Celeste Geer filming

Production

Download THEN THE WIND CHANGED Press Kit (pdf)

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

I was still gripped by post disaster shock when I started filming. Amidst total chaos the camera gave me purpose, a slight distance and a reason to really look closely for the first signs of new life.

A bushfire exposes everything. Just as the bush is robbed of its complex undergrowth, people too are left unmasked. Watching the people of Strathewen come together and try to fathom a future together continues to be a fascinating and deeply moving experience. Living in this extreme landscape and bearing witness to regeneration is a privilege. As a member of the Strathewen community and a filmmaker, I am both an observer and a participant in the difficult task of recovery. This dual role has brought with it a great sense of responsibility to tell this story in a way that will honor its complexity.

The resilience that I have seen exhibited in so many guises since the fires that has kept me grounded throughout this project. I am continually inspired by the generosity and openness of the many people who share their stories. My desire to celebrate their strength and courage has driven the film.

My aim has been to guide an audience gently, to lead them past the devastating headlines, beyond the dramatic bushfire and survival footage, into the experience of recovery. But I also want to challenge people to question our eternal struggle for control over our lives and environment. For now, more than ever, we need to be looking at the essential tasks of learning how to live in our environment while respecting the impressive force of nature.

Celeste Geer, Director


PRODUCTION STORY

Within weeks of the Black Saturday fires, director Celeste Geer picked up a camera and started shooting her immediate environment. Fellow filmmaking friends and colleagues assisted her in these early days by recording some key events, the landscape’s rapid changes and the raw emotions of neighbours and friends in the community.

Initially it was an instinctive response to try and make sense of her drastically altered reality. As time progressed, the strength of the material became apparent. It was more than just a therapeutic exercise – there was a film in the making.

Producer Jeni McMahon of Melbourne company Rebel Films came on board in September 2009 and the project was one of only four films to receive funding from Screen Australia’s Special Documentary Fund in 2009. Up to this point Celeste was financing the filming, so the Screen Australia investment allowed her to employ camera people in a more regular capacity and she conducted many interviews and filmed many community events over an 18 month period until she started to see particular themes emerge and her focus started to narrow on certain individuals / families within the community.

Shooting on P2 cards meant that Celeste was constantly importing, organizing and reviewing her material and through this process of refinement, the strongest material started to rise to the surface. Importantly Celeste spent 4 weeks with editor Tony Stevens reviewing material and working out what was missing 5 months before the major edit was scheduled to commence. In this time Tony and Celeste cut a 10- minute trailer for the film and, together with cameraman Brian McKenzie, developed a comprehensive plan for the remainder of the shoot. This trailer was instrumental in attracting the interest of the ABC, who came on board weeks before the edit was due to commence and commissioned the project as a 57 minute film for their Sunday night programme “Compass” which focuses on belief and values.

Throughout the fourteen week edit Tony and Celeste reprised their strong creative collaboration that was forged ten years ago when they worked together on Celeste’s first broadcast film, Mick’s Gift (2002). Composer Greg Walker created a number of themes for the film in early musical sketches, which Tony and Celeste worked with throughout the edit. Greg’s ability to convey a rich emotional palette with his music was instrumental in creating a subtle yet visceral soundtrack for the film.

Due to the longitudinal nature of the film, Celeste continued filming throughout the editing process to ensure certain critical events, like the completion of the building of a house, could be included in the film.


FILMMAKERS

CELESTE GEER

Director & Producer

Celeste is an independent filmmaker based in a small bush town just outside of Melbourne Australia. Throughout incarnations as a commercial lawyer, academic, gardener and mother the one constant in Celeste’s working life has been her desire to tell powerful stories. Her documentaries are intimate, character based films that explore the complexities, humor and frailties of the human condition. Recent films written and directed by Celeste include Mick’s Gift (ABC TV), which inspired the ABC series Family Foibles and Veiled Ambition (SBS TV), winner Human Rights Award at the 2006 Melbourne International Film Festival.

A graduate of the VCA, School of Film and TV (1999), Celeste has also worked at AFTRS developing curricular for the Centre for Screen Business. Then The Wind Changed (IDFA 2011) is the first documentary feature that Celeste has written, directed and co-produced.

