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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | August 22, 2019

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Get Heavy With Port Royal and Rebecca Dostal

Get Heavy With Port Royal and Rebecca Dostal

| On 30, May 2017

It’s not every day you see a puppet walking down the street or driving a car. But that’s exactly what happens in local band Port Royal’s latest video “Get Heavy” and this is a special puppet indeed. It was hand-made by Sunshine Coast-based puppeteer and self-taught puppet maker Rebecca Dostal and it took 112 hours to assemble. The Creative Issue had a chat with Connor Arnold, drummer for Port Royal, a band that describes their style as “a modern take on classic rock and roll” and Rebecca to discuss their music video collaboration, the Brisbane music and Queensland puppeteering scenes.

Firstly, we spoke to Connor about what it is like being in a Brisbane-based band in 2017. “It’s just a lot of fun, Brisbane is I think quite underrated in its quality of venues, and also its variety of genres as well. Whether its rock and roll, electronic, indie, alternative, anything. There’s a local band out there that people can enjoy and there’s also a lot of great people in the industry as well.”

The making of a music video can be quite an involved process and so whilst the video was only released recently, Port Royal were actually approached to make their video last year “Basically Julian D’arcy, our director, came to us late last year with this idea with the puppet, which essentially replaced Lawson, our singer’s position in the film clip… He came and asked with that whole idea and also the resources to make the puppet, all the crew, working on location, so in a lot of ways we at Port Royal have Julian and his whole crew to thank.”

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Whilst Rebecca Dostal, the creator of the doppelganger puppet, was not its manipulator in the video, Connor related what it was like to first see her creation “I remember when I personally picked up the puppet for the first time and looked at it you know the feet and hands, you can obviously see the quality”.

So is it truly important for creatives of different disciplines to work together? “I guess when you work together and you can bring a couple of great products together, whether it’s a film clip with our song, who filmed the clip, whether it’s our director with the idea, that Rebecca makes the puppet, it’s all these creative people coming together to work on one project that highlights each area of the art. I think that can only really push it forward and extend careers, you meet people, better experiences, it’s working together as a collaboration [that] is only going to make things easier.”

We then spoke to Rebecca about her involvement in the Queensland puppeteering scene. Who’s out there? “There’s a few really interesting puppeteering companies in Queensland you’ve got the Dead Puppets Society, which is an international touring company, you’ve got Larrikin Puppets, you’ve got different independent artists that are puppeteers and street performers with puppets. You’ve got large scale puppet festival events, things that happen at the Woodford Folk festival and at the Horizon Underground Festival which is what I’m organising at the moment, we’ve got a large-scale puppetry installation happening there but what I’m trying to develop is bringing a more European feel to the Sunshine Coast. And being a performative puppeteer is what I’m aiming at.”

The team behind the Port Royal music video initially got in touch with Rebecca through a mutual friend. “I actually ended up only working with the film maker Julian, who sent me a photo of Lawson Doyle and we started working on making a bespoke replica puppet of him and then after I completed him I decided he wasn’t good enough and needed legs and so I pulled him all apart and started him again and built a whole body with legs so that he could walk and be a whole character instead of the top half of the body… he’s got a real hair wig, that’s from the Cancer Council to make him look even better and proper irises that are imported from America  and yeah he was really fun to make and I didn’t have enough time to play with him before he had to go.”

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So what’s her take on the collaboration of different artistic disciplines? “The arts industry needs collaboration from all sectors in the industry. If you don’t have collaboration, you’re working in a vacuum. It’s quite interesting because I had never thought that I would be working with something in a rock music video…you know like that’s not the industry I’m working in and here I am my puppet’s grown up to be a rock star, it’s incredible.”

“I have a background in fashion design but I’ve been making collectable products since 1994. I make puppets and I make dragons and I make life scale puppet installations and I make costumes and props and sets and I work in the theatre industry. I taught myself how to make puppets and I’m hooked into the worldwide puppet community… There’s lots of challenging things, for instance we can’t get the materials that you need to make that calibre of puppet here…so it’s finding materials to make them and also that I have recently collaborated with a few other puppeteers but to this day, I work independently and that’s something that I’m trying to change by building a puppet theatre company where everybody collaborates we build together and then we create something bigger.”

Port Royal have a few gigs coming up which include a ‘Nirvana appreciation night’ at the Triffid on the 3rd of June and the Seretones Festival, June 4. To check out more information about them, click here.

Rebecca Dostal is currently undertaking a master class with Mike Quinn – a lead puppeteer for Jim Henson. To check out her handy-work in ‘Get Heavy’, click here.