What is Filmmaker Abroad?
Filmmaker Abroad offers you the opportunity to make your own documentary film with hands-on in-the-field mentorship from experienced, award-winning, filmmakers.
Our clients all share two things in common:
a passion for story telling,
and a desire to immerse themselves in exotic destinations.
These clients come, essentially, from two groups:
There are those 'clued-in' travellers and holiday makers who seek out unique 'experiential' travel experiences in exotic destinations, always with an eye to cultural and 'eco' sensitivity, who've come to understand that there is no more immersive or rewarding experience than making a short doco. They've understood that making a documentary is an experience infinitely more rewarding than merely visiting a destination.
The second group harbour a deep desire to make a documentary film of their own, and see Filmmaker Abroad as a 'pathway', because we have the experience, equipment and a list of fully-researched original stories in exotic destinations to help them make the film they need to kickstart their careers.
As a consequence there are also two price points:
Experiential travellers demand best-available accomodation with meals taken in carefully selected restaurants, even including Michelin-star establishments with celebrity chefs. To achieve the privileged access required we often pay high prices for "Access All Areas" passes etc. These trips are truly inspiring and unlike almost anything else available to travellers.
For many aspiring filmmakers these trips are too expensive, so we offer trips that are much lower in cost, but still chock full of adventure and unique experiences (fully researched stories etc). The emphasis in these trips is more on learning in a group of like minded individuals.
Who are Filmmaker Abroad?
Filmmaker Abroad was created by award winning documentary filmmaker Sean Cousins in response to being told over many years he had ‘the best job in the world’. Eventually he decided that it might be a good idea to offer others the same experience.
Sean has produced and directed high-rating and award winning films for National Geographic, BBCW, History Channel, Animal Planet, Fox 8, SBS, ABC, Network Ten, Channel 7 and many others. He has produced and/or directed films in many parts of Africa including Madagascar, as well as South America, North America including Alaska, The Middle East, The 'stan and many parts of Asia including Borneo, and South-East Asia.
"I love the role of mentor, helping others achieve their ambition really excites me. As a regular traveller I am a calm and organised group leader. My focus is on providing the best possible experience for the participants, and the only way to achieve this is to consider their individual personalities, needs and expectations. Just like documentary filmmaking itself, it’s all about listening.”
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE
Tell me, I forget.
Show me, I remember.
Involve me, I understand.
And finally, "the why?"
Our company motto is:
Through the quest for self-expression, social change.
“It’s really important to me that clients feel deeply satisfied with the travel experience and the filmmaking experience. It’s a wonderful feeling to complete a project as complex as a documentary film. It’s important that the clients leave with that profound sense of achievement, which I have enjoyed many times.
It’s my aspiration that the participants emerge with a deeper understanding of, and connection with, the people and places they visit. Documentary films have the power to transform. They do this best not through didactics, but by creating an emotional connection to their subjects – just like any other film. That’s what I’ll be encouraging participants to understand."
Filmmaker Abroad works with local charities and aide agencies on every trip. Participants will be encouraged to engage with the notion that we are taking away memories and a story, so we are obliged to leave something meaningful too, be it supplies for the local school or a new fresh water well.
A part of the fee for every trip is directed toward a local charity chosen by Filmmaker Abroad.
The moment I started making my first documentary, a film about some eccentric characters putting on an iconic Australian play in a country town (think Waiting for Guffman, but with real people) I knew I’d found my calling. Staying in a log cabin near the town, Dimboola, watching the rushes each night, with the days blending one into the next - following the story as it unfolded, adapting the narrative as it evolved - I had stumbled onto one of the purest forms of storytelling. It was seat-of-the-pants stuff - the kind of filmmaking that still excites me. My ambition for Filmmaker Abroad is to share the skills, and tricks of the trade, I’ve acquired making observational films over a 15 year period with others who have a passion for this form of storytelling – not in a classroom but in the field – in fact, in some of the world’s most exotic and challenging locations.
