I have been co-writing a series called Shallow Water for a little over a year. Just when the world took note of Covid-19, the spark of creativity came in full force.
Since I was nine years old, I have been following my dream of becoming a filmmaker. I look back on the year and its impact on indigenous and non-indigenous creative people with minimal indigenous film funding and a global film freeze: we had to adapt to a new way of life. In terms of health, safety, mental health, politics, and many other factors, there are so many difficulties that people have faced in the past year.
The influence Covid would have on the artistic community was something that didn’t occur to me until I was faced with it. When it comes to dealing with their own mental wellbeing, finding a creative outlet is a coping tool for many.
I have been disappearing from the internet for the first few months, trying to numb the sense of silence and ignore the reality of how much our world has changed.
I found myself falling back into an unhealthy mentality and unmotivated, uncreative state with every groundhog day that came and went. Covid rescued societies from an Aboriginal-led approach. Now is the time to discuss mental health | Caroline Kell for IndigenousXRead more My personal experience during the pandemic with depression and anxiety was complicated, I’m sure, just as it was for many others.
It was the longest time I had not come home to live in Melbourne while my entire family lived in the Northern Territory. Returning home is an important part of self-centering and grounding for many indigenous peoples. I could see many other indigenous creatives from afar trying to solve their own challenges, whether they be mental health problems or those that impact the whole society.
Faced with quarantine, art and advocacy did not stop. I was motivated to do the same by their drive and ability to keep fighting and making. Or to get up and do something about the almost infinite free time I had, at least. I used my imagination as an outlet for my wandering mind to combat the sense of depression and stagnation.
Every day, I decided to wake up and take at least one important step towards realizing my dreams.
It wasn’t long before the script was finished for the first episode.
As if I had sewn gold out of the hay, I felt victorious.
It wasn’t long before a group of friends of my filmmakers decided to help me bring this vision to life, and that year’s possibility of a silver lining became possible. I channeled all my emotions into an indigenous heroine who had to fight something greater than herself.
Everything that is beyond of her power.
While in the novel, our protagonist Jackie fights literal monsters, I was able to integrate into her character my personal experiences battling inner monsters.
Without making her come off as emotionless, my co-writer and I decided to make her a heroine in her own right. Our tale discusses her sense of self, her relationship to society and her environment. Trauma can be converted into spiritual beauty through our stories | John Harvey for IndigenousXread moreDespite the fact that Shallow Water’s tale is told in several scripts, my co-writer and I decided to create the first one as a short film. The story starts with Jackie and Ted, two friends (and part-time couriers) who are charged with carrying from Melbourne to Adelaide a truckload of mysterious freight. Together, they explore what the cargo might be and if the job is really worth taking. They decide to take the gamble and plunge deeper into the night as the weather worsens. The story mixes genres, focusing more on fact and taking a difficult turn on abstract, science fiction, cosmic horror. There is no real way to sum up the past year. It is difficult to sum up in one tidy sentence because of the infinite number of various experiences. Nevertheless, we all work hard together to get our old lives back.
And hopefully, like me, you’ve found the silver lining of the Covid-19 gray cloud. We hope to create some beautiful works of art, motivated by the hard look within that we all had to do. K’Tahni Pridham is 23 years old.