• Kirstie Davison

MaRiKi Media heads to WA for a Raindance experience

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

For people living on the eastern side of Australia, Western Australia is an enigma. It is quicker to fly to New Zealand than it is to venture to the other side of our own country. Like a far off place in a fairy tale, it was rumoured to be very beautiful, with spectacular scenery, white beaches and warm friendly people, but the people I knew who’d actually been over there I could count on one hand. Were the stories even true? So when I was invited to travel to the western side of our great country, I jumped at the chance!

My name is Kirstie Davison and I live in Blackall – a small town in outback Queensland, 1100km north west of Brisbane. I am a self taught videographer, and I’ve been learning and creating for at least 4 years. I became involved with the Rural Room media stringers in November 2017 and loved the connection I felt with Bec Bignell, founder of this wonderful group of creative people, scattered across rural and regional Australia.

During 2019, Bec contacted me and invited me to travel to Kojonup in WA, the rural community where she grew up, where she would be working with a team of talented people to film the web-series Raindance.

Wow! What an opportunity. As it was during the Christmas school holidays and I have a young family, I was unable to spend the entire two and half weeks immersed in the experience, but knew any time I was able to spend on-set would be an extremely valuable learning opportunity – one not to be missed.

Connellan Airways Trust came on board, and paid for my flights and accommodation. Living in such a remote location, the cost of travel is often prohibitive, and this assistance was invaluable. Love your work, Connellan!

My journey began in Blackall, catching the Qantaslink Dash-8 and taking a selfie with the plane, as I knew I’d have to create a story reporting on my experience once I got back. I was promptly chastised by airport staff, and it was explained to me that if I was at any other airport I’d be in trouble for compromising airport security. Oooops.

From Blackall I travelled to Brisbane, where I caught my connecting flight to Perth. As I was putting my water bottle and book in the seat pocket, I noticed an iPad. I gasped audibly and said to the guy sitting next to me “Oh my goodness. Someone has left their iPad on the plane.”

He smiled and patiently explained that we all had one. They were left in the back of the seat pocket until after take-off, where they were plugged in and used for the inflight entertainment. Sheepishly I grinned back and explained that I hadn’t been on anything except a Dash-8 (which I’m pretty sure they manufactured somewhere around the time of the second world war), since I travelled to England in 2013. Boy, did I feel like a hillbilly.

I overnighted in Perth and got up bright and early Thursday morning. Me and my hire car, with a little bit of help from my phone and Google maps, navigated our way to Kojonup.

I was warmly welcomed by Bec (who I’d never met in person before) and the crew. They were filming in the shearing shed on Bec’s family sheep property and would be on farm and around the town for the four days I was there. This was my opportunity to observe, ask questions and help where I could. I felt so far out of my depth and had much to learn.

As I create small scale films and videos on my own, it was interesting to see the different roles played by a variety of talented people with differing specialties - the director, the filming team, sound team, art department, and how very important each role is to the overall team. It was also very interesting to see what equipment, tools and gear they used, to create a high-end, professional result. They worked long hours in many and varied locations, and all the locations brought its own set of challenges for the team to work with. As well as professional actors, the Raindance creator Bec Bignell, harnessed the talents of the local community. Locals were part of the acting team. The chemistry between characters was magical and it will bring a whole new level of authenticity to the end product.

Seeing this in action, helped me to further understand that we have a great deal of latent talent outside of our metropolitan areas. The people often just need to be given permission and encouragement to put themselves out there. People in the bush are often reluctant to put themselves forward. Bec’s Raindance production gave the locals an opportunity to shine, by being part of something bigger.

On Saturday morning, the crew had the morning off, due to the fact that they’d be working late into the night at the local IGA, waiting until the store closed to use it as a set. Not wanting to waste the valuable time off, Google maps and I headed to Albany, 150km south of Kojonup, as I was determined to see the gorgeous western Australian coast- line. It certainly did not disappoint.

Later that evening back in Kojonup, while working on set at IGA, the director Socratis Otto decided I should be part of the production and say a line. I had no time to prepare or worry about how I looked, but as they say "when in Rome…” I am pleased to tell you that I was wearing my Better in Blackall festival cap – so there will be a small plug for Blackall. It’s all about the product placement!

So – what did I learn?

I learned that I still have sooooo much to learn. As I haven’t attended formal training my knowledge base was very different to those I worked with. I have not had exposure to a lot of the equipment and gear they used and I certainly would like the opportunity to work with some of their equipment. Yes – I had a bad case of camera envy!

Although it might be stating the obvious, working in a team is very different to working alone and the importance of how well that team gets along cannot be overstated.

I learned that creating a production like Raindance – even though it was relatively small, as far as such things go – takes a mountain of effort. From its inception to the final product, requires drive, vision, persistence, a team of people who believe in you and funding (and the over-abundance of paperwork that entails).

Raindance was a labour of love for Bec Bignell, and demonstrates the capacity building one person can achieve. Her belief in others enabled all of the people involved from me - the ring-in from Blackall, to her local community, as well as the paid production crew, to learn, grow, step up to opportunities and try something that they perhaps may otherwise not have had the chance to do.

Bec’s formula of vision, talent, belief, encouragement and a little bit of love demonstrates that our small communities can achieve incredible things. We just need to encourage and support each other and do it together ... because that is where the magic happens.

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