Ex-Nayland student is thriving creatively on all fronts

PAPERCITY - Feel. Listen now: https://smarturl.it/paprcty &mdash; <i>videographer: PAPERCITY</i>

Musician, graphic designer and film director would sound like the dream career for many of us, but it has become the reality for ex-Nayland student Alex Hargreaves . She has just released her second single Feel with her band PAPERCITY, where she also directed the music video (see above). We caught up with Alex to find out how she got to where she is today. The answer: lots of hard work!

What have you been doing since you left Nayland College? 

After Nayland College, I went to South Seas Film and Television School in Auckland. It’s a one year course and I studied directing there. After that I did continuity on a Netflix show being shot in NZ. I have worked on a bunch of NZ TV shows since. I’m currently Art Directing Taskmaster NZ. I also direct music videos. The most recent one I’ve done is for the metal band Devilskin. But probably the most interesting one that I’ve done, would be Alien Weaponry’s Kai Tangata, which has over six million views on YouTube now.

ALIEN WEAPONRY – Kai Tangata (Official Video) | Napalm Records Napalm Records

While I’ve been working in film I’ve also been working really hard on my music. I’ve been writing, recording and playing lots of shows.

How have your film making skills complimented your musical career?

Film making skills compliment working in music in so many ways. I’m really lucky to be able to make my own videos. Working in film also makes you really organised and punctual because every minute on set not being fully utilised, is wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I like to be really organised for shows too. It always really surprises people because people in the music industry are used to working with a lot of really disorganised musicians.

How long did it take to make the video for Feel? Was it hard to direct and ‘star’?

The Music Video for Feel was a one day shoot (and roughly a 10 day edit). It is pretty hard directing stuff that you’re also in but I’m also really lucky to have a team around me that I really trust. That makes things a lot easier. It just takes a bit longer because you have to watch the playback after every couple of takes.

Is it tough to make it as a ‘creative’ in New Zealand? How do you do it?

I know that young people are really discouraged from going into these kinds of jobs. But if you’re a hard worker there will always be a job for you to do. The creative industries can be pretty hard to break into. I was lucky and I was touring as a musician and I had a job in TV straight away. It took some of my friends a year to get their first jobs. Since they have had their first jobs they have all been working nonstop since. I think the best thing you can do is learn as much as you can on your own time so it makes it easier for someone to give you your first job. 

There are jobs in creative industries. There are really high paying jobs too. You just have to be a hard worker and be someone that people want to be around when you’re doing a 15 hour day or getting up after having two hours sleep to travel to the next place you’re playing a show.

How did Nayland College prepare you for what you are doing now?

Nayland College was amazing. The teachers didn’t spoon feed us too much which was great for when I was studying. A lot of people came into our film course without really being able to do things without being told to do them, and that made things really hard for them. Media studies was where I started making films too. One of my first big jobs in TV came about because I was the only person who had a really unique combination of skills (editing, GFX, photoshop, sound design and MIDI) which all basically came from Media studies, Music and Design art.

Any advice for young people at Nayland who want to make a career in the Arts? 

Honestly –  just work really hard. While you have the time, just learn as much as you can. If you’re a musician, make sure you write heaps of songs. Learn how to produce your own stuff. Also, enter Rockquest. It is one of the biggest assets to the music industry. It creates a community of musicians. You might be competing against people one year who you end up touring the world in a band with a couple of years later. So many famous bands are made up of people who met each other at Rockquest.

By Duncan McKinlay