Batchelor Institute » Students have ‘write stuff’ for film
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Students have ‘write stuff’ for film


Indigenous students from around the country met at the Desert Peoples Centre (DPC) in Alice Springs last week for a workshop on Writing for Film, a unit in the Diploma in Creative Indigenous Writing offered through the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education (ACIKE). ACIKE is a joint initiative between Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education and Charles Darwin University for the delivery of higher-education courses to promote a better understanding of Indigenous knowledges in many different fields.

Dr. Kathleen Epelde, lecturer in Creative Writing at Batchelor Institute, began the workshop by introducing the students to deep story structure for film. Lectures were followed by group activities in which the creative juices flowed as students brainstormed ideas for the screenplays that each would write for a short film. Over the course of the week, through individual writing activities, they refined these ideas into a pitch, a synopsis, and a treatment of their film concepts.

All are mature-age students, who have led busy lives, working primarily in areas of service to others. By enrolling in the Diploma of Creative Indigenous Writing, they have taken a step toward realizing their own dreams of writing.

Doreen Anderson, a Wakka Wakka/Kabi Kabi woman from the Sunshine Coast, who worked in the field of Aboriginal Health for twenty years:

‘I enrolled in the Creative Writing Diploma to do something for me. I’ve always wanted to write, and studying at the Desert Peoples Centre is a great place to do it. It’s relaxing here, and the lecturer is very knowledgeable and supportive. I’ve also enjoyed meeting other Indigenous students and learning cultural knowledge from them.’

Annie Taylor, a Yanyula/Garawa woman from Borroloola, also worked as an Aboriginal Health Worker for twenty years:

‘During the whole time I was working in the Health Department, I wanted to be a writer, so I applied for this course. Being creative, meeting other students, and having a good lecturer has made this an excellent experience.’

Dorothy Ifould, a Bardi woman from the Cape Leveque region of the Dampier Peninsula, says that her interest in Creative Writing grew out of a project she began a few years ago, of writing her memoirs for her children and grandchildren. Now that she has completed it, she is trying her hand at other genres:

‘I have enjoyed this unit on Writing for Film very much. The screenplay I will write for my final assessment is a story of injustice, cruelty, and survival. It is the story of my Aboriginal grandfather who, in the early 1920s, was arrested by the police and forced to walk in chains for nine and a half kilometres to a waiting ship on the coast. There, he was chained to the mast for the long journey to Broome to face charges for a crime he didn’t commit.’

At the end of the week the students returned home, full of creative inspiration and an understanding of story structure and essential elements for writing a successful screenplay. Watch out for their names as the credits to a short film roll on a screen near you in the future!

The Institute has a free call line to assist Indigenous people to find out more about suitable programs on 1800 677 095. Send e-mail enquiries to The friendly staff at Student Support are always there to help students.