Finding the 'Reel' Australia

In this guest post Michael Allen, winner of the AFI / Australia Day Council of NSW’s (ADCNSW) short film competition Reel Australia with his short Something Australia, tells us how he found his answerto a big question.

Something Australia is a short film that responds to the question – “What is the real Australia?” As the film’s leading man Aquinas Crowe says, “that’s a big question, that’s a good question too.”

The film is a collaborative product that came at the end of a year-long working relationship and friendship between myself, a young Melbournite and a young man from the opposite side of Australia – Aquinas, a Walmajarri/Jaru man of Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley, W.A.

Aquinas and I were brought together by the Yiriman Project, an Aboriginal cultural organisation set up by the elders of four language groups in the Kimberley, Nykina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri some ten years ago.

Throughout 2010, I spent six months on and off working with the Yiriman Project on their multimedia component. Aquinas, already involved with the Yiriman Project over several years and already an award winning short film maker, and I met in February when we spent three weeks editing a river knowledge video together. While I shared with Aquinas my skills in filmmaking, Aquinas shared with me his cultural knowledge and experiences and his natural gift for story telling.

For the ‘Reel Australia’ competition, I wanted to make a film that made two offerings: first, an intimate window into one man’s individual world within Australia; and secondly, a wider statement that the real Australia is not one finite thing, but rather that it is the impossible sum of the nation’s infinite narratives, histories, cultures, ideas and beliefs – and it is this which injects Australia with its profound richness.

Aquinas had the story to tell and I had the desire to capture it – together we created ‘Something Australia’. The film was shot, edited and completed in less than three days in Fitzroy Crossing under generous support from the Yiriman Project. Melbourne solo artist, Matt Walters, wrote music especially for the film.

Winning the Reel Australia competition is a huge thrill for both of us. As aspiring filmmakers, a prize like this is an encouraging and exciting recognition of our efforts. The Reel Australia competition is a brilliant and important concept, as it encourages people to consider important questions about our nation’s identity and sense of self.


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