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Bus Stop Films wins the Community Ogranisation Award at the Human Rights Awards!

December 09, 2016

Bus Stop Films has won this years Community Organisation Award at the 30th Human Rights Awards. There were many worthy organisations in the community organisaiton category and we were humbled to be recognised among them.

Bus Stop Films has been contributing to the equal opportunity of people with an intellectual disability in the film and TV industry since 2009 when co-founders Genevieve Clay-Smith and Eleanor Winkler won Tropfest with their inclusively made film ‘Be My Brother’.

Many people don’t realise that Be My Brother was made by a film crew of people with and without disabilities. It was the catalyst that led the duo to co-founding the not-for-profit. Genevieve in particularly had observed that inclusion was everyone’s responsibility, no matter the industry, through her work producing a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW. During this experience she became aware that there were no pathways for people with a disability, particularly those with an intellectual disability to be involved.

To date Bus Stop Films has run over 240 filmmaking workshops through its accessible film studies program, and currently has a partnership with the Australian Film Television and Radio School. It’s program was incubated for five years by the Sydney Community College giving Bus Stop the opportunity and freedom to grow and develop it’s curriculum. The filmmaking program teaches film studies and includes giving students mentors from the film industry. Genevieve Clay-Smith has been at the forefront of developing the Bus Stop Films accessible film studies curriculum based on her five years of teaching film studies to people with an intellectual disability and getting incredible results.  The curriculum has been funded by the AMP Foundation, TFN and has been developed in partnership with the Australian Film Television and Radio School. It is the first of it’s kind.

“The curriculum aims to achieve specific transformational outcomes within the students and is designed to help them further develop and be educated in a topic of interest. Currently people with an intellectual disability miss out on university, they don’t get the chance to further study, this is a massive issue. These people are excluded from further developing their ideas, opinions, intellect and interest all because society has low expectations of them. We are crushing people’s potential in our society, I have seen many students flourish in our program because we give them dignity in their learning and within our teaching approach.”  Said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Bus Stop Films, Genevieve Clay-Smith.

Just recently two of Bus Stop’s students, and a Bus Stop Volunteer with a disability received a paid internship through the Screen NSW Screen Ability internships of which Bus Stop Films has been a partner.

“This award recognises the unique contribution to Human Rights that Bus Stop Films makes, we have been advocating for more diversity and inclusion in the film industry for many years as well as providing a unique education program for people who are excluded from further education.” Said Bus Stop Communications Manager Dianna La Grassa.

Bus Stop Films is currently voluntarily run and it relies on the support of generous individuals, industry partners, volunteers and a community of people who believe in the vision of the organisation. In particularly Creative Agency, Taste Creative has provided an incredible amount of support and assistance including free office space, administrative support and more.

“It’s a team effort and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of making Bus Stop Films happen. Bus Stop Films is breaking down the fixed mind sets society has about people with a disability, one stigma is that people with an intellectual disability don’t like learning and can’t learn. I say that’s bogus and Bus Stop is challenging this head on.” Said ambassador Nathan Basha, who is also the face of this year’s I Can I Am campaign for International Day of People with a Disability.

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Joni Campbell a current Bus Stop Films student gave the organisations acceptance speech, you can read it here:

“Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. My name is Joni Campbell and I am absolutely delighted, and very honored, to be standing here today on behalf of Bus Stop Films. I would like to thank the selection panel for recognising the tireless efforts of Bus Stop – it is definitely a very unique organisation that is changing the film industry and this amazing award will help shine a light on the work they do.

Bus Stop Films provides access to a groundbreaking program that gives people with an intellectual disability a holistic film studies education experience, and, 18 months ago I enrolled in this filmmaking course. Wow and what a fantastic 18 months it has been. I learnt so much about what goes into making a film through the mentoring we received from industry professionals and our workshops in professional lighting studios and sound houses. Shooting our short film “Kill Off” provided the opportunity to gain first hand experience in a variety of roles, including directing, production design, and assisting with hair, make up and costume. I also had a spot in front of the camera as a speaking extra, which was lots of fun. When shooting our film, the mentors looked beyond our disability – the patience, support and love we received made us feel valued and like we truly belonged.

Throughout the whole course I was encouraged to take on challenges and believe in myself. I have benefited greatly from the film making course and it was wonderful to also watch my peers grow and flourish. I now firmly believe and strongly advocate that having a disability should never define you and if you had a dream go for it and don’t let your disability stop you or get in the way. The Film making course has led me to believe that I can do anything if I have a positive mind and attitude.

In October I applied for a paid internship with Screen NSW and have just received the news that I’m one of the lucky 8 successful applicants. So next year I will be interning as a Production Assistant on the children’s program Playschool at the ABC. Without the experience, support and encouragement I received from Genevieve and her team at Bus Stop, I know this would never have been possible.

In the future I look forward to being part of a film industry that is authentic and inclusive. I want to see people with disability in a range of roles, including super heroes and villains, and films made by people who have a vision and a dream and a disability. It is only through being a student of Bus Stop Films that I have dared to think this is possible. Bus Stop is continuing and growing next year. They have funding to make another short film and will be running another beginners class. I encourage anyone with an interest in film to enroll and maybe like me your life will grow beyond what you could ever have imagined. So on behalf of Bus Stop Films and all the students of Bus Stop Films-thank you.”

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