Lady Lash - Crystal Clyne
Lady Lash (2020) Genetic Circus Productions
Stories & Ideas

Thu 02 Jun 2022

"A soul-ripping experience": Lady Lash (Crystal Clyne) on making her documentary

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In Rochelle Humprey's 2020 documentary, a Kokatha-Greek hip hop artist returns to Country seeking self growth and connection after living in Melbourne for decades.


Transcript

Kerri-Lee Harding: [foreign language 00:00:14], I'm Kerri-Lee Harding from SBS Radio. I'm a Wulgurukaba Juru Koa woman from Queensland and I also would like to pay my respect to the traditional owners of the land, who we come and watch this amazing film on today. Also, paying my respect to any First Nations people who are here in the audience and on stage with us. Crystal, of course, as well.

So, wow, what an amazing way to celebrate Reconciliation Week. Can we have another round of applause?

Thank you. As you can see, Crystal is here, joining us for this discussion today. And Rocky as well, one of the producers. Thank you so much for joining me today. It's good to have you here for a yarn.

I'm not really sure where to start, but from the beginning is a good idea. How did the idea for the documentary come about? Did you want to answer that, sis?

Crystal Clyne: Yeah. Hi. How's everyone? Good?

I'm just coming off two weeks, just on the tail end of a flu. It was crazy. Oh my goodness. My voice is a little bit husky. But, anyway.

The documentaries started... I performed at Anarco festival?

Rochelle Humphrey: Yeah, the Anarco Film Festival.

CC: ...Film festival, that Rocky put on. And it was just like a moonlight cinema in a warehouse. Big screen. It was very theatre-like, as well. It was beautiful. So I just performed there and yeah, that's how I met you first. And then just chatting here and there, and then she's like, "Sis, you know what? I'd love to do a documentary about a woman in the music industry. I've been searching for a woman and I feel like you are someone that I'd like to... You're very interesting". I was like, "[beep] All right, let's go. I have nothing else to do. Let's go. I'm just making music. Let's just go".

RH: Do you remember that time of the cafe? I sort of called her up and just went "right. Maybe we should have a meeting and just have a chat". And we sit down at this cafe and I'm just like going, "oh, you know that you can't just be at the front of the camera. You've got to be behind as well". She's like, "oh yeah. All right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah". And I just went "there's [beep] no money. We're just going to do it. We're just going to make it. I'll try and find a crew and we'll just try our best".

CC: Yeah. That's what I loved about Rocky's determination as well. I felt safe with her and that she'd told my story – culturally safe as well – and to be able to being straight up as well and honest. And I was like, "well, [beep] the money. Who cares? If we can film, let's just do it. Money will come later, whatever. Let's just start filming". So yeah, we jumped in about a month later. It happened so quick.

RH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CC: We crowdfunded.

RH: Yeah, that's right. We crowdfunded. And it was pretty incredible. If there's anybody in the crowd today that supported Lady Lash, we are so [beep] grateful, seriously. Because, I don't know whether you guys know, but essentially the film industry is incredibly flawed and to tell stories is really [beep] hard because there's big iron gates to get through, to try and get a story out there. Often people have fantastic ideas and just won't actually manage to make a film, but we just decided that we were going to make it. And we were incredibly fortunate.

ACMI facilitator:

Don't mind us.

RH: Sure.

ACMI facilitator:

We just realised the bottles of water.

RH: Great. Thank you. Yeah. We just went "(beep) we're going to make it", I swear a lot. So please, excuse my swearing right now.

CC: Me too.

RH: I just got to say that. Sorry

KLH:

And you jumped into it pretty much straight away as Crystal was saying before.

RH: Yeah.

KLH: So you just put all your own funds into it, both of you yet to get started.

RH: Yeah.

CC: And it was very... favor that you've pulled as well from a lot of people that you've worked with in the past. And I didn't even know how the hell to produce a film. So Rocky taught me a lot. As a co-producer now I'm pretty clued on to what the (beep) Oh my God.

KLH: And what that process like for you as a first time producer?

CC: Oh, oh my goodness

KLH: And of course, pouring your soul loud as well, which you do in the documentary, but it was-

CC: That was hard work. It was hard work to be behind the scenes and in front of the camera. I was going through such a spiritual ripping. I was ripping my soul from the stars to the deep ocean. And I was like "[beep]", but also having that control behind the camera as well, with Rock, but understanding and learning along the way. It was massive, massive journey for me.

