National media competition winner Ali Beal has been dubbed “a fire cracker” by her screen production lecturers at EIT.
In fact, she’s more like the entire boxful of fireworks – colourful, theatrical and delighting in delivering the unexpected.
Nudging 40, Ali has tried teacher training, studied opera singing, worked at dark tourism attractions and thrown herself into local amateur theatre. Now she is harnessing her wide-ranging life experiences and talents in studying for EIT’s Diploma in Screen Production.
“For the first time in years I feel this is so where I am supposed to be,” she enthuses.
Ali recently won the senior section of the inaugural Media Machine competition run by Māori Television, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc and Awa Transmedia Studios.
Her entry, a short video entitled The Liberator, centres on a professional assassin who delivers a body part as proof that she has completed an assignment.
“I like telling stories and I like its shock value,” she says of the three-minute movie. “You need fresh air passed over you, to think outside the box. It’s uncomfortable, but then life’s not comfortable.”
Performing is definitely in the blood. She got involved in school productions at Taradale High School and, blessed with a great singing voice, she completed EIT’s Diploma in Performing Arts.
As a young mum, Ali joined a local improv theatre group which led to a break at Hawke’s Bay’s CornEvil in Longlands Road where she orchestrated haunted horror corn maze shows. Three years later, she added Napier Prison’s DeadHill Haunted tours to her CV.
Then, having discovered local theatre, this award-winning drama director wanted to look at stage craft in a different way.
“I’ve been waiting to get onto the screen production programme for four years, but it was only this year that everything fell into place.”
Ali wondered how she’d relate to her younger classmates but says having a sense of humour helps.
“I am the mum,” she laughs of her role in the class. A more techno-savvy student is helping her master her iPad, which, together with Bay All Day clothing and a trip to the Māori Television studios in Auckland, make up her prize-winning package.
“Spending a day with everyone at Māori TV last week was amazing – especially my “mentor for the day” reporter Aroha Treacher. I realised just how lucky I am to find this screen production programme. It gives me a new vehicle for all my creative passions.”
As to the future, Ali is in at least three minds.
“I want to keep doing local theatre but also feel the pull of a national stage. I’m also interested in learning how to make documentaries, to start telling stories here in Hawke’s Bay that might have a wider appeal.”
The ideal scenario, she says, would be to have her base in Hawke’s Bay, where she feels most at home, while still coming and going to accommodate the demands of an eclectic creative career.