4.8 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Emily Baker by Ilsa Melchiori

I've got a range of diverse and interesting people coming up on the What Do You Actually Do series answering a few nosey questions about their work within creative fields. Over time I'll be sneaking in more and more 'not often asked' questions including those about the all shameful, yet all necessary, money. But that's later.

Up today we have teacher and documentary film maker Emily Baker talking about how she splits her time between teaching children in custody and working on Mariposa St Flims upcoming project I Am No Bird.

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

E: Make docs and teach kids.

Now expand...

E: I direct documentaries, so that's half of what I do. I'm currently directing my second feature, working title I Am No Bird, which follows 4 women from around the world through their wedding ceremonies. And then the other half of what I do is work in the Vocational Education team at Parkville College, a school serving students in custody. I love both my jobs.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What has your career journey been like?

E: Really fortunate, and continually supported by other people. I started out as a journalism under-grad who felt pretty unenthused about mainstream media. I wrote to some guys who made a short film I really loved, and they told me to come to the States and work on their feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild. That was an incredible opportunity, which led to me working on other great films and documentaries. That, in turn, gave me the confidence to do my own documentary, SPOKE, for which I rode my bicycle across the United States. When I got home to Australia, I worked in VFX on a bunch of big Hollywood things, before deciding I'd like to teach. I'd volunteered to teach Saturday school for a few years, and it was something I really loved.

Best part of your job?

E: The best part of making documentaries is having a vehicle to step into someone else's life and see something you otherwise never would. On this film, that's included experiences like seeing traditional Naga dancers in North-East India and visiting a Pentecostal Church in Dandenong. Both are experiences I wouldn't have had without film. The best part of teaching is seeing a kid's confidence grow. It's a great feeling to take a kid from thinking they'll never understand a concept, to getting it and feeling great about themselves. It's the best.

Worst/hardest part of your job? E: The most boring part of filmmaking is trying to get funding. I'm pretty impatient so for my last project I just used Kickstarter funding rather than grant bodies. I just wanted to make it, I didn't want to wait. But I'm taking a different, slightly more professional approach with this one! The hardest part of being a teacher is wanting to protect your students from harm.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What does your typical work day look like?

E: It really varies a lot! When I was in production, I was basically just following these generous, patient women around and filming their everyday lives. Now I'm in post [production] I spend a lot of time in the studio, huddled in front of a computer with a cup of tea.

What percent of your time is spent on work that pays the bills vs your own creative projects?

E: About 50/50. I'm very lucky.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD 

What are yourfavourite apps to use for work?

E: I don't really use any apps for work? Sorry, not cool enough.

What is it like working for yourself?

E: I don't really consider it 'working for myself' because while I do earn a little money from SPOKE, it's nowhere near enough to cover costs. All that comes from my day job, and I have bosses there. I used to do more freelance film stuff, but I found it didn't leave much time or energy for my own work. So I don't work for myself, I definitely have a boss (hey Dan)! But I'm really fortunate to work somewhere that's been flexible and happy to accommodate me.

What is your current work playlist?

E: Haha. WELL. At the moment on Spotify I'm digging of Montreal, LION BABE, Coda Conduct, and some old Turkish stuff by Nilufer that's getting me inspired for my film. Also that one DJ Khaled song with the Biebs that's everywhere right now.

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD

Movie still from I AM NO BIRD

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

E: I don't really feel qualified to be giving advice to anyone, but I would say to ask for help and be grateful when you receive it. People are only as good as the help they are given, I don't believe in the 'self-made-man' concept overly.

Can you tell us about your next project?

E: My current project, I Am No Bird, follows 4 women from around the world in the lead-up to, and on the day of their weddings. We shot in Australia, India, Turkey, and Mexico, on a BlackMagic as well as Super8. Currently, we're in post-production and seeking finishing funding, so if you have too much money give us a ring.



What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

E: To finish this film and let everybody meet the four intelligent, strong, and diverse women it features. Also to get a cronut.

I Am No Bird is currently seeking funding to finish the project. If you are interested please head over to the website to get in touch with the team and find out more.

4.3 Just a Moment of Truth by Ilsa Melchiori


I will never be the perfectly put together fashionista.  The immaculate beauty guru.  I will always have a stain somewhere on my clothes, I will never have perfect makeup and my hair will rarely be 'done'. There will probably always be at least one dirty dish in my sink. Most importantly, I'm not going to hide this.  I like it when things are just a little bit 'off'.

I am working on juggling everything in life right now.  I choose to do this blog and I will keep choosing it.  Just give me a moment to re-balance my spinning plates.

