Indigenous Stories On Screen With Penny Smallacombe
The screen is gerald. Kia values indigenous storytelling for many many years. A lot of indigenous stories were told by non indigenous people and screen australia is really committed to allowing a real rebalanced to happen where indigenous people are supported to to tell the stories <hes> which is fundamentally important film and screen content works as an empathy machine. You know there are still many aliens have never ever met an indigenous person but through screen story says an opportunity to understand us filmmaking. We're not certainly not saving lives but i do think we're changing minds and that is you know one of the most important things a person can do welcome to episode one hundred fifty three of bay the drop a weekly interview podcasts sharing stories from people who inspire spy and motivate others to help you learn how to tell your story. I'm amelia via direct at narrative marketing and firm believer in the superpower now of storytelling screen content and stories told through film or television have the unique ability to help us understand alternative experiences and viewpoints an important part of the work by screen. Israeli is the focus on helping to share stories from minority or underrepresented groups such which is a stylized indigenous stories. Penny smaller crime is the head of indigenous content at screen australia. Penny is a member of the merriman engy gee people from the northern territory. She's produced numerous documentaries produced and directed content for a._b._c. television and was a senior programmer for anti t._v. at s._p._s. in today's episode of the drop recorded live at the screen. Mike is conference. Penny shares her journey in the film and screen green industry. She discusses the critical importance of creating and sharing indigenous stories by the screen and also provides a range of tips to help people get started in the industry. This is pennies version of bay the drop do your struggle to find good royalty free music we use and recommend sound stripe across podcasts and videos as we love the variety of sounds but none of the boring elevator music as a soundtrack partner were excited to offer you a ten percent discount code to access tunes your next project. There's a discount link in the show notes <music> it or into the code be drop at checkout hi penny. We're here at the screen. Make conference where you're presenting today so to start with. Can you share with us a little of your journey through the film industry i think i was i was very lucky. I started off with a cadet shoot with a._b._c. and a._b._c. Am from originally and worked as has a sort of journalist and then as a research on various shows from australian story and moved to see in worked on a._b._c.'s message stick program mm which was fantastic because you just got to go out and sort of television produced half hour episodes on indigenous people are histories issues and i've got to make many of those television documentaries over a period of time and then i applied to afternoons and i did a master's is at optus documentary producing which was a really fantastic experience for me and then i went out and also freelance producer and and worked with some really fantastic indigenous directors worked a lot in a lot of remote communities around the northern territory which was really fantastic and eventually ended up back up soft string of time working broadcasters worked at the a._b._c. and then i was a senior program for itv's i tv s._p._f.'s for many years before starting at screen australia as an investment manager and then eventually becoming the head of the indigenous department which is <hes> <hes>. I think has been one of the greatest jobs i've ever had in my life. I get to get paid to work with indigenous creatives get paid to fund you know amazing films like sweet country or be a part of television series like mystery road so it's really a privilege area that i found myself gene and why do you think it's so important that screen australia has a focused indigenous content department. What is the impact that you've seen from sharing sharing the stories of outfits tryon's yet look last year was <hes> the indigenous departments twenty fifth anniversary of being a part of screeners charlie formally the a._f._c. assigned film commission when it first started and due to the really hot work of my predecessors says wall saunders to polling clegg to sally roddy to erica glynn diane have worked really really hard to build the foundations of the indigenous film industry screen industry that we have right now when i first started they just did a short film initiative every second year and now we find ourselves in a situation where we funding tv series. We're running short films refunding documentaries. We doing specialized initiatives where we i developed talent. We're doing a produces initiative and we have we do online. We found online series so screen australia values indigenous storytelling scripturally realizes that for many years <hes> a lot of digits stories were told by non indigenous people take screen australia is really committed to allowing a real rebalanced to happen where indigenous people are supposed to be able to tell the stories <hes> which is is fundamentally important. The country is shifting. You know we have these amazing amazing people from all these different backgrounds and micro micro groups and their stories to be told in those audience exists there and we're not always catering for those audiences but screen israel is really focusing on opening that up just fantastic absolutely i believe it's by educating through stories through the understanding and comprehension that they provide that we can really grow our broader community community wide compassionate support. I think film plays a really important role in these. What are your thoughts on. How film and