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From Perth to Pilbara: The journey of a film grad empowering Aboriginal communities

The allure of job opportunities on commercial films and big productions can be enticing for film graduates just starting out. Ben Murphy wanted a different experience from his career, so he relocated from metropolitan Perth to regional Pilbara, WA to work as a video journalist for community broadcaster, Ngaarda Media. Ben spoke to us about giving a voice to Indigenous people who are in conflict with mining companies, and his documentary on migrant women, that he produced as part of his film degree.
Film grad in the Pilbara
Making a difference

Ben explained the diverse range of people in the Pilbara and how important it is that the stories he tells at Ngaarda Media continue to be shared.

“You’ve got traditional owners that have been here for thousands of years, there’s those that have been mining more recently, and then there’s everyone in between, so there’s a diverse range of stories that you can tell here,” he said

The construction of a multi-billion-dollar urea plant in Pilbara, near traditional Indigenous rock art is one of the ongoing stories Ben is working on.

“The sorts of stories that I’m keen to share are often the conflicts between mining companies and traditional land owners,” Ben shared.

“The urea plant is a really important story for the local people, so my role is about giving traditional land owners a voice and providing them with a platform to be heard.”

Ben Murphy
Developing his skills

At the end of 2021, Ben graduated from SAE Perth with an Associate Degree in Film. The course, he said, gave him the foundations for where he is today.

“All the skills I learnt at SAE, I now use everyday. SAE has given me the confidence to engage with people on a daily basis and make them feel comfortable, so I can get the best possible story,” he said.

The Sister Project

Ben’s final project at SAE was inspired by American and British troops leaving Afghanistan, and the impact that had on women in the country.

“I couldn’t unfortunately help women in Afghanistan and I wanted to make a small difference in some way, so that’s when I explored the Sister Project, a not-for-profit social enterprise in Ellenbrook WA, and the great work they’re doing with migrant women,” he explained.

“I recorded a short documentary about how the centre was supporting women from diverse backgrounds by improving their confidence, mental and physical wellbeing, helping them learn English, and integrating them into society.”

Creating impactful content

SAE Perth Film Coordinator, Jesse Laurie explained why it’s important that students continue to make a difference through their film work.

“While it’s important for film students to discover and project their own voice within their creative work, it can be just as powerful if not more to use their craft to provide an opportunity for others,” Jesse said.

“Ben is a fantastic example of this, where his work shines a spotlight on those who stand in the shade and provides a microphone to the voices being drowned out in the crowd; making a difference throughout his community.”

Tips for young filmmakers

For those young people that want to make an impact in the film industry, Ben had some sound advice.

“I’d recommend trying to immerse yourself in the filmmaking experience as soon as you can. Just pick up a camera, talk to other people that make films, watch YouTube videos, and look at studying to build your skills. The more films you make, the better you’ll become.”

Film Students Filming Students

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