Gloucester Advocate journalist, Anne Keen has been named a finalist in the Far South Film Festival for her short documentary film, Undermining a Community.
The documentary highlights the fragmentation of the Gloucester community caused by Gloucester Resources Limited's plans for the open cut Rocky Hill Mine.
As the local print journalist, Anne had been covering the Rocky Hill mine for around four years.
"What I noticed in that time period was there are obviously two different sides in the community - the for and the against," Anne said.
"As a journalist you write from a non-biased view. What I found was that it was really hard. My personal opinions aside, both sides were valid.
"What became clear to me is how the proposal was actually tearing the community apart because it forced people, in a lot of cases, to choose a side. It built a wedge in the community.
"I found that fascinating, that just the mere proposal of a major project like that, where you feel like you don't have a voice, can ruin a community. And the people who are making the decisions have no contact with that," she said.
Anne chose to tell the story by focusing on two people, one from a community group on each side of the debate: Groundswell Gloucester and Advance Gloucester.
"They just tell their side of the story. There is no interference at all from me," she said.
This is Anne's first foray into filmmaking, although her journalism background is in broadcast journalism.
The documentary started life as a major project for her recently completed Bachelor of Media and Communications with a major in Writing and Publishing.
Anne had submitted the documentary to half a dozen film festivals during 2019, but was rejected each time. When she heard about the Far South Film Festival through a media release, she thought, 'why not?'. She told herself it would be the last festival she would enter, and then she would let it go.
And then she received some unexpected yet very welcome news.
"When I got the congratulations email, I cried. Because I had had so much rejection, I was overwhelmed with the congratulations. I've been involved in the arts pretty much all of my life, from acting to film to writing. Most of your life is rejection. So I did not expect it," Anne said.
"And I'm honoured that they have included it, because it's not technically perfect, and I know that. For me, it's from a journalistic point of view of the story, not the film quality."
Anne shot the film completely by herself with her own DSLR camera and a zero budget. She bought a microphone and a bigger SD card to allow enough room for filming. It was a steep learning curve.
"The first interview I filmed, I had the camera on the autofocus setting, and when I filmed him it kept jumping in and out of focus, so I had a 20 minute interview and I had to redo it.
"I got an editing suite and then I had to figure out how to work it," she laughed.
"It's frustrating, not understanding enough of the technical side."
Anne would like to do at least one more documentary, but concedes she needs help doing it.
"I have to wrap my head around how to film it. I have to get someone else involved. I don't think I can do it on my own," she said.
"It's trying to find other people who want to be involved and who are willing to give their time to it.
"For me, step one is to find someone with the camera ability, the equipment, and who is willing to put the time in for free, which can be difficult in a regional area."
The Far South Film Festival is being held online, like everything else during the COVID-19 pandemic. The films from the 25 finalists are available on demand for a limited time of 24 hours from this Sunday, August 23. You can buy a ticket for a single film, a package for a number of films, or a pass for the entire collection. To buy a pass or a ticket go to farsouthfilmfestival.com/watch/.
Awards will be announced live online and the Far South Film Festival website from 7pm on Sunday August 23.