helps achieve this film and screen content works as an empathy machine. We a small percentage into each of the australian population. There are still many australians have never ever met an indigenous person but through screen stories as an opportunity to understand and us filmmaking semi not saving lives but i do like to think we're changing minds and that is one of the most important things a person can do. Yes i love that concept tipped about the value of changing minds. What do you think how does storytelling through screen. Mike these happen <hes>. I think it's through characters. I think things things like read fund now which was a game changer of tv. Series really was confronting for australian audiences. Great characters really really authentic stories allowed audiences to know that the urban indigenous experiences one like many of these people that are just i you know living lives going through turmoil and coming out the other end of that family is important the love and relationships chips all of those things that exist in all other cultures of the world exists with us as well and how does that open the door for young indigenous people to come through what should they we do if they've got stories that they want to tell this is. It's a hard industry. There is not clear pathways on how you become a really good directa. <hes> is nightclub pathways on how you become an amazing writer. It's about firstly someone that has a story to tell. It's about out touching base with what surrounds you. It's about looking at the film schools that exist in your area touching base with your local <music> screen agencies there are so many initiatives on there's attachments to feature films if you search the opportunities to get placements internships internships and attachments to these programs a really fantastic entry level ways of getting in the a._f._c. runs numerous initiatives looking and they did call outs full short film initiatives documentary initiatives with partner with a._b._c. and would they partner screeners julia so i think the thing is to who subscribe to screen shot his website subscribe to you like state agency's website and follow the opportunities because they are there and for you. What are some some of the things that really got you on the pathway to where you are now. It's a funny thing so when i was working for the a._b._c. and producing producing a lot of television stories for the messy sticks program i always thought i had my sights on being director but when i applied to film school school there were only four places to do the documentary mass discourse a tooth to places directors and two places for produces and of course else i think the vast majority of people applied to be documentary directors and i think it was mitzi goldman and pat fiske the two fantastic documentary filmmakers sort of said to me. You know what penny i think that if you learn to produce this could really open the door in terms of how to get your own projects off the ground so i think that was a big create changer for me which moves into producing which kind of was a natural fit for me anyway when you were doing t._v. You kind of coordinating your own shirts and you know you're out there. Producing tv really signed that was like a a bit of a change in my career but i think it was the right change and i think that they knew that probably my skill set lied with producing before i even knew and as a producer you'll they from the time of the the idea germinates. You're developing it with them right through to delivery. You never stop producing a film. It continues to be shining continues to live move and you'll always be looking after that and it's a it's a beautiful document in i'm about an experience in a moment and you're responsible for keeping that out in the world for as long as you can and i think that's a real privilege so i suppose then it's about being open to suggestions and changes in your pathway absolutely you know uh and also it's it's also about picking an area and booting you craft and working on it and honing it and working on working on it. Do you want to be a good director. They and you should be out with a camera with your friends filming thinking about ideas riding ideas and really holding your frost time and time again and once you really have harmed that you should also consider diversifying as a producer. I've worked as a production manny any job. What does a coordinator. I've directed scenes when i've needed to so you really should honing the craft of what you really want to do but then also be the open to trying new things because you're going to have to pay the rent and you're gonna have to find work and you should never ever be too good to any role full onset. There are times when you might just be run are on a friend's film the end. You should not close down for that thinking that no no no. I'm just want to be a directa should be opened because the more time you're onset more time. You're spending in production even if it's working on other people's productions the better. You're going to get what you're doing. So so what specific advice would you give to young indigenous filmmakers who want to tell a story when you're making your way out beginning your career in the industry history it can be quite difficult terrain to to navigate in terms of you will have stories that you wanna tell and at some stage your going to have to you collaborate and the sooner you find the right people to collaborate with certainly. It's much better than anything else particularly. If you come from an underrepresented group or your indigenous a come from a diverse background audiences are arranged through this kind of content and certainly there's a lot of production companies in australia wanting wanting to make this kind of content working with different underrepresented groups and often people from that those backgrounds can find