Memory and Trauma on Screen

CRAFT How do you sleep at night? This session, presented by Shark Island Institute, dives deep into the trauma and effects of working with difficult subjects

Working with sensitive subject matter can be challenging and confronting for film-makers.

Gold Walkley and Logie award-wining journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s career has involved working on highly controversial and confronting subject matter – from the abuse and mistreatment of children in prison, to illegal live baiting in greyhound racing, to investigating international paedophile rings, to the brutal killing of an Indigenous woman, and most recently being personally asked by Keli Lane to tell her story for EXPOSED: The Case of Keli Lane.

How do journalists and practitioners like Caro sleep at night? How do you remain empathetic towards your subjects whilst maintaining a professional distance? What happens when the project is over and your subject is no longer being followed by a film crew?

Trauma specialist Dr Cathy Kezelman was a trauma consultant on Ben Lawrence’s documentary Ghosthunter and can offer up guidance to anyone working in this space. Together with the ABC’s Trauma and Resilience Manager Erin Noordeloos, Caro and Cathy take you on a deep dive into how to deal with trauma both in front of and behind the camera so that your documentary project is the most truthful and sensitive portrayal it can be. They will discuss their experiences working with traumatised participants and content, exploring how to draw personal and professional boundaries while maintaining ethical standards and staying true to the story.