Bush char­ac­ters en­joy screen spot­light

An artis­tic di­rec­tor with her roots firmly em­bed­ded in the bush has made it her mis­sion to in­volve ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties in act­ing as a way to tell their sto­ries. Cally Dupe re­ports

Countryman - - COUNTRY LIFE -

Bec Bignell can­not wait to start film­ing a col­lec­tion of shear­ers, farm­ers and Great South­ern lo­cals for seven-part web se­ries Rain Dance.

The Ko­jonup farmer’s daugh­ter, who spent her child­hood and teenage years liv­ing on a sheep and grain prop­erty, said she al­ways knew there was ta­lent in the bush.

Real, raw act­ing ta­lent that might never be un­earthed be­cause re­gional com­mu­ni­ties were not a place film di­rec­tors of­ten wan­dered.

“I felt the di­ver­sity of sto­ries shown on screen are not ben­e­fit­ing from the sto­ries I know ex­ist,” Bignell said.

“Some­times, the sto­ry­telling can be ho­mo­ge­neous and I want to make sure that is changed.”

Film­ing will kick off in April, with the se­ries set to fea­ture real peo­ple — not trained ac­tors — in­clud­ing lo­cals shear­ers, farm­ers and an as­sort­ment of other com­mu­nity mem­bers. Seven, 25minute episodes will be shown on­line be­fore the whole footage will be re-pur­posed as an 80-minute fea­ture film.

Rain Dance was de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the on­line au­di­ence fol­low­ing Bignell’s on­line com­mu­nity and Facebook page Ru­ral Room.

A pro­to­type of the film racked up more than 100,000 views, with the on­line au­di­ence keen to share their thoughts about how ru­ral life should be por­trayed on screen.

The fi­nal sto­ry­line piv­ots around a re­silient shear­ing team and a farm­ing com­mu­nity in need of rain.

Bignell said she felt en­er­gised by peo­ple’s in­vest­ment in the film. “We got an over­whelm­ing sense that peo­ple do want to see a re­gional film that is gen­uine and they don’t want to be pa­tro­n­ised,” she said.

“They wanted to touch on the more sen­si­tive is­sues; a lot of peo­ple said make sure you in­clude the indige­nous el­e­ment as well.

“It’s about a shear­ing team and two girls within that shear­ing team, but largely it’s about a com­mu­nity that is deal­ing with the im­pacts of the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Co-cast with Bignell, who has a lead role, is one part of The Sunny Cow­girls coun­try mu­sic duo Celeste Clab­burn.

Rain Dance is di­rected by Na­dia Townsend, while Pa­trick Harris is the di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy. Broome­hill shear­ing con­trac­tor and fa­ther-of-three Bren­dan Boyle also plays a lead role in the se­ries.

With no pre­vi­ous act­ing experience, he said be­ing in front of the cam­era was a bit daunt­ing at first.

But he loves his job and was keen to show the good side of the back­break­ing work.

“I think it is go­ing to be fan­tas­tic; what I have seen, it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing,” Boyle said.

“It’s kind of capturing the ro­mance of the job — pulling out the pos­i­tives, the pas­sion that peo­ple have for their job.

“It’s a real leg-up for the in­dus­try, which I be­lieve it needs.”

Us­ing lo­cal ac­tors and call­ing for pub­lic in­put were both im­por­tant for Bignell, who was keen to avoid the “fly-in, fly-out” na­ture of some projects.

She said the com­mu­nity had showed great ta­lent on and off set. “The shear­ers were amaz­ing to work with,” Bignell said.

“Their en­thu­si­asm and will­ing­ness to work with us when we had the cam­eras in their space was in­cred­i­ble . . . they were so nat­u­ral, peo­ple were amazed by their abil­ity to con­nect with the cam­era.”

Grow­ing up in Ko­jonup and at­tend­ing Curtin Univer­sity in Perth, the aspir­ing di­rec­tor later moved east to fur­ther her ca­reer, work­ing for ABC.

But the bones of the Rain Dance sto­ry­line first came to her while study­ing at Curtin Univer­sity.

In De­cem­ber 2016, Bignell and her busi­ness part­ner Mar­ius Fo­ley founded Cock­a­too Co.lab, with the vi­sion of help­ing re­gional com­mu­ni­ties tell their story.

Bignell said it aimed to flip the lin­ear style of film dis­tri­bu­tion on its head, by us­ing an au­di­ence­cen­tred ap­proach, where the story was created in part­ner­ship with a thriv­ing dig­i­tal com­mu­nity.

As part of the project, Cock­a­too Co.lab also launched what Bignell said was Aus­tralia’s first mo­bile pop-up in­cu­ba­tion hub Agri-Arts.

A range of work­shops and in­ter­ac­tive ac­tiv­i­ties will al­low re­gional folk to tap into their creative selves and train peo­ple for roles in Rain Dance.

The hub will also al­low dis­cus­sion about creative ideas be­yond film­ing.

Pic­ture: An­gela Coote

Celeste Clab­burn and Bec Bignell as their char­ac­ters in a scene from Rain Dance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.