to the check out the first episode on November 1st!


Compiled and Edited by Emma Kate Lewis

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