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VIFF ’11 Interview – “Here I Am” Director Beck Cole

"Here I Am" - At VIFF '11
by Jason Whyte

"I'm not getting my hopes up, but yeah, I'm hopeful." “Here I Am” is a story about the strength and resilience of Aboriginal women in Australia. Karen is a young woman with a dark past who, upon her release from prison, is working hard to turn her life around for the better.” Director Beck Cole on the film “Here I Am” which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?

Yes this is my first time and I will be attending the screenings.

Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I was a teenager in the 90's and lived in Central Australia. I left school early to work at the first Aboriginal television station in the country, Imparja TV. Growing up I rarely saw Aboriginal faces on screen, I was fortunate to bare witness to an emergence of black screen representation during this period of my life and it ignited a deep passion within me to make cinema from an Aboriginal perspective. I have made a number of documentaries, written for television and made two short films. "Here I Am" is my debut feature film.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …”

…rich person. That will never happen, but then again, I haven't exactly 'grown up'.

How did this project come together?

With a lot of love and good will.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?

Getting the audience to come and see it.

Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

The film is set in Port Adelaide in South Australia. The port is a beautiful part of the city but it is slowly dying, most of the shops are boarded up- rusty , old , for lease, worn out. It is also the epicentre of social services in the area. I wanted the port to become a character in the film, it was important that the story had a strong sense of place, a believable sense of place.

As most of the film is set in a Womens Shelter the film needed to look and feel like a well worn pair of boots. That was the brief I gave the cinematographer; I wanted the film to look rusty.

Talk a bit about the experiences that you have had with the film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?

”Here I Am” is a film about real women. Women I know. Women I am friends with. Women I have never seen on film before. Most of the women I have cast in the film have not acted before- therefore most of the performances are 'unschooled', Everyday on set with the actors I experienced a strong sense of connection, I felt driven by a common desire to create something fresh and meaningful. Warts and all. Some people get that, some people don't.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

Social realist films affect me the most. I am also quite a fan of thriller and suspense genre films.

If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?

Motherhood. Full time.

Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.

I'm happy where I am working with two very talented film makers including my Producer Kath Shelper and Cinematographer Warwick Thornton. However if Johnny Depp offered his services I wouldn't say no.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

Everyone wants their film to create a buzz but it can't always work out that way. In my opinion critical success is important for box office and in getting bums on cinema seats, without it, finding an audience becomes increasingly difficult. I believe a films audience will find the film, in my experience it always has regardless of how big or small that audience seems. After all, cinema is Art.

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?

"Get a story bro" has become my motto.

And finally, what is your all time favorite movie and why?

“The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick.

This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF ’11 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #viff11 is the official hashtag.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 10/11/11 19:34:12
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