INTERVIEW WITH COMEDIAN ARJ BARKER AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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It was a very interesting week, an opportunity came up to interview comedian Arj Barker for Scenestr magazine in the lead up to his new show We Need To Talk at the Adelaide Fringe. I was lucky enough to get that gig and prepared for it. I’ve been watching Arj Barker for years on Australian television with panel shows and telecasts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Along with Heath Franklin and Randy Feltface here was someone whom I could mention to my friends and they would know who I was talking about. By the end of the week I had spoken to Arj Barker, Michael Che and DeAnne Smith. It was a lot of work, a bit scary and a lot of fun and it all started with Arj.

It’s very surreal to get to interview these people after years of being a fan, Arj answered all my questions and reflected on a few things that will feature in his show. It was a thrill to do the interview which you can read here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/arj-barker-needs-to-talk-with-us-in-his-new-show

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. This interview was published in print in the February South Australian edition of Scenestr which is always a thrill for a GenX guy like myself. A digital version of the print edition can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/read/SA/2018/36-SA/scenestr-SA-36.html#p=75 with the interview on page 74.  If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

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WHEN I BECAME A WRITER

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I was a student at the Queensland University of Technology 2003-2004. I graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing). Having knocked off a year of electives from previous study at Griffith University I went from kind of a ‘first year’ mode in 2003 to ‘shit we’re about to graduate mode’ in 2004. I was not a good student but in my last semester I tried to seek out some opportunities, I did a work elective where I wrote the newspaper for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival with a small group of fellow students, I submitted a short story to be published in a book of student’s collections ( I was rejected and received feedback that included “a patchwork of movie cheese”), I volunteered at the Brisbane International Film Festival and submitted reviews to a film website that were rejected, and I submitted a film review to the student guild magazine Utopia.

Coming out of a lecture one day with one of my friends we walked past a tray of the latest Utopia. As I was leafing through it, he mentioned “I’m in it, you’re in it too.” I became very excited, repeating back to him “I’m in it?!”. I couldn’t tell if he was taking the piss or not as I scrambled to find where. I’ll never forget when I saw my byline. It just looked so damn beautiful. I hadn’t been notified by the Utopia staff. I confirmed later you got paid for submissions. In my last year I was over at Kelvin Grove campus but the offices for the magazine were over at Gardens Point. After the semester had ended I finally went  into Gardens Point and picked up a cheque for $15.00. I was a university student then and while it wouldn’t go far every $15.00 helped. I never cashed the cheque. I wanted it as a memory of the first time somebody paid me for my writing. This in my mind made me a writer. It certainly is one of those things in life where only you can take what it means to you, away from you.

I submitted another story to Utopia but they didn’t publish it. The following year I walked around to every film studio and producer in Brisbane and dropped off my resume. I only heard back from two to say they weren’t hiring but wished me the best of luck. I had one interview with one film production company which I really enjoyed but I didn’t get the job. In 2006 I went back to university. In 2007 I was a gopher on a film set and in 2008 I met my wife. Life got away but I started blogging, and more so when I did my Graduate Certificate in 2015, and buoyed by the community I found online and engaged with I submitted reviews to film websites I followed. Only a couple and I never heard back.

I decided to try somewhere more local last year and submitted to Scenestr which had been Scene magazine when I was at university. The editor there liked my review and on the 23rd of February, 2017 my review for Hidden Figures was published on their website and they put me on the e-mail list of their freelance contributors. In the year since I’ve become a regular contributor to Scenestr (44 – 15 interviews, 13 film reviews, 13 theatre reviews, 3 stand-up reviews), Heavy (22), Buzz (8) and X-Press (5). I’ve also had one of my reviews published with FilmInk. That’s 80 published pieces in the past year. It is not how I make my living, that I must be clear about, but it allows me to pretend I’m a writer, film critic, an interviewer. Because for small pockets of time it is what I do and I work hard at it and I do get compensated for it. So I guess I’m a writer no matter how much money I make. I’m a writer again just like I was when that film review got published in the guild magazine over a decade ago and I’m very grateful to be able to say that. 81 and counting.

