5 Quick Questions with Emily O'Connell

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Every feature film screening at EFFA this year is preluded by an Australian short. 

We sat down (virtually, at our computers) for five quick questions with Australian filmmaker Emily O'Connell. Emily's short film Person of the Forest will be screening alongside The Borneo Case - book now

Tell us a little bit about your short film screening at EFFA this year, and the process of making it?

Person of the Forest was a lovely collaboration between a close friend of mine, Roxy Rogan, founder of WILD Education. She does some incredible conversation educational work and asked if I would join her in Borneo earlier this year to make a film. We were on a Klotok (river boat) for most of our brief trip in Pangkalan Bun, sleeping under the stars and charging all our batteries off a generator - we were totally immersed in the culture. We wanted to encourage audiences to reassess where they place their value and recognise our homes to be more than four walls and a roof. Nature is so damn beautiful and we share it with some incredible wildlife. We wanted to share this through powerful stories and imagery that would move and empower our audiences. 

How do you know when you’ve got a good idea for a film?

When you are able to share your idea with someone in one to two sentences. 

What do you think is the power of film to change people’s minds about environmental, social or political issues?

Film has many components, it engages a lot of our senses and so quickly transports us into a world that is different to the reality we know. Suddenly we can tell stories without even using words, we can have an audience feel something through sound and visuals. If it doesn't change a persons way of life it will at the very least pose questions and shed light on an alternate perspective. 

What’s your favourite environmental film, doco or otherwise? 

I am an ocean lover and so any films that show its vastness and need to preserve it inspires me. Some recent documentaries I have seen are MOUNTAIN, which allowed the space for audiences to fall in love with the fragility and strength of our natural world. ROLLER DREAMS, another documentary about a passionate community of roller skaters on Venice Beach in the 70's; it was the honesty and shared passion that I think is what we are searching to cultivate when we make environmental films. 

In the tradition of Al Gore or Leonardo DiCaprio, what public figure would you choose to narrate a 'blockbuster' environmental documentary? 

Tough one. Morgan Freeman, if he called out to me in the middle of a busy street I am pretty sure I would recognise his calming, grounded voice. 

Thanks Emily!