Karyn Childs grew up in the small rural town of Featherston in the Wairarapa. She had 4 siblings and a large extended family that she loved spending time with.
The sensory pleasures of being a child are what Karyn remembers most. Her grandfather was a dairy farmer and beekeeper. The nurturing scent of milk and honey filled her nostrils; the golden colours of hay and sunlight brightened her outlook, and the joy she got from the sharp crack of jumping into icy puddles with her gumboots gave her incredible presence in her natural world. Noticing details in her surroundings and tuning into the emotions of others around her inspired a love of storytelling and led to a career in film as a writer and director.
It wasn’t all ‘good’ though - Karyn now jokes about her childhood as being “A traumatic black comedy”. There was no shortage of loss in the river valley Karyn grew up in, in fact, she stopped counting the suicides after the tally grew to 32. There were also several accidental deaths and some unusual ones at that including a boy being dragged into a haymaker, her best friend drowning at the town baths, and other strange occurrences. “I thought it was normal, that everyone died unexpectedly all the time; apparently it’s not?” Karyn softly giggles.
A decade after high school she recounts a reunion with her childhood friend Liz from the same town. They had both written stories about their childhood. Karyn's story focused on tragedy and overcoming grief whereas Liz chose to write a dark comedy, which Karyn recalls made her laugh instead of cry. "It made me realise that our memories of trauma don't have to be all doom and gloom. We can view life through another's lense. It was healing to read Liz's spin. Writing helped us overcome the feeling that death was always knocking on our front door. Our lives had been ruled by anxiety and the fear of loss".
Karyn’s family never imagined her in a career in the arts as she was a sports star dreaming of Olympic gold until her early twenties. While at University doing a B.A. and working part-time as a bouncer in a dodgy nightclub, she met a film director who offered her a job and she and never looked back. She worked as an assistant director for a decade until she had an epiphany. She was going to follow her dream to become a screenwriter. She broke up with her wife, sold everything she owned and moved to the other side of the world.
After two years in London, her dream came true when she was flown to snowy New York to option her first screenplay. She was wined and dined with celebrities at fancy restaurants, “It was unreal, like a dream” explains Karyn. Finance was raised for the film, and the green light was in sight until the 2008 recession hit. The red carpet was pulled out from under her feet, the film was shelved, and everything changed. "It was gut-wrenching at the time. My ego was hammered". Karyn optimistically goes on to explains she had to “awaken” before she was to be of real service through her work in the world. “My approach to creativity has changed. It is now more about collaboration and connection”.
Karyn and her producer business partner are looking to revolutionise the industry by developing a sustainable business model, focusing on the wellbeing of cast and crew, inclusion instead of competition, diversity, training opportunities, and environmentally and family friendly film practices. “The industry is having an overhaul in all areas. Cinema attendance is drastically dying,” explains Karyn. "It's tricky to raise overseas finance for non-mainstream type films as they rarely make a profit. The great thing there’s new opportunities for streaming content which means there are multiple avenues for creatives to show off their work. It will keep changing, and we will keep evolving”.
As well as new film and television series projects in development the team is aiming to create thought-provoking web content focusing on wellbeing, inspirational community projects and conscious businesses.
Karyn is excited to be working among other creatives at The Workshop and looks forward to connecting to as many people as she can. She is also stoked she can bring her dog Lyra to work.