Accessible technology is greatly assisting the Aboriginal cultural revival across NSW.
For generations now, communities have not only mourned the loss of their Elders with each passing year but also the knowledge, wisdom and experiences that passes with them. Loss of language, bush medicines, spiritual stories of the landscape and mission life experiences can all be affected.
But the increasing availability of video recording technology on mobile phones and tablets means not just viral cat videos, but also the means by which Aboriginal people can record their oral traditions for future generations.
As part of our Travelling Places program with funding from the Vincent Fairfax Foundation, Aboriginal communities in Dubbo and Armidale have this month been learning how easy and accessible this is.
In partnership with the Australian Film, Radio & Television School (AFTRS) they have been interviewing, recording and editing their Elders stories on ipads in a two day course using the iMovie app.
... increasing availability of video recording technology on mobile phones and tablets means Aboriginal people can record their oral traditions for future generations.
The lecturer is from Broome with experience on commercial films such as The Sapphires and The Great Gatsby and a busy schedule for NITV (National Indigenous Television on SBS). He wastes no time in getting started and within minutes participants are recording each other’s stories. They then have raw footage to learn the editing process – cutting, splicing and dropping in cutaways and music.
After lunch they are ready for the big project of interviewing an Elder. In Dubbo, Auntie Doris Shillingsworth who is also doing the course, is the subject, while in Armidale Auntie Pat Cohen who has previously featured in a book of Armidale Elders, kindly offers her time to be interviewed.
Filming as one-on-ones in Dubbo and in two teams in Armidale, the participants make use of the Western Plains Cultural Centre and the Armidale Aboriginal Cultural Centre as backdrops and cutaways. There’s a friendly rivalry between the Armidale teams, one group videoing Auntie Pat walking up to the cultural centre ‘60 minutes style’ while the other scours the library to locate her book for a cutaway.
Day 2 is spent finessing the videos which Cornel intersperses with viewings of short videos he has made plus more tips and tricks and other apps that they can use, including a fun feature for movie trailer style templates in iMovie. He spends time with each individual troubleshooting and making sure they are getting it. There’s time to review everyone’s work and have another go.
There’s a friendly rivalry between the Armidale teams, one group videoing Auntie Pat walking up to the cultural centre ‘60 minutes style’ while the other scours the library to locate her book for a cutaway.
It helps greatly that all the participants have specific purposes in mind – professional guitarist Anthony Green wants to record some of his concerts (there is a custom made tripod for the ipad), Auntie Doris has thousands of photos of Dubbo gatherings she wants to overlay to music and there are many educators from primary school to university level who want to share their new found knowledge with their students. Everyone completes the course confident and excited that their new skills will be put to good use.
Because the videos are samples only, we don’t worry about copyright of images used from the internet and books. That’s for the next workshops in July with the Arts Law Centre of Australia’s Artists in the Black program.
Then in October, the final piece comes together with workshops in Mukurtu, the freeware database with customised Indigenous protocols. While there are other workshop programs that teach videoing, it is how to safely store and share culturally appropriate material in the one place that is lacking. Mukurtu is a solution for this and everyone is excitedly looking forward to these workshops.
Steve Miller, Aboriginal Programs Manager, M&G NSW.