In conversation with Anita Fontaine the upcoming Semi Permanent

We've had an array of exciting events this year despite everything going on in the world. It's always important to celebrate talents of all sorts and of course, staying safe! On Thursday 12 November at Auckland’s Aotea Centre, 27 of New Zealand’s leading creatives will showcase the breadth, depth, diversity and potential of the creative industries at Semi Permanent 2020. It's safe to say, our country is filled with unbelievable talents.
We talked to one of the speakers Anita Fontaine about working with VR, producing Benee's 'Snail' music video, and the upcoming Semi-Permanent show.
Are you excited for Semi-Permanent Aotearoa? 27 speakers! that’s going to be quite hectic!
Yeah! I’ve been wanting to attend for a few years. Now that I’m stuck in New Zealand, it's good to be doing that. Everyone’s got quite a short amount of speaking time so it should be pretty good!
We've spoken to a few Kiwi creatives in the past few months and it’s incredible how the influence of this pandemic and everything that’s going around in the world has had on their current works. Would you say the same about yourself? How has the pandemic impacted your career?

I think what it’s done has allowed us to take into consideration more of a meaningful type approach on how to work. We’re kind of in this crisis where the earth is unhappy with how we’ve been treating it and COVID is just one of the results of that. It's allowed me to figure out what’s important in regard to my creativity and what I’m putting my energy towards. But I’d say more on a practical level it’s kind of show we can work from anywhere and that remote working is more acceptable than ever. One of my fears of moving here (since I only moved here from Amsterdam at the end of last year) was that I would be isolated in terms of work, but since COVID, everyone's on an equal playing field, in terms of everyone's working from home. There's definitely been a lot of disruptions in different creative industries, but for me, because my work is so digital and to do with 3D animation and filmmaking, yeah. But I think we're fortunate in New Zealand that we're able to still work in terms of shooting things.


The music video you created for Benee’s song 'Snail' was none like the other! Personally, it gave real 80s 90s vibes with scissor sisters Take your Mama! What was your main influence on creating this?

It was very much like a collaboration with Stella (Benee), the track is kind of about being stuck inside and it was very much inspired by lockdown. It was more about how we can create this escapist fantasy world, where she can kind of have this transformation and not be stuck in that lockdown world. She’s really into snails and elves and all these things, it was just the perfect project to I guess go full-on with all these fantasy visuals and create a world that you could step inside of. That’s all I really want is for people to be transported by my work as much as possible. So yeah, the aim was to kind of create this immersive fantasy for Benny when she wakes up and things start getting really weird.

She was one of our cover stars! The songs really reflect back on who she is as a person I think. What was it like working with her? 

She’s really hilarious! That was one of the things in the video that was really important to me to capture. How can I get across her really unique sense of humor? It's kind of unusual for a pop star to be like her, and I think that needs to be celebrated right now. When I was a little girl and growing up, I wish I’d had a Benny figure to look up to. Someone that’s just like, I’m just going to be me. I’m just going to be magical and weird and funny and authentic. It’s so inspiring for little girls and boys as well, that she can be an icon from just being herself. She's amazing. And really talented, like in terms of her abilities as a singer, but also as a performer. Just bringing her own character to my direction and my ideas. It was just like a really fun collaborative project where I was just trying to bring out the natural personality and just amplify the weirdness a bit and she just totally got that. It just felt kind of easy to direct her because she’s just talented in acting as well. 


What’s next for you? Because I feel like your sense of creativity is endless! Where do you hope to take VR to next?

I’ve just finished a campaign for a perfume brand that is really close to my heart. They’re all about sustainability and natural ingredients. Creating conscious content is really important to me. So being able to partner with brands or different entities that share those same values is really important. I’m working on a VR project coming up, I’ve got a couple of pitches going on, but yeah I just want to be able to create work that’s quite meaningful in our current reality that we're dealing with, but also give I want to have a positive impact on the world. With having people experience my work and then come away with some kind of tool or inspiration to kind of help themselves and help the world around them. That’s my intention for the next little while, but I do tend to get a little distracted by commercial work so I try to keep a balance of both commercial and artwork as much as I can.


I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! 'Snail' has set the bar up quite high!

Yeah. Psychedelics are kind of my signature aesthetic, very colorful, and hyperreal. Because I’m kind of new in New Zealand it’s been great to connect with a few brands here and there, along with hopefully some new connections with New Zealand brands. I think it’s just about meeting people and getting some of my work out there, which I think interviews like this are great to get a little more exposure. I’m originally from Australia but haven’t lived on this side of the world for like 20 years so I’m sort of starting over, as I got all of my experience from living in Europe and the United States.


To get your hands on tickets to Semi-Permanent, head here. But if you missed it, don't stress! Watch it live stream!