RH: But you are wild.

KLH: I know.

RH: It was like, "right, we've got to do this and do this and do this and do that". You're like, "okay. I've got that down. What else do we have to do?".

CC: Yeah, you too, Rock. Like, damn. It was just an honour to work with you. You kick ass. Very cultural as well, very sensitive as well, understanding and all those protocols. That was very, very important to me.

KLH: Which would've been really appreciated when you went back on country with your Nana Sue there. Just beautiful images and audio we heard there. What was that like for you, not only being there, but being there with the film crew and learning again, probably not hearing those stories for the first time, but learning them again on country?

CC: Oh my God. I was ripped again. I kept just ripping. Like I was dying and then rebirthing and dying. It was constant. And I was just trying to pick myself out of it. I was crying in the fire then out in front of the camera, talking, (beep) I'm crying again, and back again. It was just a massive soul experience, in this journey, in this human body that I was having. It's just beautiful to sit with Nana as well out on country and being able to have that opportunity, the stars just aligned. It wasn't purposely done. It just happened. It was just meant to be.

KLH: Yeah. I recently went through some women's business with my mum and could really relate to the scenes and what you were sharing with us in that film. Let's take it back to the beginning of the film where your music started. Of course, with uncle Bunna Lawrie, from the Colored Stones band and you were quite shy back then about your music, but also really wanted to go out there and make yourself known in the music world. You had big dreams.

CC: Oh yeah, definitely. I knew that was something bigger than myself. But being out on the kind of a community as well with all my cousins and families, I always sang, always sang. And I always knew that I wanted to be a singer, sitting out on the rock scene when I was a little girl. It was like I was in a meditative state, constantly, living out on the water and in the ocean. So it was just came naturally for me. But yeah, the teenage years was really rough, but I lost my way there a bit. But then something always pulled me back to music. Always pulled me back. Yeah. And just the journey of music as well. The journey of music has changed so much. Like if anyone's interested, I have a vinyl, some vinyl as well for my new music that I have. I have some here today and it's transcending sounds honouring my Kokatha side and my Greek side. So I was a really big warrior goddess, spiritual, crazy (beep). Beautiful, though.

KLH: How do you think your music's changed over the years?

CC: Oh, a lot. Like I flip from hip-hop/jazz, soul/blues, experimental to electronic. To me, it's a transcending journey through music. I don't want to be in this box. I'm not just a hip-hop/jazz artist. (Beep) Yeah. (beep) I have so many layers and complex layers and my brain works differently on music. It just looks at music differently

KLH: And talking about music, what was it like to work with Crystal and her music in this documentary, Rocky?

RH: Oh, it was really amazing, thanks Kerri-Lee. Everything we did was completely collaborative. It wasn't me, like, "it's going to be this, this and this". It was like, "Hey, what do you think about this?". And we'd have a bit of a yarn before we'd shoot and we'd talk about what we wanted to get out of the shoot.

And we were incredibly fortunate also to have just a great, really small crew. So Hugh Turral was the cinematographer and he's such an amazing, patient, man. Unfortunately he couldn't make it today, he's in Indonesia. But he's just a really kind, gorgeous man. And Glen Forster, who did our sound and he was just incredibly skilled. And then we had Spider doing editing and we edited it [inaudible 00:09:55] black fellow films. I think it was 30 tracks. Wasn't it?

CC: I think so.

RH: Yeah. I think there was 30 tracks.

KLH: That's a lot.

RH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The amount of music and the gorgeous array of music as a filmmaker to choose from was just amazing.

CC: Can I please give a round of applause for Marley Clyne? That's my ex husband and [inaudible 00:10:27] productions, but he's made a lot of that music as well. So I've got to give you props, man. It's still fam too.

RH: On you, Marley.

KLH: And what was it like for you to be here with your husband, Marley, today, watching this film, which you pour your heart and soul out, really? What was it like watching it with other people, with other mob in the room?

CC: It's amazing. Just sit here and watch it with my ex-husband, and just sitting next to him and just looking at him going, "Hey, look you on the screen, man. We're all on the screen". But yeah, no, it was beautiful. I think it's more of a sense of community and everybody's energy. I feel everybody's energy and love.

KLH: And I love the way you work together in the film, him upstairs, you downstairs almost Harry Potter-like underneath the stairs, look out.

CC: My sister called me a monster in the closet. And it was awesome until we figured it out that we could actually speak to each other, like through the microphone. We found that out after the filming. That was cool. It just worked. We're on that same wavelength.

