The Spirit of Woodford visits Darmin Cameron again.
The Spirit of Woodford visits Darmin Cameron again.

Capturing the spirit of Woodford

Local filmmaker Darmin Cameron was so keen to capture the spirit of the Woodford Folk Festival on video that he was off filming another documentary when he was announced as the winner of the 2010 Spirit of Woodford Video Award a week ago.

“I’m still in a state of disbelief,” Darmin said. “I was up against some really tough competition, including five professional documentary makers. All of the judges said it was a unanimous decision that my film was the winner.”

It’s the first time in the history of the Woodford Folk Festival’s video, film and audio competition that the coveted trophy and $4500 cash prize has been won by the same person two years in a row. In 2009 he won for the film Chai Tent at the End of the Universe, a doco on how people felt (both good and bad) about this Woodford institution.

For the 2010 comp, with Darmin as the director and Paris Naday as editor, the two movie makers shot their 12-minute documentary called Interpreting Woodford at the 2009 Woodford Comedy Club. The film follows Auslan signing interpretor Jasmine Phillips as she interprets the funny antics of comedians on stage for the benefit of the people with hearing disabilities in the audience.

“Early in the festival I saw Jasmine perform at the comedy club and I thought, ‘this is special and has to be documented’,” Darmin said. “Comedy is a hard thing to interpret. It’s subtle and about punch-lines and timing. She is an amazingly talented person and acts as a bridge between two worlds. She actually added to the show.”

Darmin’s film met the criteria of the competetion, which asked movie makers to reflect the spirit of someone who inspires them and makes the planet a better place to share.

“I was inspired by her because I have a big belief in equity,” Darmin said. “We take so much for granted and it only takes a little extra effort to include others that may not have the advantages we have.”

In the film, Darmin interviews Jasmine about why she does interpreting and how important it is to have Auslan sign interpreters at these events, providing access to entertainment for people with disabilities.

Darmin said he learned a lot about sign language through watching her and enjoyed many a laugh while doing it. One of the new words he learned in Auslan was the word for ‘orgasm’.

“A lot of sign language is communicated in the face and the body language used is similar to how we would use intonation in speech,” Darmin said. “As Jasmine says in the film, it’s about the energy dynamic. She can play it straight and she understands comedy, performance and theatre.

“Normally when someone signs, your personality is not supposed to be there – you just translate,” Darmin said. “The comedians in the club tried to interact with her and asked her questions like ‘How do you interpret Jesus?’ but she would just interpret them... as the comedians realised this they would play it up and get faster trying to stuff her up.”

For Darmin as a filmmaker who started his career making movies with a Super 8 film camera, trust is a one of the most important things to establish when working with people.

“I always honour that trust when I’m telling someone’s story,” he said.

Darmin wants to thank the organisers of the ‘Spirit of Woodford’ competition, Paul Tait and Jenny Kendall, for giving him the opportunity to be creative, as well as the cast of comedians including local funny man Alan Glover.

Darmin is keen to share the cash prize with Paris, his editor, and will invest the money in buying more film gear so that he can potentially make it a hat trick at the 2011 Woodford Folk Festival.

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