Student Spotlight

Welcome to our Student Spotlight corner, which is dedicated to showcasing the creative and ingenious pursuits of inspiring law students at Melbourne Law School.

Article 1: ‘The Subtlety of It’ with Nana

Article 2: As I Am with Isabella Le

The (C)opyright Chronicles

with Michelle Hambur from Heide Museum of Modern Art

The Copyright Chronicles is a series of interviews with creatives from different backgrounds, focusing on their practical experience of copyright law. For our first instalment, Reetika and Ashley from FAME, were lucky to chat to Michelle Hambur from Heide Museum of Modern Art. Michelle is a Senior Visitor Services Officer and for the past year, she has been working on copyright for Heide’s catalogues. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Art History and Masters of Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Melbourne.

How does copyright operate in practice at Heide?

Heide needs to consider copyright in respect of every element of our operations, including, but not limited to, merchandising, social media, publications, printed media and program content.

I have primarily been involved in seeking copyright for images that are to be used in Heide publications, including catalogues. In these cases, I will be provided with a list of images that are intended to be used by the Curator of an exhibition or Designer of a publication. My role is to ascertain the copyright position regarding each of these images and, if required, obtain the necessary copyright permissions. As part of the information provided to me, the Curator or Designer, in consultation with our in-house Graphic Designer, will advise me as to whether or not we will require a high-resolution image of the work in question as this would usually involve an extra cost. In instances in which a high-resolution image is not available, we may be able to organise a professional photographer to take one.

I will then create a master document to keep track of all images. The next step is to review each image and assess who is the copyright holder, and then seek the necessary consents either through a direct contact with the copyright holder or their agent or through the Copyright Agency.  Usually, I receive information on these images some time before the publication is due to go to print so there is ample time to seek consent. Sometimes, however, there can be last minute changes which mean that the necessary copyright consent must be obtained urgently.

Museums, such as Heide, often have working relationships with similar institutions throughout Australia. Usually, there is a high degree of co-operation in dealing with these requests, with some institutions offering us an in-kind service and waiving their usual fees.

Heide Museum of Modern Art, John Gollings: Spirit of Place

What are common copyright issues you face in the museum space?

These days many images are available on the internet and individuals occasionally assume that such images do not need to be verified in terms of copyright. This can present some challenges when I am occasionally provided with images that have been taken off of the internet without any information as to where they were obtained. The process for ascertaining where these images have come from and who holds the copyright for them can be time consuming, involving some detective work.

Another issue we have faced is the financial costs of copyright and image requests. As I have noted, some institutions waive fees or provide consent or high-resolution images at reduced cost, but this is not always the case. As a not-for-profit institution, we are sometimes unable to use certain images if the costs to reproduce them are too high.

Are certain types of artworks trickier to deal with than others?

Historical images or artworks that are out of copyright are of course the easiest for a museum. Video or collage works that have incorporated several elements or sources can be more complicated. However, the issue of copyright is dependent on the specific work in question and I would not say that any medium is, in and of itself, harder to deal with than another.

Are there any ways you think copyright law can be improved to suit your practical experience?

As Australian copyright law is based in statute, it takes time for the full meaning of new provisions to be interpreted by the Courts so that there is a clearer understanding of how these provisions work. For example, section 200AB was introduced into the Copyright Act some years ago. It was intended to provide greater flexibility to educational institutions, libraries, archives, galleries and museums where the use is not covered by other specific exceptions in the Copyright Act. However, the provisions are complex and have not yet been tested by the courts. This has led to some uncertainty about how they operate. It is assumed that over time they will be tested and this will provide greater clarity but, for the moment, there is a reluctance to rely on them due to this uncertainty and lack of precedent.

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Mirka Mora: Pas De Deux – Drawings and Dolls

How accessible do you think the copyright regime is?

Most medium to large sized museums have staff members with expertise in the area of copyright. These staff members have been trained to understand Australian copyright law through both tertiary study and practical experience. For these trained personnel, copyright is generally understood and accessible, therefore consultation with lawyers is very rarely necessary unless it is a particularly complicated or unusual situation.

However, copyright law is arguably less accessible for artists who often do not fully understand their rights. Though some tertiary fine arts degrees will touch on such rights, not all practical artists have undertaken such degrees. Additionally, artists do not necessarily know where to look for easy to understand explanations that are not costly. I believe that museums have a moral obligation to assist artists in understanding their rights as much as possible and Heide always strives to provide such information to the artists we exhibit.

Do you think copyright law places a significant burden on museums?

I believe the checks and balances provided by copyright law are a necessary burden on museums. Though we do have to invest a lot of time and resources to ensure that we have followed the law correctly, we understand the need for these processes to ensure that artists are correctly compensated for their work. The proceeds from copyright can form a significant part of an artists’ general income and the work that museums are required to do to properly comply with copyright can assist artists in sustaining their practices.  However, the financial burden that is placed on museums to undertake this necessary work, and the expertise it requires, should be recognised when funding and grants are considered.

What differences have you found between upholding moral rights in comparison to copyright ownership?

Moral rights is a less rigid area of copyright practice however, for museums, they are of equal importance. There is a clear path to establishing issues of consent when dealing with copyright owners, whereas a greater degree of judgement is required to determine if moral rights are likely to be breached.  While a failure to attribute is fairly clear, the other requirements of moral rights necessitate a greater case by case judgement call by museums and, therefore, are less certain. This is exacerbated by the issues noted above in relation to artists not fully understanding copyright law, a problem which also exists in regard to moral rights.

Museums such as Heide are required to think about both moral rights and copyright concerns on a daily basis, including in respect of social media, merchandising and educational resources. Images are such an intrinsic part of the daily workings of a museum that both areas need to be considered and treated with the same level of importance.

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Temptation to Co-Exist: Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley

Do you have any thoughts about potential copyright issues arising through galleries increasing the content available online in response to the COVID-19 era?

While there is clearly more online activity in the arts and museums space in general, the copyright issues that have arisen are much the same as those that have been encountered over recent years. As museums have expanded their public programs and education programs in recent years and have presented more creative activities, copyright issues have continually arisen.  Most of the issues that have come up in the COVID-19 era are really just an extension of these.  There is clearly a greater use of social media at this time but the majority of the issues we are encountering are not unfamiliar. 

There are, however, a few specific issues that have arisen in regards to social media initiatives during this time. For example, programs in which members of the public are encouraged to recreate their favourite artworks and share them on social media. There has been some discussion as to whether this could breach copyright, with some arguing that these images could come within the fair dealing exception for parody under the Copyright Act. In reality, it is probably unlikely that anyone will pursue these individual cases on private social media accounts legally, but it has provoked some interesting debate.

All photos taken, supplied and used with permission by Reetika Khanna

The Brief

Episode 1: ‘A Day in the Life’ of Entertainment Lawyer Shaun Miller

Welcome to FAME’s podcast series ‘The Brief’, a collection of interviews with industry professionals to explore what it’s like to work as a lawyer or artist in the creative industries.

In our first episode, FAME chatted with award winning entertainment lawyer, Shaun Miller. Consulting on more than 200 films, documentaries and television series, our insights into a day in the life of Shaun shows just how interesting a legal career in the entertainment industry can be.

Check out the audio and full transcript below:

INTRO

Samara:

Hello and welcome to the FAME Law Students’ Association’s podcast: The Brief. For the uninitiated, FAME sands for the Film, Art, Media, and Entertainment. The FAME LSA is a group of students from Melbourne Law School who are passionate about the arts and culture.

In this podcast series, we chat with lawyers and artists working in the creative industries, learning about their daily work, career development, and topical issues facing the industry. 

In today’s episode, we interview award-winning entertainment lawyer Shaun Miller. As you will hear, cinema is in Shaun’s DNA, and with his 20 years of experience as a film and entertainment lawyer he is a treasure trove of insight into the industry. 

Shaun shared with us what lead him to establish a sole-entertainment law practice, how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the industry, and many inspiring words for budding entertainment lawyers. We hope you enjoy it.

Samara: So, thank you very much Shaun Miller for joining us for this interview about ‘A Day In the Life’ of an entertainment lawyer. For our conversation today, Sean, I wonder if you could provide a bit of detail whatever you said an entertainment lawyer actually does. So who are your clients, and what sort of work do you do for them?

Shaun: Yeah, well when we talk about ‘an entertainment lawyer’ there’s actually subspecialties within entertainment law. So some entertainment lawyers – and I’m one of them – does legal work for film and television productions. Other entertainment lawyers focus almost exclusively on music law – which I don’t do at all. 

Samara: Okay. 

Shaun: So I do Film and TV and then others do music laws in entertainment law. There’s a lot of subspecialties. But I do, even though as I’ve said I’m in film and television, I do a smattering of other areas. 

When describing what an entertainment lawyer, what a film lawyer, does I describe it very simply – I say when you see the credits at the end of the film, I say: well, every one of those credits has a contract attached to it. Not many people sit and watch the credits at the end of the film. I do because I like to see who did what and often recognise names, but if one was just sit and watch the credits go on for several minutes, one would realise that the work of an entertainment lawyer in film is quite extensive… because all of those contracts exist in relation to making the film.

Samara: Fantastic.

Shaun: That’s the simple explanation. 

Samara: Clearly entertainment law has so many sub-issues within it. Which is really exciting.

Shaun: Correct, correct, and you know sometimes entertainment law also bleeds into media law so you’ve got issues like defamation, particularly if a film or TV program… like one case in point at the moment in the last few weeks on Channel 9: Informer 3838 about Nicola Gobbo – one of the esteemed graduates of Melbourne Law School haha – so there would have been a lot of close attention paid to defamation issues. 

Samara: So we should put the ‘M’ and the ‘E’ together in FAME.