KLH: And when you're making a film, you start off with the plan. I'm wondering, Rocky, for you as a producer, how much did that plan change from beginning to end or did it pretty much stay the same for you, as a producer?

RH: For me making a film, I have like a rough sort of sketch in my mind, but it's really about what happens. In documentary the idea of pre formulating a documentary sort of makes me a bit sick because then it takes away the beauty of what you actually get and what you can use. I think really for us, it, we really wanted to do something really organic. And I guess it's really about when you are filming what you get out of those sessions of talking. So I wouldn't even really call it interviewing because it was a lot more casual than that. And we wanted it to feel real. That was probably one of the most important things. We wanted it to be authentic and we wanted it to be real.

But in terms of, pre-planning just having some ideas of where we can film and what that can sort of portray in those shots. So at the warehouse, the disused warehouse, that was sort of nice, getting different locations to talk about different things. I feel like really sort of worked.

CC: And understanding the timeline as well, understanding from birth to current. That took a lot out of me as well. Telling those stories between the major things that's happened in my life.

RH: Yeah. It was amazing. And we also have an hour and 20 minute cut. We ended up getting supported by Film Victoria, the post production. And thanks to probably a lot of people in this room, we managed to shoot it.

CC: We did a Crowdfund, that's the first thing that started off. We crowdfunded for like #5,000 in order for us to get to country to film.

KLH: And how much did you reach? What was the end goal?

CC: Oh, $5,000

RH: I think $5,500.

KLH: That's amazing.

CC: Yeah. And then after that we did another one because we had to do a post that was in... What was that in?

RH: That was in Documentary Australia Foundation. We got over 80,000

CC: Crowdfunding.

KLH: So the money did come soon.

RH: Two years of working, I don't know how much it worked out. I think it was less than a dollar an hour. But we were really grateful and we still are that there were people that really believed in us to make it and supported the process. And then Film Victoria came on board for post-production, NITV said "we'll have it".

CC: Of course. Too deadly. We can hear that.

RH: Yeah. That was a bit of a relief. Because the way it works is if you get a broadcaster involved, will then the state agencies jump on board. So Film Victoria said yes because NITV said yes. And there was a new share from NITV.

CC: [inaudible 00:15:18] who's deadly woman, herself.

RH: Yeah. I actually haven't met her, but it would be good to meet her one day because she was pretty instrumental to be honest.

So then we got the second load of money to do post-production and sort of film Victoria wanted us to do a shorter version. We've got like an hour and 20 minute sort of stashed away for the future. Where we'd like to get the post production done on that. Maybe in... I don't know. I don't know when.

CC: Whenever the stars align again.

RH: Yeah. There's a bigger story.

CC: But a lot of things that went on in the documentary even beforehand and after the post production, people were coming in from the mining company trying to offer support here and there. We were like, "no".

RH: "No, thanks".

CC: And then we had a meeting with another, another company and they said, "oh, we think it would be best if you take the cultural stuff out of your documentary".

KLH: How can you say that? No.

CC: I know. And I'm like "what?".

KLH: Saying that to an Aboriginal woman is...

CC: Yeah. "We think it'd be good to just have Lady Lash. Bang!". No! Nah.

KLH: We are talking about your country. You come from beautiful lands. It's absolutely beautiful country. I'm wondering Rocky, what was it like for you as a non-indigenous woman to be led in through the window of this women's business, this world and being on country and seeing such special sacred sites and being amongst that? What did you feel at that time?

RH: I felt really connected to that space and I felt really privileged to be invited to your country and to meet Nana Sue who I've still maintained working together with her and we've got another documentary on the simmer. It was incredibly immersive and I was completely aw-struck. I'd done a fair bit of traveling when I was younger and done a fair of the hitchhiking and all sorts, so I've seen a lot of country. But it was really special and it always will be. And I feel that I have a commitment to go get a country and doing anything I can to protect it.

KLH: It was really heartbreaking to watch in the film Nana Sue there with you and talking about the fact that all that country's still not protected, sis. And that anyone can come through it's open [inaudible 00:18:23]. I mean, that's just heartbreaking for you as a traditional owner, right?

CC: Oh my God. It is very heartbreaking and we're trying the best we can right now, still keeping in contact with Nana. Like right now they're trying to build a rocket launch out on country. So it is just....

