The passion and collaborative efforts by some of the movers and shakers in Dubbo's creative industries are fanning the flames of the sector's emerging influence on the City's and region's economies. The tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit of those in the industry hasn't gone unnoticed, with growing awareness of the skills and capabilities available in the region seeing many businesses taking advantage of the workforce's capabilities. The Dubbo Filmmakers is one platform showcasing such skills; many of which would previously have been outsourced by local business to metropolitan areas such as Sydney.
What does the business/organisation specialise in?
Dubbo Filmmakers formed in early 2013 as a group of amateur and professional filmmakers from the city and surrounds who were interested in supporting each other’s projects as well as finding opportunities to collaborate. The group initiated the One Eye Film Festival in association with the Western Plains Cultural Centre in 2013 to showcase the films produced by group members and to celebrate locally made content. All filmmakers in the festival must have an association or connection to Dubbo.
Who is the target market (audience)?
Principally the target market for this group are the filmmakers themselves. However, there’s strong interest in short films within the region and growing support for the work of local filmmakers. With online platforms for showcasing work, there is also the potential for a global audience for the short films produced within the region.
How does the business operate?
Dubbo Filmmakers meet monthly, however, there is frequent communication between meetings via email and a closed social media group, providing opportunities for filmmakers to share online resources about technique and equipment. With projects such as the production of the group’s first short feature film, Kandy, there are more frequent meetings as needed.
Monthly meetings this year were about showcasing short ‘challenges’ to push our skills and to test our response to concepts proposed by individual members. It was also a way of creating deadlines.
How many people does the business employ or are part of the organisation?
As a community group, the numbers fluctuate from month to month. However, for the production of Kandy, the group’s first major film project, there was a crew of 10 people covering a large number of production roles, and a small cast of four. There’s been extensive local support from sponsors as well, which has allowed the group to do more than it would have been able to otherwise. Our location, hairstyling, makeup and some props were sponsored, along with the marketing, editing and trailer production. Our cast and crew also volunteered their time on the production.
When was the business/organisation established?
How has the business/organisation evolved since it was established?
The group evolved very quickly from the start, once the decision to have a festival was initiated. It takes the commitment and level of activity required up a notch. Adding the production of a feature film to that again raises the bar in terms of the level of professionalism, commitment and expectation.
Can you describe the ‘creative landscape’ of Dubbo, for example, in terms of people and offerings?
Dubbo’s creative landscape has changed dramatically over the past two decades since I moved to the city. The establishment of the Western Plains Cultural Centre, the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre, the Fire Station Arts Centre, artist collectives, theatre groups, bands and festivals, there’s quite a lot of activity to keep creative people busy.
However, what has been lacking are creative industries that allow skilled creatives to actually earn an income from their creative output. We’ve still got a long way to go before creative industries and artists in this region are fully recognised and rewarded for their skill. We’re too often asked to do things just for the exposure.
We had a production budget of about $20,000 for the filming of Kandy. That doesn’t include post-production and marketing, or the time of the crew and cast. If we’d had to pay our cast and crew, it would have been significantly more. As skilled and capable as many in the group are, Dubbo Filmmakers is essentially a community group who come together because of a shared love of moving pictures. Some of us do make money professionally through video production, but there are very few commercial avenues for producing films like Kandy.
What does the future look like for the business/organisation?
There has been overwhelming support from the cast and crew of Kandy to do it all again. That is, we’re already talking about another short feature film project, as well as how to extend the screening opportunities for Kandy beyond Dubbo. A sense of empowerment has come from this production, as it has identified we have a core group of skilled, talented filmmakers in Dubbo who are very good at working together and respecting each other’s strengths and interests. Who knows where this might take us.
* Kandy debuts at the One Eye Film Festival held at the Western Plains Cultural Centre on November 14, along with other short films produced by local filmmakers.
**A vine video from Kandy entered in the 2014 Tropfest #tropvine competition, announced 26 September, made the top 20 shortlist.
Why do you choose to do business in Dubbo?
I came to Dubbo 22 years ago to take up a position with the new ABC Radio station. After leaving the ABC in 1996, I’m still here because it’s been so central to my reach across regional NSW. I also have very strong networks in the region, both professionally and personally. As well as running a consulting business, I’m also a creative working across interdisciplinary and digital media, and the visual arts. I’ve been very involved in a range of creative ventures through the Western Plains Cultural Centre, Orana Arts, Fresh Arts, Dubbo Filmmakers and several of my own projects.
What were some of the obstacles and highlights of establishing a business/organisation in Dubbo?
My marketing communications business was established in Dubbo 18.5 years ago, when the function of communicating was very different (think landlines, fax machines and post). There were not a lot of consultants working in this field in the region and those who were here were all very supportive. Now, the bulk of my work is in website and social media content with the media relations side of it greatly diminished. The internet has revolutionised communications, but also created its own set of challenges as well, particularly in terms of different levels of regional connectivity. There are many more people playing at being online specialists now too. My focus has always been rural and regional communications, and while those audience differences still exist, they aren’t as pronounced as they used to be. Understanding psychographics is perhaps of more importance.
In terms of being an artist in the region, I think the positives outweigh the cons. But you have to be very focussed on creating your own opportunities. I’ve always believed you create the environment you want to live in rather than moaning about what you don’t have.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt by being in business?
Stay true to yourself. Do what inspires you and makes you want to get up every morning. Not everything will work, but if you believe in something you owe it yourself to give it a go. It’s the same with creative projects – I have files full of ideas and attempts. For every 10 ideas that don’t see the light of day, one will work spectacularly and that’s what you’ll be remembered for.
What advice would you give to others thinking of establishing a business/organisation or relocating their business to Dubbo?
Do it. Dubbo has changed significantly in the 22 years I’ve been here and I feel a sense of pride in the fact I’ve played my part if making it the place I enjoy today. I’m still marvelling at the idea of being the producer of a short feature film!
What do you love most about living in Dubbo?
I can be as active and connected as I want within the city and my creative and business activities, and yet I’m still grounded by the natural environment in which I live. I get to breath fresh air every day and I wake to the birds every morning.