The Guardian May 24, 2000


Interview Erica Glynn

Born and raised in Alice Springs, Erica Glynn, writer/director of My 
Mother, My Son, became involved in filmmaking in the early 1980s in the 
Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) video unit. When 
CAAMA won the licence for the remote commercial television station's 
central footprint and started broadcasting in 1988 Erica became part of its 
indigenous production program. Her previous films include My Bed, Your 
Bed and Re-dreaming The Dark. Erica spoke to Tom Pearson.

TP: My impression of your film was that the characters' paths criss-
cross and come into contact and go out of contact on their journey to the 
little boy.

EG: You mean making contact with whitefellas?

TP: Yes. One of the beautiful scenes is when Kymmy is in the car 
with those two well-to-do white people who are trying to be very nice, as 
they understand it. It was almost like a chronicle, in that brief time you 
had to talk about the history of the stolen generations.

EG: Yes. That was the intention all along from the early days of 
writing it. I wanted to talk about stolen generations, and of it still 
being alive today, and also how different generations within the Indigenous 
community sort of handle things differently.

Mum, Mona, obviously was a stolen generation person who was taken to a 
mission, and so hopefully it comes through that there's some sort of 
confused Christian thing there about wrong and right.

Then Kymmy's way of dealing with things is probably more like my generation 
who would be just dealing with things very up-front: what you need to do is 
what you need to do, and bugger the wrong and the right.

TP: Was it written as script or was it a story that became a script?

EG: It was always a script. It was commissioned by SBS Independent 
for this series, Unfinished Business.

TP: SBS approached you and said they wanted a piece a certain length 
and now it's up to you?

EG: Yes, pretty much, they did. Their preference was to have 
something to do with stolen children. Their idea was to be doing this huge 
broadcast over this upcoming week. That's the one I wanted to do anyway. I 
had that in mind for quite a while.

TP: To be more general, how do you see the arts playing a role in 
reconciliation, people coming to terms with Australia's history?

EG: For me ... people being able to see stories from our perspective 
is valuable, I hope.

TP: What's your situation at the moment in terms of producing films 
on Indigenous issues?

EG: Since finishing My Mother, My Son, I've done another 
half-hour short documentary on an Indigenous poet who's based in Sydney, 
Romane Morton, for the National Indigenous Documentary Fund. The National 
Indigenous Media Association initiate these projects and the ABC take them 
on board and broadcast them. This is, I think, the fourth series.

TP: Do you want to do more drama?

EG: Absolutely, yes. For my next project I'm going up to central 
Australia to start on another program for SBS which is a documentary, but 
hopefully when that one's finished I'll be writing something else ... 
another drama.

TP: Would you like to say something about the short film form?

EG: It's difficult, because I've only ever made short films so I 
don't know what it's like to make something longer.

Basically that's the only avenue that's been open to me. As a story teller, 
as a filmmaker, I've just got to make sure I get my point across in 
whatever time I've got. If I've got the opportunity to tell more story in a 
longer format, that's good.

With this kind of story I could have written something bigger; there's lots 
more detailing that could have easily have happened in that. For a long 
time it [My Mother, My Son] sat there much longer and it was a 
killer for me to have to cut it down.

TP: The other thing about it is that, in general culturally 
speaking, your film is very Australian.

EG: I often think that Australian filmmakers try too hard to create 
that Australian identity.

TP: When I was watching My Mother, My Son I tried to guess 
where it was filmed, but even though that wasn't clear there was no doubt 
it was in Australia.

EG: We worked quite hard on that. We said, "Okay, let's not do the 
big landscape thing". People would read that script and say, "This is so in 
the desert, this is so central Australia". It never entered my head. We put 
a lot of effort in finding nondescript, NSW landscape, bush, whatever. I 
drove for three bloody weeks for 11 hours a day to find it.

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