This lively, informative encounter with Jane Campion as she writes, rehearses and films Top of the Lake was shot over three years, from her collaboration with writer Gerard Lee to the series’ premiere at Sundance.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2013
Intimate, elegant and funny: these are not adjectives one usually applies to ‘making of’ documentaries, but Clare Young’s portrait of Jane Campion at work on Top of the Lake carries an unusual distinction. Young’s subject is also her mentor, a thoughtful, undogmatic explicator of what happens to be true for her when it comes to developing and realising a TV series. We begin in 2009 when Campion and her co-writer Gerard Lee, the writer of many of her earlier shorts and Sweetie, are sequestered in Devon working on the script. The process seems intuitive, tentative, and entrenched in gibing mutual familiarity. From there, we jump to Sydney, then to the extraordinary lakeside setting where Campion is rehearsing, drawing on her actors to fill out the characters of the series’ commune dwellers. Suddenly there’s a full production crew, and we see the director’s empathetic, collaborative style embrace a small army. When a title tells us that ‘we’ are invited to Sundance with the series, it’s as if our entree into the circle were complete.