Craft Source x Maiya Thompson


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Maiya Thompson

Director | Producer | Writer

Ph: 021 136 9553

Youtube | maiyaraquelthompson@gmail.com

 

Kia ora! I’m Maiya, a Kiwi-born 23-year-old, currently on the story team on the TV show, Power Rangers.

I studied Film and Theatre at VUW and UH Manoa but my focus is primarily in writing & directing for film - although, in these industries you basically end up doing any & everything so I’d probably just label my artistry as a storyteller (..is that too pretentious?).

I grew up in Auckland as the eldest of (now) eight and so finding ways to entertain ourselves was naturally my way into this creative world. I like to believe that the amount of times I forced my siblings to be in my home movies attests to my destiny as a passionate filmmaker, but I think a lot of it was lucky timing that video technology was becoming more accessible and still a novelty to us kids that we had the energy to learn how to use it (even made movies on my mp4 player ha). I actually didn’t realise that I wanted to make a career of it until my later teens once I got into acting, but the seeds were always there and so it was a natural progression into my current focus in writing and directing.

I think every script and project I work on, I get a new idea of what my style is but I’ve always been into stories with a more psychological-realism approach and I would say a lot of my writing falls under that type of character-driven plot line. It can be quite a slight way of telling stories, which is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think a lot of human behaviour falls in that realm of implicitness and I’m interested in exploring those emotional subtleties, particularly in underrepresented peoples (yay “diversity”). I think subconsciously it’s my way of expressing how I understand humanness in the least contrived way - and that’s probably most evident in my videography edits, which I mainly make as a way to keep my visual muscles moving during long stretches of only writing.  

Like any artist, ideas are constantly inspired by the world around me and inevitably that is intertwined with the gaps of content by and about ‘people like me’. In saying that, I’m one of those that believe there are only seven stories in the world, so I think consuming as many stories (in whatever form - film, TV, theatre, novels) is a good way to see how other people approach old ideas in fresh and original ways. Go to the cinema peeps!

 

Film is my biggest influence, unironically. If a movie makes me feel something or shows me something new about the world, it still has such a trickling affect in my life, which always ends up back on the page in some way. In terms of specific filmmakers, right now I’m a huge fan of Greta Gerwig, Denis Villeneuve, Joe Swanberg, Ava DuVernay, Damien Chazelle and obviously Taika.

My writing process is pretty erratic and I’ve done both the six-months to finish fifteen pages, and the two nights to write eighty pages so I can’t say that I have much of a consistent approach. For some reason I do feel very motivated to write in super inappropriate situations (along the lines of in the bathroom on my phone during a pub crawl) but so long as I have something I can write on, that’s all I need to start.

I almost can’t write without access to a dictionary. Words are an incredibly powerful tool and to use them well, I think it’s important to really understand all the denotations of the vocabulary you use. Also, the thesaurus got me A's at uni.

I’ve been very fortunate to work on some amazing projects here & overseas and writing under a huge American production has been very exciting. However, I’d have to say that one of my favourite projects has actually been directing a short play called Silence (written by Faith Wilson and Victor Rodger) during my last semester. Not only was it an opportunity to apply all the skills I’d acquired over my studies but it was a story that I felt super passionate about and that really gave me the energy to experiment in ways that I never predicted.

Now that full-time adult life has taken over, other projects have slowed down a bit lately, but I’ve just come off doing some community theatre and currently prepping for a music video collab with a good friend of mine working on his EP. I’m hoping to start producing a script I developed at the Aotearoa Shorts Lab this year too, which is exciting. Other than that, I’m rewriting. Always rewriting.

Life’s pretty surreal because if you asked me a year ago, I would’ve predicted I’d be in LA by now. My goal has always been to work with the best and that always seemed to be Hollywood. But I spent my gap year in Argentina and a year of uni in Hawai’i and that really put things in perspective for me, personally and career-wise. It’s so easy to undervalue the art we create in Aotearoa (classic cultural cringe) but I’m learning that representation has its place here too, and I’m happy hanging around for awhile. Plus, Taika.

My advice to other aspiring artists would be, "Specificity is universality and who you know is barely relevant. If you work as hard as your ambitions and be a good person, you’ll be sweet."

 


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