themselves in a situation where they i don't really have the power to be able to go out and make these stories on their own and i think the most important thing is to one find the right people to collaborate with people that share your vision to know that there's an exchange that is going to take place your going to be in a story room where you're going to be sharing your your lived experience in terms of being an indigenous person or being someone from underrepresented group and in doing are you should also engage and ensure that your giving is what you're also receiving back and sometimes <hes> <hes> many people will find themselves in story room they will be the only person from maybe cultural background in that story room and now given out give and then they sort of have given it all and then sometimes it not invited to continue with that production is to make sure that when you were there you're not giving away your nuggets of gold that you wanna make an one day in the future but that you are contributing. You're making networks making the right relationships and you're learning from from them. You should be able to say that producer. We'll what i would like is greater experiences to the placement in this production company what other opportunities unity's might not from this experience and i think having those conversations really important from the get go and i think having those conversations early is really really a book for young or inexperienced filmmakers without the advantage of experience. Though what advice would you give about how they should go. Go about understanding what to give and what is acceptable for someone to take you know where should begin as go. How should they look to understand. Those relationship licensed parameters. I guess what the different season and something that's important to remember is that when you had to be in a story room for somebody a llosa's concept you are there to help them in form the lesion when you're developing your own stories and you're inviting people to be out of your storytelling that is when it's important that us find like minded people to work with the find people that have a a similar vision to you or the understand your vision. There's no like this is how it's done. You should be aware of what your award rights are in terms of payment. Hey you should be aware of what kind of agreements <hes> you sign. You should be aware that when you work with the producer and you're <hes> you know developing you'll feature film that some states you will have to assign your rights to the produce aw that is how films a funded so you should work with people that are trusted and and really i think that this so many great mentors in our industry <hes> had the privilege of having some amazing producer mentors over the years and established relationships find mental that doesn't mean written random people and say. Can you be my mental. It's about yeah because people are very busy as well in the industry. It's about establishing relationships have their period of time and not taking advantage of them because they're experienced but just being honest and finding someone you can bounce off finding a group of other filmmakers and that are also emerging or moving into their mid career that you can ask questions off so you're informed performed this screen stralia this your state agencies <hes> it's i._f._c. Like every state has an agency touching base with screen australia australia. It's about asking questions about what my rights. What is the right approach to finding a mental. What should i expect when i'm in a story room. You know what my rights what's in relation to working with a production company to develop my work and never be afraid to ask dumb question. There's no dumb questions. If you don't you don't oy if you feel like you're you're being taken advantage over. You'll feel like you're being exploited. You have to mention it. You know a lot of people's. I felt like this situation occurred ed but never spoke to the production company producer about it and it's how do they know that they're doing wrong if you don't bring it up as well so you need to have trust filmmaking making screen making is a team sport. It's not a single person's journey and it's really important to find the right people which to do so fantastic well. Thank you so much penny in conclusion. Could you please share with us a summary. We'll talk to you about how to communicate to connect. I think that if you want to tell a story. I think that you should always think about who your audience is. First and foremost i think enough of ou- screen practitioners practitioners think about audience. I think they concentrate on the story. They want to tell but they don't really always think about where it will land an who will land with so. I think that if you're going to enter this industry and you're gonna find the right people. You want to collaborate with people that can mental you teach you what you're doing. I think another important wouldn't that you should focus on is knowing that you want that story to go in the end. You want to affect and how you want to fix them perfect. Thank you so much no worries. Thanks for joining me for another episode of the drop. Don't forget to subscribe in order to ensure you. You never miss out on one of our weekly episodes. Be the drop is produced by narrative marketing where we believe that stories connect individuals and that powerful awful storytelling can positively impact the world to unleash your storytelling superpower visit narrative marketing dot com dot e._d._u. or check out our social shootings in the shire nights to contact me directly with any specific comments you have you can email me amelia at narrative marketing dot com year a year and don't forget that whilst task or challenge may seem overwhelming a waterfall begins with one drop and look what comes from that <music>.