On a wing and a prayer
For film producer John Cherry, the 4,000km journey across Australia - at the heart of the remarkable documentary Motorkite Dreaming - was both gruelling and rewarding. The just released film documents the journey of mates, and unlikely adventurers, Aidan Glasby and Daryl Clarke as they travel in two-second hand microlights from Adelaide to Broome.
Supported on the ground by their fiancées in 4WDs, the pair navigate dangerous flying conditions, crocodile-infested swamps and some of the country’s most stunning scenery, all while literally flying by the seat of their pants.
The documentary, which has been six years in the making, immediately appealed to John who has a reputation for producing films and documentaries of social interest. And this one certainly has it all! It’s a journey that is bold, but also very down-to-earth; a bucket of fun with some important stuff!
The epic journey was documented by a crew of six using three cameras on the ground and up to ten Go Pros mounted on both the microlights and the support vehicles. The crew, including John, director Charlie Hill-Smith, and cinematographer Angus Kemp, filmed for up to 16 hours a day. Then each evening John and Angus downloaded, digitised and backed-up the day’s footage. Before doing it all again the next day – throughout the nine week shoot!
The journey took the adventurers through 20 Aboriginal nations and explores the heart of our country, with the help of two Aboriginal guides, including rock n’ roll legend Carroll Karpany (Us Mob). The result is a remarkable documentary described as ‘extremely inspiring’ by the Sydney Morning Herald and ‘an adventure with heart’ by 3CR Radio.
Behind the scenes the dedication of a small army of people helped to bring the documentary to life and Stage and Screen is proud to have played a small supporting role. While we helped John and the team get to Adelaide for the start of the shoot, and then home again from Broome, our involvement began many years earlier. There were early reconnaissance trips to Coober Pedy and to meet the traditional owners of the lands along the route. Plus countless trips to Adelaide, travel to pitch the film, post-production in Sydney and touring with the finished film.
Motorkite Dreaming will be taken to over ten locations across Australia, for both cinema and special community screenings. The footage will also be used to produce a five part television series.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT DOCUMENTARY?
We asked producer John Cherry for his tips on successful documentary making.
- Choose a film with a universal story or theme, which will resonate with people from many walks of life. But also make the film entertaining, after all our job is to entertain.
- Have a good character-based story. The characters need to be interesting, they need to bring something to the film and the audience needs to care about them.
- Simplify the premise of your documentary. Be able to pitch the story in one, short sentence and continually hone it back to its essence. Don’t allow yourself to get side tracked.
- Be realistic about the marketability of the project, because you do need to have an audience for it. To be sustainable as a filmmaker you often need to look at marketing your documentary in a number of ways. So it might be a full-length film, but then also edited into several parts for a TV series.
- Don’t give up! If you find a film you truly want to make, be prepared to fight for it. It’s a really hard industry and you need to have a number of different projects in various stages of development, because you can’t afford to put all your eggs in one basket.