Pollywood’s rising stars


By Jenny Schon

Christie Hammond on the set of ‘Not So Great Expectations’.

Encased in a Covid-free bubble, Western Australia’s ambitious young filmmakers are leading the way as the state’s screen industry continues to thrive.

After Screen Australia’s 2015 Gender Matters and 2016 Seeing Ourselves reports found a lack of diversity in this industry, WA screen agencies started offering funding programs to close this gap.

Now, more people from diverse backgrounds – whether it be their gender, race, sexuality, or disability – are making movie magic in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

Take Frances Elliott for example: a female filmmaker who spent the past six years directing, writing, editing, and co-producing a feature documentary called ‘Girl Like You’. It explores a Perth couple’s relationship as one partner transitions gender from male to female.

“Hopefully a film like this can explain to people that a trans relationship is not that different from a cis relationship,” she says.

Elliott says the film’s themes of heartbreak, falling in love and self-sacrifice can remove the otherness of a transgender relationship in front of a global audience.

Curtin University theatre, screen and immersive media senior lecturer Kath Dooley says seeing diverse characters on screen can change viewers’ attitudes and reduce stereotypical understandings of marginalised groups.

“Audiences are able to access some form of understanding that they may not have otherwise been able to,” Dr Dooley says.

For some female directors though, it is still not picture-perfect behind the scenes. (Left to right) Christie Hammond, Manav Sehgal and Nidhi Kanwar.

Curtin University screen arts student and Not So Great Expectations director Christie Hammond says male crew members often receive the credit for her ideas on set.

I think females have to work twice as hard to get the same recognition as men.

— Christie Hammond

“You’ve just got to not let it affect you because at the end of the day, when they see you on the big screen or they pay to watch your film, then you’ll be the one laughing.”

The following video feature explores the diverse stories Hammond and three other young filmmakers are telling on the big screen, attitudes towards female key creatives, and whether WA’s slice of the action, in our own capital of ‘Pollywood’, is set to last.

Visit the links below for more information about the research mentioned in the video:

Jenny Schon is in her final year studying a Bachelor of Arts at Curtin University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in both Screen Production and Public Relations. She is currently the News Coordinator and a News Reader at RTRFM 92.1 and a reporter for POST Newspapers.