If I say I'm a film-maker, people - unless they know me - are often sceptical. As much as I like talking about my work (and I get obsessed with each film), I still find I am self-conscious when I say I am a film-maker. I see the "yeah, right" in people's eyes. Maybe because it seems desirable and glamorous. When I was a teenager, everyone I knew wanted to be a novelist or a poet, now I guess most young people want to make a film.
I have never really had a grand plan in life, although I think I've been pretty good at seizing opportunities. I think I kind of fell into documentaries. I always try to avoid giving career talks because I'm still not sure about how it came about. Despite the marginalisation of certain traditions of documentaries (such as investigative, arts and one-off documentaries) I know New Zealanders like documentary and a lot of producers and directors are still drawn to them despite the insecurities involved.
The release of an earlyish film, Punitive Damage, was a compelling moment for me. The documentary revolves around the death of a young New Zealander in East Timor's Dili massacre, and his mother's attempts to get justice for him and nearly 300 young Timorese also killed. When we started making the film, East Timor was still under occupation with which most of Western world was either complicit, or was ignoring, but just as we went into release President Suharto fell. Timor held a referendum and voted for independence - and again the people were attacked by the military for this. Our peacekeepers went in, but no one really knew what would happen - whether China would weigh in behind Indonesia or what the US would do. So it was tense. Just as the tide of history shifted, we had this film to show - it was an extraordinary experience.
Documentary making is quite a hard road to hoe I have to say: one has to be amazingly persistent. Documentary-making remains an uncertain living and does make its particular demands given it still adheres to some notion of truth and history. One may be sceptical of this in a post-modern age, but the people in your film tend not to be. As a maker, you are very reliant on relationships with your subjects and this can be a delicate dance.
You can feel incredibly intrusive and sometimes find yourself convincing people to reveal something about themselves for reasons that remain obscure to them. But without them, you don't have a film. You have to be both sensitive and pushy at the same time. Exhausting but it has its pay-offs.
I'm good at making scones and bread. I was briefly a hippie chick until I realised going "back to the land" was a ridiculous amount of work. Before that managed to sink in, however, I became quite a good baker. Otherwise I've never been the "crafty" type - I had a very traumatic time trying to knit bed-socks at school and the humiliation I suffered put me off ever attempting to knit and sew again. When my son's assignments are due, I'm always amazed at the towers and complex structures brought through the classroom door.
Greed, avarice, bigotry, historical amnesia, narcissism, pretension and militarism all make me angry. In general, though, I'm more a passive-aggressive brooder (with a long memory) rather than explosive type that gets over things after a good shout.
Until I was 6, we lived in England in big stone house with attics above and air-raid shelters below. I remember being fascinated and scared by both. Skeletons, ghosts and so on.
I first knew what love was when I attended North Shore Pony Club and fell for the dope-smoking folk singer who was pretending to be a pony club supervisor but clearly wanted free rent.
* Annie Goldson was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to film in the Queens Birthday Honours. She is the director and president of Screen Directors Guild NZ, director of the biannual New Zealand International Documentary Conference held at the University of Auckland since 1996, and a trustee of the New Zealand International Documentary Film Festival. She is Associate Professor at the University of Auckland's Department of Film, Television and Media Studies.