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A selection of magical moments from 2016!
December 20, 2016

We can’t believe that 2016 is drawing to a close, it has been our biggest year EVER and there are so many highlights! To celebrate, we thought we would reflect on and share with you some of our proudest moments from the last 12 months.

We brought Jamie Brewer to town so she could work with our students while advocating for more diversity on our screens!

We were so excited to bring Jamie Brewer to Sydney in order to work with and mentor our students as well as participate in some advocacy events which we produced in order to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion in the film industry.

Jamie Brewer joined us to make Kill Off, a short film about a woman with Down Syndrome who forms an unlikely friendship with a Sudanese refugee through their mutual love of KRUMP dance!

One of our amazing student’s Joni Campbell said of the experience;

A definite highlight for me was the opportunity to meet and work with the amazing and truly inspirational woman, Jamie Brewer. She is a young, very talented actor with Down’s syndrome who stars in the TV Series American Horror Story. I was blown away at how she brought the character of “Sonja” to life and took her from a bunch of lines on paper to a real person. At one point, the character “Sonja” breaks down and cries with her sister and I looked around and noticed that the room was silent and we were all crying too. In addition to acting , Jamie has also worked tirelessly for the removal of the word “retarded” from state legislation in Texas – it has now been replaced with the term “people with disabilities”. Jamie is a reminder to us all to believe in ourselves and our dreams and having a disability should never define us.

Check out a highlights reel of “An Evening with Jamie Brewer, thoughts and reflections on diversity & inclusion in the film industry”

You can also watch the full event here, see speeches from Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson, film critic Luke Buckmaster and our ambassador, Nathan Basha;

You can also check our community event we organised with Down Syndrome NSW, where Jamie inspired the Down Syndrom NSW Up Club community to value their voice;

We welcomed some awesome ambassadors into the Bus Stop family! 

We were very excited to welcome award winning disability employment advocate (and Bus Stop Films, Film Club member) Nathan Bash and  Logie nominated ‘A Place to Call Home’ star, Abby Earl into the Bus Stop Films family as our AMBASSADORS. These guys have spent the year using their profile to not just raise awareness about Bus Stop Films, but also to raise awareness about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the film industry.

Nathan Basha and Abby Earl.

Check out some of their media highlights here!

Our Program Manager, Sarah Jane got 5 lucky students onto the set of Ridley Scott’s new film “Alien: Covenant” OMG!

We are so lucky to have the incredibly talented Sarah Jane Johnson working for our students, she is always looking for opportunities to get them on film sets and experience the film industry. This time she somehow managed to get 5 of our filmmaking students onto Ridley Scott’s set of ‘Alien: Covenant‘ which was shot at Fox Studios in Sydney earlier this year. We don’t know how she did it, but she did!

Mathew Sheather, one of our star students at Bus Stop Films wrote about what it was like to visit, the set of “Alien: Covenant”;

I was so excited to be visiting the Alien: Covenant set as a part of my Bus Stop Films class. Alien is one of my favourite movies of all time.

I saw a couple of the sets, including where the film crew were shooting, I even saw a set of the ‘alien lab’ – which was fantastic and remembered a vase on the shelf of the set which was also in the Alien franchise ‘Prometheus’.

We found out that the alien’s mucous is made of something like jelly, that was awesome.

I met Tess Haubrich, who is a lovely young Australian actress and we spoke for a while. I believe she was also in the Wolverine movie, alongside Hugh Jackman.

My favourite part is where I visited the creature design workshop where I saw how the creature’s costumes are made, the props and even the remote controlled prop which could be controlled by puppeteers.

It was such a shame I didn’t get to see Ridley Scott – he is the best director, my favourite. He is a dead set legend. But I did see his trailer – where he stays when he is on set.

It was the best time ever! Thank you so much for letting me have this experience.

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5 students got a glimpse of this amazing film set!

We showcased the work of our filmmaking students to an audience of 400 and their speeches kicked butt!

We were so excited to showcase 4 films produced through our various filmmaking programs at our annual showcase which we held on September 24th at Fox Studios, Moore Park. The Showcase was all about celebrating our supporters, volunteers, partners and most importantly the filmmaking students that we worked with throughout the year. The focus was on giving our filmmakers a voice and the opportunity to tell the world why it’s important to share stories about mental health issues and also disability.

We had four incredible speeches throughout the night given by our filmmakers, Barbara Pashut, Natalie Barnes, Joni Campbell and Nathan Basha. Each person delivered an incredibly profound account about their experiences of making films through our program and the importance of storytelling, inclusion and advocacy.

Barbara Pashut used combination of poetry and prose to advocate for mental health awareness, and the importance of storytelling in helping to connect the world to important issues facing society. Barbara was a part of our filmmaking program held at 3 Bridges Community earlier this year, through the program she made a short film called Gratus with 7 other mental health advocates.

