Film Making Mentors: Piece 19

Mick and Me -Courtesy of Nathalie Fernbach – ABC

I couldn’t end this journey of who shaped me without special mention of Mick Bromage and Leandro Palacio who have helped shape my beginnings as a film maker.

They have taught me that you start with your imagination and a storyline.  You begin to create that storyline through images and sounds.

You match the images to the interview narratives, and cut between them and the person speaking to add interest.

You need to be alert and aware to the atmosphere of sound.

You add to that a layer of music.

Equipment wise all you need is a video camera or a smart/(video)phone or digital slr to begin.

As you develop you might start to collect your sound with a microphone or tablet.

You can map out the kind of pictures you are going to collect, and do a range of close-ups and mid shots, establishing scene shots, and conveying the story shots.

I will never forget the day Leandro taught me about exploring all the angles to find the perfect images for the Dance for Recovery video.  I raced wherever he asked me to and he gently called out instructions as to what kind of footage to attempt.

Other times I have learnt by watching.  Accompanying Mick to Murray Upper, I collected audio for a video and watched as Mick used his camera, set up lighting, and encouraged the children to relax as he took photos of their dreams.

They have never let me feel overwhelmed by editing programs and equipment but let me learn lots by myself and given me handy tips when I had a perplexed look on my face, or asked a question.

I like that they are meticulous and honest and will tell me at precisely which point the editing needs fixing and how to maybe do it.  They also give handy feedback and debriefing so I know what to do better next time.

I learn a lot by watching their films carefully, and wondering, now how did Mick do that, how did Leandro do that?

They are always very busy, as so many people and organisations want their help and they cover such large areas, but they have taught me most of myself to believe in my ability to learn, and to research how to do things not just simply rely on their help.  At some point when your being mentored you need to be confident to learn stuff yourself.

This year I had a short film shown at the Mission Beach Film Festival.  It was thanks to their mentoring and encouragement.

If you want to see it click on the link: Dance for Recovery

DSC_0794 (4)
Leandro and June – Taken with Self Timer- June Perkins

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

Swirling, Almost Something: Piece 18

Smoke Art - I
Smoke art 1 -Flickr creative commons NeilBetter


An abstract painting full of swirling almost something shapes, hangs above the stairs in the hall entrance, and grabs the attention of all visitors to Nance’s.

Visitors, especially children, are always struck by it, and stop to gaze, as Nance asks them: ’What do you think it is?’ She adds their guess to all the others from earlier visitors and shares earlier interpretations, but only after they offer their own.

Nance attends University of the Third Age and is an avid reader, who has never stopped questioning and being open to the ways of the world.  Although, nestled in her seaside home she has in some ways retreated from the world and carved out a nest of memory and solitude to which others are welcome.

‘What he says makes a lot of sense,’ she is telling the story of some guru in India who she has recently been reading, and recommends him to me.  ‘No one has sole tabs on the truth,’ she muses.

‘So many pathways lead to the same God.’

The gifts of overseas travels and teaching sabbaticals with her husband are everywhere.  He is gone, (he passed away from a heart condition) and yet near in every conversation.  But this is no home of grief, but rather one where every memory is treasured and embodied in every object and the intangible it seems.

‘Yes, that’s from when Ray and I were at…’

Nance introduces us to ‘ginger kiss’ biscuits, her favourite thing to offer visitors, along with raisin toast and a cuppa.

Now, eating ginger kisses always reminds me of Nance and brings her advice back as if on fortune cookie paper running like a reel in my head.

She offers sage advice that has kept her in good stead all her life – things like ‘never go to sleep angry with your partner.’

‘If you can afford it get a housekeeper if you are working, don’t try to do it all.’

‘Children remember the love not how good a housekeeper you are’

She looks after a shack right next to her house, which is owned by the Quakers but which she can book people into too; it provides cheap accommodation for people wanting to escape the city.  A visitor’s book within is full of comments from people who have enjoyed staying in house, free from television, and other distractions.  It has fishing rods, board games and is a short walk to the beach.

