It’s very courageous and bold for someone to quit their job and pursue a career in the arts, let alone push ahead with a business involving the arts. Especially in Perth City, yet this was the bold move young and passionate writer/film director A.J Winters decided to do. She left her hospitality job to commit a full-time basis towards her film production company, Winters Tales, and one of her first projects includes a web series called “The Annie Series”. While sitting down and having a chat with Winters, I learnt some very interesting things about her and the dreams and passions she has for creating entertainment.
Ever since a young age, Winters has been passionate with telling stories and being in the arts and entertainment business. As she got older, she got more into acting and studied creative writing and performing arts at university. After graduating, she was stuck at her hospitality position, and not only did she had to deal with uncomfortable situations at work, as well as her mental health issues, but she also saw her dreams and passion of art slowly slipping away with every shift. So it was at this point Winters decided to quit, and switched her role from casual to full time head of Winters Tales. Upon looking back at her choice, she admits that it was nerve-racking, but also a choice she wouldn’t regret:
“It was terrifying to take the jump and move away from the stability of money and casual employment, but what scared me more was the feeling of being stuck and losing a part of myself by not pursuing my passions in life. I needed time to gather myself and my dreams of the future and turn them into a plausible and long term job. I think I will always fear this unknown that is my life and career, but as long as I am creating and inspiring others to follow their passions, I can’t help but feel a purpose.”
Ever since her life-changing move in September, Winters has been going hard and strong into creating her new web-series for YouTube titled “The Annie Series”. This is a light-hearted comedy that explores mental health, in hopes of starting a discussion. Despite now under post-production, the information behind the release of the pilot episode is still unknown. This is mainly because Winters believes the topics discussed deserve the highest quality of care, and she also wants the quality of the show to be as perfect as possible.
Last year, her production company did release a pilot episode for a web series titled FOCUS. It looked into five university students who took part in a medical test, and ended up with superpowers such as mind reading and telepathy. Furthermore, Winters raised over $2,000 on Kickstarter to get the rest of the series done. However, she has decided to put it on hold because she feels that this show deserves a bigger budget and better visual quality. But don’t fear – if the premise of the show sounds exciting or if you already saw the pilot episode, Winters has stated that:
“If Winters Tales continues to learn and grow, then maybe in 5 years when [they] have the funds, [she] will bring FOCUS back into the forefront of [their] objectives.”
This type of dream isn’t really one that promises financial stability. In the past, a lot of creative artists in Perth have struggled to make a secure career in the arts industry. Hence why many – including Winters – would find employment in another areas, like hospitality or retail. It’s a massive blow for that department since many sources have reported the success of the creative art’s input in terms of W.A’s tourism and economy in the past year, like the Perth Fringe Festival last summer. This is something that Winters has observed herself. In terms of her perspective, she has worked on her two projects with some extraordinary talent who had to work for free in the past. However, she hopes that Winters Tales would help change this, giving employment to people who have a lot to give in that area:
“I think Perth has a lot to offer in terms of talent. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough work for everyone to get money quite yet…. I would love for high budget films to be produced and created in Perth, and I hope to one day be able to provide that.”
Winters tales does have the massive drawback of not getting a lot of funding. It did raise $2,000 from a FOCUS kickstarter, in which Winters had stated she used to purchase better equipment to make her business run more smoothly. She hopes to provide funds and income for future employees of her business as it goes international. But at the meantime, she can only afford to give volunteer-type roles in creating her short series:
“I wouldn’t be able to do everything without the help of everybody around me, and I hope that one day I will be able to support and pay every single one of them for their incredible work. Winters Tales continues to make small projects but now that I don’t have income, it is a lot harder to do. Next year I hope to be travelling to gain more experience and funding.”
However, in the recent 2016 Census, employment opportunities in Perth have increased in not just sport, but also art. According to a statement back in late October from the Minister of Culture and the Arts David Templeman and Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray, employment in jobs involving creativity and art have increased by 25%, making it “[one of the] fastest growing providers of jobs in Western Australia”.
This could be the beginning of a new age for creative people in Perth, where their talents won’t go to waste, and they would be employed for doing what they love. For art enthusiasts and lovers like me, I hope that this is just the start of great opportunities for people like Winters who love to explore or participate in this medium.