Share your new endeavours in the comments below.


10.2 Friday Favourites: Things I've Learnt about Dressing for my Body by Ilsa Melchiori


Since last weeks Friday Favourites: Things I've learnt about make up post was so well received I've decided to do another along the same line. Things I've learnt about dressing for my body type. Firstly some context for you. I'm in my late 20's, 170cm tall, a size 12 (AUD), 32E. But more importantly to this post, I have very short legs and a very long torso. My friends never fully believe me until I prove it. I've clearly learnt to hide it over the years with the way that I dress.

So here are the things I've learnt, in case there are any other short-legged, long torso girls out there who want some tips and tricks.

1.  Skirts and dresses become your best friend. Basically if they can't see where your legs start then you can trick people into thinking they are long.

2.  High waisted skirts in particular have been kind to me. If people are focusing on your waist then they just assume you legs  aren't far away. They'll never know there's this 'extra' bit of torso hanging out.

3.  'Mini' anything probably wont work for you, unless you like showing your vagina off in public. Remember that 'extra' bit of torso, well that makes mini dresses shirts on you.

4.  Pants will be hard to find but not impossible. I totally still wear pants and jeans. Good hint, if something is labeled 'cropped' or leg 30' it will probably be the perfect length on you.

5.  Speaking of pants, I find that having a touch of exposed ankle between my jeans and my shoes makes my legs seem longer.

Most importantly though, please wear things that make you feel great!

6.2 What it's REALLY like living on a construction site... by Ilsa Melchiori


I've been sharing photos of our home renovations on this blog. All of the exciting new things that are happening. But on the flip side is the less fun, WAY less glamorous reality of how we have been living for the past 8 months or so. What's the truth? Well...

Honestly it's hard. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It's disruptive, and messy, and draining.

This post is inspired by  Helen Anderson, who did a great video on her YouTube channel called A Real House Tour.

It's easy to get caught up in these seemingly perfect worlds people present to us online, but the real life behind that, complete with dirty dishes, pimples and bad hair days, can sometimes be far more interesting. Or at least, more relatable.

Below are some truths, along with some real, unedited, un-staged, images of what it is really like to live on a construction site.


1.  There will constantly be a layer of dirt/dust on everything. You can clean all you want, it will always be there.

2.  You will potentially be completely or partially exposed to the elements on more than one occasion. It's been raining inside my house several times. I'm not talking about a drip or leak that you can put a bucket underneath, but full-blown rain.


3.  You will probably gain weight. You kitchen facilities may be 'creative' or non-existent. You will start eating convenient food. I have gained around 5kg since we started.


4.  Not a morning person? You will learn to be. Builders can start at 7am on weekdays and for the sake of productivity, you will want them to.

5.  You have to be very organised, but at the same time understand that your organisation is likely to constantly fall apart.


6.  If you have a romantic partner with you on this journey it will, at times, cause a strain.

7.  90% of what you own will be in storage. Which as a self-employed creative can really suck.


8.  There is nowhere that is clean, well lit and pretty to take Instagram/blog photos. Get creative.

9.  If you work from home, you will get cabin fever, bad!


10.  At any given time you may be without water, power, gas, walls, and for us, a section of our bedroom ceiling.


11.  Things merge. Lines get blurred. My bed is currently also my dinning table, my lounge room and at times my office. It is not ideal, but cannot be helped.

12.  By staying you can save money.

13.  But by staying you might be making it take longer as the builders have to work around you.


14.  It's not glamorous.

15.  It's not for everyone.

I'd love for you to share your experiences with home renovations below.

3.2 Friday Favourites: 5 of the best Things I've Learnt About Make up by Ilsa Melchiori


I started my make up education fairly late in life. My mother never wore it when I was growing up, I didn't have any sisters, and I was the 'girly' one in my friendship group in school. For this weeks Friday Favourites I decided to switch things up a bit and share with you 5 of the best (favourite) things I've learnt since the commencement of my make up education.

1.  Make up artists and sales assistants will ALWAY try and sell me foundation that is too dark for my skin tone. Yes I'm half Italian, yes I have yellow/olive toned skin, but I am pale as can be.

2.  The scent of a product can totally ruin it for me.

3.  Contouring is actually very simple. Here a tip, if you've been applying your bronzer is a 3 motion along the side of your face, you've basically been lightly contouring this whole time.

4.  Ran out of eye makeup remover? Olive oil works wonders, just try not to get it in your eyes.

5.  Hydration is the key. If your skin is dehydrated, then it doesn't matter what you do, your make-up will end up looking cakey and gross throughout the day.

What is your favourite piece of make up related advice?