Selected Freelance Commissions

If you'd like to commission me, you can! Email me at janina@myrednotebook.com

For Stylist:

Why it matters that Jacinda Ardern wore a Maori cloak to Buckingham Palace

"There is something about the image of Jacinda Ardern standing in Buckingham Palace wearing a kahu huruhuru.

"There is something about seeing that image as a woman. There is something about seeing it as a New Zealander. There is something about seeing it as a kiwi immigrant in the UK.

"And there is something about seeing that image as a citizen who has reason to be proud of her Prime Minister."

Meghan Markle spoke Maori in New Zealand. Here’s why that matters

"When the Duchess of Sussex appeared in New Zealand’s Government House to speak about women’s suffrage, she began her speech with a Maori greeting.

“'Tena koutou katoa.'

"She didn’t have to say that. She could have gone with the more casual, and more widely known, 'kia ora.' It’s difficult coming into a foreign country and speaking the language – I don’t know about you, but I can just about knock out a passable 'bonjour,' as long as I’m not in France. To be honest, as a New Zealander living in the UK, I’ve run into trouble saying the word '10.' Seriously, the Kiwi accent bends that vowel in a way that completely baffles the English."

For Artangel:

River to River

"In Maori culture, your connection to the land you walk on helps shape your very identity. You are who you are because of who came before you; the earth and waters that supported them, now support you. It’s this tradition that is behind your mihimihi (or simply mihi). When you perform a mihi, you introduce yourself taking a route through the history that created you. You identify your mountain, your river, your iwi (tribe), your family, and only once you’ve done that can you identify yourself: my mountain is Aoraki, Mount Cook. My river is Otakaro, Avon."

For White Noise:

Learning to Play in a Broken City

"When a city or community shares a traumatic experience, the process of healing is also, in part, shared. It becomes clear very quickly that as well as recovering as individuals, you have to recover as a collective. It can become exhausting – the desire to have a conversation that doesn’t inevitably circle back to the event you have lived through. The victims of the Grenfell Tower fire are beginning to learn what I and thousands of New Zealanders learned in Christchurch, back in 2011: that survival is not enough."

For Best For Film:

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

"It is fitting that the end of the human race (even if it’s just in fiction, for the moment) should be brought about by its desperate need to save itself. In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in case you’ve forgotten, saw James Franco, in the attempt to halt his father’s Alzheimer’s, invent a virus that made primates super smart. And, in a quiet side plot, kill humans within days."

What to watch when you sensibly avoid watching Goddess

"The movie musical has not been doing itself any favours, recently. Les Mis got us way to up close and personal to Eddie Redmayne’s larynx, Mamma Mia made us listen to Pearce Brosnan sing, and someone decided to remake Annie. You’d be forgiven for thinking musicals are just bad, and plenty of people do."

The Love Punch and the plague of the terrible film

"Along with Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie created a slew of lesser known but also great detectives. These include Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, a pair of charming and resourceful marrieds that feature in four novels. The first time we meet them they’re in their twenties, the war has just ended, and they need something to do. The last time they show up (in the last book good old Aggie wrote) they’re in the seventies, as intrepid as ever.

"I bring it up because I wish so much that when Joel Hopkins decided to make a film about retiring baby boomers doing an adventure, he’d just adapted Postern of Fate instead of writing something from scratch. I would be so much less angry if he’d just adapted some Christie. I wouldn’t have ranted to four separate people over the last hour, and people would still think I was a normal human."

Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

"We’re at the point now where, to a certain extent, we know what to expect from Wes Anderson. A charming screenplay, delightful production design, exquisitely composed cinamatography, and a barrel of actors we all wish we could take out for gin. The Grand Budapest Hotel delivers on all counts, as we knew it would, but it ads a certain brutality to the mix, turning it into Anderson’s darkest film to date."

For Sky (archived):

Dracula In Film

"Almost as soon as the talkies were a thing, Dracula's been flitting across the screen like a, well, a bat. The actors who've played him range from the ludicrous to the genuinely frightening, and we've collected them together for you."

Sky's Best Friends

"Over the course of the last decade, Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has seen dozens of romances bloom and die. Television in general is a breeding ground for relationships, both doomed and destined, but sometimes true love is just not enough. Sometimes there are greater relationships to be had: bromances. Some of the most enduring relationships on TV have had nothing sexual about them; they've been straight up, no nonsense, platonic love affairs."

A Decade Of Grey's Finales

"No one finishes a season like Grey's Anatomy. With births, deaths, proms and storms, every one of them is bound to get your heart racing and your eyes dripping. Click through our picture gallery for a reminder of the endings so far; who knows what's in store for us at the end of season ten".

For Theatreview:

Review: Ordinary Darkness

"Ordinary Darkness by Sarah Robertson so wants to be about something. In fact, it wants to be about two things: economic theory, and human manipulation."

For Londonist:

Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

"A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the Love Actually of Shakespeare’s comedies. All intersecting and converging story lines, each filled with its own hilarious escapades. It’s also a bit about (to use a journalistically appropriate phrase) slapping around the patriarchy a little, and The Globe’s production, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, makes the most of that, although occasionally the effect is to highlight the times it’s not true."

For Work In Prowess:

Maybe She's Born With It, Maybe She's a Space Marine

"Along with all sensible people, I saw Pacific Rim as soon as it came out. I sat there, wearing the biggest and most ridiculous 3D glasses ever to exist (yes, I saw it in 3D, yes, that was a mistake, no, it wasn’t my idea, but it WAS my first ever iMax experience, so…), grasping the nearest male hand (which, fortunately, didn’t belong to a stranger) in excitement, waiting to CANCEL THE APOCALYPSE with Idris Elba, et al."

So You've Decided to Survive a Natural Disaster

"For the first six months or so of living in London, I lied about where I was from. I was working in a shop on Pall Mall that sold New Zealand kitsch, giftware, and foods, and approximately seventy percent of customers would ask “where in New Zealand are you from?” as I added up their order. After less than a day, I started to say “I was born in Auckland,” which was true, without following it up with the fact that I’d moved away as a child, and remembered little more than Mission Bay (which is a totes rad beach) and my own back yard."

Janina Matthewson
Storyteller