happen films

009 – Antoinette Wilson from Happen Films

In this podcast episode Gin chats to Antoinette Wilson – film maker, writer and producer with Happen Films. Antoinette has always followed her calling and now makes films she has a real passion about – namely the environment. She has an amazing belief that if you have a passion inside of you, nothing can stop you from making this come to fruition.

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Antoinette Wilson is the sponsor of our very own Wild Precious Lives podcast with her film “Living The Change – Inspiring Stories – For a Sustainable Future.” It was a pleasure to have to on the show!

Antoinette’s Wild Adventure

Antoinette became really passionate about saving the world in her early teens. Growing up in New Zealand this started out with an interest in saving endangered whales and dolphins. Every Saturday and Sunday she would volunteer for the Local Environment and Peace Information Centre. This was her introduction into the environmental world and her dream was to sail around the world with Green Peace.

With no internet back in the early 90’s Antoinette felt there was a real disconnection with what was actually happening with our environment and what people knew. She was a vegetarian early on in her life as she believed there was enough grains to feed the world without having to eat animals.

When she was 16 she was selected to go on exchange for a year and she chose Brazil as she thought it was a good opportunity to help with saving the rainforests. She then went on to attend the 1992 Eco-Summit in Rio. This was an extraordinary experience and she saw first hand how all the poor were moved out of the city for the summit – the whole city was ‘cleaned up’.

The Tango

When Antoinette moved to Sydney for work in book publishing she knew no one so she decided to take up Tango classes to meet people. She fell in love with this dance and the connection between your partner and all the couples on the dance floor. She loved it so much that when she was 30, she moved to Argentina for 6 years and continued to work online whilst over there. Antoinette worked full time during the day, then went out dancing at ten each night and came home at three in the morning.

She even started a B&B for social tango dancers. There are many social cues and codes that need to be learnt in Tango and Antoinette would take single women dancing and teach them the etiquette of the dance. The successful women were not necessarily the most beautiful women but those with confidence and spark and joy in her face. Antoinette loved the tango community.

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Living in Argentina Antoinette realised how privileged she was in her life. She loved the life and loved the tango community but came to a point where she didn’t know whether it was fulfilling enough. The culture of Argentina proved challenging and on top of a decline in health, she knew it was time to come back home to New Zealand.

She always had a distrust of conventional medicine and always leant towards alternative medicine. Antoinette believes that health needs to be approached in an holistic way, much like the dance of the tango where interconnection is key. With gut concerns she looked at ways at trying to heal herself and came across a book called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This book was an eye opening text about where food comes from and how it’s ethically grown. This journey led her back to New Zealand and growing her own vegetables. Whilst still working for the book company, she took a job volunteering for four hours a week in a community supported agricultural garden called Eco Farm, making veggie boxes for over 100 people per week, as she felt a complete disconnection to where her food came from. She learnt about various types of harvesting and absolutely loved being outside with her hands in the soil so much so she ended up gradually taking on paid work. When she turned 40 she did not take over a book publishing company as once thought, but took over the packing shed of a market garden instead! She loved this work as it felt satisfying and healthy.

The Eco-Village

Whilst working at Eco Farm she studied a permaculture course. This led Antoinette to seriously analyse her way of living and being in community, building personal resilience but also relying on others and helping others. One day when she was researching different communities online she received an email offering free rent in an eco village for a year in Gippsland Australia. The aim was to study what a one year world footprint would look like and to make a documentary. Antoinette was inspired by this and was accepted into this project. She sold most of her belongings and put what was necessary in storage and once again moved to Australia.

There were nine people involved with a shared vision of this project which as you can imagine led to complexities and differences of opinion. Whilst there was water and power, there was a shared kitchen and they had to build homes for people to live in, exploring different ways of building with natural materials as much as possible. Perhaps the biggest challenge however was living in community but this led to the documentary called A Simpler Way. Antoinette joined the firm making crew as a writer to develop a film about this journey which has now had over a million views on YouTube. (Donations towards this film can be made on the website and are greatly appreciated). This then led to doing more smaller documentaries and videos on permaculture and exploring its message to inspire people to make changes in their lives.

Now Antoinette travels around New Zealand and visits people who are living the change, and makes short films of this to inspire others to makes more changes. She also interviews people who have interesting and important things to share which have now made up the feature length documentary – Living the Change. Together with Jordan Osmond, they are the powerhouse behind Happen Films – and there are many more exciting projects coming up inspiring others to make changes for the good of our planet. Antoinette believes it is important to share these messages and alternative for living better ways of life. Everything is done by donations and crowd funding and even advertising at the beginning of the film. Living The Change is $10 to buy or $5 to rent it. They purposely aimed to keep the cost low (she would even like it to be free) to increase accessibility and spread the message wide and far. The importance is not the profit but the message.

Be sure to check the movie out – we are so proud to have them as our podcast sponsor – Living The Change 

happen films

Antoinette’s Precious Tips

  • You can be rich with time and rich with experience; wealth doesn’t necessarily equate to money.
  • Empower yourself and feel connected to your community and where your food comes from.
  • Have faith in yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
  • Ask questions. Society may suggest that things have to be done a certain way, but is this the only way? What is society telling you that you need to be doing and do you really need to be doing it?
  • Don’t let money stop you – sometimes things can be affordable if done in a different way.
  • Follow your passions!

Wow, what an episode! Let us know what you think of the amazing work Antoinette and Happen Films are doing. We’re so inspired to look after this planet we live on –  and maybe even take up the Tango!

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