Shaun: But also the role of the film lawyer often crosses over into giving commercial advice, so advice about everything from raising finance for a film – whether it’s to government funding bodies or for private investors or sometimes even people providing crowdfunding – so financing the film, and then marketing and distribution of the film. And that sort of commercial advice isn’t strictly legal advice that you would have learnt at law school or read about in law textbooks it’s really yeah, just commercial – just sort of business SOMETHING that you pick up over the years in the film industry. 

There’s an expression in the film industry: ‘If you want to be a filmmaker in the afternoon, you’ve got to be a business person in the morning’, so often even if I’m advising on the making of the film from a legal point of view, it’s also a commercial point of view.  

Samara: Excellent, thank you. My next question for you Shaun is – at what stage in your career did the law and the entertainment industry start to overlap? And I wonder if – I mean you have elaborated on the fact that you obviously need to have a commercial awareness – but I wondered if you had done any practicing in any other areas?

Shaun: I grew up with a background in the film industry because my mother, Natalie Miller, runs the Nova Cinema with her business partner. And when I was younger, she would go to the Cannes Film Festival every year – and she’s been going like 40 years in a row – and she goes to the Toronto Film Festival as well so I would always hear about the film industry, and it was spoken about at our dinner table. And then back in the early nineties, when I was doing what was then called ‘Articles’ at Mallesons and I needed an escape I went with my mum Natalie Miller to the Cannes Film Festival and I thought this is so much more fun than sitting in a deposit box in a glass building, sort of doing very low level legal work. So, I was very enamoured with the film industry. I always had been, but going to somewhere like the Cannes Film Festival which is the epicenter of the world film industry was just so exciting, and I finished up at Mallesons, and then I worked at the ACCC for a couple of years. To cut a long story short had this Geronimo moment: I thought, look I’ve got the law degree, I did fairly well in my law degree at Melbourne Uni. I’ve got a commerce degree as well, which is the business background, and I have a really good understanding of the film industry going to Cannes Film Festivals, going to the Sundance Film Festival, working in the industry… and I thought I could just combine all of that into working as a film lawyer, because I’ve got the commercial background in film, the legal background, the practical background. 

I got a job with someone called Bryce Menzies – who’s like a guru in the film industry –  and I ended up working for Bryce for ten and a half years and really just learned, you know I mean I ended up being a partner at Marhsalls and Dent Lawyers and then nearly 10 years ago – it’ll be 10 years in September – set up my own law firm, a sole practice law firm called Shaun Miller Lawyers and that’s what I want to keep doing – just running a sole practice law firm. 

But, you know that when I really decided to be a film lawyer was probably not until… my late 20s, so it’s kind of funny how life turns out. I say a compass always finds its true north, and if you’re feeling lost in your startings of a career, I like to say even if you feeling lost and don’t know where you go and you’re on your way there – so just sort of, you know, things have a way of working out.

Samara: That’s wonderful advice, that does sort of lead into my next question of how your previous study and experience has informed your current practice of running your own entertainment law firm? 

Shaun: Well, obviously to be a lawyer – whether you are running your own firm or in a private practice or in-house or working in the public service sector – to be a lawyer you obviously need a law degree, you need to be admitted as a lawyer. There’s a Mark Twain expression which is: you don’t want to let your schooling interfere with your education. So, even though it’s very important to be schooled as a lawyer, you really learn how to be a lawyer when you’re actually practicing law and it’s very hard initially when you’re straight out of law school – and even the JD students would have probably been students all their lives, might’ve had some gap years here and there. And then suddenly thrust into the Big Wide World, and it can be a bit overwhelming. But, you’ve just gotta persevere at it, and, you do learn as you’re working on the jonb, there’s no doubt about that. Also, having combined my degree with a commerce degree I had a business background in the sense that, you know, I did subjects like accounting and economics, and marketing and statistics, and economic history which all sort of count for something looking back. But also, I grew up in a family that ran film business so it was in my DNA, I ate it for breakfast. 

So, setting up my own law firm – you can’t setup your own law firm a year out of Law School, I just don’t think you have the experience. Some people go to the bar a few years out of finishing Law School, having worked as a solicitor or a judge’s associate or whatever, but to set up your own sole practice law firm – I just don’t think you would have the network of contacts to even get a client base, to be honest.

I really enjoy the long-term game – this life is long, life is long, and you’ve just gotta stick at it.

Samara: It sounds like a great goal. And are there any advantages, and to counter that challenges, that stand out for you in having your sole practice?

Shaun: Look, I joke with people – but I’m actually serious – I say I work well in a team as long as I’m the only person in the team. Because, I don’t have any support staff, I’ve got no business partners, I’ve got no junior lawyers working for me, so I just get on with it. And it’s not that I’m a control freak, but I feel if I had to start delegating work and explaining it, and then correcting it, with junior lawyers – I may as well do it myself. So – I like the freedom and flexibility of working, practicing, in a sole practice law firm. If want to get into work late no one’s there to say where or why are you in late; or if I want to… you know, it just just gives me the flexibility in the end and I don’t have to confer with anyone on negotiate with anyone I just get on  it, which which is really… which means I’m not like a lot of other law firms who employ junior lawyers and leverage off them to make money off them, because really anything I invoice goes to me, but I’ve got to cover all the expenses as well. 

But I’m not making money by leveraging of other lawyers – but, I don’t care because it’s not all about the money: it’s about the freedom, and the flexibility and doing it may own way, which is what I like. 

Samara: Thank you. We were talking about – before the interview started – the arts and entertainment community is obviously experiencing very unique challenges at the moment resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Can you talk to some of the legal challenges that are currently being faced by artists and creative in the industry?

Shaun: Yeah, well, in the case of films and TV productions, but let’s focus on narrative drama films. All productions have stopped at the moment – I understand Neighbours are doing a bit of shooting in a very sort of novel way – but generally all film and television productions have been stopped in their tracks. Now, my job as a film lawyer in getting all the contracts ready for the production, are done in what’s called the pre-production stage of the film which is generally the 10 weeks leading up to the actual photography production of the film. Now, because all of these productions have been stopped dead in their tracks, and have shooting that’s been delayed until much later in the year at the earliest – there’s not the work to do in the pre-production stage. So there’s that aspect.  Now, that just trickles down into the whole industry: actors who were lined up to do work aren’t getting employed; all the crew don’t have jobs and they’re often freelancers who work from job to job; people who were potentially going to invest in films because they themselves have been smashed, they might even be relatively well-heeled potential investors that… I had one who – obviously I won’t say the name – but they own a shopping centre in Queensland and that’s been completely smashed. So they were potentially going to invest in a film with a six-figure sum, and then they had to withdraw the investment that hadn’t been paid yet, just because they’ve suffered financially. 

So, no-one’s immune, or hardly anyone’s immune from, from the financial impact of the Coronavirus. And it’s also affected film distributors, because film distributors distribute films to cinemas and of course all cinemas have been closed, and then that affects all of the casual staff at the cinemas. It just ripples out everywhere, it’s just been an absolute disaster – and that’s just the film industry. If we talk about other areas of the entertainment industry like… the head of productions: closed; the Comedy Festival: closed; the St Kilda Film Festival: that’s going to go online in June; the Melbourne Film Festival’s been cancelled. All the international film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival which is usually held in the middle two weeks of May, obviously that’s not going ahead – and on it goes. 

So it’s just had an amazing, terrible, ripple effect on the industry – even think of the comedy festival being shut down, you know that affected all the performers, it affected the producers of the shows, the support staff, the venues, and then that leads into the whole hospitality industry because a lot of the entertainment industry – such as when the Comedy Festival is on, or the Melbourne Film Festival is on – that draws people to the city, they all go to restaurants and cafes and bars, so it’s all… all just one big disaster to put it mildly.

Samara: Yeah, it’s definitely been quite… it’s been very devastating.

Shaun: I’d imagine for students at Melbourne University, including the Law School, a lot of the casual employment in hospitality and entertainment in the arts have been affected.

Samara: Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely highlighted the far-reaching impact to just one industry, and also showing how important it is.

Shaun: Yeah! But, the other thing I should quickly mention – well, I don’t want to go into the details of the JobKeeper program – but you’ve got to be employed as a casual at least 12 months. People like actors and freelance crew whether they’re cinematographers or editors or you know. They were employed job-to-job, they haven’t been employed for 12 unless it’s something like a TV series like Neighbours or Home and Away but generally on film and TV Productions no one’s working for 12-months, you’re working maybe for like 3-months so that means one of the criteria of JobKeeper – that you’ve got to have been a casual employee for at least 12 months – so people who work in the Arts industry are disadvantaged by that. Just to add salt for the wound, you know, as if it wasn’t bad enough.

Samara: Oh, yeah, absolutely – and it’s important to be aware of, exactly as you say, how people in this industry don’t fit this mould that has been a lot of other industries.

Shaun: Correct, correct. 

But look as a film lawyer, I should just add what government funding bodies like Screen Australia are planning on doing while there’s not a lot of production happening is putting more money into the development of film and television programs going to the development of, you know, writers writing scripts and you know allowing people to maybe option the film rights in various books. 

So  I have, and I will continue to have, work coming from the development stage of the production – that’s not the pre-production, that’s just when the scripts are being written and the project’s being developed. That’s kind of on a much smaller scale work I have when the film or television production’s actually being produced. 

But development work still has to happen, and we might get some very good scripts out of this – because people have time to just sit and write their scripts, develop their projects, and let’s see what comes out of that,

Samara: Yeah I definitely hope that people have been able to get the creative juices flowing, even though it’s hard when there’s little stimulation ‘cause you’re not doing very many things.

