Creator , Curator, Coordinator
In 2000 the Maranoa Development Association successfully applied for a grant from the Queensland Government to run a regional film festival as part of their Centenary of Federation Celebrations.
To bring the magic of cinema back to The Bush.
‘Movie Muster’ screened 35mm films in the South West Queensland towns of Roma, Injune, Wallumbilla, Mitchell, Surat and St George.
We canvassed the community and compiled a list of favourite Australian films with themes in and about The Bush. It became a program of about 12 Australian Features from the last 100 years, from Dad and Dave to The Man from Snowy River to Razorback!
The films were screened in old picture theatres and town halls and in St George down by the river in their outdoor amphitheatre. I established and coordinated a community festival committee in each town to help run the festival. They oversaw the other entertainment for the weekend, music, food and beverages, they decorated the theatres and halls and helped organise the opening night party.
Working with the owners of the old picture theatres we got their ancient projectors up and running sometimes after decades of neglect, and in the towns where the theatres were beyond repair or no longer there, we got a projectionist up from Brisbane who had a portable projector and screen.
Each town’s committee organised a gala opening, red carpet, champagne, fairy lights and everyone got dressed up. There were children and teenagers in these towns who had never been to a picture show in their life.
I managed to garner additional financial assistance – Both ‘in kind’ and through grants and cash sponsorship which enabled us to run the festival for free with a nominal fee in Wallumbilla for the historical society who were fundraising.
Because the concept of a film festival was so abstract to the people of SW Queensland and in order to involve the community, I devised and with James Marshall ran short film making workshops for adults and school children and then ran a regional short film competition. Local TAFE students edited the films and this resulted in about 25 local film entries. The short films then travelled with the feature films as part of the festival.
Short Film Competition prizes pretty much all went to the Injune School children because Injune School incorporated the film making (script writing) process into their English Curriculum for a couple of terms. As a long term benefit of this foresight, Injune School won a digital camera for best film, ‘The Heist’ and the school principal subsequently invested in a computer and editing software and the school now has long term film making capabilities. The camera is available for all the community to use to be lent by the school. A point of interest here is that it was the children who were not the best students in the three R’s that took to the camera and film making as a story telling devise with the most enthusiasm. This both surprised and delighted their teachers and parents and supports the idea of film making as a method of story telling for young people in some of these remoter parts of the country.
The festival ran over six weekends in six different towns and by all accounts was a roaring success. It took about 9 months to do and it was the most personally satisfying job I’ve ever done.