Jaina Kalifa - scenestr of the day

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What do you do?
I'm a documentary filmmaker. I make content for television and film festivals and also do client work. I specialise in story-led projects and anything that makes a positive social or environmental impact. My film ‘Lost Contact’ was selected for Flickerfest in Sydney and will be screening as part of the Flickerfest tour, in the Best Of Australian Shorts programme at Palace Cinemas James Street (Brisbane) on 10 March.

Why do you do it?
I love the access that it gives me. I meet people and go places that I just never would otherwise. I'm also really driven to make a positive impact in the world and I feel like documentaries are a good vehicle for that.

What do you love about the city you live in?
I live in The Gap which is a very green, leafy suburb. There’s a creek at the end of our street and it kind of feels like I live in the country but we’re only a 20-minute drive from the inner city.

Where did you go for your last holiday?
We stayed at an Airbnb at a cattle farm right on the Clarence River near Grafton, which was great. My kids really enjoyed it. We spent a lot of time watching ‘Cow TV’, played board games and just relaxed and did very little.

What's your favourite item of clothing?
I've got a hat that belonged to my grandfather that means a lot to me.

What was your favourite TV show when you were a kid?
We didn't have a TV until I was 9 and then I was only allowed to watch the ABC. My favourite show was ‘Quantum’ – which is now called ‘Catalyst’ – it’s a science show so I was already a bit of a documentary nerd.

If you could travel back in time for a day, where would you go?
I'd go back to where it all began, to the big bang. I've always been curious about how something came from nothing to become everything and I'd love to see that happen.

If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us?
I don't do a lot of cooking but I'm famous for my baked bean nachos. Don't knock it til you've tried it – tastes a lot better than it sounds!

What's the best lesson you've ever learned?
A few years ago I did an interviewing masterclass with Kirk Docker from ‘You Can't Ask That’ and what really stayed with me was the idea of connecting with my own curiosity and asking questions that I genuinely want to know the answers to, rather than trying to be clever or over-intellectualising. That really helped me to find my flow when I'm interviewing people.

Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody else knows...
I'm a two teabag kind of guy. There’s nothing worse than weak tea.

Are you happy with your work / life balance?
I’m self-employed and it can be hard to ever really stop. I think it’s super important though and while I love my work I’m trying hard to be less obsessed with it and make space for other things.

How do you define success?
My priorities changed when I had kids but I’ve never been driven to own a lot of things and for a long time I would just spend all my savings on travel. So I’d say that I measure my personal success based on the richness of my experiences.

What's your spirit animal?
Tough question but I love wombats. They’re solid chunks of goodness and it’s hard to imagine a wombat taking itself too seriously. That’s something to aspire to.

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