Shaun: I know, I know. I saw the film, the Sam Mendes film 1917, a few months ago when cinemas were still open and I thought – god, this happened over 100 years ago, and I’m thinking with the coronavirus in 100 years’ time I think they will still be talking about this, and reflecting on it, and writing about it in books and making films and TV shows. It sort of, you know, it’s of the time and I don’t think it is going to be forgotten very quickly at all. I think it’ll just feed into the culture for a very, very long time.

Samara: I agree for sure. On a different note – technology has developed at a much faster rate than the laws that govern technology…

Shaun: That’s true.

Samara: … And I wondered how this, if it does, impact the way in which an entertainment lawyer is or a film lawyer is providing advice?

Shaun: Well, I think one of the main points about technology developing faster than the law is previously before the digital age, it was very difficult to pirate. If you wanted to see if film it was either on at the cinema or you watched it on TV, basically, or you might have got it out on the old VHS and then DVD system. But now, it’s so easy to pirate films with the technology that’s out there that that is something that is very hard, you know, for the law to control. Even though copyright law says very clearly, you know, ‘if you pirate you are breaching copyright’. That’s the law, but then there’s the actual what’s going on out there in the suburbs or in the city, you know, about people pirating films.

I think piracy has been curtailed a bit lately because people realise they can consume films very inexpensively and at a time they want, so it’s almost not worth their while to pirate films. But, it’s still, it was, and it has been an issue at least for the last 20 years. And another issue is having films geo-blocked so you can be – as I understand it, I’m not a techy –  but you can Geo block the internet so film that say are only shown in Australia, and not beyond the borders of Australia but then, or films might only be shown in the United States and theoretically people in other territories can’t access that until the films are shown in other countries, in other Territories. The people have this thing – you’ll probably know this because you look like you’re a millennial – people have this thing called a VPN. Have you heard of that? 

Samara: Yes.

Shaun: It’s a way – it’s the way you can circumvent geo-blocking. Every time the technology is there to sort of help enforce copyright law by having, by making sure people don’t breach copyright and make unauthorised access – the technology then jumps ahead another step. It’s like a game of cat and mouse, the technology jumps another step and you know copyright can be breached easily so… Yeah, I just think it’s partly cultural as well, I mean people feel – you know if they steal sort of loaf of bread from the bakery that’s theft, but if they download a film for free people generally don’t feel they’re stealing anything because they’re not depriving anyone else of that. There’s one loaf of bread that you steal, but if you download a film you’re not depriving anyone else from downloading that film whether they pay for it or not. I think, you know, there’s been campaigns by industry bodies just try to change that culture but maybe, I don’t know, I watch millennials watch those ads and they just laugh at them – so, you know, what can I say – 

Samara: I definitely remember those ads from DVDs back when I was a kid, and they terrified me – I never wanted to pirate hahaha. But yeah, it’s really interesting what you say about culture and the fact but somehow we’ve developed this idea that it’s permissible, or it’s a bit cheeky but as you say it’s not comparable to stealing food or something like that.

Shaun: Yeah, or maybe the electronic products in JB Hi-Fi or something… But also with the law what’s interesting is in, back in sort of maybe 15 or 20 years ago and before then, people would, you know, actors would give their consent to be in a film so the film could be shown in certain media – let’s say theatrically and on television, maybe DVD, and maybe Airlines. But then with developing technologies and new media platforms coming around all the time, the wording was changed in film contract – so rather than referring specific media it just says, ideally it says, ‘all media, whether known or later devised’. In other words, every sort of few years, or yeah, every few years or every five years there’s another media platform that seems to come along. 

Recently we’ve had VOD video-on-demand, all the streaming services and all of that. So rather than being caught –  like what what they have now in film and television contracts is whenever referring to maybe it doesn’t specifically stay certain media such as cinemas, televisions, DVD, and Airlines – it just refers to all media whether now known or later devised.

Samara: Mmm, you’ve got a one-size-fits-all there. You’ve had, already, an extensive career in this industry – do you have any advice that you’d like to give to law students who hope to pursue a career in this industry?

Shaun: Well, when you’re a student at law school I would recommend doing subjects copyright law and media law, but also it’s just good to have some – a good foundation in basic things like contract law and employment law. By the way I should state – I do employment contracts all the time, and I never did employment law while at university. Nothing’s – nothing’s essential but really – even though I said I’m like a glorified contract lawyer, a lot of those contracts are employing people whether they’re actors or crew or a music composer. But certainly, it’s important to know about the fundamentals of contract law and to do subjects like copyright law and media law. But, you know careers go in all sorts of directions and sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind and I just say – the race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself because, you know, serendipity takes a big part in developing your career – you’re working somewhere, and suddenly by chance you meet someone else who says they’re looking for a, you know, to employ someone in their media department and… you know, you’ve just gotta keep yourself open to the possibilities and opportunities that are out there and, as I said earlier, a compass will always find it’s true north.

You’ve also realise that if you want to work in entertainment law as a lawyer there’s a lot of different aspect you can work in: you can work in private practice, a smaller law firm that has a media department, you can work in one of the big mega firms like Allens and Mallesons, and then you can work in the government – for example you could be a lawyer at Film Victoria which is the Victorian state government film funding body; or you could work at Screen Australia which is the federal screen funding body, or you could work in house of a network, be it the ABC have a whole bunch of lawyers who work there, SBS has a whole bunch of lawyers – and so do networks: Foxtel has in-house lawyer, 7, 10 and 9 have in-house lawyers. So there’s all of that as well – an alternate law job can actually be a legal and business affairs jobs, so you know, there’s so much – you could work in private practice, you could work in a government position, you could work in house somewhere… also a lot of larger production companies engage an in-house lawyer. Companies like Matchbox pictures and Princess and Madman Entertainment – they all have in-house lawyers as well. 

So, don’t just think that being an entertainment lawyer, you’ve got to work in the law firm – there’s other avenues you can go down to be an entertainment lawyer that don’t involve just working in private practice. 

Samara: Excellent, thank you.

Shaun: You could also go to the bar, I forgot to mention that. Because barristers specialising in intellectual property… there’s a whole entertainment and media law aspect that often filters into that as well. So, a career at the bar is something else that would be an option. 

Samara: Yeah, all those options are very inspiring and hopefully people who listen to this can think a bit more broadly or outside the box about what they do.

Shaun: Yeah! But it’s kind of like… often, you know, careers are really like a game of snakes and ladders because sometimes you’re in a good position and you’re enjoying your work but for whatever reason politics in a firm can change, or whatever, or sometimes you’re working in private practice filling out timesheets and – and you’re enjoying it, but then after 5 years you just get sick of it! And you just think: you know what, it would be better at working in house within an organisation like a private production company or within a TV network. When I was at Marshalls and Dent, I was very happy there and I left on really good terms, but it came to the point where the adolescent grows up and wants to set up their own law firm. And the same thing can happen – if you’re working in a private practice filling out timesheets you might be very happy in that environment, but then maybe after 5 years you think you know what I want to change I want to work in house at a production company or a TV network where, you know, the culture’s different and you move onto that. So, nothing’s forever – you’re not sort of, you know work shouldn’t be a prison sentence, it’s not a prison sentence, you can leave whenever you want to and, you know, as you go along sometimes careers only make sense after many years out of Law School and you look back and you draw the different elements together – which is what I did because I had been at Mallesons, I’d been at the ACCC, I’d worked in the film industry itself, and then I drew all those elements together with my law degree and my commerce degree to be a film lawyer. 

So, you know, it’s very hard to plan ahead because you don’t know how life is going to unfold.  

Samara: Advice for us all! 

Shaun: Advice, that’s right. 

Samara: Shaun, it’s been such a pleasure talking with you about your career. I’ve got one last question for you, which is: do you have an all-time favourite legal TV show or film that you want to share with us?

Shaun: Well, LA Law from the late eighties, I’ll have to say that one. 

Samara: Excellent.

Shaun: I’ll throw in Boston Legal, have you heard of that show?

Samara: I’ve heard of it! Haven’t seen it. I’ll have to do that while we’re at home.

Shaun: Yeah, yeah, it’s like – it was, you know, back before you could x50 viewing, doing it on TV was like an appointment viewing. You either watched it or taped it. 

Samara: Alright, well thanks once again Shaun for joining us!

OUTRO

Samara: You’ve been listening to The Brief with FAME LSA. This episode was hosted by Samara Jones, the theme song and sound was produced by Leah Alysandratos. A very big thank you to Shaun Miller for chatting with us. Special thanks to Leah Alysandratos and Coco Garner Davis for producing both the podcast and transcript. Thanks also to all the FAME LSA committee members and ambassadors for their support. And thanks to you for listening! If you want to hear or learn more about FAME LSA, like us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website at famelsa.com. If you’re a lawyer working in the film, art, media, publishing or entertainment space and want to get involved with FAME, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at general.famelsa@gmail.com.

Student Spotlight: ‘As I Am’ with Isabella Le

Isabella Le is a second-year JD student at Melbourne Law School. Dion Leow from FAME sat down with her, to discuss her podcast, ‘As I Am’, which aims to bring the Asian-Australian experience to the forefront of cultural conversation. She hopes that consistent and persevered discourse about representation and diversity would eventually lead to tangible results in Asian leadership, particularly in white-dominated industries such as the law.

Tell us a little bit about your podcast and its content!

I started As I Am with my friend Jeff, who is a mate from my undergraduate course. The podcast is essentially about unpacking and navigating the Asian identity in the West. We dive into topics ranging from internalised racism and representation to questions like ‘why do Asians play piano?’ and why calling it ‘boba’ instead of ‘bubble tea’ is incorrect.

Isabella with her friend Jeff

We want to cast a spotlight on the Asian narrative in the West as these are stories that are often overlooked. There’s an underlying universal experience of being non-white in the West; navigating your identity is something that all people of color struggle with because it involves grappling with the tension between being othered and embracing the uniqueness of your multi-faceted identity.

