Review must look at cultural inclusion: Frankland

Richard J. Frankland

Stone Bros. director Richard J. Frankland says the government review is an opportunity to instigate cultural inclusion in the Australian screen industry, but fears that other issues will take priority.

“We [Indigenous creatives] haven’t been a major priority in the past, but we would be small-minded to think that the industry is just about making money; it’s really about cultural growth,” Frankland told Encore.

The director added that Australia should have a quota for Indigenous producers, writers, directors and actors.

“We need to be visible. There have been a few people who have blocked that type of initiative, but someone should bring it to the table. I don’t know whether that will be me, but a quota is important.

“It would change the very culture of this country. We have a great opportunity and if we miss it as a nation, we’re depriving ourselves of our own cultural growth. The film industry could be a great agent for change if it has the courage, but there are other issues that the industry may see as a priority as opposed to cultural inclusion,” regretted Frankland.

Frankland’s debut feature, the irreverent comedy Stone Bros., made approximately $98,000 at the box office last year. It was recently released on DVD through Madman Entertainment, and while the storyteller – he prefers the term over filmmaker – hopes this window will increase the audience of the film after its limited cinema run, he believes the film has already accomplished its mission regardless of the money it might make during its lifetime.

“It will contribute to the cultural landscape of Australia irrespective of how many people have touched it in the initial stages. It’s got a unique story, and it is an Australian first in terms of an Indigenous comedy, one that will find a place in the cultural landscape,” he said.

According to Frankland, he has received reports that the DVD is sold out at a number of stores around the country. He believes the MA15+ classification, which he objected before the theatrical release saying it would prevent a large segment of the film’s potential market from seeing it – will no longer be a problem because kids “are going to buy it and it won’t matter what the classification is”.

Frankland also welcomes changes to distribution models, and foresees online as a way to give minorities a voice.

“A lot of voice has been suppressed because of large corporations, but there is a new generation of storytellers that will get out there. Big companies are still alive because they have a large marketing budget and exclusivity over certain cinemas, but that’s going to change. They can’t control the internet.

“When you’ve got art, you’ve got voice, and when you’ve got voice, you’ve got freedom. With freedom comes responsibility and my responsibility is to the story, not to the dollar,” he added.

Frankland has two television projects and one feature in development.

The feature, Conversations with the Dead, is about the trauma of a death in custody, from a worker’s perspective.

“Doing that one is going to be quite traumatic. It’s a human story that needs to be told and it needs to be and owned by Australia. It needs to be out there.”

The first of the TV series is a comedy, Matilda’s House, about a corporate psychologist that goes to a small country town; the second is based on Frankland’s children’s book Digger J. Jones.

“It’s about a 12-year old Koori kid in 1960, who keeps a diary and it’s in the vein of The Wonder Years,” he revealed.


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