JENI MCMAHON

Producer

Producer Jeni McMahon has established a reputation for creating a highly successful, entertaining and award winning documentaries with a uniquely Australian focus.  She has a passion for telling stories from remote indigenous Australia including the iconic and hugely popular Bush Mechanics Series and Going Bush with Olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman and AFI award winning actor Deborah Mailman.

Jeni has collaborated with some of Australia’s most experienced and well regarded documentary filmmakers as well nuturing the talents of several emerging directors. Award winning films include Veiled Ambition, Best Short film promoting Human Rights at the 2006 Melbourne International Film Festival, Marree Man , Finalist at the 2007 Mipcom Mobile and Internet TV Awards, Halal Mate, 2007 United Nations Media Peace award nomination, Desert Heart,  Love’s Harvest ADG Award 2009, and Pride of Warriors 2010 ATOM award and 2010 Human Rights Film Festival Award Australia. Along with Then the Wind Changed, Jeni’s most recent credits include executive producing On Borrowed Time, (MIFF 2011), David Bradbury’s film about the iconic Dutch- Australian filmmaker Paul Cox.

She has just finished shooting a dramatized documentary about the last massacre of indigenous people in Australia in 1928, known as the Coniston massacre.

 

TONY STEVENS

Editor

Tony is one of Australia’s most respected and experienced drama and factual editors. His credits include the documentaries Hunt Angels (AFI Winner 2006), Vietnam Nurses (AFI Nominee Best Editor), Revealing Gallipoli, Two Men and a Baby, Mao’s New Suit, Muddy Waters, Seed Hunter, Eye for Architecture (John Gollings) & Murder in the Snow. TV Dramas include My Worst Best Friends, L’il Horrors, and the feature film Road to Nhill.

GREG WALKER

Composer

Greg J.Walker is a screen composer, performer, record producer, arranger and sound engineer with many years experience in diverse musical genres. Coming from an experimental music background he has composed for many TV and Film projects and has been nominated for 2 APRA/GSMC awards in recent years. He is currently based in a studio in Victoria’s lush South Gippsland region where high-end studio equipment meets a large and eclectic instrument collection in a laid-back, creative environment in a hundred year old house surrounded by green pastures.

Greg also has extensive experience working in Australia’s most well-regarded studios including Sing Sing, Electric Avenue and Studios 301. Greg is much in demand both for screen composition and album production work – recent clients and collaborators of note include Baz Luhrman, C.W. Stoneking, Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males, Paul Clarke and Greg Appel, Clare Bowditch, Jonathan Nix, The Whitlams, Andrew Kidman, The Boat People, Norman Parkhill, Luluc, Angie Hart and Sophie Koh. Greg is also the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Machine Translations, a very successful independent band with a long list of critically acclaimed self-produced releases.

BRIAN McKENZIE

Camera

Brian McKenzie is one of Australia’s esteemed documentary filmmakers known for his pure observational style and interest in the drama of ordinary life. Since the 1970s, his work has screened in cinemas, on ABC and SBS television. His portrait of alcoholics in “I’ll be home for Christmas” (1984) has been studied in schools across Australia. “On The Waves of the Adriatic” (1991), a portrait of a gang of misfits in suburban Coburg won the grand prix at Cinema du Reel in Paris. He has written and directed feature films (drama) and worked at the ABC overseeing breakthrough programs such as The Bush Mechanics series, Wedding in Ramallah and the evening classics slot, Stranger Than Fiction.

In 2008 McKenzie won the Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Direction in Documentary for “Love’s Harvest”, a 4-part series about organic farmers that was hailed by The Age as “visceral and heartbreaking…great Australian stories”.


PRODUCTION COMPANY

REBEL FILMS

Producer Jeni McMahon and director David Batty are the creative partnership behind Rebel Films, responsible for producing some of Australia’s most iconic and memorable documentary content. The company produces fresh and energetic programs that celebrate the diversity of Australian life and the universal aspect of this experience.

With a generous dose of spirit and warm sense of humour the team brings stories and characters to the screen that surprise, inspire and continually delight. Many of their films portray life in Aboriginal Australia, demonstrating a unique access to isolated and rarefied communities. Over the years, Rebel Films has consolidated its position as an innovative, resourceful and efficient company producing high quality broadcast content.

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