What inspired you to start a podcast while in law school?

We are navigating a predominantly white institution, and spotlighting Asians in that institution is much needed. From my experiences so far at law school and my exposure to the industry, I have seen the lack of representation for Asians in the profession and wish to address that.

Honestly, timing worked out well too. I think COVID-19 helped in that it freed up some time for Jeff and me. We just thought “why not now?”. Having these perceptions of what law school is like and what the industry is like, compounded with the fact that we had a little bit of time, was the main reason why we started the podcast.

Tell us a little bit about the practical component of starting a podcast.

It was genuinely just riffing it with Jeff. We Googled a lot and watched YouTube on how to use Adobe Audition, which is the platform we use to record. In terms of funding, we did it all ourselves. We just thought that if we were going to do this properly, we needed to invest in good equipment.

It was a surprisingly quick process. We had thought about the podcast for a couple of days at the end of March and recorded the first episode by the start of April. It is a pretty accessible platform that is effective in democratising conversations, so we are happy that it worked out.

How has law school changed or shaped your voice and perspective on your podcast?

I think vulnerability has a big impact on it. The law school has an environment of showmanship where people are looking at what others are doing and showing off what jobs they are getting. Especially with upcoming clerkship applications, it would only get more competitive. I just craved something that was the opposite of that: being vulnerable. It was almost a breath of fresh air and my experience at law school has only made me more driven to be vulnerable and raw in the podcast.

Based on the research and reflection and you’ve done for your content, what are some of the most critical issues in the legal industry or in society at large that need to be addressed?

I think that my podcast aims to zone into the need for representation and diversity, particularly so in positions of leadership. The talent of non-white lawyers out there is immense, but they are rarely relegated to positions of leadership. The whole idea of the bamboo ceiling is so evident across many industries and particularly so in law. The idea of meritocracy is that if by working hard and doing your time, you will get where you want; but you realize that it has its limits beyond high school and university.

There was a study on diversity conducted by the Australian Financial Review among Australia’s leading law firms. 25% of all lawyers are Asian but only 8% of partners are Asian. A lot of this has to do with unconscious bias. Asians are seen as more submissive and not equipped to be deal-makers. We are not seen as leaders because we often defer ourselves to harmonious relationships. There is so much cultural nuance embedded in Asian leadership, but these unconscious biases end up impeding progress in representation and diversity, particularly in the legal industry.

It is a long road ahead. The lack of representation and diversity in positions of leadership is a legacy issue. However, I believe that this can be overcome through time and a generational change. In the meantime we are here to spotlight the issue.

What if your favorite episode that you have done on your podcast so far?

Dear Mum and Dad” was an unexpectedly heavy and emotional episode. It was very cathartic; and I think the next step for me, personally, is to show it to my parents. That episode, in particular, was healing for me because I had never voiced those thoughts out loud before. It was very humbling when listeners reached out to say that they relate to my experience. It was nice having that solidarity and knowing that you did not go through that experience alone because a lot of Asian kids struggle in the same way.

What are you most looking forward to speaking about on your podcast?

I am quite interested in talking about the politics of food and cultural appropriation. I remember bringing bánh mì for lunches to school and eating all of this amazing Vietnamese food growing up,  but being teased about it. It is ironic to see that these dishes have now become “cool” to eat, just because they have been accepted by white people; and we see the development of Asian fusion and Asian food as trends in the West. This is deeply problematic: ethnic foods are not trends, and it is dismissive to think and say so.

Cultural appropriation in general is something that I would like to address. For example, to what extent has yoga, a historically Indian practice with deep spiritual significance, been culturally appropriated? There are many things to talk about that aren’t solely around the East Asian-Australian perspective and we want to be sure that our podcast isn’t exclusionary and that everyone can relate to it in any way, shape, or form possible.

 Who is your DREAM podcast guest?

Bong Joon Ho would be incredible. He has directed many great films, but is best known for Parasite. This is something that we are covering in our next episode, which is representation in film and television. He has always been an incredible filmmaker but only became popular in the ‘mainstream’ after Parasite caught the attention of the Oscars. I think he would be amazing to talk to. I would love to pick his brain on the complexity and nuances he imbues in his films, whether that’s class conflict or social inequality. Plus, he’s so cute!

Image Credit: David Swanson //Shuttershock

I was also going to say Andrew Yang, but he recently made these comments about how in order to combat the xenophobia around coronavirus, Asian-Americans needed to be more ‘American’. He was just playing into respectability politics which was disappointing to see. In any case, he was one of the first Asian leaders to have commanded such widespread support in US politics, and that’s something.


Images from As I Am Facebook Page and Isabella Le

Student Spotlight: ‘The Subtlety of It’ with Nana

Nana is a second year JD student and creator of podcast: ‘‘The Subtlety of It’. Over ten episodes so far, Nana has invited guests along to speak about small aspects of their identities that have a not-so-subtle effect on their lived experiences. Laura McKenzie sat down with Nana to talk about her podcast: what inspired her to make it, how she got it off the ground, her dream podcast guests and more. You can listen to The Subtlety of It on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Tell us a little bit about your podcast and its content!

The Subtlety of It is about small aspects of our identity which affect us in not so subtle ways. We unpack things that feel so normalised, like hair or our names. We also unpack things that are overlooked because they’re uncomfortable and they make us confront ourselves, such as racism, money, colonization, feminism. Things that really make us take a hard look in the mirror and do some introspection. All of that this on a foundation of vulnerability and nuance. Really getting into the nitty gritty of this world and how we live in it. We also just have some banter along the way. Introspection is hard enough; we may as well laugh and drag ourselves too – it’s part of the process. 

What inspired you to start a podcast while in Law School (let alone first year!) ? 

In terms of starting it last year, it just happened to happen at that time. I’d been thinking about doing a podcast for years, I just never had the confidence to do it. I’ve heard a lot of, ‘oh law school is so busy there’s lots to do’ and yeah, I do struggle to balance the podcast, but we’re only going to keep getting busier. I feel like at this point in my life, I don’t have dependents, and I probably will look back and think man did I have time. So, I kind of feel like if I don’t do it now, when is it going to happen? 

It was also feeling really suffocated. I say this all the time about my podcast: my motivation was primarily selfish as to why I wanted to do it. I’m really humbled and grateful that it’s had reach that is bigger than me. Being at law school was a reminder that I needed that oxygen, right now. As a black woman in law and more generally in society, I feel that I’m at a constant crossroads between hyper-visibility and erasure. It’s exhausting. But I also know that there is so much power in my identity. Being at a white institution and not seeing anyone who looks like me, I’m like: I need to create something and stop waiting for it to appear. I think that’s what the final push was.  

From a practical perspective how did you get your podcasts up off the ground?

One day I was with my friend at Very Good Falafel (miss that place). She told me how about this media company that produces content by young people for young people. I went to an info session but didn’t go back for a year and a half. Then on my birthday, someone emailed me and said “hey, Creative Victoria is doing a podcast incubator program.” I ended up applying for it and was lucky enough to get it. That support and grant from Creative Victoria was a big way that I was able to get the infrastructure to record. At the beginning I was using a studio, but since Covid I’ve purchased equipment. In terms of editing, I use Adobe and learnt using good ole YouTube, making mistakes and figuring it out as I go.

Nana with her sister and producer, Awura Abena. 

How has Law School changed or shaped your podcasts?

In terms of how law school has changed or shaped my voice- I don’t think it’s changed my voice; I think it’s confirmed it. I’ve been re-reading some Toni Morrison and she said, I think it was: ‘freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another’. And I think what this podcast really has confirmed is that we need to take ownership of who we are and our identity and really stand in that in full and with confidence. We have to have these conversations. We have to demand and carve out space for it. And a huge part of that is being vulnerable and sharing what you’re unlearning and still processing. And I think I’ve just become a lot more kind to myself in terms of where I am now as a person. We’re all on this rocky road between balancing childhood traumas, and our careers and all the things in-between, and it’s a joy to talk with people about as they process. So, I think ownership. That is what it’s given me: ownership over my voice. 

Image Credit: Toni Morrison from New York Times

Based on the research and reflection and you’ve done for your content, what are some of the most critical issues in the legal industry or in society at large that need to be addressed?

First, in terms of the legal industry, I think we are uniquely positioned to critique the law as law students. My podcast is essentially about nuance and this exercise has reminded me that too often, we intentionally overlook the history of the law and the foundations it has been built upon. Yes, as a law student I believe in the ability of the law to do good. But it’s also justified violence. Look at our Indigenous and first nations people in Australia. Look at our criminal justice system and the racial and class disparities. But the good thing is that there is an ability for it to change and deliver justice. But I think just critically, analyzing the system that we’re learning in the first place and acknowledging its history, and how it oppresses people is so important in terms of people being able to trust in it and believe that the law can protect them.

Secondly, diversity. I want to see diverssityyyy– of skin tone, race, sexuality, class, ability and more! We often settle for ‘at least there’s one black person’.  But that’s not enough, we need to demand more from diversity. I think it really has to start with elevating the least represented. I think that it is needed in the law desperately. 

There’s a saying by Audre Lorde: “the master’s tools can never dismantle the master’s house.” I think about this often and the complexities of its meaning. I haven’t come to a conclusion. But I often think- should we just be starting our own shit? I’m not just looking for a seat at the table, I’m looking to create new tables.

When you are in predominately white spaces, you’re dealing with respectability politics, racism etc. I think it is necessary that we have people working to change systems which don’t facilitate or celebrate diversity. But I think concurrently, we need those who are creating new shit that is built on foundations that are, from the ground up, accessible and radically inclusive.

Image Credit: Audre Lorde from Newstatesman

What is your favorite episode that you have done on your podcast so far?

