The Still Point
The story of the project
The Still Point is a documentary film about the work of prolific Australian documentary photographer and photojournalist Robert McFarlane.
McFarlane has photographed for over five decades, working independently and largely free of mainstream media or the restrictions of commercial photography.
He makes images that take his audience into cinematic and intriguing visual spaces and has photographed on the street, in the theatre, within Indigenous Australia, and in public and private spaces, amassing a body of work that is, in scope and quality, a sincere reflection of the world.
His photographs document working life and a constantly changing Australian society. They are also a record of film and theatre during its cultural rebirth in the 1970’s and 80’s in Australia, and of politics and political figures during times of upheaval.
The film will look at McFarlane’s contribution to photojournalism and documentation, and on the other hand, will examine the intimacy of his observations, photography as a way of being in life, the value of the personal and the sensitivity it takes to work in the space shared by photographer and subject.
The Still Point also asks why McFarlane’s work, and photography in general, still speaks to us.
Well-known images of prominent Australian figures including Charlie Perkins, Cate Blanchett, Bob Hawke, Geoffrey Rush, Gough Whitlam, and Aboriginal activist Burnum Burnum, as well as many unseen and personal images, provide a window into distilled moments, documented without sentiment or nostalgia, in which the real is more potent and intriguing than the fabricated moment.
Interviews with actors, directors, peers, and those close to the photographer reveal McFarlane’s ideas about photography, his approach to work, and the resulting images of a lifetime spent behind the lens.
“I THINK I’VE BEEN TAKING TWO PULSES…THE PULSE OF THE SOCIETY AROUND ME, AND MY OWN PULSE”
The Still Point is an attempt to show us what we may not have at first noticed; the beliefs of the person looking out at us, the beauty of an encounter, a changing world, the strength of an individual, what we thought the world we inhabit might be or never expected it to be.
“WHEN YOU PHOTOGRAPH PEOPLE, PUT THE EGO ASIDE AND JUST THINK WHO THE HELL IS THAT PERSON AND HOW WILL WE REMEMBER THEM? …BECAUSE YOU KNOW A SNAPSHOT OF GREATNESS IS BETTER THAN THE MOST GRAND POMPOUS PORTRAIT”
How the funds will be used
The funds raised will be used in the following ways:
PRODUCTION AND EQUIPMENT
INCL TRAVEL AND PER DIEMS $4764
CREW NOMINAL PAYMENT AND INSURANCE/SAFETY $2986
DISTRIBUTION AND FESTIVALS SUBMISSION $1150
POSTAGE AND DELIVERY – PRIZES $1100
We have filmed main interviews with Robert McFarlane with the generosity of our crew, who have continued to donate time and equipment. The next round of filming, happening now, is in South Australia and requires no travel costs. It is self-funded.
The crew will then travel to Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne for the final rounds of filming to interview McFarlane’s contemporaries, peers, curators and those he has photographed.
The budget accounts for in-kind support, wages and equipment hire that we could not do without.
We have a carefully constructed festival plan with the aim of getting the film widely seen. The funding we will hopefully gain will cover completion and screening of the film.
Some of my other work
The main challenge in making this film involves interviewing a wide range of people across Australia. Many of our interviewees reside in different cities and this is mainly because of the scope of McFarlane’s work/working life and the amount of work he has done.
Several of our interviewees are also hard to lock in, so our main job is scheduling in each city or town so that we achieve as many core interviews as possible.
One of our biggest advantages in this project is the level of support and collaboration we have from Robert. Many interviewees have agreed to be involved in the project, support it and give their time and an interview based upon their relationship to Robert and the networks he has made over time, so we are looking to gather sufficient funds to get a crew to them. If we are successful in this funding drive, we can complete filming and post production, which is the other main challenge. Post production and distribution are elements that we could not do without funding. We have a solid festival plan and budgeted accordingly so that we can get the film out to a wide audience. Public funding will in essence go toward public viewing of the film and a wider recognition of McFarlane’s photography and photojournalistic work.
“I WAS JUST DRAWN TO THE IDEA OF WITNESS”
Drive and Documentation
Robert McFarlane has been working as freelance documentary photographer for over five decades and has produced some of the most recognisable and striking images in Australian photography. It is the kind of work ethic that McFarlane adheres to that has produced an incredible amount of images and insight into the photographer and his subject matter.
The drive behind completing and screening the film is to share images by a photographer dedicated to “accurate witness” and documenting moments and events that form a visual history otherwise unseen or, if made through the filter of the mainstream, aimed at telling a very different story.