Interview with Ken Crouch: Screenworks Creatability project
Where did the idea for Createability come from?
In 2015, the NSW State Government through the Department of Family and Community Services and the Arts and Disability Partnership offered us the opportunity to help increase the profile of NSW arts and disability programs using screen media. The key aims that helped to drive the development of Createability were to:
- support people with disability to challenge community attitudes and misconceptions that form barriers to inclusion; and
- provide high-profile, high quality platforms to showcase work by artists with disability and provide valuable arts industry connections and professional development opportunities.
In its pilot year (2015), Createability resulted in three short films being produced in the Northern Rivers region - Sebastian and Jonatan Lundmark from Rest Your Eyes Production produced the film Lydian’s Space; In Your Face Productions’ Andy Bambach produced the film Peta Puppets that profiles Ballina artist and puppeteer Peta Lipski; and Poppy Walker and Sophie Hexter’s short film The Battle provides a stylistic depiction of Murwillumbah dancer Kayah Guenther, which shows a young man of strength who has a passion and love for his chosen creative field of dance.
Due to the success of Createability in 2015, Screenworks was very fortunate to receive donations and additional funding and resources that allowed us to double the project outcomes for the Northern Rivers region, in addition to spreading the project to the far corners of Regional NSW in 2016, effectively tripling the size of the whole project in its second year.
This year, Screenworks will be providing funding to filmmakers across regional NSW to produce a total 10 films, broken down as follows:
- 5 x 3-minute films to be produced by filmmakers living and working in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, each profiling an artist with disability who resides and creates in the Northern Rivers region.
- 4 x 3-minute films to be produced by filmmakers local to four specific NSW regions (as listed below). Each film will profile an artist with disability who resides and creates in Regional NSW.
- Upper Hunter: 1 x 3-minute film
- Dubbo / Orana region: 1 x 3-minute film
- Bega / South East NSW region: 1 x 3-minute film
- Broken Hill / Far West region: 1 x 3-minute film
- 1 x educational film to be produced by a filmmaker living and working in the Northern Rivers region. This will be a resource film for filmmakers wishing to use captioning and/or audio description in their screen projects.
What motivates you to work on the project?
Last year, Createability was known to us in the Screenworks office as the project that not only exceeded all expectations, but also kept giving back to everyone that was involved. We were really proud of the films that were produced by our local filmmakers and have been excited to see them exhibited and screened around the world.
We were also extremely humbled to have received donations because of what we achieved in the first year of the Createability project. These additional dollars have allowed us to build the program in its second year and to be able to expand the program to the far corners of NSW.
For Screenworks, one of the most important aspects of Createability is to support artists with disability in regional NSW and giving them the opportunity to challenge community attitudes and misconceptions that form barriers to social inclusion. The other important aspect is to provide the funds and opportunities for regional NSW professional screen workers to produce short films.
With this program, we have also been incorporating opportunities for emerging filmmakers with a disability so that they can get hands-on experience and skills development by being involved behind the camera with the filmmaking team.
As the only regionally-focused screen resource organisation in Australia, we take our responsibility to create opportunities like this very seriously. We were really excited and grateful that ABC Open agreed to come onboard to support the Createability program. They will be providing a pre-production masterclass in each of the regions, as well as providing one-on-one script clinic and supervising producer support throughout the project.
Throughout the project, how are the filmmakers mentored?
After registering for the project, filmmakers were invited to attend a Pre-Production Masterclass run by ABC Open in each of the five regions. At the Pre-Production Masterclasses, filmmakers were able to gain professional advice to assist them in producing a competitive storyline outline and proposed budget, as well as being able to network and connect with other filmmakers in their regions who were also interested in this project.
All of the selected filmmakers for the Createability are now in the process of completing one-on-one script clinics with their local ABC Open supervising producer. Throughout the project, each filmmaker will also receive ongoing advice and support to help deliver the best films possible.
All of the teams selected for Createability are also strongly encouraged to connect with and to include emerging filmmakers with disability from their respective region as part of their teams. This helps to ensure that the mentoring opportunities and skills experiences that this project provides across regional NSW are supporting both artists and filmmakers living in regional NSW.
What kind of barriers do you feel that filmmakers living in regional NSW face?
Over the past couple of years, we have undertaken a number of surveys to find out what barriers are being faced by filmmakers in regional NSW. The key barriers identified include:
- Limited work/opportunities and limitations linked to living in remote/isolated areas
- Lack of funding and difficulties raising finance
- Hard gaining a reputation; hard to get noticed.
To address these barriers, Screenworks continues to work hard to help regional filmmakers to overcome them by providing a diverse program of professional and industry development programs and events, industry connections and opportunities, crew referrals and location support, as well as the advocacy work that we undertake each year.
What kinds of things have the filmmakers who participated in last year’s Createability gone on to do?
Sebastian and Jonatan Lundmark from Rest Your Eyes Production produced the film Lydian’s Space, which provides a wonderful insight into the busy, creative and emotional life of Bangalow artist and musician Lydian Dunbar. Lydian’s fabulous ability as a professional musician and his all round sunny disposition shines through in this upbeat short film which showcases Lydian’s musical journey as a member of esteemed electronic band Tralala Blip.
In Your Face Productions’ Andy Bambach produced the film Peta Puppets that profiles Ballina artist and puppeteer Peta Lipski is colourful, frenetic and leaves us wanting to know more about Peta’s amazing life. With over 500 handmade puppets in her collection, all with their own voice and character, and her dance performance and drawing talents, Peta certainly has an interesting story to tell.
Poppy Walker and Sophie Hexter’s short film The Battle is a visual delight. The early morning shots filmed on a deserted airport runway are atmospheric, emotive and powerful. The stylistic depiction of Murwillumbah dancer Kayah Guenther shows a young man of strength who has a passion and love for his chosen creative field of dance. Working alongside esteemed Gold Coast based choreographer, Gavin Webber, the film explores themes of identity, vulnerability and power through collaboration and movement.
Both Lydian’s Space and Peta Puppets have gone on to be broadcast on ABC free-to-air television and have been widely distributed online. The Battle had its world premiere at 2016 Flickerfest Film Festival, and was selected for competition at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival (Germany). In addition to these two festivals, The Battle has also been invited to screen at the Tres Court International Film Festival in Paris, which takes place in June. After all International Film Festival avenues have been explored, the filmmakers and Screenworks will ensure the broadest possible distribution for the film following its public release.
All three films will screen at the Small World Film Festival in Bradford, UK.
For anyone who wants to apply next time, what advice do you have?
Unfortunately, this is the second year of the 2-year funding and we haven’t secured any funding to continue the program beyond this year.
Find out more about Creatability on this link: screenworks.com.au/event/createability-2016/