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Byron Shire
September 27, 2021

Welcome To The Machine launches Sunday

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Scenes from local film-makers Cloudcatcher Media’s latest short film project, Welcome To The Machine.

Feel like a winner?

Local film-makers Cloudcatcher Media will be launching their latest short film Welcome to the Machine on Sunday at the Byron Community Centre, as well as online.

Lofty Fulton with his book, ‘Lofty: My Life In Short’. Photo Helen Trenerry.

Made with the support of Screenworks and Create NSW as part of the Go Viral! initiative, this new short drama deals with the issue of poker machines with a science fiction twist. The logline is: ‘Clara meets a machine who makes her feel like a winner, but with this machine, winning is impossible…’

Welcome to the Machine stars local Shire Choir legend and ex-Bell Shakespeare actor Melia Naughton as Clara, and Australia’s leading voiceover artist Lofty Fulton (the voice of Masterchef, Sky TV, 2GB and many other things) as the Machine.

Both stars will be at the launch, talking about Lofty’s almost suicidal spiral into poker machine addiction some years ago, and how he escaped, as covered in Lofty’s recent memoir published by HarperCollins, Lofty: My Life in Short.

The film is produced by Eve Jeffery and David Lowe, with Louise Hodgson, Ken Crouch and Karenza Ebejer executive producers for Screenworks.

Local actor Melia Naughton will come up against the Machine in the short film. Photo supplied.

Director and co-writer David Lowe says he wanted to dramatise to the life-wrecking effects that lie beneath the raw statistics of poker machines. ‘These machines make you feel like you’re winning when you’re losing, and you don’t have to be stupid, or poor, or anything else to fall prey to that. The machines are designed to be addictive.’

The Northern Rivers has some of the worst pokie-related losses per capita in the state, but also some very positive stories, such as the wonderful transformation of the Byron Beach Hotel’s former pokie den into the Green Room, the Ballina Council’s recent moves to limit pokie damage and the successes of the Buttery’s problem gambling rehab program.

Welcome to the Machine was shot at Byron’s own Mocean Studios. Behind the lens, Cloudcatcher Media were happy to be joined on this project by the very talented Noli Ganda from Byron Film as Director of Photography, with Innes Kesteven making his screen debut with music and sound effects.

The Welcome to the Machine launch event is free, and kicks off at the Cavanbah Room upstairs at the Byron Community Centre, at 6pm on Sunday 4 August. If you can’t make it in person, you can join the Facebook launch and help the film go viral at: https://www.facebook.com/WTTM2019/ .

If you’re not on Facebook, the film will also be on Cloudcatcher Media’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.

Feel like a winner? Do you?


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  1. So looking forward to being in Byron for the launch of this. As a former pokies addict, this is a project very close to my heart

  2. I remember the general Manager of a local hinterland retreat retreat siphoning our tips to fuel his gambling addiction in Ballina.
    Addiction has far reaching consequences for all those exposed to such behavour.


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