We stay there a few times, next to Nance, in our own family space, but popping over for a cuppa and a chat during our time by the sea.

Later we go and live around the corner from Nance for a whole year whilst I am writing up my PhD.

Nance is a carer to many people, driving friends with cancer to hospital, picking up people without transport to bring them to meetings, and visiting those who cannot go out easily.

Nance’s house is neat, tidy, and a row of cyclamens dress the window sill.   She can look out to the ocean from her front veranda.

Her children and grandchildren visit now and then.  Later a daughter and husband will come and live in the house downstairs.

Nance shapes how I see time, true love and memory embodied in objects, spaces and people.   Her sage advice is imprinted on me and comes back when I need it most.

For me she will forever be in the painting full of swirling almost something shapes, each object of the house, ginger kiss biscuits, and intangible questions, when she, like Ray, is travelling in another spiritual realm.

Smoke Art - II
Smoke Art 2- Flickr Creative Commons Neilbetter


Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

Skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies: Piece 17

Butterfly Kids – June Perkins

She was a funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies. She used to like to pretend she knew Joan of Arc personally. She was riding in her army. She stopped her burning at the stake.

She loved to pretend she was Heidi, and so when taking her lunch of bread rolls made by Dad to school, she wrapped them up in red checked tea towel. She imagined she was in the Swiss Alps.

She hated having her photo taken, well that is if she was being forced to look into the sun. She remembers one day having to pose on the sand with her Dad, whilst she was scowling and saying ’when will this be over Mum’ and before you know it the polaroid image was taken, and froze her forever in scowls.

She had intense feelings, that didn’t always lead her down the right path. I remember a particularly bad day when she broke a friend’s doll because he wouldn’t let her play with it, and yet everyone else had, had a turn.

What a jealous little child – to run away with the doll and lob it into a sand pit, well that’s how I remember it.  The doll wore a velvet red dress, had long golden locks and she was so beautiful you wanted to dress her up and brush her hair again and again. I always wanted to own a doll like that, to think I actually hurt her still gives me a rapid butterfly tummy moment (she was repaired and duly not bought to school again, unless shared on a roster with all the other kids.)

I remember her many sleepless nights after that, where the ghost of that damaged doll came knocking at her window and gave that funny childhood me the heeby jeeby’s. That’s childhood guilt for you. I still don’t like those glass eyed dolls much though.

That funny child makes me laugh, because she cannot see into her future – the children she will have, the life she will lead and the humour she will see in her many learning experiences.   Her children will not be hungry or want for toys and books in their childhood, but they will be tested in other ways.

I love her intensity and passion though, as she writes poems about seeds falling to plant themselves in the ground and then grow, dreams about the book written by her that friends and family will oneday borrow from the local library, and dreams of freedom from her three brothers who are driving her up the wall.  She knows what it is to do without, and the bad breath that hunger brings.

She doesn’t know her wishes will come at a cost, and that she’ll remember their happy childhood excursions with a nostalgic sadness.

Once all her brothers and she all played shops with coins made from rusted tin, cricket and climbed trees together. She was the cool tom boy big sister who saw herself as the ring leader of their games.

Along the way the second in line, her now lost brother, usurped her throne and she was banished from the cricket games for ‘being a girl.’ She turned to books and journals and struggled with being the outsider amongst her siblings. She dreamt of sisters, aunties, and formed attachments beyond family to fill the loneliness.

She grew up, to become me,  and had friends who were brothers and sisters, tried desperately to outrun the family who had partly raised her, and then one day her heart returned home and forgave them and herself.

I stand at the threshold of those memories and pat her gently on the back.

Time to remember that which hurts, that which heals and that which gives peace. Sometimes it’s good to just chuckle at the follies of our childhood and youth.

And every now and then a gleam drop of joy falls.

I hold out my hand to her and beckon her forth – funny little thing that childhood me – skin and bone, short curly hair, dreams and fancies.

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

The Farmer’s Wife: Piece 16

daily bread
‘Daily Bread’- Wolfgang Foto- Flickr Creative Commons


She teaches me how to drive a car as if I was an extra sister or a daughter, so I can be free to leave my country home.  She says St Christopher will keep me safe when travelling and on the day of my driving test.

