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What is a gatekeeper?
Gatekeeper is a term used by many to describe someone who stands guard over assets, knowledge anything. They protect from the outside world.
Some may call this censorship while others may call it ‘Big Brother is watching’. Not sure why they don’t call it Big Sister.
When it comes to local knowledge and parochial attitudes sometimes shining a light on these long held beliefs can be an amazing disinfectant.
With regard to filming on the North Coast the gatekeepers in our region are Northern Rivers Screen Works. The documents that tell film makers what they can and can not do in their region are usually buried somewhere on a website or with the local tourism association.
Non Indigenous people who are jumping up and down about the lack of First Nation People acknowledgement in the ABC TV series #BACKROADS first need to check if their house is in order before throwing stones.
Like our Mayor did when his comments appeared in the daily Examiner this week. He said “he was deflated and disappointed by the the exclusion of our traditional owners” from the ABC TV series Back Roads is an interesting comment. Believe so many others were too including me.
Shining a torch on our own film policy we find a few glaring details are missing.
If the mayor felt deflated and disappointed by the exclusion of our traditional owners from one ABC TV program, imagine how our First Nation People must feel every other 364 days of the year when our own council exclude them from every single piece of council owned visual assets across the entire Clarence Valley.
Actually Clarence Valley Council no longer even employ any Aboriginal Liaison officer.
Moree Plains Council does a better job than us as they have an entire Aboriginal Cultural Unit attached to their council.
And there is a reason there are no First Nation faces on any CVC owned visual assets as they don’t own one single photo of an Aboriginal person in their photo or video library.
If we cast our eyes across the entire Clarence Valley’s indoor, outdoor, hard copy, digital and visual assets which involve tourism or branding you would never guess we had traditional owners or for that matter any other ethnic group living in our valley.
CVC whether they like it or not are the gatekeepers of all local knowledge on how we as a region are portrayed through film to the outside world. CVC are the trusted guardians who through their offical filming policy have already laid down the blue print for any film company who wants to do business within the Clarence Valley LGA.
Those in well paid positions who are responsible for compiling the Clarence Valley Council’s filming policy, Clarence Valley Economic Development, should at the very least follow Best Practice as they, like ABC are a government body and are obliged to do so.
Those CVC staff who take the very first phone call about filming in our region should be better trained to understand the needs of a film crew and provide a deeper understanding of how our region works and the cultural diversity that lies within it’s boundaries.
Maclean missed out because a staff member didn’t give sufficient or suitable advice to the film crew during their planning stages.
Film production companies make contact with regions during their preplanning stages and rely solely on digitised or oral information to help them in the development of their stories. If this information is not accurate or options not given at the time, it is very, very easy for film makers to move on or get it wrong.
Upon closer inspection of Clarence Valley Councils filming documents does their policy request film makers to give any ‘Acknowledgement to Country’. Nor does the policy require or have any information about local Indigenous protocols or acknowledgment of traditional owners to be given in film credits. And their are no contact details for the land councils either.
So if CVC’s official filming policy doesn’t make mention of anything Indigenous how then are film companies expected to know all this information if we don’t even have accurate informative in the filming policy?
Even the Clarence Valley Councils electronic photographic brag book, which is all about filming in our region doesn’t feature any Indigenous people or any other ethnic group. Instead they prefer to feature a deceased local rather then living ones.
I am not saying what happened with ABC TV Back Roads is Clarence Valley Council’s fault but they certainly contributed to the problem.
If CVC have a film policy at least let it be accurate and have one that reflects our community values and its people.
I would strongly suggest on the back of the great success of the screening of ‘Back Roads’ CVC review their film policy ASAP and bring it up to date sooner rather than later.
Don’t be surprised if we have a run on other film companies wanting to make films in our region.
My second last blog about the ABC TV series ‘Back Roads’ will be about reality versus myth.