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Local Artist Spotlight: Gary Friedman

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Gary Friedman

Animator and filmmaker Gary Friedman is the reel deal.

“I get inspired by what’s taking place in our world and the reactions of humans to their environments,” he said.

Gary is rapt to be recognised with an Artist Project Grant from Frankston City Council.

“I’m excited to interact and share my skills with people locally, either in-person hopefully or online. Last year, I did some filming for the Frankston City Council project ‘Love Where You Live’. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get too involved as I was travelling internationally the entire second half of 2019, conducting workshops in Asia and Europe,” he said.

“I am now excited about interacting and being able to share my work with the greater community of Frankston. Starting in October, I shall also be offering my workshops online, too.”

Gary bought a house in Langwarrin several years ago with enough space to build a film studio, which he subsequently did.

“I then began making stop-frame animation in my home-studio, in-between my travels teaching puppetry and stop-motion throughout Melbourne, Asia and Europe. Since 2020 began, I’ve had to quickly change my work plans, since no longer being able to travel, nether internationally nor to schools,” he said.

“So I’ve continued making stop-motion film and recently started teaching online.”

Gary was brought up in Apartheid South Africa and unleashed his puppets onto the streets, with satire, to take on the regime’s harsh suppression with ‘Puns en Doedie’ (Puppets Against Apartheid) in 1980.

In 1987, he studied ‘Puppetry for Film and Television’, with Muppet-master Jim Henson and began ‘Puppets Against Aids’. He later co-produced a voter education television series using the puppet to educate viewers about voting in South Africa in 1994, when his puppet interviewed President Nelson Mandela. This was followed by ‘Puppets in Prison’.

In 2001, Gary took up residency in Australia. Today, he teaches puppetry and stop-motion animation at schools, universities and online and in-between creates stop-motion film in his Langwarrin studio.

“This year, I’ve been looking (via short clips and films) at how we respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, both socially and politically,” he said.

Frankston Council has significantly expanded its Community and Business Grants program this year to support up to 16 artists and creatives.

This was a result of the $6.434 million Relief and Recovery Package, which the council created to help Frankston City recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The arts grants are designed to help artists and those working in creative industries to pursue their passion while delivering culturally important work to the community.

They included Artist Project Grants each up to $4000 for eight artists to develop new works that can be presented online, on location or at a venue when restrictions allow.

There were also a further eight Creative Industries Professional Development Grants, each up to $2500, to support artists via further training, career development activities, mentorships and workshops.

Arts grant recipients must complete their projects by June, 2021.

Gary Friedman Productions, Build the Wall

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