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Transcript: Taika Waititi on The Art of Creativity at TEDxDoha

Taika Waititi

Here is the full transcript of Film director Taika Waititi’s TEDx Talk: The Art of Creativity at TEDxDoha

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Taika Waititi on The Art of Creativity at TEDxDoha


Announcer: Are you ready for Taika Waititi? All the way from New Zealand. Taika Waititi, please.

Taika Waititi – Film director

Thank you. Thank you very much. My name is Taika Waititi, as she said. It’s very nice to be here, and time starts now.

Basically, I’m – this is a quick run through of what I’m going to talk about tonight. First, I thought I’d just introduce myself. So that would be the first thing where I’m — I mean, Taika Waititi. So that — there’s that done.

I’d like to just break the ice. Maybe start off with a joke. This joke, I’m just going to put it out there, it just involves me telling you that I’ve just flown in to Doha, and as a result, my arms are tired. The aim with that joke is — I’ve flown in to Doha but it was on an aeroplane in reality. And what I’ve done there with the joke is I’ve taken it further and said that my arms are tired, suggesting that I’ve flown like a bird to Doha, so that’s the backstory of the joke. Cool. It’s going pretty well.

So, who am I? Well, I kind of don’t really know that myself, often. I come from New Zealand, and I come from these two people, who met in the early 70’s. The woman is Robin. She’s of Russian-Jewish heritage, and she was a school teacher. And the guy next to her, his name is Taika and he’s a farmer and an artist. And they met and then, a few drinks later, they gave birth to a beautiful Asian daughter called Taika. And so I come from a very mixed background and as a result, I’ve always sort of had trouble kind of finding out, deciding really who I was, or what I wanted to do, and I’ve had lots of influences through my life, through both sides of my family.

I come from — one side of me comes from the country, and I went to school out there where the population of the school was 28 kids. And it’s still 28 kids. And then, I was also at school in the city — see the odds and bits — freaked out by that. And that’s me with my mum. And I don’t know who the kid is next to me.

So I always had influences and stuff and I don’t realize and I think that’s kind of moved through into my creative life where I haven’t really been able to decide exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve always been into painting and art and drama and all these different things, so, and that’s pretty much been my life. That’s my grandmother on the back of a motorbike. And this is my other grandmother. So, you know, both girls on wheels.

So TEDx asked me to speak and I had a little freak out, because you know, usually the people that talk here have invented a brain, or something, or, like, a lady had a stroke and she could suddenly see through walls and became rainman. So, I made a movie. Yeah. A good movie but that’s — You’re wasting my time by clapping. Okay?

So to stand there, I would have thought I would have had to invent movies, be the first filmmaker ever. So I had a freakout, I didn’t know what to talk about. I started thinking, what have I got to say?, and then I started making notes, vigorously making notes about what I was going to say, like here, and important ideas that were coming out of my brain and onto the page, and then I thought I was going to finally reveal all this information about myself and I really — I just really had no idea what to do, or what to say.

A little bit about having no idea and no ideas, and then I thought maybe it’s about that. Maybe it is ideas that something, obviously TED, to exchanging of ideas and perspectives, and I mean, all I’ve got guys, is creativity. That’s my job. At the moment, I happen to be a filmmaker, but it’s not my job. My job is to express myself, and to share my ideas and my point of view. It happens to be that I’m using filmmaking right now, but you know, throughout the years, I’ve done lots of different things.

I started off — my background is painting and visual art. I’m just going to zoom through all this stuff. And it’s varied from the kind of, the serious, then slightly, sort of tongue and cheek, and kind of, sometimes political but always fun. If I can try and make it fun, then that for me is what being creative is about. It’s being — it’s having fun and looking at life through the lens of a child, really. This is a game I play with the newspaper and the sportspage called: “Where are the Indians?” They’re everywhere in this picture.

So I’ve just tried to keep generating stuff. This is the illustration work I did for a while. And this is really into my time — I did a lot of performance and stand-up, and then moving into acting and photography, and fashion for a little bit. I tried my hand at animation as well. And basically, yeah, I wanted to do everything. So I wanted to try every single thing. I come from a background where people have said: “You have to have one job and stick with it.” Well, I don’t believe that. I think that in this day and age, people have things that they want to express, and you need to have a wide range of tools. And filmmaking, painting, acting, poetry, all that stuff, they’re all tools.

So I found that film happened to be an amalgam of all the things I was interested in. And so I explored that for the last, sort of 6, 7 years. And I think I’ve done quite well out of it. And it’s culminated now with this movie “Boy”, which is going to become the most successful local film in New Zealand ever. But success, I think, for me, is a very strange thing, and I probably have different ideas of what success is to most other people.

Art? What is it? Is it important? I have no idea. Move on. I mean, can it do these things, can it save the impoverished ? No, it can’t, unless it’s made of food. Can it bring about world peace? Only if art is actual world peace. So it’s all about perspective for me. I’m here basically to share how I see things. If you can take one little piece of inspiration from that, and apply it to what you want to do. I don’t know how many people here are actually actively creative, then if you can take something, a sparkle or a certain idea from anything I showed you today, then, me coming here and staying at the Four Seasons is worth it.

So, I am attracted to the outsider, okay? A lot of the theme in my work is exploring this idea of people who don’t belong and I’m always inspired by the outsider artist. These are paintings by my father, who’s an outsider artist, even though he wouldn’t know what that meant, if you’re to say “you’re an outsider artist.”

And I love the naive. I love people who can see things through the, like I said, the lens of — with an innocent viewpoint, I think. So this is my dad, his perspective. He just paints things around the landscape that surrounds him. He lives on a hill, and he just paints the same thing all the time. And I love it. It’s really inspiring to me. Rousseau is one of my favorite artists. They said he couldn’t paint. If you can put paint on a brush and apply it to something, you can paint. What he couldn’t do was paint in the style of everyone of the day. This guy is incredible and I find that his stuff is actually really fun. I have no idea what he was really trying to say, but for me, this here is an incredible painting. I have no idea what’s going on with these guys.

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