My favorite one is ‘Subtleties of Raising Yourself’. We reflected on upbringing, independence, being working class, parental love and the process of unlearning. While I’m so grateful for the life I’ve had and to my family who brought me here, I still have a lot of pain that I’m working through and trying to not pass on generationally. So, I think it was necessary to unpack those things and also have a bit of fun along the way. It was with my sister, who I do a lot of episodes with. I think that episode brought some kind of healing, honestly. And I remember I was really scared for my mum to hear it. But then she texted me said, ‘this is like therapy’. I realised- she’s still learning too! So yeah, I’d say ‘Raising Yourself’ was a good lesson in independence and love and many other things. I also love Subtleties of Male Vulnerability. It was such a pleasure to talk with men about masculinity, emotions and intimacy. 

Nana: what episode ideas do you have in the works?

I think it’s a privilege to use my platform to elevate people who have a different life experience to me. I’m looking forward to speaking to women about wearing a hijab. I’m also looking forward to talking a little bit about romantic love.

Oh! And this is big one. At the end of last season, I did an episode called ‘Subtleties of Shutting Up’. It was spicy but necessary. The podcast is usually about talking with people, not necessarily talking directly to people. But that episode was talking directly to people and looking at, particularly as black African women, our experiences navigating allyship, racism, feminism and more. I think I’m going to do a similar one that looks at colourism and bring on voices from different parts of the world.

And one last one I’ll say: the next one I’m going to do is about how our names impact us. So yeah, some cool ideas in the pipeline!

Nana with podcast guests Ayman and Patrick

Who would be your dream podcast guest?

What comes to mind immediately is incredible, strong black women. Like Michelle Obama would be sick, or Rihanna. But also, I think my Grandma? I really enjoy having people on the podcast who are just normal people that I know. And my Grandma, she’s like a savage. She’s just so funny. She lives in Ghana and has had such an interesting life. I haven’t seen her in many years sadly but from what I hear, she bosses the whole village around and it’s incredible. So: Grandma or Michelle Obama.

Nana’s Grandma

Edition 4: Legally Bound

As the winter chill begins to dawn on us, so too has the realisation that we’ve almost completed an entire semester of law school online. Whilst some of us have fully embraced this new reality of lecture recordings and zoom clerkship panels, others are in need of a gentle reminder that law students are destined for more than memes and procrastination. This last edition of ‘How to Feel Better with FAME (Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment) – A Law Student’s Guide to Social Distancing’, features our recommendations for all the best shows, movies and artwork which has inspired or motivated us in our study of the law. 💪✨

If you’re looking for a little pick up to get you through these last couple of weeks of uni, then this is the read for you.

Batman Arkham Series: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One. 

Batman Arkham Collection, Lego Batman Series Games Free for a ...

Image Credit: Poster for Batman Arkham from Gadget360

A series of four games (with various iOS additions and the like) released across 2009 to 2015 by Rocksteady and WB, this series was pretty pioneering in its establishment of the trend of free-flow combat. Paul Dini wrote the first two – so, if you loved Batman: The Animated Series, you’ll love these, and vice-versa. My personal faves are the second and the fourth – Arkham City and Arkham Knight – which host completely gripping storylines making them less combat-heavy and more like watching Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy for 60-odd hours. Pretty awesome.

One could say Batman is legally bound by his own enforced “moral code” (yes, that is very deliberately placed into quotes) and this is explored, questioned, and stretched across these games. The intersection of questions of justice, vigilantism, anarchy, and mortality tap into the philosophical questions posed historically across the Caped Crusader’s anthology. Of course, the quality of the game is helped immensely by the sheer brilliance in the voice acting – notably, Mark Hammil reprising his role as the Joker. The graphics and world design also surpass any and all expectations for a game released 11 years ago.

The first game, Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) follows Batman trying to prevent the Joker from destroying Gotham City after he takes control of the Asylum and those within (a delightful collection of past foes). Arkham City (2011) takes place a year later, after Professor Hugo Strange has enclosed an abandoned part of the city and turned it into a massive asylum. While slowly dying from an illness inflicted by the Joker (ofc), Batman must escape his incarceration and uncover Strange’s scheme ‘Protocol 10’. Look out for the Ra’s Al Ghul boss battle – it is epic. 

Arkham Origins (2013) is a prequel to Arkham Asylum, and look, to be honest, you could probably skip this one, so I will too.

The series is then concluded with Arkham Knight (2015), positioned nine months after the events of Arkham City. The Scarecrow and the mysterious Arkham Knight have seized control of Gotham in a ploy to destroy Batman physically and mentally, once and for all…

By Coco Garner Davis

Eve Cornwell Vlogs: Streaming on YouTube

Most people, including law students, tend to see lawyers as more than human and are oh-so-capable at everything simply by virtue of their profession. In the current crisis, it can be comforting to know that lawyers, like us, are also struggling to adjust to new working conditions.

Eve Cornwell is a law graduate from the University of Bristol. She is currently completing her training contract with Linklaters London and is an up-and-coming creator on YouTube. She centers her content around her experience as a law student and a trainee solicitor, and has dabbled in the representation of law in pop culture. Her videos range from tours of the Linklaters London offices, to vlogs of her stressful journey applying for vacation schemes.

In these particular videos, we get a glimpse into what it was like for a trainee solicitor to move into an online working and learning environment, and the difficulties that came along with it. While the content itself is comedic in nature, the struggle was definitely real.

In these stressful times, although there are deadlines to keep in mind, it is important to take a step back once in a while and look out for yourself. Do what you need to do and get it done; but go at a pace that is comfortable for your circumstances

By Dion Leow

Primal Fear: Streaming on Netflix

Image credit: Edward Norton (left) and Richard Gere (right) in Primal Fear from Amazon Prime

(Content Warning) – sexual abuse and murder

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An eclectic and gripping 90’s classic. This film showcases Richard Gere as the hot-shot attorney seeking pro-bono stardom by winning the impossible case of the year. Based on a novel by William Diehl, this is a story of a lawyer who is bound to the law’s maxim of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. 

A young teenager named Aaron Stampler (played by Edward Norton) is arrested over the violent murder of the archbishop of Chicago. Throughout the entire film we see more and more evidence giving motive for the boy’s action, but Martin Vail (the attorney) can’t bring himself to believe that the damaged Kentucky kid did it. 

This film has one of the biggest twists of the 90’s and features astounding performances from several familiar (and young) faces of Hollywood today. For these two reasons alone it is worth a watch. 

 By Matt Healy

Daredevil: Streaming on Netflix

Image Credit: Daredevil Poster from Techspot

Looking for something to distract from the post Zoom blues? May I offer Marvel’s Daredevil. Live vicariously through Matt Murdock (lawyer-by-day; badass-by-night) as he fights crime in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. Blinded as a young boy, Murdock must now uncover a conspiracy of the criminal underworld with nothing but his heightened senses and intuition.

Whether you’re partial to comic book thrills or shirtless people performing breathtaking fight choreography; Daredevil has it all. As law students, you might also enjoy the glimpse into both ends of the advocacy spectrum afforded by the show. Either way, it’s a better show to binge than How I Met Your Mother for the sixth time (guilty). 

By Caiti Galeway

Dark Waters: Streaming on Amazon Prime

Image Credit: Mark Ruffalo as Attorney Robert Billot in Dark Waters from Empire

Featuring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway, the true story of which Dark Waters is based on has stark parallels to the water crisis in current day Flint Michigan, with Ruffalo’s character drawing parallels to many of us pursuing a legal profession. Adapted from the ground breaking New York Times magazine article by Nathaniel Rich, this movie is a mix between a satisfying legal thriller and The Blind Side 2.0.

Ruffalo plays a tired corporate attorney who has sold the last prosperous years of his legal career representing big powerful companies. When an ordinary farmer approaches him with a conspiracy theory involving toxic chemicals and a poisoned town, Ruffalo can’t resist the chance for redemption. His decision eventually leads to one of the longest ongoing environmental suits in the United States.

The movie does an incredibly good job of highlighting what we all know about the legal profession. Its portrayal of an overwhelming imbalance between exhausting procedural intricacies and heartening small wins does well to showcase the reality of public interest law, or as The Atlantic described it, the chilling tale of corporate indifference.

Knock Down the House: Streaming on Netflix

Image Credit: Knock Down the House Poster from Awards Daily

For those few unlucky souls who follow me on social media, it is unlikely you don’t already know about my unhealthy obsession with the bartending, Instagram live streaming, Mark Zukerburg silencing, big corporation fighting, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or otherwise known as AOC. That’s why my recommendation of Knock Down the House, documenting her grassroots campaign and political journey to the White House, will be of no surprise. The doco follows AOC (before she was on anyone’s radar) and four other incredible non-career female politicians, each with an inspiring back story, a seemingly unbeatable opponent and a progressive platform. Do yourself a favour and give it a watch. Their stories are the light, tears and laughter that we all need amidst a very dark time in US politics right now. Brb, going to have a cry.

Chrissy’s Court: Streaming on Quibi

Image Credit: Chrissy Tiegan for Chrissy’s Court from Pedestrian

If you don’t know of Quibi yet, you heard it here first! As the newest addition the streaming wars, Quibi is a mobile optimised online streaming platform. It stands for ‘quick bites’ and it has certainly been delivering just that with its content. Episodes of shows on Quibi are limited to 10 minutes or less — optimized for a generation of viewers with an average attention span of 4minutes and 20 seconds (thanks David Dobrik) and instant gratification.

Chrissy’s Court is one of the hilariously cringey new reality series on Quibi. The format of this show will be no surprise to many of us who grew up having a childhood crush on Judge Judy (no? just me?). Watch Chrissy and her mum Pepper, as they take the power of the law in their own hands, solving qualms and quabbles one at a time. There is no issue too small for Chrissy’s Court, in fact, the more frivolous and trivial, the better. From a lover’s quarrel to a food based rap battle, there are plenty of interesting characters looking for some extremely unqualified and 100% legally binding judgments. Just like on her Twitter, Chrissy Tiegan can do no wrong.