What I wanted when I made my first film was a mentor – a sounding board in the field – helping me interpret the rushes and define the characters. Filmmaker Abroad offers that, as well as all the logistics and infrastructure required to make a complete film. For the enthusiastic amateur, or even the recently graduated film student, it is access to these things that often stops them from getting out there and making their film. I hope Filmmaker Abroad offers them everything they need to stop dreaming and start doing.
Steve has over 25 years experience in the making and assessment of documentaries... He’s been Documentary Manager, at Film Victoria in Melbourne, for 16 years (1996-2012) - one of Australia biggest State Government screen agencies.
Steve’s brokered numerous creative and financial screen content collaborations, including national and international co-productions like Indonesia Calling, As It Happens: The Story of D.A Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus and Penguin Island. He’s also represented Film Victoria at major international markets, like Sunny Side of the Doc in France. Prior to this, Steve was Director of Production at Time Warner Interactive, in Paris, and Writer/Researcher, Producer/Director with Australia’s ABC TV 4 Corners and SBS TV’s Dateline, along with indie production companies like Don Featherstone Productions, where he won an international award for documentary writing at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Currently Steve teaches television production at universities, like Victoria University, and has been a judge at film festivals, such as the 2012 Antenna International Documentary Film Festival, Sydney and the 2011 Walkley Awards, in Brisbane. He trains new doco makers in Australia and South East Asia and is actively involved in multicultural video projects. Steve was a Mentor/Presenter at DocCampus, part of the, EU/Goethe Institute supported, 2012 ChopShots International Documentary Festival, in Jakarta; a 'CrossMedia' panelist at the 2012 DocNet South-East Asia forum in Bangkok; Director of the 'Bangladox', documentary development Lab at the 2012 Dhaka International Film Festival, in Bangladesh (supported by IDFA’s Jan Vrijman Fund); a moderator at the 2010 iteration of Asian Sunnyside of the Doc (ASD), in Hong Kong, and a member of the Australian Government supported delegation to Sichuan International Film and Television Festival, in Chengdu, China, in November 2009. Recently, Steve has been a Mentor Producer/Director, for Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV)’s, Destination Shepparton community video project (Sikh’s In Shep, documentary).
Rocco studied photography at RMIT and Film and Television at VCA specializing in Cinematography. He has been working as a photographer since 1985 and as a Director of Photography (Cinematographer) since 1991 in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe. Rocco has experience in shooting drama, documentary, music clips, commercials and corporate work on all formats, of film, video and digital. He has been doing mainly observational documentary work in the past few years as well as projects for SBS and ABC including shooting a four part documentary series “Hitmaker” for the ABC’s Reality Bites series achieving the highest ratings ever for that program and has shot for National Geographic/BBC in Australia and Africa. Rocco’s most recent project was as camera operator on a feature film in Timor Leste which starting filming in November 2011, finishing in June 2012. Rocco also works as a professional photographer and is represented by Lonely Planet Images and Getty Images. Rocco also has extensive teaching experience including Supervising Instructor in Cinematography Victorian College of the Arts Film and Television Department, 1997-1999. Guest Instructor in Cinematography and Photography, Ballarat University, 2005-2009. Cinematography Workshops in Timor Leste at Dili Film Works 2010 & 2011 and Guest Instructor in Cinematography, Film and Lighting at SAE College South Melbourne 2010 - 2012.
Mark Atkin (ASE)
Mark Atkin is one of Australia’s leading editors and filmmakers. A graduate of Swinburne Film School, for more than 25 years Mark has edited a wide range of award winning productions, including prime time television drama; Seachange, MDA, Offspring and The Slap – and high profile documentaries; Two Mums and a Dad, The Sounds of Aus, Immigration Nation and Jabbed: Love, Fear and Vaccines.
Mark lived in Kokoda, Papua New Guinea as a child. He attended the local primary school where his parents were teachers. His family returned to Australia at the end of 1969. In recent years, Mark has returned to Kokoda several times to visit friends and to assist villages involved with the Kokoda Homestay venture and other projects.