KLH: I did hear that in the news, sis. And I think for a lot of our old people too, they're getting older elders. So it's up to emerging elders like yourselves, sis. They want us to step up. That's something that my mom was talking about just the other week when I was doing women's business and all us young ones are looking at each other too, like, "yeah. It's time. They need help with the fight".

CC: Yeah, definitely. I've been thinking about moving back. Just going back and just being able to help the elders and being out on country and it's just taken a lot at the moment. So I'm just trying to balance it all out and understand, where I've got to be. I know I'm here in Nam and I'm doing all the work, and able to give voice to our people as well. But yeah, going back on country is just something different. You're actually working there and fighting on that frontline.

KLH: That's something that I loved in the documentary film was a contrast between city life and your life out bush as well. Was that the way that you wanted us to watch that as viewers, as producers?

RH: We had this sort of break of before, on country and after country. And that was essentially how all the files were put into place and put onto the computer. So that was a really big part of our approach, really. Wasn't it?like that sort of...

CC: But there was real life as well. Because us black fellas live in two worlds. The white fellow world and the black fella world. So it was good to see that as well, come to fruition, understand more.

KLH: And what did you want, sis, for audience members to get out of watching the film? Did you have any messages, anything you want? What did you want people to get out of it after viewing it?

CC: It's everybody's responsibility to take care of country. It's everyone's mother Earth. It's vital to the animals, to our children, our future generations. Even go to protests and be able to... For our fighting for our justices as well. Just being on that front line and make your press and even social media. Post online, go out and speak and be a part of community, meet the elders, the local traditional elders of your country, of where you're staying and be active as much as you can. Bring light, open conversation. It's very important. And also don't forget about your own culture and your roots as well. Go back to your own ancestors and understand where you come from. That's very, very important. In this life, it's a sense of identity and who you are and it'll give you a better understanding of why we are here and putting your feet into the earth, into the ocean and the stars in the moon. We embody everything.

KLH: And just speaking about that, you're putting your foot on that footprint in the rock. What went through your body when you experienced that. That was pretty amazing to watch.

CC: Oh, I'm very visual. And I feel, even when I write as well, but when I'm having... It's like a meditative spiritual experience. Just putting my foot in. I can see my great, great, great grandma, and just feeling her, embodying her, who she is... It's just like that when I got on country anyway. So just embodying it and just feeling it. Such a spiritual experience.

KLH: That's deadly, sis. And for you, Rocky, what did you want audiences to get out of watching Lady Lash?

RH: For me, it's like a celebration of Crystal of who she is and her connection to country and your music. And so I guess I just really wanted people to have a bit of an insight into another person's world and to be immersed into that person's world too, into your world. And also just feel the beauty of country. I think that if people start to really realise how incredibly beautiful and immersive these spaces and places are that more people stand up and fight for them. We're in a pretty, pretty dire space in terms of looking after country, a lot of country's under threat and we all have a responsibility to do something about it. And so that's really what I wanted to say in terms of getting people to think and activate because elders are calling out for help and we owe it to them to help.

KLH: And look, we could be here talking all day, but we know we have to get to another film very soon, but any final words from you first, Crystal?

CC: Oh my goodness. Don't be afraid. Just do what you need to do. Just jump in to do everything that you can do that makes you happy. You got to be happy in your life and understanding and connect back to your own ancestors. That's very important. That's what I feel. Go back spiritually and understand why you're here on earth. What's your purpose here. We are the physical, yes. But we also have a soul spirit inside of us. So I think we're working two dimensions here. That's what I ask you to do connect back to your own ancestors. Howl under the moon, darling.

KLH: And for you Rocky, some final words?

RH: A huge thank you to everybody and we are working on another film and we would love your support, whether it be monetary or just emotional, or just dig in the stories. As you walk out today, out of this space, there's a little table just on the right hand side, just near the door at the exit door. And there's a small little QR code that are printed on gold paper. If everyone could just take one of those little QR codes, pop it in their pocket and then do a scan and then pass it on to someone and get them to pass it on to someone. That's just information about the film that we're working on

CC: With Nana Sue.

RH: Yeah, yeah.

CC: With he rockets.

RH: Yeah. So about protecting country, we would just love your ongoing ideas and thoughts and support.

KLH: Thank you so much Rocky, sister Crystal. Thank you so much for both of you joining us today, for the audience for joining a summer reconciliation week, which is a deadly week for us. Thank you so much. Thank you.

CC: Thank you, sis. Thank you. Thank you all as well. Lots of love.

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