by Dimity Reed
……………………..Richard Wagner, Composer, 1813 – 1883.
Having spent around 40 really terrific years as an architect and having rarely thought about age, my 70th birthday appeared just as a marvellous urban renewal project which had involved me for four years finished. So there were a few free moments there to contemplate how I might entertain myself, and possibly others, for what could be another 20 years.
Then, one evening, after a slightly boozy dinner, a musicologist friend asked if we wanted to go to a lecture he was giving the following day on how we humans turn sound into music. That invitation became a new life, and not just for me. We went and were so mesmerised by his ideas and presentation that I rang our youngest filmmaker son (there are a few in the family), Sam, and suggested he attend the next talk.
He did and afterwards asked our mate, Heath Lees, if he were interested in doing a television series on music and how we hear it. He was.
They talked for a while and agreed to talk more. Then Sam asked if I were interested in producing the series. I replied (with a rare meekness) that I knew nothing about film production. “Ah”, said Sam, “You’d be very good at it.” I don’t know about you, but in my parental experience flattery is quite unusual, so I immediately said ‘Yes’. And in early 2012 became a virgin film producer.
Heath wrote a script, we hired the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre, put a great crew together and shot a 16 minute teaser in a week. Sam edited it and I took it to a producer in Sydney for advice. The advice was good but unexpected, “Wagner’s 4 opera Ring cycle is on in Melbourne in 2013 and Heath Lees is a world expert on Wagner. He’s a brilliant communicator so put More To Music aside and do something on The Ring.”
Heath, Sam and I took the advice and started work on four films, one on each of the Ring operas in September 2012. The scripts were written, money raised, brilliant crew again employed, wondrous singers involved and a month shooting in Europe happened. The films were completed and ready for sale in September 2013 (Available online here).
None of it was easy but it was glorious fun and the films are magical. Working with very talented people is one of life’s joys and everyone involved in Wagner’s Ring: A Tale Told in Music was hugely talented, hard-working, generous and fun.
So now we’re back where we stated, working on More To Music. And this, I think, is what the politicians call moving forward.
Dimity Reed’s CV includes architect, author, Professor of Urban Design at RMIT University, Board Member and Councillor of the City of St Kilda, but at 70 years of age she found a new career as Managing Director of Mad Woman Productions. Her book, Tangled Destinies – the National Museum of Australia, was published in 2002.