I recently went to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG) with Dawn Barrington as part of a documentary film Music from Manus - 5 days not 5 years.
Dawn is a musician who I knew through working together at Denmark Arts. Dawn had remembered that I dabbled in films and wanted me to film a new music video for her. So we had an afternoon as a trial at Dawn's house, but it seemed a little bit uninspired. So we were going to come back to it once I had found some free time and Dawn had returned from travelling over East for some gigs.
A couple of weeks later, before Dawn went away, we bumped into each other in the street and she mentioned that she was fundraising for a trip to go to Manus Island. She had just started fundraising and asked if I would go with her to film the trip. My current philosophy is to say 'yes' to opportunities/events like this without giving it too much thought, because you never know what can happen, if anything. I was not getting paid for the trip or post-production and was going to take a week off work as holiday. I did not know much about refugees or even where Manus Island was, but I said 'sure'. So off Dawn went to Melbourne, Tasmania and Sydney. Dawn said that it would probably take a while to get the money; we needed around $6,000 for the trip as PNG and flights there are expensive. Before Dawn went away I filmed her at the local Denmark Arts markets and interviewed her for the fundraising page.
But, about a week into the trip, Dawn messaged me to say that she had got the money and that we were going to Manus Island. Dawn, had managed to get most of the money from someone she had met by chance in a coffee shop!
More interviews ensued before we went away, on the journey, and then with the refugees in Port Moresby and on Manus Island. I then did a short film edit as the music video and also as a trailer for the documentary. I then spent a week on the trailer and then thought we would leave it a bit to allow time to reflect on the trip and review the hours and hours of footage. But the response was so good to the trailer and everyone was asking about when the documentary would come out, so we started looking at venues. The only appropriate space and largest venue in town was the Denmark Civic Centre. I was expecting less than 20 people, but then Dawn got onto the publicity...
We hadn't finish the edit when the newspaper came out, but knew we had to get it finished, the sound sorted as best we could, get some better speakers for the event and go for it! It was live music from Dawn, the documentary film which was now around 40 minutes long and then a question and answer session. We had a great crowd, the response and feedback has been very positive and more showings are planned around Australia and beyond.
Dawn has subsequently travelled all over Australia performing and showing the film at small venues and cinemas. The film has also been submitted to film festivals.