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NAIDOC Week Spotlight: Tammy Coleman-Zweck

05 July 2023
Tammy Coleman-Zweck, NAIDOC Week 2023

Every year the South Australian Film Corporation celebrates NAIDOC Week by highlighting the work of First Nations screen creatives living and working in South Australia.

This year we are throwing the spotlight on the three First Nations South Australian filmmakers currently creating new and original short film projects as part of the SAFC’s First Nations Short Film Initiative. In today’s article we meet emerging Kokatha/Greek screen writer, producer and director Tammy Coleman-Zweck, from South Australia’s West Coast.

Tammy was a 2021 Mercury CX Springboard Program scholarship recipient, and was selected for the prestigious 2022 AFTRS Talent Camp, and has recently established her own film company, Pink Pearl Productions. Her recent short film collaboration with Adam Jenkins, Wild at Heart, was selected for the Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air First Nation Short Film Festival in 2022, where it gained third place for People’s Choice.

How long have you been working in the screen industry and how did you get started?

I started script writing in 2020 and was doing some co-production work, to assist Aboriginal students with their Nunga TV episodes for Channel 31 (now Channel 44), along with Director Dave Salomon. I also studied some communication and film subjects as part of my Bachelor of Psychology.

What do you like best about working in the screen industry?

The freedom to creatively imagine new characters and stories is very exciting for me. There is a real buzz on set when a film has a great message and in post-production is well crafted, so that everyone involved can see their handiwork.

Tell us about your short film project Black Time, White Time. Where did the inspiration for this film come from?

During the COVID pandemic I was out walking and met a reclusive neighbour, who invited me into his cluttered house. This friendship inspired Black Time, White Time, a coming-of-age family drama that addresses the epidemic of loneliness and the need for social connection, friendship, belonging and purpose in life.

I wanted to challenge stereotypes in the male-dominated, rare trade watch and clock repair industry, and provide an opportunity to contract with five local First Nations cast and crew for my newly created South Australian film company Pink Pearl Productions.

How is production going on Black Time, White Time? Where are you at with it and how are you finding the process?

We had an incredibly talented and committed local cast and crew who collectively problem solved over three days of filming. The process has been a huge learning curve for me, and we have applied to several local and international film festivals.

Being supported by the SAFC’s First Nations Industry Development Executive Tyme Childs and mentored by Executive Producer Georgia Humphreys, and Olga Kokaliaris for company finances, has given me greater confidence for future projects.

What are your hopes for Black Time, White Time?

I hope that all audiences, including the Deaf community, enjoy the message and sentiment of the film. Narungga actor and Deaf consultant on Black Time, White Time Joanna Agius and I have explored what could be possible for the Deaf and hard of hearing in the future. This is a very exciting time for Joanna and her peers to lead significant change with Auslan in the Australian film industry.

Are you working on any other projects now?

There are always projects in development, such as a local documentary, Young Adult Fiction that could become a film, a comedy drama set in South Australia and a TV series.

What are your career aspirations for the future? Do you have a dream screen industry job?

I think it’s important to keep creating our unique stories and retain jobs here in South Australia for the local film industry. I want to keep working consistently on projects that capture the essence of who we are, and what makes us the most interesting in the world to watch.

My dream industry job is to continue in my role as company Director, screenwriter and producer and to move into directing. I also want to get out into the rural and remote communities and inspire others to explore how storytelling and the creative industries can contribute to their health and wellbeing.

What’s your top piece of advice for other First Nations creatives who want to get into the screen industry?

1. Start a creative writing page and jot down your ideas.

2. Access some training about how to hone your skills in the industry.

3. Network as much as possible, as this industry is all about finding other creatives you can work with.

Which Australian filmmakers/screen creatives do you find most inspiring and why?

We were incredibly fortunate to have Taera Shroff as Continuity Head of Department on Black Time, White Time, and I was in awe of her visual attention to detail. Taera reinforced that the industry is reliant on a pipeline of quality screenplays to share authentic untold First Nations stories and I am looking forward to seeing her handiwork in The New Boy shortly.

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