New year?

It’s good to be back. I’m excited about 2015 and what it may hold, not just in regards to Starting From … Now!, but also the overall direction of Common Language Films. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have some time off. In fact, I didn’t realise how much I needed a break until I had one.  Overall it was peaceful, rejuvenating and uneventful, except for one thing.

On the last day of 2014 I was walking down Marrickville Road with my partner. We were crossing a side street when a male driver yelled out his car window and called us “fucking dykes”. His exact words were “Watch where the traffic’s coming from you fucking dykes”. Now, I have to admit, when it comes to crossing the road I can be pretty careless. In fact, I’ve even received a fine for jaywalking to prove it. However, on this occasion, I don’t believe we were at fault and even if we were, does failure to notice an oncoming car really warrant that level of vitriol?

It shook me up a little but I was more surprised than anything. For the most part, Marrickville is considered a gay-friendly suburb, it’s one of the reasons I choose to live there, and I rarely experience blatant expressions of homophobia. It reminded me, on the last day of the year, that there’s still so much to fight for, that homophobia is well and truly alive and well and LGBTI people everywhere are subject to this type of abuse (and much worse) daily.

I think there’s a real danger in thinking that things have changed, that we’re a more enlightened society and those of us who are coming out have it much easier than those who came before us. In some regards this is true, however, it’s not the complete picture. It’s never easy to come out and it’s well documented that suicide rates amongst LGBTI youth are significantly higher than amongst the general population. It’s a complex problem that requires a number of different solutions, however, education is always a good place to start.

One small thing, I believe, that can help, is an increase in visibility and diversity in representation on screen and in the media in general. The more diversity in representation we have, the less LGBTI people are thought of as the ‘other’ and, in some cases, think of themselves as ‘the other’. There will always be people who choose to remain ignorant and shout obscenities from the safety of their car, but for those who the obscenities are being shouted at, the more they see themselves or people they can identify with on screen, the less this type of abuse threatens their very sense of being.  

I’m not naïve enough to believe a web series can change the world but what I do know from the feedback we received in 2014, is it can change the way people think and think about themselves. Imagine, therefore, what multiple web series can do, the impact that hundreds of short films can have, the important discussions that numerous feature films about LGBTI characters can start.  

So if you've been thinking about producing something for the screen, or any type of creative pursuit for that matter, then why not make this the year to do it? You’ve got a blank slate ahead of you, 12 months of unlimited possibility. Why not use it to do something you’ve always wanted to do? You never know, it may even have a positive impact on someone you don’t even know. 

By Julie Kalceff