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Big Stories Small Towns: Asia Pacific (Australia)

media
posted on 2017-01-16, 00:00 authored by Martin PotterMartin Potter, Anna Grieve
Big Stories Small Towns: Asia Pacific (Australia)

History

Series

Big Stories, Small Towns

Location

Cowra Arts OutWest, 2014

Start date

2015-08-03

End date

2020-08-17

Indigenous content

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologise for any distress that may occur.

Notes

Background Big Stories, Small Towns is a collaborative transmedia documentary project that generates stories with and by community members underpinned by filmmakers living in residence in the town. Each iteration of Big Stories proceeds by way of a different and specific research question within this container. For this iteration the researcher asks: As process-driven participatory media projects reach broadcast scale and quality (Potter 2017; 2019), more intimate and nuanced understandings of both co-creative processes and the values of co-creative and transmedia production are needed to call attention to the larger ordering strategies that give public memory its contours as well as offering a way to move beyond what is seen in order to consider a way of seeing or being in the world. The focus of this research was therefore to create a working model of co-creativity across mediums, underpinned by a value-based approach to the production process that would allow for regional Australian communities to address limited opportunities to participate in screen, media and digital cultures (Potter 2014: 78). Contribution The research spans two filmmaker residencies in the town of Cowra, NSW and Queenstown, Tasmania bringing the innovative co-creative model of Big Stories (replicated by ABC Open) to the 2 towns. The process of co-creation and the significant outputs of stories produced demonstrate a working model of nuanced and intimate co-creativity across a range of mediums. This co-creation foregrounds the importance of collaborative creative work based on dialogical relationships (Freire, 1970), and results in nuanced, multiple perspective on places and communities that lack screen-based representation, emphasising movements towards collaborative, open-ended knowledge. As creative director and producer, Potter's work in this project focused on defining the process and principles of production, developing and resourcing the system of production and on the impact of participation in media making and sharing on individuals, communities and societies. Resourcing the project through development of funding relationships, grant writing, training of filmmakers in residence and local content producers (Potter, 2019) was foundational to this work. Stories focussed on people who sought or had found solutions to local problems and this approach, defined as ‘positive deviance’ (Potter, 2014: 4, 58-60) was key to the approach and well received by the community. A process of local feedback defined by Potter worked through a tiered structure of community approvals, from individual participants to family or local community group to consulting groups to the wider community before broader public screenings and exhibitions beyond the town.

Research statement

Big Stories, Small Towns is a collaborative transmedia documentary project that generates stories with and by community members underpinned by filmmakers living in residence in the town. Each iteration of Big Stories proceeds by way of a different and specific research question within this container. For this iteration the researcher asks: As process-driven participatory media projects reach broadcast scale and quality (Potter 2017; 2019), more intimate and nuanced understandings of both co-creative processes and the values of co-creative and transmedia production are needed to call attention to the larger ordering strategies that give public memory its contours as well as offering a way to move beyond what is seen in order to consider a way of seeing or being in the world. The focus of this research was therefore to create a working model of co-creativity across mediums, underpinned by a value-based approach to the production process that would allow for regional Australian communities to address limited opportunities to participate in screen, media and digital cultures (Potter 2014: 78). This research spans two filmmaker residencies in the town of Cowra, NSW and Queenstown, Tasmania bringing the innovative co-creative model of Big Stories (replicated by ABC Open) to the 2 towns. With 40 documentaries produced (over 3 hours of stories), multiple local digital storytelling workshops run in community, and 2 significant websites archiving of some of the stories and images produced this was the most substantial Australian iteration of Big Stories. Competitive funding of over $150,000 was received from Screen Australia, Tasmanian Regional Arts Fund, Screen Tasmania and Cowra Council. Stories are also held at the National Film and Sound Archive and presented at national screenings and exhibitions attended by more than 10,00 people and there were over 130,000 views of the bigstories.com.au website.

Publication classification

JR1 Recorded/Rendered Creative Works – Film/Video

Scale

NTRO Minor

Extent

40 documentary films, 10 photo essays and 2 x web archives (which incorporate films, photos, text & meta-data: http://bigstories.com.au/towns/cowra; and http://bigstories.com.au/towns/queenstown-tasmania ). The 2 x web archives within the Big Stories site were viewed over 130,000 times (at October, 2021). Additional outputs include: 3 Community digital storytelling workshops (30 participants); 2 Community exhibitions (attended by over 8000 people); 3 Community screenings (attended by 2000 people) and archives of films and photos delivered to National Film and Sound Archive. Social Media & Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bigstories) reached over 10,000 people.

Editor/Contributor(s)

Steve Best, Jenny Ainge, Raef Sawford, Steve Thomas

Recognition, awards & prizes

This work was the most substantial Australian iteration of the Big Stories project in terms of people employed, budget raised, and community participants engaged. 40 documentaries were produced (over 3 hours of stories), multiple local digital storytelling workshops were run in community, and 2 significant websites offer an archive of some of the stories and images produced. Funding partners include Screen Australia, Tasmanian Regional Arts Fund, Screen Tasmania, Cowra Council and competitive grant funds of over AUD$150,000 were received for the project. Works produced are held at the National Film and Sound Archive, online at the bigstories.com.au website and made available to the public through screenings and exhibitions. More than 10,000 people attended a Big Stories event or exhibition and there were over 130,000 views of the bigstories.com.au website.

Event

Queenstown Heritage & Arts Festival 2014

Publisher

Big Stories Co.

Place of publication

Big Stories, Small Towns (http://bigstories.com.au/towns/cowra; and http://bigstories.com.au/towns/queenstown-tasmania); Queenstown Heritage & Arts Festival 2014; The Uncomfomity Arts Festival, Queenstown, 2015; Cowra Arts OutWest, 2014; Queensland Regional Arts Festival

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