24.9 C
Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Memories can be an elusive quarry for the filmmaker

Latest News

A treasured community asset

The Bowlo, a treasured community asset in Bangalow very popular with young families, is now destined to be part...

Other News

Top results for locals in Kingscliff Triathlon

The Byron Tri Club has achieved a string The Byron Tri Club has achieved a string of top results...

What is the value of a DCP ask Kingscliff residents

Locals 'disappointed' after Tweed Shire Councillors approve the change of use development application for eight flats at the Paradiso tourist accommodation facility in Kingscliff from ‘tourist’ to ‘residential’ accommodation. 

Cartoon of the week – 23 November 2022

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

A treasured community asset

The Bowlo, a treasured community asset in Bangalow very popular with young families, is now destined to be part...

Rally against a waste incinerator for Casino

Residents Against the Richmond Valley Incinerator (RAVI) and community members have planned a rally for tomorrow to alert the community about the issues surrounding waste incinerators and the problems they bring.

Tweed Council votes for staff recommendation for Cudgen Leagues Club

A Development Application for the Cudgen Leagues Club was an item before Tweed Council at their meeting last week where councillors looked at proposed alterations and additions the premises.

Sharon aged 11 in 1976 at the Finn Village in Upper Main Arm with her horse Gorgeous George. Photo Gavan Higginson
Sharon aged 11 in 1976 at the Finn Village in Upper Main Arm with her horse Gorgeous George. Photo Gavan Higginson

Sharon Shostak

A childhood grown in Upper Main Arm from 1973 has invariably fed my filmmaking, both with having access to archival footage as well as the natural link it makes to me telling stories from those days. So when Susan Tsicalas from the local historical society asked if I would be interested in making a feature doco about the early hippy settlement of Mullumbimby, given that these people were ageing and bowing out with the obvious threat that these stories would be lost, I embraced it as an amazing opportunity.

One of the things this project has really brought to light is the difference in attitudes people can have to their history. Ranging from the desire to leave it dead and buried, all the way through to the desire to reveal all, no holds barred, it’s been a challenge to know when to try to convince otherwise and when to leave people with their skeletons.

I do love a challenge, but those with the former attitude can be very difficult to shift. Even so, there’s been a few interesting twists that occurred during the course of making Mullumbimby’s Madness.

The very first woman I contacted about being part of the doco agreed initially, then texted me back a few days later to say thanks for the offer but that she was an extremely private person who has ‘no desire whatsoever to be on screen’. Since her son had enthused to me earlier about what a key person she would be to interview, I called back to try to coax her with the idea that I could just record her story. I offered to film her hands going through photographs, and that it was really her story I was interested in to use as a voice-over on photos. She relented and reluctantly agreed to the interview, but when I turned up at her place she had once again changed her mind – this time she decided she would be utterly open.

She hadn’t met me in the past at all but many of the people I subsequently filmed had known me as a youngster in the valley. Like another guy, who was happy enough to be filmed but then contacted me the next day to say he didn’t want me to use his interview at all. Once again I asked if I could mostly use his story as a voice-over and he was okay about that, with the proviso that he view the film before he would give his permission.

When it came time to view the edited doco, he seemed delighted with the way it was put together and even rang later to tell me about other photos in which he appeared where his name wasn’t listed.

I also contacted the police sergeant who was around in the 70s, hoping the doco would include a view in to his perspective. He declined, saying that he wanted to ‘leave sleeping dogs lie’, the past in the past. Unable to glean exactly what his issue was, and despite my very best powers of persuasion it was clear I had to let it go.

Documentary thrives on drama. And drama is made from – well, drama. The juicier, the more poignant, the more difficult to tell, the more interesting for the audience – that’s obvious. But how it affects people who were around that story – that’s another interesting question.

I interviewed 17 people for the documentary, and one of the interviewees’ adult children is quite upset that I included her father. She holds an enormous pain from her childhood, of watching him freewheel his way through sexual partners. He is quite open about it now, as he was then. I would like her to see it as his story, but she wants me to accept some sort of responsibility to her and the pain it may reignite.

I’d like to think that she can watch the film and, like the fellow mentioned earlier, be able to digest the content without disturbance because of the way I’ve presented it, and maybe even experience that transcendence which comes from objectifying your pain into a story.

My bigger hope is that she’ll then feel comfortable enough to tell her own story, warts, pain and all. Or she might read this and hate me forever!

I’m left with the edgy feeling that I have to work out if I’m preying on someone’s hardship or potentially facilitating therapeutic release. Ultimately I believe I’m availing myself as the vehicle through which these stories can enrich the world.

In any case, stay tuned for next year’s documentary project to be commissioned by Brunswick Valley’s wonderful historical society: Mullumbimby’s Madness – the Children of the Hippies. And if you are one of these progeny from that colourful time, please do get in touch.

Sharon can be contacted via www.sharonshostak.com.

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Curious statements on Assange

The couple of letters under the headline of ‘In Defence of Julian Assange’ contained some curious statements in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable.  Marc...

Emergency radio tower

An emergency radio tower is proposed for Teales Lookout, Koonyum Range. It is proposed by the telco authority via Catalyst One Pty Ltd, via Amalgamotion...

Ballina water supply

A recent Echo article regarding Rous County Council’s plans to access Alstonville ground water through bores for its Future Water Project 2060 via an...

For the record

Since early January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started, when the world population started to be informed of the new health danger facing everybody,...