Debbie and David are two peas in a pod. Although it may be as cheesy as a slice of Tommy Millions Pizza, they finish one another’s sentences. Together, they run GoldFish Creative which has been established since 2015. From making an Inequality Seesaw to their latest venture, being a couple the bright minds behind Photival Festival, an exhibition which ties into the 2017 Fringe which will be at various locations on Cuba Street and Courtenay Place from Friday this week until 4th March.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THESE PUNTERS AND THEIR CREATIVE JIGGERY POKERY AND PHOTO FESTIVAL?
Well, it's been over 10 years since Wellington had its own proper photography festival, so Debbie and David decided it was high time it had one again! Photival is a photography festival all about positive change. It's different from other exhibitions because it aims to create positive social impact by connecting audiences with charity organisations making a difference in the community.
Photival will celebrate over 20 different local and international photographers such as Sim Chi Yin, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Myriam Abdelaziz and a show of curated work by Myles Little (Photo Editor for TIME Magazine, New York City) plus New Zealand nationals Conor Clarke, Chris Corson-Scott, Birgit Krippner and Ans Westra.
HOW WOULD I KNOW THEM OUTSIDE THE PHOTIVAL FESTIVAL?
Debbie and David have been key players behind LUX Light Festival and The Performance Arcade (both ace events). They also between them have worked on about every possible theatre or produced cultural piece in Wellington over the last couple of years in some capacity or another.
WHAT DO THEY LIKE?
Both Debbie and David enjoy diving outside of work with friends. While they don't have a TV they do have a little projector which covers their living room wall. They also have a passion for ‘The West Wing’ which they admit they’ve been watching intermittently for two years. “Once I start something I like to finish it” Debbie says. They have also watched the entire Parks and Recreation and Game of Thrones series. They also like to try and holiday as much as possible, whether it be working, relaxing or volunteering.
HOW DID THEY GET HERE?
Debbie Fish is a pioneer and a risk taker. She is from South Africa but studied at Queen Margaret College. She admits always being interested in the arts. “I was always into singing and drama but I never considered it as a career because I was going to be an engineer. I decided to study acting in Sydney after working in Sales.”
"Debbie and David met at a Mitre 10 Christmas party acting as pirates fighting. “We’d choreographed an amazing scene, but by this stage all the people at the party had had entertainment pushed down their throats all night so they just wanted to talk to each other” David sighs"
She left school and for four years worked in sales and then on a cruise ship out of Australia before returning to study Theatre at Victoria University. “It was the best of times and the worst of times” laughs Debbie of being on the cruise ship. While Debbie wasn’t on the ship as a dancer she did get to fill in when one of the dancers fell sick.
After finishing her degree she moved to France to be a Disney Princess at Disneyland Paris. Debbie became Cinderella where she was trained in the art of being a Disney Princess. “For me, it was a great chance to live in Paris. Life’s short – do what you want to!” she says.
"Debbie became Cinderella where she was trained in the art of being a Disney Princess. “For me, it was a great chance to live in Paris. Life’s short – do what you want to!” she says."
"Everyone thought I was a rock-star because I could make a latte.”
David on the other hand grew up in the United Kingdom before moving down under as a young man. He studied for a time at Auckland University but became disillusioned. He worked at cafe's and in hospo and found himself on a dark track of going out too much. He decided to move to London to be independent, at which he succeeded. “I was making coffee in the basement of a flash office building. Coffee was just coming in in the UK and everyone thought I was a rock-star because I could make a latte.”
David moved to Wales for a bit, before moving back to London. He worked out he wanted to study acting. At the same time he was offered a new job in coffee, and on deciding he didn’t want to follow it as a profession, he moved back to New Zealand to study acting in Wellington at Wellington Performing Arts Centre (now Whitireia), specialising in Musical Theatre.
Debbie and David met at a Mitre 10 Christmas party acting as pirates fighting. “We’d choreographed an amazing scene, but by this stage all the people at the party had had entertainment forced down their throats all night so they just wanted to talk to each other” David sighs.
David and Debbie were reunited working on Summer Shakespeare behind the scenes. Here, love bloomed and by the end of the season, despite conflicting schedules and travel in future projects, they ended up reuniting overseas while Debbie was in Paris. After a lovely Holiday, and further comings and goings the pair ended up working on David’s play about Chet Baker and his heroin addiction (for which David learned to play the trumpet) for which Debbie had to learn how to be a sound engineer. Since then, Debbie and David have worked on a myriad of projects. After Debbie had some down time, they decided to tag team and share the load. “We both have a huge tendency to try and get everything perfect which is dangerous because we end up staying up quite a lot.
Debbie and David ended up doing Photival almost by accident when Debbie was offered the project. She couldn’t take it immediately because she was traveling to Japan for puppetry work. She handed it to David who spoke to the founder Demi and together they nutted out the thinking around the exhibition and the relationships she had already developed.
"We can do everything here and everything is here" says Debbie.
David was also passionate about the idea of partnering the photos with NGO’s addressing the specific problems they may address. “The Theme is world on the brink” David explains. “We want people to do something from seeing this exhibition. Through the micro-site, we’ll be able to gather analytics about engagement and find out if people sign up to NGO mailing lists or give a donation - that’s amazing.
"Perfectionism. It's detrimental to getting a job done" says Debbie. "I get easily frustrated at things and angry when they don't go my way." "I take on too many things" says David. "I try and be all things to all people. And when people don't know things and they ask me I don't just tell them 'Google it, you f*%k wit' - I google it for them. But it means I get a reputation as knowing lots of things."
"I dig Wellington because it is a beautiful cultural melting pot. And all the people who end up staying here, not moving to Auckland, are your real friends" David says. "We can do everything here and everything is here" says Debbie. "It's got all the different types of festivals - and every one of them is important." Sounds like Wellington will be keeping David and Debbie busy for years to come...
All of Photival’s exhibitions will be free to attend in Wellington’s central city creative spaces for two weeks as part of NZ Fringe Festival 2017, Saturday 18 February to Saturday 4 March 2017. Works will be displayed at more than eight central city locations, all within walking distance and free to access. Visit www.photival.com for further information and updates.