Adventures in the heart of Australia / by Glenn Dixon

Textures of the desert | Larapinta Drive, NT

Glenn Dixon

I have been in Alice Springs for the past two weeks capturing video footage at Centralian Senior Secondary College with my good friends at Education Services Australia. The work will be edited into ten short films for AITSL’s online showcase to share with educators across the nation. It’s an incredibly inspiring and creatively nourishing project for me to be involved in as we have the opportunity to engage with so many talented educators who are intrinsically passionate about the students with whom they work. I find the medium and treatment of the stories absolutely fascinating. While the films could be labelled as “corporate videos” they are actually far more documentary in nature and exist in an exciting space somewhere in between. There are no scripts, the subjects are real, the story is raw and the content is deeply moving. Building trust and relationships with the subjects is vital and I think you can see a reflection of this connection in the images. I have just begun editing back at mission control in Melbourne and I cannot wait to share the films with you.

Many of the students we filmed are Indigenous Australians from a diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds across the nation. During pre-production we knew that walking in with our gear and starting to film would make the students extremely uncomfortable. To build up familiarity and trust our film crew ran a filmmaking and photography workshop the day before shooting, allowing the students a chance to play with our gear and shoot some footage for a music video they are working on in class. This really broke the ice and helped make the barriers of unfamiliarity less pronounced. The experience for me really reinforced that for many who speak English as a second, third or fifth language (like many of these students) you simply need to stop talking and just act. Body language and non-verbal communication are crucial. For many learning and discovery comes through action, play and tangible interactions rather than words. Below are some photographs created by the students during the workshops.

There was a running joke underpinning the time we spent in the territory, “You guys are now just part of the furniture”. It seems that being part of the furniture allows you to get that one emotional step closer to people you meet along the way and in turn more receptive to the essence of the story.

Four photographs above by students from Centralian Senior Secondary College. Exploring shadows and space.

Alice Springs NT, 2012

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