-Lloyd Marken

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INTERVIEW WITH MICHEAL CHE AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Michael Che is the co-head writer of Saturday Night Live and the co-anchor of the bit Weekend Update that features on that show. In 2009 he started doing stand-up, in 2012 he performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, a year later he was a writer on Saturday Night Live, following highly renowned bits as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart he was made co-anchor of Weekend Update in late 2014. Just over three years later he is head co-writer of SNL, he has released a Netflix special Michael Che Matters and he is touring throughout the world. When I began writing for Scenestr a little less than a year ago I never thought it possible I would get to interview someone like Che who had performed on Letterman or SNL. The fact that it was someone whose comedy I enjoy as much as Che was a real treat. I’m tickled pink that I was put through by a PA for the interview and then told to wrap it up by the PA as well. That’s a new level of fame. 🙂 A personal indulgence on my part became the central focus of the interview for me. I asked Che what it was like to perform on Letterman. His answer I believe is first and foremost an interesting behind the scenes story, but it also reflects something about comedians. Muhammed Ali would move faster when he sparred later in life with Parkinsons then when he walked. Fighters fight. Stand-ups do live comedy. You are your craft and it always comes back to that. I’m very grateful for speaking to Michael Che and to Scenestr and to you all for reading. I hope you enjoy http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/michael-che-using-humour-to-identify-humanity-with-his-australian-tour

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland every month. The interview with Michael Che is the cover story for this month’s Western Australia magazine featuring on pages 10 and 11. You can read a digital version of the printed Western Australia edition here http://scenestr.com.au/read/WA/2018/11-WA/scenestr-WA-11.html#p=11 Scenestr65The Western Australia edition only started up in May 2017 and only with such an expansion I guess could such an opportunity had been made possible. I have now done two cover stories for the Western Australia edition and one for the Queensland edition for which I’m very grateful. If you’re into music Scenestr are a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

INTERVIEW WITH ‘360 ALL STARS’ DIRECTOR GENE PETERSON AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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During the month of January I was fortunate enough to interview Gene Peterson who is the director and percussionists for the circus spectacular 360 All Stars. The show was Gene’s brainchild where he headhunted the best in the world at what they do to assemble in one show. The show has been going strong for six years featuring urban twists on traditional circus arts along with spectacular music, projection and lighting. I spoke to the director ahead of the Adelaide Fringe Festival which for them, like a lot of the artists performing at the Adelaide Fringe kicks off their world tour for this year. Gene is an insanely talented man, at age 14 he had his work Raindance performed by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, who has just never stopped asking himself how he can self-improve and the stars of his show are very much of a similar discipline and world leaders in their field. Adelaide readers are in for a treat and others should keep their eyes peeled, they’ll be going all around the world. Mr Peterson was kind and enthusiastic about the show and was a pleasure to talk to, you can read our interview here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/360-allstars-the-supercharged-urban-circus-comes-to-adelaide-fringe

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. Scenestr54This interview featured on page 61 of the February South Australia Edition which was the edition with a heavy emphasis on the Adelaide Fringe which you can find here http://scenestr.com.au/read/SA/2018/36-SA-Fringe/scenestr-SA-36-Fringe.html#p=20 Featuring in the same edition was my interview with Contemporary Circus Performer Jascha Boyce from Gravity and Other Myths which was done for the WA Christmas edition as a cover story. Their show A Simple Space had now moved on from Fringe World in Perth and they were continuing their tour at the Adelaide Fringe as was Heath Franklin with his impersonation of Chopper in his stand-up show Bogan Jesus whom I had interviewed for the Western Australia January edition. A cut down version of the Jascha Boyce interview featured on page 64 and the one with Heath Franklin featured on page 66Scenestr55Scenestr56A cut down version of the interview with Mr Franklin also featured on page 47 of the Queensland February Edition. Scenestr60There is also an Arj Barker interview on page 74 but I will discuss that further in the future when it goes online. I was also very happy to see my film review for I, Tonya featured in the February print edition of Scenestr for NSW (page 29), SA (page 21) and WA (page 27) but not my hometown. Scenestr61Scenestr57Scenestr58The Queensland editions are the most established, the largest and always jam packed so this makes sense but it was still a thrill to see it in print in the inter-state ones. All in all I had four interviews and one film review feature in the South Australia magazine and something in all four February editions throughout the country. Scenestr59Forgive my hubris, I doubt this kind of luck will be repeated again any time soon so I wanted to take stock of it as getting published in print is a bit of a thrill for a GenX guy like myself. Digital versions of each print magazine can be found at the link here http://scenestr.com.au/scenestr-magazine/scenestr-digital-edition-2018 A digital version of the print edition can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/read/WA/2018/10-WA/scenestr-WA-10.html#p=27 with the interview on page 26.  If you’re into music Scenestr are a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

INTERVIEW WITH ‘THAT ’80s TIME TRAVEL MOVIE – A BACK TO THE FUTURE MUSICAL PARODY’ DIRECTOR ROW BLACKSHAW AVAILABLE AT SCENESTR

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I loved Back To The Future growing up as a kid, I remember seeing Part II at the movies and how it ended with a cliffhanger. The third movie had been shot back to back which was unprecedented back then so after the ending there was a sneak peak of Part III. I had six months to wait for the next movie and it drove me berserk as a nine year old. I can’t imagine what it was like with those poor kids who were that kind of age when The Empire Strikes Back came out. I used to crawl around the car in my parents driveway pretending I was on a hoverboard calling out Marty and Doc non-stop. My mother helpfully remembers it was Duck that I said which drove her nuts. Fortunately for me she enjoyed the films too especially the first. Tales of time travel and/or ghosts have always spoken to her.