This artistic, special experience has given me the knowledge of the film production industry and the opportunity to explore my creativity, involving both the poetic art of plot, character and voice incorporating the magnificence quality of the auditory and visual.  The medium of Film captures the essence offering the audience a glimpse insight of our authentic lived experiences illuminating the darkness. We aim to advocate and help break down the barriers and stigma of mental health issues. I believe that Film documentaries like what we have made,  are important lenses, magnifying the the importance of knowledge and education. Film connects us with the world  exposing the stories of mental health in an exploratory way.

You can watch Barbara’s full speech here;

Natalie Barnes also gave a powerful speech. Natalie was a part of the filmmaking cohort who made Gambling with Minds a moving short documentary designed to raise awareness about mental health and the mental health system. Within Natalie’s speech she shared how the group’s stories are extremely important in terms of advocating for changes within the mental health system,

Even though it can be uncomfortable, each of us involved with this project know how crucial it is to tell our story. We are speaking up not just for ourselves but for others. To have our voices heard so that the treatment of mental health patients can be improved, and mistakes not be repeated. People need to be informed of what’s happening so that there will be demand for change. Otherwise these events will simply be repeated over and over.

You can watch Natalie’s full speech here;

Joni Campbell gave a recount of her year making a short comedy-drama called Kill Off alongside her peers through our program at Syndey Community College. Joni expressed to the audience that through making the film she had become more passionate about advocating for people with a disability;

I have learnt a lot from my fellow classmates, about valuing teamwork and listening to everyone’s thoughts and suggestions. Being in an inclusive and supportive environment has helped me to gain confidence; I have learnt to have an open mind, a positive attitude and to believe in myself. I’ve discovered that just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I can’t do it and to not let that define who I am and stand in the way of my hopes and dreams.

You can watch Joni’s full speech here;

Nathan Basha, who is passionate about helping people with a disability gain meaningful employment, advocated for the need for all of us to be ambassadors for inclusion in society;

Together, we can change the lives of people with

disability and make the community that we

share more fair and just.

You can watch Nathan’s full speech here;

You can watch a highlights reel of the showcase here!

We became a partner in the Screen NSW ScreenAbility initiative & 3 Bus Stop family members received paid internships as part of ScreenAbility!

We were so excited to be able to be a part of this game changing initiative that focused on getting people with disabilities, paid internships in the film industry.

You an read more about the initiative here !

More amazingly, two of our students Joni Campbell & Audrey O’Connor as well as one of or volunteers, Ashley Meeraiya were selected!  Congrats to Joni, Audrey and Ash we’re so proud of you, go gettem!

Disability is so hard to define that being categorised as having a disability often leads to simply being categorised as having a lack. Add to that the challenge to rise above our vastly different conditions that is already going on and it’s often unseen how mentally and physically resilient people with a “disability” really are. That resilience not only makes us capable of any job but requisite for it.  I’m very excited about this opportunity because Screen NSW, AFTRS and Bus Stop Films are leading influencers in the film industry and it gives me faith to know that the goal I see so clear in my mind is also seen by these organisations enough to fight alongside me to achieve it. – Ash Meeraiya

An initiative like ScreenAbility is so important because  it makes people aware that just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to do what they want to do and that they have the right to follow their dreams just like everyone else. It also puts your name out there so people can see what amazing things we can achieve. Additionally, it  opens people’s eyes to the benefits of employing people in their work place with a disability and focuses on what can be achieved with a little thought, effort and planning. It was said at the launch that the internships are possibly a world first, so it’s exciting to be leading the way for my peers in creating an authentic and inclusive “global” film industry. – Joni Campbell

I am excited that I could learn more about film making from other people who actually work on TV and film. Also, it might get other People with a disability get interested in films and might want to get into making their own films and tell their own stories and have that opportunity. – Audrey O’Connor

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Ash and Joni at the launch of ScreenAbility at the AFTRS!

Our Film Club created some pretty awesome film reviews!

Our Film Club worked with Sarah Jane Johnson to produce some epic film reviews at the Australian Film Television and Radio School! We’ll be releasing the interviews soon, but in the meantime you can check out our highlights reel here:

We WON a Human Rights Award!!

We don’t do what we do for awards, however there is a big loving family behind Bus Stop Films, this family works hard behind the scenes to do great work with our students. And so when we won the Community Organisation Award at the Human Rights Awards, not only did it affirm our work, it affirmed our family. We are so grateful to be acknowledged and to have the opportunity to raise awareness about what we do.

You can watch our acceptance speech given by Joni Campbell at the awards here:

You can read more about the award here!

In finishing up the year, we want to leave you with a couple of quotes from our co-founder Genevieve Clay-Smith, we hope this will inspire you into the new year!

Stories and human rights are intrinsically linked, when we start changing the stories we tell, we’ll start changing the world we live in. Stories get you within the skin of another person’s perspective. You can throw data at the world about the disparity between the status quo and the marginalised, but until you engage the world’s heart, nothing will change. Stories change the heart, and that’s how we will break down the barriers and bring about inclusion and equality.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference, all you have to do is include people.

Merry Christmas everyone! See  you in 2017!

xoxox

love from the  BUS STOP FAMILY, mwah!

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