Country places are shocking for public transport and not being able to drive is like being in your own personal prison.  Especially when the big wet and sweltering heat come, and make you fade away with each step.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She dedicates herself to family as if it’s her truest vocation and not once ever is there a sense of regret.

She’s at every recital, concert, sporting carnival, P and C event and her loyalty never wavers.  She’s selling raffle tickets in the street.  She’s organising reunions, and trips overseas.  She’s not scared of seeing more of this world.

She’s found her fulfillment in others finding their dreams, like the best coaches who pull world records from people.  Every milestone for her children is their own world record.

She appreciates good teachers, who see more than cane farms and banana picking as outcomes for rural students.

She appreciates the behind scenes people to good teachers, and takes them under her wing, so they can find their dreams – adding them to her task list.

She doesn’t expect her sons will come back and take over the family farm; they will build new lives, wherever they choose.  But she’ll take every opportunity to build family connection spaces for them all to come together in the country way.  She’ll build these wherever she has to, even if it’s away from the country.

I can never be her, but I can see all the backbone she gives her family, this community.

There are many like her, the deeper one looks beneath the surface of country towns.

Whether her spirit of service, sacrifice and love will live on in her children is something neither of us will ever really see.

She’s the soul and spirit of all that is best in small country towns.

One day she and hubby will retire from the land, and the family oasis she built will be their new home.

She’ll ease his pain as he misses his tractor and the cane burns.  Like a wife of a solider returning from war, she will see his heart break as the farm goes to someone else’s son whose dreams lie in the land.

She’ll shake the soil off his clothes one more time. Counsel and laugh for them both.

She’ll remind him their daughter might be the country doctor one day.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She’s shaped the way I see the country now.   She’s given me the strength and some extra skills to be much more independent in my life.

to cut the bread
‘To Cut the Bread’ Wolfgang Foto – Flickr Creative commons

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.

Somewhere is the Memory: Piece 15

dear diary
Dear Diary by steve loya – flickr creative commons

Somewhere is the memory of who I was – the wide-eyed child with serious looks, who was quiet many times when others spoke, yet a chatterbox with her closest friends.

Does she shape me now that curious shy girl and tell me how far I’ve truly come in the journey of my life?

She made imaginary worlds on paper, mapped their details, cultures and characters.

She listed all her pet cats, named them and drew them in various poses.

Gradually she grew into a teenager. She took to writing in multicoloured rainbow pens and decorating notebooks as if they were art.  Sometimes she wrote in purple inspired by her friend Isobel.  I think she might have wanted to be an archaeologist or a healer of some sort.

She scribbled down every crush and every detailed moment she thought the crush might be shared, followed by every detailed moment it definitely wasn’t.

She wrote journal after journal but one day she chucked them all out.

Goodbye to my teenage self she said ‘I don’t need to remember things that were sad or difficult, I want to move on.’

But within those books was the journey of her life of –  a brother in hospital, who might have never lived,  Sky lab landings, and all the times she was happy or fought with her family.  She listed books she read and food she liked to eat.  She was the historian of her own life.

Everything poured out onto paper, but then she released and detached.  She wanted to move beyond pages out into the world, because sometimes she felt trapped in her journals, like an Emily Dickinson, who couldn’t go beyond her home.

I look back at that child and teenager and know she shaped me now.  She lived, observed and wrote of all around her.  She learnt to let go of things she couldn’t change and she could look to the future.  Writing was her shaper, and she shaped her writing.

She grew up to be a mother, a wife, and blogger.

Yet, moving on, looking at the old woman I will become, I hang onto my present day notebooks, and blogs.  I photograph for memories and go back collecting my past.

I call to her that curious shy girl and say, ‘tell me a story from a journal you once wrote in.’

I call to the multi-coloured pen girl and smell the scent of her perfumed biro musings.

Past, and present me have made peace with each other.

I wonder if future me will be happy to leave her writings out in the world, I can’t know for sure as I reach her I will become present.

She is forever beyond reach.

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.