For this final assignment, I had been grouped with Georgia Downey and Delphi San Roque. We had plans to cover the Maori Wardens of Werribee – who are a not-for-profit organisation that works with some of the disadvantaged Maori Community within Werribee area. Originally, they had agreed to film with us, quite early in the process too, just were struggling to find a time to meet. After some back and forth, we ended up finding out that they were unable to meet us until the 19th of October, which was obviously far too late for this project. So, we made an executive decision to focus on the youth of the Wyndham area (3030 postcode), thus, the film District 3030 was born.
For my part of this project, I sourced the subjects of the film, and because I live in the area myself, filmed quite a lot of footage of Werribee. We all came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to interview the boys in the film, as one is my younger brother, and the other is one of his best friends – who I have known for a majority of his life. This felt like the most appropriate choice, in order to make him feel comfortable enough to open in front of the camera. We chose to make a combined effort to edit the film in post-production, as we felt it was only fair to give all three of us an opportunity to show our idea of what we wanted the film to look and feel like. This proved to be easy for us to collaborate together as we all had a pretty similar idea of how we wanted the finished product to look.
In terms of learning about the representation of place and the construction of identity, this assignment was probably the biggest learning experience I had in the entire semester. When we first set out to complete this project, I was worried about this piece turning into a tabloid-style film, much like something you would see on A Current Affair. It was going to be challenging to present these kids in a way that wouldn’t feel like an attack against them. We took a lot of inspiration from a video posted by VICE Asia, titled ONEFOUR: Australia’s First Drill Rappers, as a part of a series on YouTube called VICE Raps (1). We thought this was a good point of reference in terms of style, because this rap group is very predominant among this youth subculture in the Western Suburbs, and is where they take a lot of “inspiration” from per-say. Prior to interviewing them, we had this preconceived idea that we were gonna get a lot more “rough” answers I suppose you could say – but as the interview went along we found that the responses we were getting were a lot softer than we originally thought they would be. We decided then that we wanted to be able to show the softer and more “real” side of these kids and show the contrast between that and how the media chooses to portray them. I think we did this well through the transition you see at 2:35, where the upbeat music cuts out and we hear their voices only over atmos sounds. While I do believe that the film works to hit the themes of memory, through the way these kids choose to reminisce on past memories – but with that being said, it wasn’t the full theme of our film so it, unfortunately, wasn’t an idea I explored much in this final piece.
In regards to the whole collaboration process, I have to say it was a complete joy to work with Delphi and Georgia for this final assessment! We all very fairly filmed a similar portion of the film each, as well as taking turns at creating new cuts for the film. I began the process by heading out quite early on and capturing some footage of Werribee to edit into a supercut, so we were able to get a more accurate idea of what locations we were wanting to choose. Then we decided to meet all together for a day of filming around Werribee and Point Cook, where we took two cameras out in an attempt to collect as much footage as possible. Then we interviewed the boys, using a two-camera set-up with lapel mics. We then decided to regularly meet as a group in the editing suites, where we would edit as much as possible together before one of us would take it home to finesse the pieces further. This process continued for about two weeks until we were happy with the final cut. This, I feel, was an extremely efficient way to work and ensured that we all got our fair go when it came to putting together the final film.
At the beginning of this semester, I was slightly unsure about how much I was going to enjoy learning about the process of non-fiction filmmaking and documentary storytelling – But to my surprise, I’ve really fallen in love with the film-making process and documentary making in general; especially after this final group assignment. I learnt how much power a person has while telling other people’s stories, and how important it is to do them justice. You have the ability to present someone either in a negative, or positive light, and everyone’s ideas on that person/thing will be shaped around how you choose to tell these stories. A lot of people had the preconceived notion that the boys in the video were “rougher” than what they really were, before watching the full film, and through our creative choices in what we chose to show the audience about them, we were able to work against these stereotypes of what they are and try to deconstruct them. I do think that after this studio is finished, I will continue to pursue documentary making, as I overall really loved the whole process/semester.
- VICE Asia, ONEFOUR: Australia’s First Drill Rappers, published on Aug 1, 2019 to YouTube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoUAyk9Op5Y&t=245s>