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World Film Festivals - by SimonC



March 14th 2008 06:43
In Australia we’ve become accustomed to passing through small towns as they pay tribute to their local area’s main attributes by creating massive sculptures as some sort of weird and wonderful homage to their community. Coffs Harbour has ‘The Big Banana’, Nambour has ‘The Big Cow’ and almost every small city around the country has some other larger than life monument on the edge of town to attract the tourists to their little town. So it was no wonder that someone had to eventually document the newest addition to this unique club.

Camille Hardman and John Fink decided that it was time to document this ‘growing’ trend throughout Australia by traveling along the east coast of Australia. After months of travel, with stopovers along the way at Coffs Harbour, Nambour and the Sunshine Coast they were fortunate enough to arrive in the small town of Tully in North Queensland as the local community approved the construction of their contribution to all things hugely weird and wonderful.

Moviecentre caught up with Camille at the Bondi Open Air Film Festival where BIG DREAMERS played to a near capacity audience last February. A mid week screening and recent poor weather did nothing to put the public off as the audience laughed and groaned at the small town politics being played out for all on the screen. The film itself revolves around this small cane farming community unfairly affected by the Brazilian Sugar Board dumping their excess sugar stores on the global market. Everyone who has ever been on a road trip with their parents in this country has at least one picture of themselves and their family and Tully (the rainfall capital of Australia) decided that a massive gumboot would be the attraction they needed to increase tourism in the area. What evolved over the next year were many rainy days and nights as the locals wrestled with each others egos and the poor weather to bring their dream to fruition.

I decided to ask what in the world would make someone spend so much time on such unusual subject matter.

What made you decide to cover this subject?I have always had a fascination with Big Things since I was a kid. My mother’s family was from Qld. So every holiday, on our way to Brisbane we traveled past the Big Banana, and the Big Pineapple. I was always intrigued to find out who built them, and why?
One day I mentioned this to John. “I would love to do a documentary about Big Things.” He replied, “Let’s do it.” So, I rang all the Big Things owners and we went to interview them.

How long did the whole process take?John and I filmed all the Big Things along the East Coast which too approx 3 months with a couple of stop off. We stopped in Mundubbera (The Big Mandarin) to pick mandarins and replenish the production budget. We arrived in Tully in August – John stayed for 2 weeks, as he had to return to Sydney. I stayed for another 9 months living in an open shed in the cane fields donated by a Rotary Member.

What were the biggest obstacles throughout filming?There weren’t any great obstacle except the one that affects every project which is MONEY.

What was the strangest Sculpture/Monument you found during your travels?Maybe it’s my sense of humour, but I didn’t find any of them really strange Most of the Big Things have a fundamental reason why they were built. All are a signifier representing the town hero, local produce or industry in that particular town.

What was your main aim behind this documentary?Globalisation affects small towns in different ways, and many small towns are struggling to survive, but there are many people who are willing to fight to keep their existence.
Also, many of the people in the film are a dying breed. North QLD is changing at a rapid rate, and many of these old pioneers and renegades are disappearing. The majority of people in my film are over 65. Nearly, 6 people in the film have already passed away, so I consider the film as a portrait of a place in time that will not be around in the same guise in the near future.

How did you wish the subjects to be viewed by the audience? People who were proactive in doing something to save their town. Whether or not we agree with the method they chose, they were willing to put their neck and reputations on the line ‘to have a go’. Too many people in small towns and in general are apathetic. They are quick to complain about the situation around them, but don’t do anything to try and change it. I admire people who try and make a change.

Do you feel that the audience especially in the larger metropolitan areas will view this as another roasting of our slower country cousins?I have shown this film now to over 2,500 people in regional and metropolitan areas in the US, Canada and Australia, and I haven’t had one person say they thought I treated the characters with comical contempt. Most say I have achieved a funny film without making fun of the characters in the film. I remained loyal to my characters.

How do you feel country regions will react?Country people love it. They can all relate to the town bickering. Nearly every character in film is an archetype that most people in small towns relate to.

Have the locals in Tully seen the film and if so what was their reaction?The people Tully absolutely loved it. We had a big Premiere there. Nearly, 200 people turned up. I was staying at Ron Hunt’s and the next morning the phone was hot with people who didn’t see it, “we heard the film was fantastic! Why didn’t you tell us it was going to be so funny, we would have come? When is the next screening?” In Tully we have sold over 200 DVDs.

You said Wednesday night that you had to cut an extra half hour and were worried about the film not making sense. Have you considered releasing an extended documentary on DVD?We do have a Director’s Cut that we sell in Tully which is approx 72 min.

What future projects do you have planned?I am currently doing two films. One about a married Polish couple Krys & Ron Pawlowski’s, who escaped Nazi prison camps, traveled to Australia to become famous crocodile hunters in Nth Qld in the 1950s. Krys Pawlowski holds the World Record for shooting the largest croc. I have been filming them over the last 7 years, and Ron has also given me all his photographs, and film footage of the time to use in the film.

BIG DREAMERS is currently available on DVD by contacting the local council in Tully.

Yes there's a link on you tube:
Really Long Link

Hopefully the film will be picked up by a TV network in the near future because everyone should achieve their dreams no matter how small or big.
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