In his occasional column for CPD Interactive, Melbourne writer PAUL BATEMAN profiles just some of the many writers and artists who also have a law degree – including Australian filmmaker and writer, Natasha Pincus.

Melbourne filmmaker and writer Natasha Pincus graduated from Monash University in 2002 with first class honours in Science and Law.

It was almost inevitable, says Pincus, that she would study science, philosophy, sociology or law – any subject, from any angle, on “how and why things work the way they do.”

Science she studied because it suited her “inquiring mind” (her expression); law, because it was recommended by someone who knew of her passion for words.

“Law argues over words,” says Pincus. “Their precise meanings.”

Nonetheless, first year law school was confronting. Pincus, who came to her studies with a strong academic record, scored only 12 out of 20 in her first class test.

“I was shocked. The language of law took me a while to absorb. I had to completely re-boot. It was so conceptually different,” she says. “It’s not that what we were doing was hard, but rather, I had to understand what it was that the examiners wanted from me.”

Pincus says the process of readjustment required concentrated effort and a new approach to thinking.

“It opened my brain,” she says. “I began to look at things critically – not as in negatively, but critically.”

She soon found her groove. By the end of her degree, Pincus was ranked in the top 10 students for academic achievement. She went on to teach in the law faculty for a further five years.

“At the time, I thought, if anything, that the court room might have been my future,” Pincus admits. “However, I was, by this stage, well-advanced in my passion for film and art.”

Pincus had always written and enjoyed performing. Her restless and creative mind was always searching for a form with which to give expression to her thoughts and experience.

She once described herself as a “self-confessed workaholic, driven by a relentless urge to collaborate in the creation of films that communicate universal human stories, whatever the format.”

In 2005, Pincus wrote and produced the short film Emma and the Barista which screened internationally, won awards and attracted serious attention. Another short work in 2006, Love’s Labour, had a similar impact and brought her further acclaim.

 

In 2007, Pincus began directing music videos and has since built a significant body of work featuring some of the best known names in Australian music – among them, Paul Kelly, Powderfinger and Missy Higgins.

But for global impact, it’s hard to surpass her video for the worldwide smash hit Somebody that I used to know by Melbourne-born musician Gotye.

The video, which has attracted over 500 million hits on YouTube (see above), won Pincus an ARIA Award in 2011 for Best Music Video, as well as comparable awards overseas.

Pincus says that when she first heard Gotye’s song, she knew it was something special. It’s fair to say that her video elevates a special song to even greater heights.

Today, Pincus is in pre-production on a new film; trying to sell a film; set to direct a film; and ready to celebrate the screening of a film she wrote. She’s working on a project with Melbourne’s Red Stitch Theatre Company and chipping away on a book of her own.

In seeking to prepare this profile, it took several emails and a few phone calls to Pincus to find a time in which an interview might take place. In the end, we spoke by phone as Pincus drove between appointments. She sounded busy – but was generous with her answers, enthusiastic and encouraging.

Pincus says her leap of faith from law to art was never predicated on any one decision or moment. “I just kept going,” she says plainly. “But some days are better than others…”

Looking back on her years at university, Pincus expresses gratitude for the time it gave her to really discover who she is and what it is she wants.

“I gave myself permission to explore things slowly and to derive the subsequent philosophical benefits,” she says. “And that’s what I’d tell a student now: don’t rush your studies; take your time.”

Pincus took the time to find her way. Having found it, she’s running hard.

Learn more about Pincus and her work at: www.starkravingproductions.com.au