Everything is Connected proudly shines a spotlight on the Ngarrindjeri community. Each episode connects the depth of Ngarrindjeri living culture and artistry to their spectacular Yarluwar Ruwe – Ngarrindjeri lands and waters.

Art is integral to the community, representing expression, memory, pride, protest, history and tradition. As such, in order to best represent the community, the scripts, storyboards and visuals were co-created in workshops with the Ngarrindjeri elders and leaders, assisted by a media team. What results is a stunning and intimate insight for the viewer that is both beautiful and true to the community.

The project was produced this year by Change Media in collaboration with the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and the Ngarrindjeri Land and Progress Association; also with support of the Australian Government, Indigenous Cultural Support, Office for the Arts, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the South Australian Government through Arts SA.

What was the community response to the idea of the series?
Ngarrindjeri and Change Media have worked together for 8 years, to create digital artworks that authentically reflect their living culture and values – the community pushed for this series to be produced. Change Media and Ngarrindjeri have spent a lot of time discussing how we can share their culture and invite people to explore the world from a Ngarrindjeri perspective. We aim to create respectful, cross-cultural collaborations, and a good sign it is working is when the community takes control of the development, production and then shares it. Ngarrindjeri are constantly using the series, especially, We Are Ngarrindjeri, at local, national and global meetings and presentations, as a quick introduction to their values and way of life, it ends with, “We are Ngarrindjeri – and we are still here.”

Are there areas of the community that you still want to explore?
We want to look in depth into what it means for Ngarrindjeri to ‘speak as country’, to further explore their intricate links between their art and culture and their lands and waters. It is amazing to shift from a limiting, Euro-centric mindset and discover this much older knowledge and place-based expertise, reminding us that everything is connected.

What do you want audiences to take away from your series?
We hope that when you watch you will be enchanted by the cinematography, and this invites you to remember there are vital, living Indigenous cultures thriving across Australia. These people have maintained their culture and lands over millennia, despite the horror of colonial destruction. We can all learn a lot from cultures like the Ngarrindjeri’s, with their powerful core values, like ‘don’t be greedy, take only what you need’.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome making this series?
One of the challenges for us as a white Australian media team is to actually, deeply listen to the connection to country that Ngarrindjeri have, and to represent their arts, spirituality and science adequately and respectfully. We can’t just come crashing in with our well-oiled production machine. We constantly feel challenged, wondering if we fully understand what is at stake for our Ngarrindjeri partners, even though we have a great collaborative process in place, the complexities are enormous.

Is your series an ongoing project? If so can you give us some clues about what comes next?
We are excited about the next stage of the project, which will include creating a Ngarrindjeri Culture Hub, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts SA, with a new website profiling many more of their amazing artists, with an onsite and online exhibition and a second season of the series, featuring another eight Ngarrindjeri artists and cultural ambassadors.

How long have you been making web series for?
In 2006 we worked with 4 regional communities across South Australia and made Directing the Hero Within, a youth-media short film and training resource, which won an ATOM Award and was shortlisted for a AIMIA award.

We set up our web portal, Change Media, to showcase the community co-created films, and have worked with hundreds of communities and thousands of participants. Many of the projects become series, including: The Pinnaroo SurferBidgee Binge, and When does the Light Turn On?

Have you achieved the goals you set for this series?
We haven’t quite arrived at our goal, yet… Hopefully season 2 and the Ngarrindjeri Arts Hub will create a deeply engaging narrative across the web series, the website and exhibition. But we are pretty happy with where we have got to so far!

What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome in production, and how did you go about it?
The most difficult challenge is how to produce professional work with communities at the frontline of colonial destruction. We bring mainstream expectations – tight schedules, budgets, pressing deadlines… into communities with existing pressures, and leaders and elders working overtime. Juggling this in a way that benefits everyone involved is difficult and can get pretty stressful.

We usually manage to negotiate this by reminding everyone, from participants, stakeholders, funders, community members, creatives, that everything is always negotiable  – if not then let’s find out why not? It can sometimes be a tricky process, to name the power in the room and not flinch, but we have built a model of round table discussions, information flow and cultural and legal protocols that make this possible, though it’s never easy, and we are always at the edge of our knowledge.

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