Pat Easterbrook, Positive Ageing Officer at the Alpine Shire in Victoria, tells how a group of older people stepped inside some of Australia’s best-loved movies for a day.
I facilitate a group of older people, known as the A-Team, whose role is to identify projects and programs which will improve the quality of life of older people and accentuate the benefits of positive ageing in the Alpine Shire.
We were inspired by seeing a calendar put together by a retirement home in Europe and I immediately thought ‘This is it!!’ for our new project – we could re-create images from iconic Australian films.
As we are a small rural shire it was important that we had many people from all parts of the region. After deciding on the 12 films we started approaching people. Some were chosen for the resemblance to the characters they were portraying, like our farmer Trevor Cousins (pictured above) in Babe. His wife answered the phone and said he would never do it, but he agreed and had a ball. Don Pollock (pictured below) volunteered for the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert role and was perfect in character. He spent three hours in the make-up chair and had a wonderful day.
I arranged the professional photographer, graphic designer, make-up team and costumes. Most of the costumes were sourced from Melbourne and many were from the JC Williamson collection. Ned Kelly’s costume had apparently been used in one of the films. The only character we did not have to find a costume for was Dick Dale, a local farmer who portrayed The Man From Snowy River. He wore his own gear as that is what he wears every day!
Our oldest participant was Joyce Trimas who was 92 and loved every minute. Another lady in the September shoot for The Sapphires had been a singer and dancer with Denise Drysdale and others who toured in Vietnam in the 1960s. She loved being able to play a character from a remarkable part of her life.
The four ladies in Picnic at Hanging Rock (pictured below) were wonderful. It was difficult to get them to look serious for a few minutes … they were laughing so much and having so much fun.
We have a large demographic of Italian and Italian-heritage residents in one of the towns of the shire, so we were keen to involve them and they are represented in the Strictly Ballroom image. Our Mad Max character – John Bakkum – was a lovely gentleman and definitely not mean enough to be Mad Max.
The photographer really enjoyed working with older people. He and I had many meetings before to discuss the best shots to be in the calendar. The designer worked miracles with the backgrounds and it all came to life.
We had morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea buffets and people chatted and ate – with many in full costume. There was the most amazing buzz. I thought most people would stay for their photo and go home. But no, they all stayed all day, laughed, cheered, and clapped like mad when someone came out in full costume and make-up. It was one of the happiest days some of these people had had for a long time. Many wore the costumes for ages that day and they all were ‘in character’. The ladies in The Sapphires sang and danced; and the Strictly Ballroom couple danced and twirled all around the Bright Entertainment Centre where the photo shoot took place.
We had a special launch of the calendar and our ‘stars’ arrived by limo, entering on the red carpet. Then all was unveiled on the big screen of the new Cloud 9 Cinema in Bright. It was a perfect venue.
The Positive Ageing … Way to go! 2015 Calendar brought smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts. And we hope it continues to do so as the months go by in 2015.