• Bec Allen

Updated: Jun 2

 

Is it my turn to drive already? I am in a sweaty back-seat haze and I have drooled on my pillow.  I hardly know my colleagues in the front seat and drooling by day two is not a good look.  We unfold the map on the boiling bonnet to see we have driven 1,186 kms and have 370 kms to go. Easy. Feels like a really long way to travel to teach kids how to make films.

 

 

It is getting late and thankfully I will not be driving into the setting sun.  We have contacted the police back in Newman as well as the community at track’s end.  I should feel some comfort in that, but upon hearing that three guys rolled their vehicle the week before and subsequently perished does nothing for my sanity.  Neither does the fact that I can’t even pronounce ‘Parnngurr’, our destination.  Martu land.

 

I am driving into the Little Sandy Desert.  The desert. Appearing in control and enthusiastic, as a Tour Manager should, I flop out of the back seat, attempt to de-crease my face and bound into the front beside one of my crew.  He smiles at me and I wonder if it because he is not driving this top heaving 4x4 full of filmmaking gear, or if he is hoping like hell I don’t roll this thing.    It’s 46 degrees and the red dirt and spinifex warn me that I am now officially outside of my comfort zone.  Helloooo Talawana Track.  Please be kind to me.

 

Right.  Into four wheel drive. Trying to remember all of my training without appearing like a novice.  Steady as she goes.  God, can they see I am white-knuckling this steering wheel? 

 

Turn up the air-con!

 

The notorious Talawana Track ~ Image by Paolo Alberton

It becomes clear pretty quickly that the roughly calculated travel time of five hours looks more like eight.  I have a dilemma.  Should I pick up the speed to save us time?  Is that what these blokes would do?  The sun is setting and the roos are out.  God help me if we get confronted by an angry camel.

 

I speed up and shift the gear to fourth, then fifth.  Cruising!  I think I get the hang of this.  I wind the window down and point my elbow towards the red termite mounds and full moon hanging low in the purple and orange sky.  It mesmerizes me and I feel at ease.  The Cruel Sea is blasting from the stereo.  This landscape is in me.  I think I actually understand this place.

 

My glimpse is brief.  The road is becoming rough and winding.  My elbow bolts from the landscape and back into the awful possibility of rolling.  I don’t want to perish under a Toyota!  I am going too fast.  Pot holes hidden under bull dust.   Camels!  Kangaroos! 

 

Break! 

 

My crew says nothing.  Just grin.  Are they grinning because they are relieved to be alive or because they don’t want to say what they are really thinking?  ‘The Honeymoon is Over’ rings out from the stereo and across this peaceful Martu land.  As I slowly start up the Toyota, I rest my elbow on the open window and move on.  The moon and the desert are laughing at this white fella.  No more white knuckles. It’s just too hot.  Now try to ease back into that place.  That place I will always carry with me.

  • Bec Allen

Updated: Jun 7

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following stories may contain images and references to people who have died.

 

Media is the most exciting subject to teach young people. Why? Because you get to break all the rules. There is nothing better than teaching young crew the conventions of media forms and then watching them completely bust out! 

 

We are, after all, living in the information age and as consumers of media we innately know how to scan, digest, share and delete work in an instant. Whether it is animation, photography, music video, short film or documentary, it must have impact. And young people understand this very well.

 

Photography is very popular amongst the young people of the Kimberley ~ Image by Bec Allen

 

I started teaching media in 2002 after working in an exciting mix of jobs in the industry, from a cinema projectionist to a filmmaker in remote Aboriginal communities. Now as a teacher at Kununurra District High School, I get to help young people explore their creative potential every day and there is something so fresh and exciting about the creative minds of Kimberley kids.

 

Creating media productions definitely helps prepare young people for the workplace. Patience is tested, technology is frustrating and sometimes teams just can’t agree on the best way forward. When the power goes out (as it often does in the Kimberley), the footage has no sound or the protagonist shaved their head, the students must problem solve and keep their cool. 

 

 

Some useful tips for teaching media:

1. Never start production without a plan. This will avoid conflict later. 

2. Help your students/younger participants to think about their audience at all stages of the production.

3. Involve the local community as much as you can.

4. Make sure you are not filming/taking photos on country that is ‘off limits'.

5. Reinforce the need for everyone to be respectful when sharing ideas.

6. Don’t be afraid to divert from the plan. Sometimes the best ideas are unscripted.

7. Break the rules but only when you have learnt the rules.

8. If you find it boring then so will your audience. 

9. Your audience will forgive you for dodgy images but not dodgy sound

10. Let young people get their hands on the equipment. They probably know how to operate it better than you!

 

Working with young people in media, to me, is the best way to build confidence and to give them a voice. It is exciting, fast, and accessible and the possibilities are endless.

  • Bec Allen

Updated: Jun 7

When curiosity gets the better of you.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following stories may contain images and references to people who have died.

 

The fire on Yiyili Hill ~ Image by Bec Allen

 

 

It’s 2005. I am in a small Aboriginal community called Yiyili in the West Kimberley on a job for the Film and Television Institute. I am relatively naïve , having only visited and worked in a handful of remote communities. My job over the next five days is to manage the production of three short films in consultation with the community. I’ve met with the Elders and mapped the resources on offer. Now it is dusk and perfect to experience a Kimberley sunset after a lengthy drive with my crew from Broome.

 

So, here I am. Sinking in to Kimberley time. But now the hill is on fire. I’m sliding down a rocky, red, spinifex mountain of gravel on my bum and desperately trying to keep my composure. I manage to slide a tripod under me but my thongs are seriously unplugged and the kids are laughing hysterically at this kartiya. To make matters worse the fire has jumped across the ridge.

“Do we need to call someone to put this out?” Everyone laughs at me.
Jessica and Jarrod on Yiyili Hill ~ Image by Bec Allen

 

While I am in awe of the freedom afforded to the Gooniyandi kids of Yiyili Community, this whole scenario forces me to leave my comfort zone at the top of Yiyili Hill. The little pyromaniacs win my heart.

 

Since that moment I have never forgotten how important it is for me to go with the flow. It allowed me to feel that country (gravel burn hurts a lot) and to appreciate something bigger than professionalism or impressing a boss. 14 years on I’m still here but further down the road at a place called Kununurra and still carry my Yiyili experiences with me.

 

Those challenging and illuminating days have informed the ways I approach my curiosities around technology, media and culture. How do they support bush communities? I believe that these entities can give much needed voice to our young people and to young women in particular.