Thursday, July 18, 2024

Film makes Focus on Ability final

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Sancta Maria College student Ella Dickens, the director, producer and film editor of Girls On Fire.

A film by 17-year-old Sancta Maria College student Ella Dickens is a finalist in the NOVA Employment 2023 Focus On Ability [FOA] Short Film Awards.

The film Girls On Fire is a documentary-style short film starring Anne Dungo and Maddison Dwyer, best friends with learning difficulties [autism spectrum disorder, ADHD] overcoming their fears, supporting each other and mastering the art of fire dance. It starts with getting to know Anne and Maddy.

“We learn about their hobbies, their friendship, and their emotions prior to learning to fire dance,” Dickens says.

“We then see them practising (and struggling) without fire with a few other students. When the fire is introduced Anne and Maddy become more confident.

“Through supporting each other, they overcome their fears and successfully dance with fire.”

The Focus on Ability Short Film Awards are designed to encourage filmmakers to focus on the ability of people with disability.

Based in Australia, this year’s FOA festival has 309 finalists from 17 countries and is touted as the richest short-film festival in the world with more than A$100,000 in prizes to be shared among the winners.

Dickens is in her last year of school at Sancta Maria.

“I am passionate about filmmaking, and I plan on going to Ara Institute of Canterbury next year to study screen production at the New Zealand School of Broadcasting,” says Dickens.

“I took media studies in school last year and realised that this is my passion when, for class, I directed, filmed and edited a short horror film by myself.

“Since then, I’ve improved and expanded my learning. This year, I am in the process of making a film noir with a small group of students for media studies class.”

Her other hobbies include musical theatre, football and music (saxophone).

Dickens heard about the FOA film festival through Sancta Maria College’s head of drama Verna Oliver and the head of learning support Rachel Price.

“It was something I had never done before, and I struggled with coming up with a concept. When I heard Mrs Price had invited Te Ahi Ora to teach some students fire dancing, I knew this was the perfect opportunity,” Dickens says.

“I had talked with Maddy and Anne before and was involved in some drama classes with them too – I already knew they were perfect for the film. Maddy and Anne are always open to learning and growing regardless of disability; their support of each other is beautiful and I loved working with them.

“I wanted to showcase their friendship so that we may get a peek into their lives, maybe see that Maddy and Anne are not so different from everyone else. I wanted the audience to understand that students with disabilities can take part in new and exciting activities.”

Head of drama Oliver says Dickens, in year 13, directed, produced, filmed and edited the doco.

She says there are numerous prizes including a substantial prize for most online votes.

“We entered the ‘Focus on Ability’ competition and have made it to the finals,” says Oliver.

“We need people to vote for our documentary. Voting has opened and ends next Tuesday [August 22].”

Voters go in the running to win $50 iTunes vouchers. VOTE HERE.



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