Personal stories (in all of their complexity) can transcend stereotypes and create empathy based on shared human experience. Herein lies the power to shift perspectives and motivate individuals to take further action on their own terms.
I was drawn to this story for its ability to cut through the vehement social debate about asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Hearing varied but equally horrifying firsthand accounts of war, persecution and oppression from a group of school children immediately illustrates what is at stake in this issue: human lives.
For me, such a story is the ideal foundation for a social-impact documentary; powerful narratives can illuminate issues, engage audiences, inspire action and affect change. This is what I love about the documentary medium and lies at the heart of why I am producing this film. As such our audience engagement strategy is a critical component of the project and both our distribution and marketing strategies serve to enhance the potential impact of this film.
In terms of audience engagement, the current Australian political and media climate surrounding this issue presents us with both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to tap into some very raw emotions without alienating the audience. The opportunity is to offer a unique and fresh perspective that humanises the issue. Rather than making a rigid political statement, we will let our characters’ stories speak for themselves.
The project is in early post-production and has been in production since December 2012. We shot throughout 2013 in weekly drama therapy workshops at Miller Technology High School, in the homes of our central protagonists and in the eight public performances. We have also conducted several follow up interviews. Over the past few months, we have assembled a rough cut of the film and are now looking to engage a senior editor to refine the narrative and a composer to score the film for delivery in March 2015.
The film has been self-funded to date. However we need to raise an additional $100,000 for completion, marketing and distribution and a further $50,000 to fund our audience engagement campaign. We plan to source 40% of this $150,000 target from the philanthropic sector (facilitated by fiscal sponsorship from the Documentary Australia Foundation), 35% from crowdfunding, 15% from the Screen Australia Producer Equity Program (based on total project expenditure) and the remaining 10% from domestic and international film grants. A detailed budget is available on request.