The magic of documentary

Posted by | September 15, 2020 | Humanities | No Comments
Portrait image of Anne Keen next to a poster of her documentary 'undermining a community'

“Sometimes, there is something magical in telling stories visually.”

As a seasoned journalist, Anne Keen is used to wielding words to illuminate and inspire. But a courageous leap into filmmaking during her UNE media studies course has opened exciting new avenues to storytelling success.

While upgrading her diploma in journalism to a Bachelor of Media and Communications (Writing and Publishing), Anne decided to draw on her limited experience with broadcast formats to launch into an ambitious major project in 2018. 

“I had found that I enjoyed the storytelling that documentary work provided over the short news clips, and after college, I spent time working in television and film and learned a little bit about how the magic happens.

“When undertaking my degree at UNE, I pitched the idea of making a documentary and Lewis [Fitz-Gerald] agreed to be my supervisor.” 

Anne’s chosen topic was no less ambitious than her format.

“I wanted to tell a non-biased story of how the proposal of an open cut coal mine affects the social fabric of a community. I wanted to make the viewer decide their own opinion on the matter and not be told what to think.”

Despite taking on the entirety of the work for her project herself, and freely admitting she’s “not a professional” when it comes to camera work, her documentary, Undermining a Community was recently named a finalist in the Far South Festival, a film festival showcasing work from regional south east NSW.

“I didn’t expect to be selected for any film festivals, but I know that in order to get financial support or access to mentorships in the industry, film festivals are a pathway in,” Anne says.

“I feel very fortunate to have been named a finalist in the Far South Festival as it has reignited my desire to keep creating documentaries.”

As well as the obvious dedication required for such a complex project, Anne credits her supervisor’s guidance for enabling her to create a more refined end product.

“I was extremely lucky to able to work under the supervision of Lewis Fitz-Gerald, who has experience in Australian television and film. His guidance and support throughout the process was extraordinary and it hasn’t stopped even though I graduated in 2018. He provided valuable advice that helped me portray the story I was trying to achieve.”

Admitting it can be daunting to put your creative work into the public, Anne says she finds it helpful to remember her purpose behind the work. 

“Having been involved in the creative arts my whole life, from theatre to creative writing, I’m used to putting my creative works out there but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“I guess at the end of the day, I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. I’m not a journalist for self-acclaim, I’m a journalist because I love sharing people’s stories. And I believe that other people really enjoy hearing them. My goal is to make sure I capture the essence of the people whose stories I’m telling.”

While continuing to work with the Australian Community Media, Anne plans to further develop and share her filmmaking skills.

“I’m hoping to work with fellow passionate filmmakers to create a new documentary that will be even better this one and, with any luck, will get picked up by more film festivals.”

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