I sat across a desk from the head of the South Australian Film Corporation, discussing a script which was okay. It had it's flaws. But it was a reasonable third draft. A story about a burnt out female musician.
During the discussion, the subject moved to the cultural aspect of the project and if it was an Indigenous story with Aboriginal characters. I asked why that mattered.
The reply was, and I quote "Your Aboriginality is the best thing you have got going for you. You should use it."
This - from the now outgoing head of the SAFC.
I had pitched the same idea to Tryptych films, based in SA. I even brought my guitar along, played them a couple of tunes and then presented the story. The lead character was female.
The first question asked by the head of Triptych films " Is she Aboriginal?".
"She doesn't have to be. I guess she could be" I replied.
"Ooooh. Maybe we could get Jessica Mauboy!"
Would this have been asked of any other writer?
It was satisfying to say no to the SAFC.
I'm sure that making a project distinctly Aboriginal will attract funding, cache or add cultural capital to a project.
But it shouldn't be the first port of call for me as a writer.
It would be fabulous to be able to write freely, with no concern that any producer, director, actor, designer, film or theatre company had their own agenda. But they all do.
In their effort to be 'collaborative' and work on my script, my characters or my project what inevitably ends up happening is a lot of second guessing by these people about what I wrote. Then, sadly, I end up second guessing myself.
Because of someone else's AGENDA I lose AGENCY.
It's difficult to fight, because agendas don't show up right away. They usually don't appear when you're in the room pitching a project. Which was unusual when it happened at SAFC and Triptych. It usually happens when you're bumping in, talking to actors or meeting the director or in other places where it is difficult to extricate oneself.
If the answer is going to be no, make sure it comes from your mouth and not theirs.
The only sure answer to AGENDA is to be sure of your own AGENCY and your own VOICE.
PEACE, and have a great Christmas.