Meet the Filmmakers
Meet the Filmmakers
JOHN SWATLAND, LIZZI SWATLAND
ROBBIE JAMES, BRIAN PROCOPIS, SIMON MONSOUR
John Swatland – Director/Producer
John is the founder and director of Being Reel Films with his wife Lizzi. Their vision is to produce real life stories of humanity to counterbalance an increasingly commercialised and impersonalised world. Having travelled extensively, John and Lizzi hope to produce high quality programs about important human and global issues. John’s previous experience had been filming, editing and producing live presentations and interview-based projects initially for special interest groups and then for his chiropractic practice and finally for professional business associates.
With more than 30 years experience in the chiropractic health sector, he believes that by collaborating with highly experienced and like-minded creative people and using film and media tools available today, then a high quality documentary is well within reach.
Lizzi Swatland – Producer
As a co-director of Being Reel Films, Lizzi Swatland feels she has found her calling in telling deeply personal stories to a wide audience to bring about social change.
Lizzi’s past experience in communicating with depth, sensitivity and compassion has resulted in her finding her niche interviewing people in a way that allows her subjects to reveal themselves both naturally and intimately.
With her partner John behind the camera, Lizzi is passionate about this story of music and people seeking asylum. Co-producing and promoting a full length feature documentary with the intention of engaging and inspiring audiences to a deeper emotional awareness of this extremely important topic has become a personal quest to help humanity live together more harmoniously.
I wanted to meet Mas and Saha and hear their stories. I have always loved listening to people’s stories; to hear about their lives, where they live, what they do, their family and friends, their loves and their losses. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to listen to people’s stories and create something that could be shared in the wider world and provide an education toward something that is so important today.
Lindi Harrison – Editor
Lindi edited Salt a documentary which has received 17 awards, including International Documentary Association, MIFF, Atlanta and AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs. Feature length documentaries include The Snowman, (Best Australian Documentary 2010 Sydney International Film Festival), award-winning 4, On Borrowed Time, Virtuosi, I Am a Girl and also The Quartet, showcasing a selection of String Quartets composed and hosted by Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE.
Programs for television broadcast include Blank Canvas, The Healing of Bali, Eyes of the Tiger, and episodes of the series On the Trail of Genghis Khan, Tribal Life for Discovery and Creative Minds.
She has also vision switched live for the Dalai Lama. Linda cut her teeth on feature films, assisting on productions The Sum of Us, which starred Russell Crowe, and The Cup, directed by the revered Bhutanese lama, Khyentse Norbu.
Rebecca Barry – Mentor Producer
Rebecca is an award winning director, writer and producer of documentary and drama films and a graduate from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
Her films have screened at Melbourne International Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, St Kilda Short Film Festival, Flickerfest, ATOM, WOW and Columbia University USA. The recipient of many awards including winning the Best Student Documentary at AIDC 2003, AFTRS Film Australia Award 2003 and was the recipient of the AFTRS Screen Critics Circle award for Best Director and Best Film.
Rebecca was a nominee for the Emerging Talent Award by the Screen Critics Circle 2003 and recently Highly Commended at the 2009 Australian Directors Guild Awards.
Her work as director or producer include: Footy Chicks (SBS), Inspiring Teachers (SBS), Home and Away (Channel 7), The Surgeon (Channel 10), You Am I – The Cream and The Crock (DVD release), Beats Across Borders (ABC), The Space In Between, The McDonagh Sisters (SBS), A Modern Marriage (SBS), Overture (ABC) (01/14).
Robbie James – Musical Producer
Robbie James is a legend in the Australian music industry having been a member of the iconic Australian bands, GANGgajang and Yothu Yindi. He is a well-respected composer, musician, arranger and song writer and a key collaborator in the Scattered People documentary.
Robbie has worked with many well-known Australian artists as varied as Wendy Matthews, writing songs for her first three albums and touring the world for five years with Yothu Yindi as well as releasing two solo albums.
Robbie joined GANGgajang as lead guitarist in 1985, completing the line-up that went on to record their self-titled debut album. Loaded with hits, including the iconic Sounds of Then (This Is Australia), it is now regarded as one of the all-time classic Australian albums. They have continued to record new material and tour Australia and Brazil. GANGgajang are still touring the country today and have just released their first single in over ten years, Circles in the Sand, which features on their 2016 album.
Since 2012 Robbie has been involved with the Scattered People project playing music with asylum seekers and kindred spirits - performing live and producing, arranging and co-writing their latest album Sugarmill Road.
We are a collective of asylum seekers refugees and local kindred spirits who write songs together with the goal of not only sharing experiences in a happy environment, but to give a voice to the voiceless. It’s wonderful to see hope and confidence growing stronger within the realm of music.
When GANGgajang musician Robbie James first mentioned that he was making an album with people seeking asylum, (now Producer/Director) John Swatland really wanted to hear the music and more about their stories.
After interviewing Robbie, Mas and Saha, John and his wife Lizzi were both deeply moved and filled with a desire to take their important stories to a wider audience. “We were overwhelmed by how open and generous they were and also shocked at the way our country was treating these talented and sensitive people. The more we learned on our journey into the issue, the more concerned and committed to change we became.”
A series of lucky events and connections with a swag of concerned high profile musicians took place in quick succession. They agreed to share not only their passion for music but also their thoughts on the threat of loss of Australia’s ethos of fairness and tolerance.
Popular musicians Missy Higgins and John Butler along with Shane Howard (Goanna) and folk hero Eric Bogle all put their hands up. Indigenous musicians Archie Roach and Dan Sultan, jazz great Vince Jones and the pure voiced Katie Noonan were all keen and even American artist Michael Franti was enthusiastic about helping us give our Australian story a global context.
On the soundtrack Robbie’s outstanding cover version of Pink Floyd’s On the Turning Away is a song that illustrates perfectly both Saha’s personal journey as well as the themes of rejection of those suffering from poverty and oppression and the ‘other’. Six original Scattered People songs are also featured in the documentary, each reflecting different aspects of the lives of those experiencing forced migration - now a global phenomenon with ramifications that are affecting us all.
Producers John and Lizzi Swatland have always had a passion for the arts, music and making a positive difference and they see this documentary as helping promote wellbeing on a wider community and national level by influencing the national conversation towards a more kind and compassionate tone. The chance to make a film that might also help reframe the asylum seeker narrative toward one of opportunity and continued nation building seemed a good place to start.
“This is our first Being Reel Films broadcast documentary film and we have found nothing but enthusiastic industry support. With a unique story, an experienced team around us and a strong passion to make a difference then these important voices can and will be heard. ”