By Delinna Ding

Steaphan Paton

Steaphan Paton (born 1985) is a Melbourne-based artist and member of the Gunai and Monero Nations. He works in the mediums of painting, sculpture, installation and video. I first came across his work at the Sovereignty exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in 2016-17, and I recall his installation of three cloaks often.

Featured works: Yours Faithfully the Sheriff, The Magistrate, The Officer in Charge (all 2016, paper, archival glue, oil pastel and synthetic polymer paint on canvas) Installation view, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Photograph by Andrew Curtis (cropped). Image from ACCA.

The cloaks are made of many paper documents pieced and sewn together – infringements, fines and letters of demand sent to the artist by different authorities, including sheriffs, magistrates and officers. By referencing the long-standing tradition of cloak-making, decorated with geometric designs from his Gunai and Monero heritage, Paton displays symbols of Indigenous identity in immediate confrontation with the exercise of disciplinary control by the government. His work makes a powerful comment on the way Indigenous lives are bound by assertions of Commonwealth authority; confined by overwhelming piles of legal documents seeking to control and punish. His expression of culture and Indigenous sovereignty is both formed and curtailed by Western hegemony.

Check out more of Steaphan Paton’s work here.

By Reetika Khanna

Edition 3: Cabin Fever

Like us, you’ve probably reached the point where you’re feeling a little bothered and flustered after being inside for so long. This week’s theme ‘Cabin Fever- It’s Getting Hot in Here’, represents the feverish restlessness social distancing has invoked among many of us. 🏠

Our new team of FAME ambassadors 😎 have curated a list of all the best things to watch, play and consume, which will have you feeling a little bit more empowered 💪🏼 by the decrepitude of being stuck inside.

Wentworth: Streaming on Foxtel or ABC iView

Social distancing have you feeling a bit like a prisoner in your own home? Well, after watching Wentworth we can guarantee that you will change your mind.

Image credit: Poster for Wentworth from TVNZ

This thrilling female-led Australian drama reminds us all that prison is a scary and a harking reality for many people. Through it’s entertaining yet genuine depictions of a women’s prison, Wentworth will have you absolutely mortified and simultaneously grateful to be all cuddled up in your cosy (and safe) home. The second you become swept up in any romance, group bonding or any sense of happy feeling, the show disruptively reminds you that prison (and this show) is not for the faint-hearted. With a brilliant cast and complex characters, this show will have you wondering why you ever watched Orange is the New Black in the first place.

Black Mirror White Christmas (Season 3 Episode 1): Streaming on Netflix

Black Mirror is a television series known for its ground-breaking plot lines and thrilling twists and Charlie Brooker’s ‘White Christmas’ is no exception. This 74 minute feature is centred around a conversation between two men who are surrounded by snow and confined to their cabin (can relate).

(From left to right) Rafe Spall, Oona Chaplin and Jon Hamm in Black Mirror: White Christmas. Image credit: photograph from Hal Shinnie Channel 4 on the Guardian)

Their conversation breaks the episode into three separate (and equally mind blowing) story lines that culminate at the end in true Black Mirror style. The episode features rattling depictions of the effect of isolation ranging from physical isolation to a form of real life ‘blocking’ (you’ll see). If you enjoy a good thriller, ‘White Christmas’ won’t disappoint – oh, and did we mention it stars Jon Hamm? What more could you want!?

By Ash Stocco (2nd Year FAME Ambassador)

Unorthodox: Streaming on Netflix

Netflix’s new mini-series “Unorthodox” allows us to reflect on our own comforts and relative freedoms in light of this crazy time. Based on Deborah Feldman’s inspiring true story and autobiography, the series takes us into the most compelling depiction of the Hasidic ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, New York. 

Image credit: Unorthodox poster from Indian Express

The series tells the story of a young woman’s life changing decision to break free of a world she feels trapped in. The incredible performance from Israeli actress Shira Haas lays out the honest emotions of a woman trapped by everyone she loves. Told through the ever-recurring motif of longing for music and the pain of community expectations, Esty is a woman that we can only strive to be as strong willed as. The meticulous cultural detail deserves the praise and awe given to such series as “The Crown”. An example of this includes the dedication to script the series in mostly Yiddish, a protected Jewish dialect. 

It is not by chance that the series is so captivating. I highly recommend watching the behind the scenes clips which capture the making of the series and demonstrate the painstaking attention to detail delivered by everyone involved. Split into four hour-long clips, take your time with this truly exceptional production – my favourite watch of 2020 so far. 

By Matt Healy (1st Year FAME Ambassador)

Star Trek Voyager: Streaming on Netflix

Two decades before she was ‘Red’ in Orange Is the New Black, Katherine Mulgrew starred as Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager. She was the first female captain in Star Trek history, tasked with finding a way to get her crew home after a spatial anomaly ejects them to the other side of the galaxy.

Image credit: Star Trek Voyager cast from Nerd Infinite

These days it’s quite easy to empathise with the crew of Voyager; stuck in a claustrophobic place in uncertain circumstances, with people they would rather not be (no offence to my flatmates). Whilst the characters aboard Voyager often take the notion of cabin fever to the extreme, you will no doubt find the show’s far-reaching concepts and immense creativity do wonders to alleviate stir-craziness. If the 90’s space aesthetic, snappy dialogue and lovable characters aren’t enough to get you through these quaran-times, I don’t know what else will.

By Caiti Galwey (1st year FAME Ambassador)

FAME’s Nostalgic Pop for the Quarantined Soul

Our loneliness is killing us, but we sure can do it together and in style. Isolation may evoke feelings of despair, but music can be a source of comfort, reminding us of better times. It’s the golden age of throwback tunes, and the 00s have never felt so good. We all know the Ignitions and Baby One More Times, but there are more forgotten bops of decades past including some good ol’ gems relevant to present times, to uncover.

By Dion Leow (2nd Year FAME Ambassador)

After Hours – The Weeknd

Image credit: The Weeknd After Hours Album Cover from Pitchfork

After an incredible reign in the R’n’B realm, The Weeknd has returned to the top of the charts again with After Hours, an album perfectly symbolic of its name. The beautiful choral elements elevate his new sonic direction to one with a slower and more reflective balance. This, coupled with the driving and more desperate pieces, create a selection of songs that make you want to cry, scream and evaluate life all at once.

Yeah, this sounds a bit confronting, but I think we can all agree that there is no better vibe than the one that makes you feel, rather than a shallow listening experience. The emotion unveiled with just his vocals, such as in In Your Eyes, is truly indicative of how powerful this album is.When he teased us with Heartless and Blinding Lights prior to the album’s release, we knew that we were in for a treat with ‘80s, hip hop and Las Vegas vibes coming our way. Transport your senses while you’re stuck at home this weeknd (sorry not sorry for the pun) and let The Weeknd whisk you away to the blue lights, echoes, and a little bit of darkness. After all, there is no better time to pause and reflect over the crazy parts of life if it isn’t now.

By Leah Alysandratoas (1st Year FAME Ambassador)

0 A.D.Available on PC

Image credit: Scene from 0 A.D from 0 A.D

You’re at your parents’ house, the one you grew up in. A dessert of ice cream with Ice Magic hasn’t quite satisfied your taste for nostalgia. You wander up to the computer room. Your original family-computer died long ago and the replacement isn’t that shmick either. A CD- holder of old computer games sits on the desk, gathering dust. 

You take out Age of The Empires, pop it in the CD port. Suspense builds as you wait ten minutes or so while various things load, only to have the computer break the hard news: the video game is not compatible with your ‘new’ computer. You cry. You mindlessly log into Facebook and see this post by FAME and read a bunch of reviews from people who call themselves ‘Ambassadors’. You think, hey these guys have some cool recommendations. You read this part and think- wow, Laura’s really described my current situation.

Don’t worry reader, I’ve gotchu. My recommendation is that you Google ‘0.A.D.’ or even better -> click right here, download that bad boy, and enjoy a FREE and easily accessible computer game that is very similar to Age of the Empires– so similar that your taste for nostalgia will be satisfied and you can continue going about your day. Finally! Some Ancient Warfare!!  Don’t mention it.

By Laura McKenzie (2nd Year FAME Ambassador)

Animal Crossing – New Horizons Available on Nintendo Switch

Image credit: Animal Crossing New Horizons from Nintendo

What better way to escape cabin fever than to put your virtual self on a deserted island? Despite the irony behind its success, this game seems to be all that people talk about nowadays. Albeit, Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ almost cult-like popularity is not unfounded. The game turns the idea of isolation upside down, offering a wholesome island escape to all who are struggling in these difficult times. Animal Crossing gives players a fun alternative to the state of reality; staying indoors and visiting ‘virtual’ museums, shops and friends instead. Although popping over to your friend’s house is a big no right now, allowing strangers from across the Animal Crossing universe to visit your island (through a share code) is a big yes. And aside from a racoon named Tom Nook coming after you for his money, New Horizons encourages kindness and friendship, which is exactly what the world needs right now.

By Caiti Glawey  (1st Year FAME Ambassador)

Edition 2: Nice, Nice, Baby

If you’re like us and craving a sense of solidarity, community and connection after a testing, yet reflective period of physical isolation, then this second edition of ‘How to Feel Better with FAME – A Law Student’s Guide to Social Distancing’ is for you.

Our theme this edition is: ‘Nice, Nice, Baby’ (cue Vanilla Ice), to serve as a gentle reminder that kindness and empathy can go a long way. Our recommendations and reflections will focus on arts and media which have re-energised or inspired our most compassionate selves during this difficult time.

