Tegan’s award-winning film on homelessness

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20 September 2016

By Tegan Joiner, Year 11, Sacré Cœur, Glen Iris

This year in Media one of our Assessment Tasks was to create a short film, focusing on the construction
of a specific representation. Our teacher came Tegan shooting her award winning filmacross a short film competition run by the Salvation Army called Hidden Others (see below), in which young filmmakers explore the issue of Youth Homelessness, and aim to break existing stereotypes about homeless youth in Australia. The competition aligned really well with Sacré Cœur’s focus goal of 2016, which is ‘social awareness that impels to action’.

During the Salvation Army workshop and city tour, which we did as part of an interdisciplinary link with our Health and Human Development class, we were informed about the true causes of youth homelessness; among them domestic violence, a lack of financial support, and the loss of family. At first I was unsure of what this meant, but after visiting the Salvation Army on a school trip I found myself developing a completely alternative understanding of the issue to what I had previously thought. I was astounded by how unaware people were to these issues, as I had been, and knew I wanted to challenge people’s derogatory views of homeless people to make them aware of the true causes and lives these people have to endure. From here my ideas rapidly developed and I found myself becoming incredibly passionate about the filmmaking process as well as my idea.

My idea was to follow the life of a girl just like many of us, and to explore the reasons why she become homeless and to represent the reality of what her life is like. I wanted to break the stereotypes associated with youth homelessness and emphasise that this could happen to anyone. The shots that suggest she is couch surfing and those that portray the lack of awareness of her friends reveal the ignorance of all of us, as the most common form of homelessness for youth is couch surfing, yet our stereotypical view of homeless people is of sleeping rough.

Throughout the production process I really enjoyed exploring different camera angles and incorporating strong contrasts in lighting. The majority of the lighting I used was natural and this was because I wanted to highlight the gritty reality of this issue. One of the most crucial elements in my film is the audio voice-over poem, which took me about a week to write, and was spoken by me whilst being accompanied by a powerful piano backing track. Originally I was going to have the actor speak the audio but decided I would do it instead. I knew that because I wrote it myself that I would be able to convey the most emotional and impactful performance. Through the poem, I aimed for people to understand that sometimes a street is safer than a home.

Overall the filming of the short film took approximately three days in total with the editing happening over the course of a couple of weeks. Once the final product was completed I entered it in the Hidden Others film competition. After a nervous wait, I was thrilled to be informed of my winning title. I am so thankful and proud of my achievement and am exited to see the opportunities that open up to me for making more films in the future. But most of all, I hope that my film has and continues to open up people’s eyes to the truth about Youth Homelessness.