How life has changed for five female film-makers or…

‘Why is film-making harder than all other media put together?’
by Jill Morris

A scene from Leanne Farmiloe's feature film, The Clearing

A scene from Leanne Farmiloe's feature film, The Clearing

That question was partly answered by Kendall, a film graduate from QUT and sound recordist on Jess Begun’s documentary about Peter Erdmann, a man who has videoed everything that moves in Maleny over 20 years: ‘Film takes up not just your head-space but your whole space, as well as that of your family, housemates, friends, village – all at the same time.’

Film capitalises on coincidence – weather, accidents, disease, recalcitrant equipment – preventing you from capturing the very material it feeds upon. Making a film, for me, turned out to be more consuming and demanding than publishing a series of books or building a house.

For five film-makers, all women, film-making in 2008 in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland was a tango against time. The deadline: Australia Day weekend 23-24 January ‘09 in Maleny’s Community Centre, hosted by the Maleny Film Society. The perpetrator, Susanne Haydon, enticed local writers to a month-long Screenwriter-in-Residence program in January ‘08 and infected them with the desire to write, direct and produce a local historical film each for screening in January ‘09.

Leanne Farmiloe combined managing her gift shop The Bowerbird of Montville with directing her daughter Rose in a tale of a widowed pioneer and his daughter (also called Rose) from the 1890s. Leanne’s production The Clearing involved local residents, Farmiloe family friends and members of the Gubbi Gubbi group, against a backdrop of local rainforest, creeks and wildlife.

Jess Begun, for Reconstructing Peter, had to wade through Peter’s hundreds  of archival videotapes, fly to Berlin to research Peter’s family and to Bowen (like Baz Luhrman) to do some shooting; then interview locals who bobbed up  in Peter’s footage. All to explore why Peter chose to live through 20 years of social history in a small community via a lens. 

Katie Lindsay, with an idea for a full-length comedy juxtaposing legal greed with the penniless world of artists, searched out a swag of Conondale, Brisbane and Maleny locations and peopled them with imported and local actors, alongside dozens of locals who were playing themselves. Katie managed to film her original story, Godsend, despite her busy life looking after two children and with much help from her husband Dougal.

Jacqueline Megaw of Mapleton combined single motherhood with university studies, inviting her primary school-aged son Tom to star in her story It’s a Bear Thing. Jacqueline transformed a surprising snippet of history about a Maleny pioneer into a creative film about a young boy’s quest for confidence, designed for children who may be facing bullying. ‘Combining motherhood, studies, community service and filmmaking would not be possible for me without the help and support of my dear friends, family and neighbours. I love living on the Range, as everyone seems to celebrate and get behind local creative endeavours. Thanks, Mapleton!’ she said.

Meanwhile, for A Peace of Green – Cornerstone of a Community, I was drowning in misty memories, misinformation and historic myth to record the secrets of a crumbling building in Maple Street Maleny, on the cusp of sale and possible demolition. At several stages during the extended shoot, I felt the building itself was playing tricks on me – and since filming in the ceiling I definitely believe in ghosts!

The families and friends of the five film-makers will no doubt breathe a combined sigh of relief on 23/24 January when the stories hit the screen during the Maleny Film Festival, subtitled Local Film-makers Celebrating Community.

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