These are some of the questions that two Mt. Albert Grammar students believe could change the way we live.
Sixteen-year-old students Jahmal Nightingale and Joseph McNamara are the writers and performers ofImagine the World is Ending. It has been selected by Loading Docs as one of ten short documentaries and films, all revolving around this year’s theme of ‘change’.
Imagine the World is Ending began as a piece for a slam poetry contest.
“The phrase ‘imagine the world is ending’ is something we decided on because it gets everyone thinking; in the event of an apocalypse, would you rather spend your last days on earth full of hate, or love? Would you worry about your beliefs, ideas or appearance in a world of chaos?
“We want people to consider the end of the world as a blessing, and question the standards in our world that are often presented as facts,” Jahmal explained as he talked to TEARAWAY about the inspiration for the poem.
“The message we intend to deliver is that we shouldn’t have to live in a hostile world, under constant judgement which rivals our self esteem.”
Jahmal compared the way society judges people by their skin colour, sexual orientation or appearance to judging food in a cooking competition.
“Really, people are like art,” he said. “Art is neither good nor bad, and cannot be judged or moderated. It’s a form of self-expression, and while people may have their opinions on art, the only opinion that should matter is the that of the creator.”
Filming was no simple task; creating a film adaption of the poem was a long and pain-staking process. During a series of brainstorming workshops, director Brendan Withy and producer Doug Dillaman helped Jahmal and Joseph decide on locations for filming, wanting to contrast day-to-day imagery of homes and schools with a parallel tour of a post-apocalyptic world.
During just one weekend of filming, the poem was performed over 50 times, from Queen Street to Cornwall Park, to Karekare Beach, to the Avondale Market, to secluded roads in the Waitakere Ranges.
“They quickly learnt that making films is 1% glamour and 99% hard work,” said Brendan.
Joseph said the most difficult part of filming was maintaining intensity while performing. He explained that, when you’re at a competition, having spent weeks – if not months – preparing your delivery and knowing you have only one shot at impressing the judges “puts you in a mind state where literally nothing else in the world matters for three minutes.” However, filming the same piece in the afternoon sun, repeatedly, to get it just right, made it difficult to replicate the same intense performance.
When asked the big question – do you believe your film could change the world? – the answers were confident. Director Brendan believes that Joseph and Jahmal’s ‘crackling, clever words and explosive delivery’ have the power to change the world by getting people to consider what needs to be changed.
“It depends on whether or not our audience isn’t too arrogant to learn from it, and brave enough to act on it,” said Joseph.
“I do believe it can change the world. I believe we addressed many large and controversial topics, and if the topics we mentioned are powerful enough to start conversations within our community then we can move forward and look into what needs to be done to solve these problems,” Jahmal said.
Imagine the World is Ending comes out on the 4th of August, and you will be able to watch it on the Loading Docs website.
By TIERNEY REARDON