It turns out I wasn’t the only fan of the series which makes sense, since they accumulated something like over a billion dollars three decades ago upon release. One such fan Row Blackshaw is now directing the Australian debut of the recent parody musical of the original film titled  That 80s Time Travel Movie – A Back To The Future Musical Parody. Row Blackshaw is beyond a triple threat there appears nothing this insanely talented woman can’t do. A musician and performer who has done a variety of roles behind the scenes, she has also worked as a nurse and taught special needs kids. I found our conversation really enjoyable as we shared a mutual love of Back To The Future and discussed the importance of empathy which I believe has influenced her path. She was kind enough to share some of what personally defined her and delight with a Doc Brownian yelp while discussing a scene. You can read the interview here http://scenestr.com.au/arts/that-80s-time-travel-movie-a-back-to-the-future-musical-parody-in-brisbane If you’re a local Brisbane reader you should really pop along, it is going to be one heck of a show.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. A cut down version of this interview was published in print in the February QLD edition of Scenestr which is always a thrill for a GenX guy like myself. A digital version of the print edition can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/read/QLD/2018/1101-QLD/scenestr-QLD-1101.html#p=34 with the interview on page 35.  If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

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INTERVIEW WITH COMEDIAN HEATH FRANKLIN AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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At the end of last year I got an opportunity to interview comedians Heath Franklin and Randy Feltface. Both are well established and have been part of television shows in Australia so it was a new level reached for my interviewing. Heath Franklin is most famous for his Chopper Read character who is based on the actual Chopper Read from real life. We talked a little bit about how he started out and how he approaches his stand-up. Throughout he was thoughtful with his answers and I was most interested to hear him discuss his early days, how fortunate you are if you make it and how many talented people do not. I particularly liked the way he phrased doing comedy before he got his breaks as “This is something I love and I’m going to do it when I’m awake and when I’m not working”.  You can read it here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/heath-franklin-s-chopper-brings-us-a-new-mo-ssiah-with-bogan-jesus

I interviewed Mr Franklin in anticipation of his upcoming tour Bogan Jesus which kicked off at Fringe World in Perth on the 6th of February and will continue around the country including Adelaide Fringe and the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne Comedy Festivals. Also Hobart and Gosford.

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. This interview, along with the Randy Feltface one, was published in print in the January WA edition of Scenestr which is always a thrill for a GenX guy like myself. A digital version of the print edition can be found here http://scenestr.com.au/read/WA/2018/10-WA/scenestr-WA-10.html#p=27 with the interview on page 26.  If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken

I, TONYA REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The chance to review films for a publication is always a special treat. Cinema is my first love though and so getting to be a film critic if only sporadically is a way to live that dream. I was very lucky to review the new film Margot Robbie film I, Tonya for Scenestr magazine.

Margot Robbie was once a 17 year old playing a role in a small budgeted independent action film on the Gold Coast. There was an overweight 27 year old on that film set too working as a production runner. Based on Margot’s performance in that film I wouldn’t have thought Oscar buzz was in her future. A performance I saw a year later in a Gold Coast cinema with cast and crew. By then Margot was already down south working hard on the Australian soap Neighbours. It’s 10 years later and Margot Robbie is one of the hottest young talents in America, a first-rate actress, a woman with her own production company forming her own projects to ensure she’s not just the girl in the bikini or the hotpants. Her work in The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and now I, Tonya is simply first rate. To go from where we were to where she is now is truly remarkable and I look forward to a long prolific career with many more great performances. I take my hat off to you Ms. Robbie and congratulations on becoming an Academy Award nominee. Most deserved.

On some level it’s very surreal for me to have known at one point a very big star for a brief period of time where they were not a big star. It’s also weird to then have my dream job of writing for publications be involved with a Margot Robbie film but also rewarding. I feel a small measure of success in the industry I love which is nice.

Karen and I went to a preview screening of I, Tonya at Chermside cinemas two days before it opened nationwide. My review was published the next day, there were things I was trying to get across about the strength of the performances, the depth of the storytelling and the pacing of the picture that I hope come through. It is one of those reviews where it feels like I’m getting there but not quite where I want it to be. Deadlines can be good for getting past your own doubts.

I hope you like the review which can be read here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/i-tonya-review-20180124 and enjoy the film. Once again to all my readers thank you so much for your continued support and interest. The trailer below by the way in my humble opinion is one of the best film trailers of 2017. Maybe it’s the music.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.

-Lloyd Marken