By Samara Jones and Delinna Ding

Broad City: Streaming on Stan or Foxtel

Image Credit: Abbi (left) and Ilana (right) in Broad City from The Economist

There has never been a better time to live vicariously through Ilana Wexler and Abbi Abrams – two best friends living life to the fullest in the big bad broad city. ‘Broad City’ is made up of 20-25 minute slices of these gals’ wonderfully bizarre NYC life. Watch out for cameos from comedians such as Amy Poehler and Steve Buscemi; fall in love with your neighbour Jeremy; then Facetime your bestie while you’re on the toilet (or maybe not that last one…). A word of warning, Broad City is not for the faint hearted – some weird shit goes down. But clearly, it’s through some weird and wacky times that meaningful and solid friendships form, and nothing says friendship like Abbi + Ilana ❤

Derry Girls: Streaming on Netflix

(In Order) Orla, Michelle, Clare, Erin in Derry Girls from Netflix Official

Set in Northern Ireland in the 1990’s, the hilarious and stirring ‘Derry Girls’ is super ‘class’. Meet Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle and wee English fella Tom as they navigate teenage life against the backdrop of the sectarian conflict between Protestants and Catholics. This little gang gets up to all sorts of mischief while being individuals, together. A very easy binge with two cracker seasons.  

Crip Camp – A Disability Revolution: Streaming on Netflix

If you watch anything on Netflix in the next 24hrs please make it this documentary. Woodstock meets disability activism, Camp Jened New York was a hippie in a wheelchair’s dream and the place where the young spirits that drove America’s biggest disability rights movement, leading to the the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was ignited.

The first half of the movie collates detailed archival footage of the camp itself, shot by the journalism collective People’s Video Theater between 1970 and 1972. The second half shows the teen campers’ journey to adulthood, in particular placing spotlight on camper and incredible force of nature – Judy Heumann. Activist and founder of Disabled in Action, we follow Judy and the entire disability community watching the unbelievable events that transpired during the Nixon and Carter administration, which led to government federally funded spaces (schools, libraries and hospitals) to be made accessible to people of all abilities for the first time.

If this passionate, fist pumping, hair pulling, feel good tear jerker doesn’t make your compassion cells tingle, then probably nothing will.


By Reetika Khanna

Virtual Exhibitions

While many of us miss being able to stroll through a gallery and interact with art in person, it’s wonderful to see how many organisations have made heaps of content accessible online and are working hard to foster a strong sense of community.

Why not hit up a pal on zoom, pour yourselves a glass of wine, and explore a virtual exhibition together? Or pick up a pencil and create something of your own? We may need to remain physically distant for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t need to stop you from engaging with and making art, sharing your reflections with loved ones, and curating the ultimate art bucket list for when galleries can open their doors again.

A real silver lining in these unprecedented times is how easy it is to connect with friends and family (and artists and galleries!) all around the world, while we remain at home. We’ve put together a few links and recommendations to get you started:

The National Gallery, London

Image Credit: The National Gallery in London from West End Flooring

You can walk through the endless hallways of the National Gallery virtually, scroll through photos of their impressive collection of Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Art, or take a deep dive into the paintings of Monet through their online exhibit. Find more virtual tours of the gallery rooms here.

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Our very own NGV currently has six virtual exhibitions on offer. I didn’t manage to catch the Summer blockbuster, Keith Haring & Jean-Michel Basquiat, but honestly, the amount of content that they’ve made accessible for free online (a virtual walk through function, all exhibition labels and 18 audio guide recordings) means I don’t at all feel like I missed out. Joining the line-up is:

  • Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness
  • Collecting Comme
  • Making Time: Indigenous Art from the NGV
  • Petrina Hicks: Bleached Gothic
  • Top Arts 2020

The NGV is also releasing a four-part virtual series of drawing classes for free here. Get your creative juices flowing from the comfort of your own home.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Image Credit: Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam from Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum has a digital tour of their masterpieces, literally hundreds of thousands of photos of their collection to browse, and some great online exhibits of Vermeer’s paintings if you’ve ever wondered who is The Milkmaid? They’ve also put together a video series called #rijksmuseumfromhome with curators sharing short videos from home with stories about their favourite artworks.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Our neighbours have put together an online project called ‘Together In Art’ to affirm the power of art to connect people, even when we can’t come together in a gallery space. There’s a ton of content on their page already, including interviews with artists and curators, performances, art classes and spotlights on works from their collection. Pocket exhibitions, behind-the-scenes tours and new commissions to come.

By Peter Turner

Fleabag Live

Before there was Fleabag on our TV screens, it was a stage show. The show’s creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the Soho Theatre in London have recently made the original stage production that inspired the TV show available to watch for as little as four pounds (Please trust someone more professional than myself for a proper AUD conversion rate). On theme with this week, all proceeds from this initiative will be directly donated to organisations assisting those deeply affected by COVID-19.

Before we all started talking about Andrew Scott as the hot priest, it was simply a one-woman monologue where Waller-Bridge sits on a chair and tells the beautifully tragic and hilarious story. The capturing words to describe what you’ve got yourself in for are as follows: ‘Fleabag may seem oversexed, emotionally unfiltered and self-obsessed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With family and friendships under strain and a guinea pig café struggling to keep afloat, Fleabag suddenly finds herself with nothing to lose.’ – What’s not to love about that?

So if you’re feeling generous and want to engage in some awesome live theatre content, click here: https://ondemand.sohotheatre.com

By Art Pitchford

Sugar Candy Mountain – 666 (2016)

Despite the title of the album being the number of the beast, 666 holds very little relevance to the devil. Reminiscent of Tame Impala’s earlier albums (Innerspeaker era), this is a great collection of spaced out poppy psych-rock and makes for solid Sunday morning listening at home with your nearest and dearest.

Nu Guinea – Nuova Napoli (2018)

Ever catch yourself thinking that you need more funk in your life? Nu Guinea’s Nuova Napoli might be the answer for you. Taking influence from their hometown of Napoli, mashed with 70s and 80s disco and jazz funk Nuova Napoli makes for an excellent soundtrack for your house-based evenings and is best paired with good company and a vino in hand.

We’re All in This Together – Ben Lee

And just for kicks and giggles (or when you really need it) – Aussie legend Ben Lee reminds us we’re all in this together.

By Nat Montalto

Message from the Treasurer

If you are fortunate enough to have retained your employment at the moment, you may find yourself with a little more disposable income than usual. As I work from home, I have found myself in this category. Without a need for petrol, or Myki, or anything other than a home-cooked meal, I’m starting to look at my pay check as a whole new opportunity. To honour our theme this week, here are a list of tips and tricks to help you stay nice and support your community this quarantine period:

ONLINE SHOPPING

Am I just giving myself a social justice driven excuse for my recent online shopping purchases? Yes, perhaps I am. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember the brands and labels that you loved before iso, and keep showing them some love now. I’m a huge fan of researching funky and sustainable Melbourne/Australia-based businesses whenever I’m in need of a particular item. With more time on my hands than I care to admit right now, taking the time to support the labels that I love feels good.

If you want to see them survive this crisis, then support them! It can be hard enough under usual circumstances for small businesses with sustainable practices to function. So, satiate your procrastinating mind and share your cash with a brand that you love and support.

Image Credit: Sister Studios from Broadsheet

YES TO TAKEAWAY, NO TO UBEREATS

Not all of my suggestions are big, ‘save the world’ moments. So here’s a quick and easy one. Next time you’re ordering from your favourite local takeaway, take an extra minute and call them directly. Plenty of restaurants and cafés around Melbourne are desperate for your order at this time, and in light of COVID-19, many establishments are now offering local delivery, free of charge.

Uber is notorious for ripping off their contractors, and UberEats is no exception. By skipping the app, and ordering direct from the source, you’ll not only be saving yourself a few bucks, but you’ll also be saving the business from their fee associated to Uber. Win win!

CHOOSE SUSTAINABILITY

To continue from my previous point, if you are finding that without your usual social spending your savings have grown, take the time to pick the sustainable choice. If you’re a person who has previously overlooked the sustainable, organic or Aussie made option in favour of a more affordable alternative, maybe now is the time to make a pledge to shop more mindfully.

I’m talking your grocery shopping essentials – like fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, sanitary items, and, dare I even say it, toilet paper. There’s usually a number of options, varying from the proverbial “cheap and nasty” to the sustainable, organic option that can often be outside the average student’s budget. Re-evaluate your budget next time you’re shopping, and you may find you can now afford to shop more sustainably than before.

Image Credit: Who Gives a Crap toilet paper from Zero Waste Man

DONATE

The biggest way that those of us who are privileged enough to have disposable income at this time can help others is by putting your money into worthy causes. Here’s a tip. Think of one thing that you would usually be spending your money on, and consider donating it to a worthwhile cause. As a personal example, I know that my usual petrol costs have been essentially eliminated. That’s about $50 a fortnight. As the treasurer of FAME LSA, our costs associated to holding in-person events, such as catering, have also been eliminated. So as an association, we are also looking for relevant places to send that money.

Start by thinking about a part of your life that you’re missing out on. For many of us here at FAME, we are sorely missing live performance and art from our weekly routine. Consider sending a donation to your favourite theatre, live performance venue or art gallery. They are missing you as much as you are missing them.

Another angle is to consider what you are most grateful for at this time. Whether it be your health, your access to food and shelter, your employment or your family, there are a number of ways to support those who are not so fortunate. You can send donations to not-for-profits like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who are supporting asylum seekers with food banks and access to healthcare and legal support. If you’re looking to make an impact without dipping into your funds, you can still donate blood.

