A pioneering film school for young adults living with disability or autism has expanded to Western Australia with support from Mineral Resources (MinRes).
Bus Stop Films has delivered its award-winning accessible film studies program for more than a decade, with Perth joining a network of 11 locations across Australia in 2023.
Over 40 weeks, students will work with screen industry professionals and get hands-on experience in all aspects of filmmaking, including camera, sound, production design and post-production.
They will put their skills into practical filmmaking by working together on a project to be screened at an end-of-year showcase event and even entered into film festivals.
Bus Stop Film graduates have gone on to work on Marvel blockbusters Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as well as TV series such as Survivor and MasterChef.
Beyond film industry exposure, students gain increased confidence, undergo interview and CV preparation and develop their social and communication skills.
It’s exactly the opportunity film enthusiast Daniel Botes has been waiting for. He was among the participants at the first class at Edith Cowan University’s WA Screen Academy on 4 February.
Photo: left to right – Daniel, Hannah, Honor, and Bailey.
Daniel, who lives with autism, has loved movies since his childhood in South Africa. After migrating to Perth aged 12, he graduated from high school and tried his hand at a couple of film courses.
While these courses didn’t match his needs, he remained passionate about creativity and so the 30-year-old jumped at the opportunity to sign-up for Bus Stop Films’ inaugural Perth program.
Daniel, who works at WA charity Good Sammy and whose favourite director is Sergio Leone, was excited about learning practical filmmaking skills and making industry contacts.
“I hope it will lead to me becoming a filmmaker or film director in my own right – I might be able to use my unique perspective and present films that most people would consider to be unusual,” he said.
Another participant, Bailey Deering, was studying film at TAFE when COVID struck in 2020. He graduated with Certificates II, III and IV in Film Studies. Three years on, he’s looking forward to getting back behind the camera.
Bailey, who lives with autism, is also a talented artist and recently started selling sketches through his online business, The Sketch Machine.
“I’m very interested in filmmaking. I’ve done a few little courses and when I heard about Bus Stop Films I was like, ‘This is what I want to do’,” the 23-year-old said.
“I was studying at the beginning of 2020, learning how to use cameras and everything, but COVID stopped that. This is a great way of getting back into it.”
Honor Boekeman, who will juggle the program while starting a creative writing degree at Curtin University, enrolled after taking part in a taster workshop last October.
“I enjoyed the fact that this is giving neurodivergent people the opportunity to see what it’s like to make a professional short film. It can be pretty hard to get opportunities in general,” Honor, 21, said.
MinRes, a leading diversified resources company that supports the communities where it operates, provided funding to support the not-for-profit organisation’s expansion to WA.
MinRes Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee chair Shelley Robertson said: “We are proud to be involved in a program that will provide young Western Australians with an opportunity to be involved in the arts and can’t wait to see the work they produce.”
About 200 students across the country are enrolled this year. In Perth, filmmaker Joe Wilkie will teach the program, which is delivered as three-hour weekly classes on Saturdays at Edith Cowan University’s Mt Lawley campus.
Bus Stop Films chief executive officer Tracey Corbin-Matchett said: “It takes a village to keep the bus on the road and we’re thrilled to be adding another bus stop in Perth.
“The support of MinRes and our partnership with Edith Cowan University will showcase the amazing skills of our participants and open opportunities for people with disability to be employed in WA’s thriving screen industry.”
Bus Stop Films is open to people who are 17 or older who live with a mild to moderate disability or autism. Fees can be paid through a student’s NDIS package.
Classes started in Perth on 4 February, but it’s not too late to sign-up.
For more information, go to busstopfilms.com.au