The countdown is on to the world premiere of a feature film created and produced in the Manning Valley.
A story by Graham Mansfield from Mount George, The Ghindaring follows a young boy with a vivid imagination who, undeterred by warnings, embarks on a journey in search of the legendary and mysterious yowie, and who discovers more than he bargained for.
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The idea for the movie came to Graham in the early hours one morning four years ago after a meeting at Mount George Hall.
"We're involved with the local hall in Mount George and all local halls struggle to make money so we were thinking of ways to make money."
His wife Christine suggested an annual yowie festival where everyone dressed up as a yowie (there has been reported sightings in Mount George). "I went to sleep that night and woke up at 1am and thought, what if I get the local school involved in a short movie about the yowie and write a movie script to get local kids involved and then show that at the festival? Chris woke up in the morning and said 'what have you been up to all night', and I said 'writing this movie script'."
Hamish took my (first) script and massaged it into a movie script format that was acceptable for peopleGraham Mansfield
Through his research, Graham discovered Ghindaring was the local name given to the yowie by Aboriginal people on the Mid North Coast.
His idea eventually developed into something much bigger than he originally anticipated. He "shopped around" the original storyline (he said it was "pretty rough" as he isn't a writer) to different places to see if they were interested in making the movie, receiving "quite a few knockbacks". With feedback it wasn't "fat" enough, he wrote a sequel, saying if the stories were joined together it would make a longer movie.
Fast forward a few years and Graham found out about Hamish McDonald and Scott McAdam from Manning-based Scandish Films, and sent them a draft of the movie script. They came on board as producers and directors. "Hamish took my (first) script and massaged it into a movie script format that was acceptable for people." Auditions were held at Mount George Hall and along with "a few people he knew and I knew", a cast was put together.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
Playing the central role of young Michael Hannan is James Archinal from Mount George.
In other featured roles are James Henry Morris as Aboriginal elder Old Tom Burchell, Chris Alcock as Michael's father Ben, Kath Palmer as Michael's mother, Carol Hannan, Isaac Warner as his friend Jason Kennedy, Alan Hughston as Ben's boss Bill Morgan, Aunty Mary Hooker as Nan, an Aboriginal elder, and Elizabeth Archinal as Karen Morgan.
The actors are from Wingham, Bobin, Taree, Elands and Mount George, and all volunteered their time to the film.
The cast came together for a script reading before filming started during the 2018 winter school holidays.
A self-funded film, Graham said the Mount George community were right behind the project.
It was going to be a short little movie but as it went on it got bigger and bigger. We'll run with it and see where it endsGraham Mansfield
"A lot of locals in Mount George were very supportive. People donated their homes for use as well as props, including cars that fitted in with the period of the film, which was 1998."
The main house used for the film didn't have anyone living there at the time, which meant they could set it up as needed and do morning, afternoon or night shoots and move in and out of the rooms as needed. "It made things so easy."
Once filming began, Graham said he became co-ordinator. "It was my job to source all the properties and where we were filming and organise access whenever we needed and to make sure everyone was available for filming. People work, go to school or have businesses to run."
Filming took about six months.
"We would try and film as many sequences at a location when we were there.
"They did take after take after take. Not so much on the wording, but something would happen over that sound, or someone stepped on something or a train went past. Hamish also needed it to flow.
"Then Hamish went and did all the editing of it and it's got to where we are. He's worked on it for about six months. It's taken a lot of time and a lot of work and I think they've done a really good job.
"It's been a lot of hard work and learning about the movie industry. We funded the whole thing ourselves because we wanted to keep it totally local. I'm happy with the way it's turned out.
"It was going to be a short little movie but as it went on it got bigger and bigger. We'll run with it and see where it ends."
His aim for the film is to showcase the beauty of Mount George and the Manning Valley for tourism purposes, to give the performers exposure and to create a mysterious story full of suspense and with the element of child wonder.
HEAR FROM WRITER GRAHAM MANSFIELD:
The Ghindaring runs for 80 minutes and is rated PG. The premiere will be held at the Manning Entertainment Centre at 2pm on Saturday, July 6, with all profits going to the Cancer Council.
"Everyone has been affected by cancer in their lives, either themselves or a relative. During filming, one of the actor's wives died of cancer and we made a pact that the first screenings' profits will go to cancer."
Synopsis: Set in 1998, The Ghindaring is a story about Michael, a young boy from Mount George and the legend of a mythical creature who is said to live in the region. Michael learns of the Aborigines' belief of this yowie from Old Tom, who lives in the surrounding hills. He warns they are scary creatures protecting the bush and that Michael should not mess with them. But he becomes determined to find it.
Find out more at www.ghindaring.com.au