Lockdown Library

By Daniel Lopez

Being stuck at home doesn’t have to suck. The human imagination — the ability to think beyond one’s own time and place, and to dream about the future and to reflect on the past — is what brings us together as a human family. So, transcend the walls of your room/house and take a break from Netflix/Stan. Grab a book and have an adventure. Not sure where to start? Then check out this handy little list.

Fiction

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Escape to a different place — Eastern Nigeria. Escape to a different time — the late 1960s. And enter a bloody and tragic time period when a young country, ravaged by colonialism, was tearing itself apart in the Nigerian Civil War. Ngozi Adichie weaves together the stories of three distinct but intimately connected characters to capture the sense of despair, chaos and lost opportunity that imbues her novel. Her characters try to escape this brutal war, but at the cost of their love for one another and their hope for the future. This narrative-driven story is one that you surely won’t be able to put down.

Image Credit: Cover of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Penguin Random House

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a master storyteller and this brilliant and beguiling novel exemplifies the very best of his imagination. A lonely portrait painter moves into a mysterious home nestled in the Japanese forests. But the home is filled with sinister secrets and unsatisfied desires, and the painter is put on a path that he neither chose nor can escape. The surrealism that Murakami is so known for then takes hold, with endless plot twists, mythical characters and a hint of horror. The novel explores the themes of parenthood, alienation, bravery, and above all — art. It is an exploration into the world of an artist, whether it be music or portraits, and what happens when that fragile world is turned upside down.

Image credit: Cover of Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami from Penguin Books

Non-Fiction

No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani. While we put up social walls to keep people alive, walls have also been used as instruments to keep people out. This book is a penetrating meditation on the deliberate exclusion of asylum seekers and refugees from Australia’s political concern and moral life. Boochani exposes the horrors of Australia’s overseas detention centres in its rawest form. He describes in excruciating detail everything from its putrid and revolting living conditions to the invisible systems of insidious control that strip away one’s own sense of identity. The narrative is punctuated with stanzas of poetry written in the Kurdish-Iranian tradition, giving it a surreal and almost magical quality. This is a consciousness raising autobiographical fiction book that captures its characters’ futile attempt to transcend the walls imposed around them.

Image Credit: Cover of No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani from Pan Macmillan Australia

Who Owns History? by Geoffrey Robertson QC. Colonialism is one of the few historical processes that continues to have an enduring impact. Geoffrey Robertson brings this to the fore in his new book, where he lays bare the ahistorical, unsubstantiated and illogical justifications of almost-exclusively Western and wealthy museums which refuse to return stolen artefacts to their rightful owners. He takes as his central case study the British Museum’s refusal to repatriate the marbles of the Athenian Parthenon to Greece. While he focuses on this act of blatant vandalism and unconscionable theft to demonstrate the injustices of the past, he also looks towards the creation of a human rights approach to the repatriation of stolen artefacts and the creation of a more just world where institutions such as the British Museum cease to be instruments in the process of recolonisation.

Image Credit: Cover of Who Owns History by Geoffrey Robertson QC from Goodreads

Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman. While the Earth cannot speak out, there is a firm of lawyers who are speaking up. Enter ClientEarth — a global legal charity that holds governments and companies to account on behalf of the Earth and the environment. This book, co-written by ClientEarth’s CEO and founder, traces the development of global environmental law and advocacy from the 1970s to the present. It is filled in intriguing anecdotes about small local campaigns to larger reflections on the global structures that place profits above the environment. This is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand how the law can be used to effect positive change in favour of those without a voice — whether it be the Earth or its future and yet-to-be-born inhabitants.

Left Image Credit: Cover of Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman from Scribe Publications

Right Image Credit: Pictured: Married James Thornton (Left) and Martin Goodman (Right), Alaska 2015 from Martin Goodman’s website

Check out more of Daniel’s book recommendations on his instagram @daniel_lolpez

This Is How You Dua It

By Emily Tang and Eric Sofianopoulos (Third Year JD)

Let’s throwback to better times. The year is 2017. You turn on the radio. New Rules is playing on every station – the song of the summer. This is Dua Lipa, and this is her big break in the mainstream pop arena. Even before hitting the global pop market with New Rules, Dua Lipa was making waves in the UK pop scene with bangers like Blow Your Mind and Scared To Be Lonely (a song that reaches new levels of poignancy in these quarantine days). 

Dua Lipa has recently dropped her new album Future Nostalgia. Here are some of our thoughts.

Verified Funky Fresh Tunes (if you are short on time and wanna smash out a listen of the real standouts):

  • Love Again
  • Don’t Start Now
  • Hallucinate
  • Break My Heart

Overall Impressions

Em: I think this is a very very solid album. It brings to the table a cohesive sound and is extremely well produced. On the whole it draws on past disco themes but still puts a pop/modern spin to it – it probably doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for a funky bass line and she leans heavily into that.  I would say my main critique is that there are some songs that I think sound like kind of generic pop songs that don’t have a funky enough melody or meaning to get my gears going. I do think it’s a shame there aren’t any ballads or slow songs but I think she is intentionally leaning into the party pop vibe for this album so I can’t blame her for having a cohesive groove. 

Eric: Overall I enjoyed listening to this album. I’m a huge fan of the revival of the 90s/00s pop sound (Shoutout Rina Sawayama) and I think Future Nostalgia taps into that with (mostly) great results. While I wish the album featured more performances from Dua that made use of her lower vocal range, the album has this fantastic groove that pervades through the majority of the tracklist and really helps Dua cement her own sound, something I think she struggled with in the past. That being said, I think that the production was a bit excessive at times (most notably on the chorus to Cool which I think could have benefitted from being a bit more simple), and I really wish that Dua had showcased her lower, more distinctive, vocal range a bit more throughout, as there were a few points on the album where I found her vocal performance fairly generic.

Em: I totally back Eric’s point about wishing she showcased her lower range more. As much as I love the airy Aris of the world, I think the pop game is oversaturated with high notes and runs and falsettos. Not to say it’s impossible to do the upper range well, but in my opinion Dua Lipa’s main strength is her ability to hit low notes with attitude and own it.  

Em’s Track-by-Track Review (feat. Eric)

1. Future Nostalgia: Released as the lead single and was also the album title. It wasn’t my fave song tune-wise but I respect it for setting the tone of breaking into the scene and establishing the overall mood.

2. Don’t Start Now: DID A FULL 180 nah I didn’t I already loved it from the beginning but it’s somehow grown on me even more. This was released in November and it’s been on my “on repeat” ever since so that probably says enough. I love a funky bass and a SINGLE INDEPENDENT WOMAN song.

3. Cool: I don’t vibe this too much actually. Maybe my least favourite from this album. The chorus doesn’t catch me and I think it’s very similar thematically to other songs on the album like Pretty Please so to me it doesn’t do anything more.

4. Physical: An atmospheric moody vibe. Gets you moving and that’s really all you need when it’s got the title it does. In my opinion from Levitating onwards the album picks up again from the dip it ventured into with a few hiccups here and there (see below for a helpful visual). Eric reckons that after Break My Heart the standard drops but hey different horses for different courses. 

5. Levitating: Has a real fun bass line so that’s something that I dig. I like the chorus on the whole, but the “sugar boo” bit in the pre-chorus doesn’t do it for me – it kind of sticks out in the listening experience and it’s a bit jarring. But I like the different intonation in the verses she’s going for and I think overall it’s a fun tune.

6. Pretty Please: Another funky bass line! It has one of the more saucier sounds which I like for the variety, like it’s not all straight up upbeat pop. I can tell it’s going to be a grower when I listen to the song more. 

7. Hallucinate: A TUNE. Catchy melody, funky bass line, solid drums, amazing production. The sort of song that is going to get you moving. A JAM. Up there on my list of faves. Eric: This song and the two that follow are really where the album hits its stride for me. Fun, groovy pop that knows exactly what it is and does it well. Going to be very hard to find a better three track run on any other pop release this year.

8. Love Again: Another banger, and mostly because I am a sucker for some mild orchestral violins. I think Dua Lipa’s lower range gets my gears going (probs why I don’t vibe with Cool as much now that I think about it) so it’s one of my faves. This is probably my favourite on this album.

8. Break My Heart: Heavy drums & bass and a solid tune that I think is elevated by the music video (released a couple days ago). It reminds me a lot of Charlie Puth lol but that’s not a bad thing. I think the production is really good on this even if the lyrics aren’t amazing. But I suppose I give it bonus points for the relevancy of “I would’ve stayed at home cause I was doing better alone” in times of quarantine.

9. Good In Bed: REAL SAUCY. I respect how she doesn’t mince any words in this song. The chorus gets a little repetitive so I think if I put it on repeat I might get sick of it. But I like it for a little bit of a fun upbeat tune with the piano chords in the background. And her verses are pretty fun here. Eric: Lyrically fantastic but I really can’t get behind the pretty uninspired and cliched instrumentation, particularly right after the fantastic Break My Heart.

10. Boys Will be Boys: HERE WE GO THIS HIGHKEY FEMINISM IS A VIBE. It’s the song that is the most meaningful on the album in terms of social commentary and I love that she snuck it in there on what is otherwise already a solid pop album about love/sex. To me this adds a little bit of spice/extra something that puts it above just a standard pop album. I will say that I mostly enjoy this song for being a product of the times but I don’t think it’d be a winner on sound alone. 

Eric: “Boys will be boys but girls will be women” is an absolutely amazing line and I love the message this song is trying to convey, but I don’t think that this track works well as an album closer. As Em says, Dua doesn’t really touch on social issues much throughout the album until this final track, making me feel like it was shoehorned in, and perhaps that it would have been better suited as a stand-alone track released after the album dropped.


If you’ve got thoughts on the review or Future Nostalgia the album, DM on Facebook us or let us know in the comment section! If you’d like to submit your own review for an album, track or artist, email it to general.famelsa@gmail.com